So, first, for context (you don't have to read all of these for my post to make sense, but do know that my post did not appear ex nihilo):
And now, for my response to a response to a response to a critique; namely, some thoughts on Mr. Woodward's concerns with the courtship model as advocated by Mr. Wilson.
I'm a young man who has been graciously "turned down" three times by fathers who I really respect. I'm a big fan of young marriage; I would love to have a wife, and continue to pray for one, and I'm very much looking forward to finding the woman that God has for me.
So, on first impression, it might seem that everything Mr. Woodward wrote is "on my side," and I should be very happy to see it stated publicly. But that is not the case. If Umstattd's article was a bowl of frosted flakes sprinkled with mushrooms, this article simply splashed a straw man into the milky mixture.
Mr. Woodward comments that, in the case of Mr. Wilson rejecting 14 of 16 suitors for his daughters, "That’s a failure rate of nearly 88%!"
Mr. Umstattd, in his article, rightly pointed out that the goal of courtship is marriage- at least if that is understood, in response to the idea of "casual dating," to mean that courtship is a marriage-focused get-to-know-you process. Courtship isn't just chaperoned hanging out so that we can update our Facebook status; we're actively seeking to know whether God wants Boy and Girl to become Man and Wife.
So courtship is marriage-focused... but I would contend that the goal of courtship isn't marriage, if I may perform a little pirouette on my use of the term "goal" (bear with me).
One of the things I love about the courtship process is that the success or failure of a courtship is not and cannot be judged by whether or not it results in marriage. A successful courtship is one which results in all parties concerned being able to move forward in singleness or in matrimony confident that they are doing so in the Will of God, and without having succumbed to a bunch of preventable temptations. That's the goal of courtship.
I would say that, in the case of Mr. Wilson and his two daughters, both now wed to The One that God had for each of them, the success rate of their courtship would be 100%- and not just for the girls, nor for the happy husbands, but also for the rejected young men, who were blessed by God with clear direction coming in the form of a gracious "no" from the young lady's father.
To say that it's a matter of fatherly pride or a snobbish and highfalutin' family- does this not assume a great deal about the father and family of the daughter, to the point of being slanderous of them and planting seeds of bitterness in the hearts of the rejected young men? Does it not also make the young man out as a helpless victim?
Encouraging fathers and daughters to not be over-picky and to have Biblical standards is a good thing, but laying the blame entirely on their shoulders and never stopping to tell the young men in the equation to man up, learn from the rejection, strive to improve and grow, press on, seek first the Kingdom, and praise God for giving clear direction- no wonder so many rejections happen! We're making a bunch of rejectable young men!
"It's not my fault... it's those mean fathers... they just don't realize what an AMAZING HUSBAND I WOULD BEEEEE!!!!! WAAAAAA!!!!"
"Oh yeah, he's totally the one for my daughter."
I don't mean to mock my wife-seeking brothers in Christ (remember, I'm in this boat too, y'all), but to say that it is just as much our job to be Godly, responsible men as it is the job of the fathers we talk to to shepherd the hearts of their daughters. If we begrudge them for doing their duty, however imperfectly they do it, that's shame to our account.
For that matter, the young man has just as much right to conclude that the marriage isn't right and to move on! The young man is no more under the magnifying glass of the father than the father, daughter, and their family are under the magnifying glass of the young man!
Thus, the boast of the courtshipper is not that courtship leads to rejecting a bunch of suitors. The boast of the courtshipper is that courtship leads to rejecting the suitors that need to be rejected.
But the larger question is- what system of spouse-hunting is the one advocated by Scripture? Courtship, ambiguous and imperfect though it be, represents the best model I have seen so far for playing out Scriptural principles like those found in Numbers 30.
And until the courtship approach is shown as unscriptural, all anecdotal evidence against courtship is really just anecdotal evidence for the fact that sin is a real bummer.