Friday, December 15, 2006

A Christian approach to dating

Adoration tonight, 7-8 p.m., SAA Church. Like Kelly is doing, please bring your friends!
A blogger has asked, "Can you discuss a moral and catholic approch to dating." Another blogger responded, "Excellent topic!... I think that topic is really important, and I hope it becomes a topic for discussion." The best current Catholic resource for dating that I have found is the book, "Christian Courtship in an Oversexed World" by T.G. Morrow. Here are some excerpts from Fr. Morrow's very popular book:

"From what I have seen and what young adults are telling me, it seems that there is far too much pressure on young men and women when they go out. It’s too 'clingy.' They are in effect, expected to commit to dating each other exclusively from the second or third date. It’s crazy. Far better to get together as friends for various activities for a time, without the pressure that dating usually brings.

This means you see each other and do things together, but you are free to go with others if you wish at first, and there’s no kissing goodnight, or holding hands. Nice, warm, chaste hugs are fine, since good friends often hug, but everything is low key, low pressure. There’s no 'I love you,' or 'I want to marry you,' just words like, 'You’re an awesome friend.' You might just get together once a week and talk on the phone twice a week at most.

If the friendship gets deeper you can move into a more exclusive arrangement. Agree to not date others, and get together twice a week and speak on the phone a bit more. But until you both agree to move into courtship, it’s still a friendship, even if an exclusive one.

What if one or the other starts to have strong feelings? That’s fine, but, until you agree on a courtship, you don’t express those strong feelings in words, just in kindness and consideration. You continue as close friends...

One of the benefits of a 'friendship first' approach is that it provides something quite positive for couples to aim at, before the courtship begins. When I was young, we used to think in terms of getting through the first three dates, so we could have a goodnight kiss. As time went on, it got reduced to two dates, and then there was no waiting. A goodnight kiss was expected on the first date. This was all rather utilitarian, rather calculated. And, it was really not very personal.

Friendship dating is not biding time until the first kiss and the implied commitment to exclusiveness on the third or fourth date. It’s a wonderful, gentle way to lay a good foundation for a chaste courtship.

One of the key elements of a Christian life is living by reason. That’s what prudence is. It is not reasonable to court if you can’t see marrying in the near future. More and more young men and women are examining their own dating behavior and realizing that some major changes are needed. 'Would not my spiritual life be better and my life as a med student be simpler if I just developed some good friendships for a while, and didn’t rush into an intense relationship, when I’m a few years away from being able to marry?' It is a delight, although admittedly a limited one, to have a good, strong friendship with a person of the opposite sex. It is a joy to have someone you can discuss your life with and feel confident you won’t be exploited by that person. It is so sweet to be able to chastely hug a person you really like and trust. More and more young people are seeing the value of slowing down, and 'smelling the roses' in the garden of friendship...

Regardless of your situation, I strongly recommend trying to simply develop a nice, low-key friendship with someone, without any kissing or romance for two or three months (at least) before getting into a more romantic sort of courtship. Some of the best marriages have begun with a beautiful friendship."

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