Friday, January 04, 2008

What's at stake in the culture war

Lee Duigon points out that "sexual liberation" movements aren't just about what happens between the sheets, and with whom it might be, but rather often entail an attempt to weaken the state's main rivals in matters of worship and authority; the church and the family.

If you wonder why Ben and Faith (and Nightwriter & Reverend Mother, and I'd guess Ben's folks, too) are so dead serious about why it's so important that they court, and do not date. Courting necessarily brings friends, family, and even the church into the equation; dating not necessarily so. Courting also has the nice side effect of promoting personal and political liberty; dating...well, not so much.

13 comments:

pentamom said...

Could you expand on how

1. Courting promotes personal and political liberty and

2. Dating undermines it?

I have a feeling I'll agree with your take, but I can't make the connection.

Bike Bubba said...

Think "rival institutions"; when you emphasize the role of family and church in the selection of a spouse for your child, you simultaneously decide that role of the state will be limited, and the need or state intervention will be reduced.

I think Douglas Wilson may say it far more eloquently than I in "Her Hand in Marriage," if you've got it. (with high school daughters, you should!)

Uncle Ben said...

The connection that I see between courting and personal liberty is this. Since it is grounded in the family and taking responsibility for one's own actions, those who espouse it are far less likely to need or want government aid. And we all know what the price is for government aid, right? They take somebody's freedom, whether by regulation or by taxation.

pentamom said...

I read it quite a while back, and still have it on my shelf, thanks, next to Wilson's book on baptism. ;-)

I'm still not quite getting it, though. In my experience, the state doesn't play a big role in spouse selection at all. It does seem to have some influence in whether people get married at all, but not in selection. So I'm not yet convinced of the logical connection between dating and state control. Dating and moral anarchy, sure. I'm not entirely convinced that one of those spheres will always fill in the gaps when the others are missing; destructive, anarchic personal autonomy is still an option and seems to be what we largely have these days.

Bike Bubba said...

Pentamom, just think of the fallout of that anarchic autonomy; when a man knows that the only barrier between his urges and disaster is the law, he will tend to come into conflict with the law. To draw a picture, when a young man knows Mom & Dad aren't watching, he tends to figure out that "candy's dandy, but...", and thus there are legal issues of DUI, child support, and so on when nature takes its course.

A follow-on reality is that when government sees a trend of date rape, DUI, and child support being unpaid, it gives impetus to a new slew of programs intended to "address" the issues--generally trying to do things whether parents want it or not.

Night Writer said...

BB, I think this ties back to your post a little while ago about planting olive trees. You don't plant them for yourself, you plant them for your children's children. Fostering this type of relationship between generations sows character, self-control, stability and a habit of looking toward the future instead of instant gratification. That is freedom that passes from one generation to the next and bears fruit.

In a free world, self-government is the highest and best form of government, followed by family government, church government, community, city, state and national governments. Decisions should be made at the smallest level possible, because each level of small government takes power and authority away from the next biggest one.

Totalitarianism is the opposite - control is by the biggest government and forces its way down, taking power and authority from each smaller government, ultimately denying the freedom and authority of the family, the parent and finally the individual.

Strong families need very little from the government. Individuals with the maturity and character to look beyond themselves to consider the well-being of another and to make decisions for the long-term good rather than short-term gain generally find themselves able to deal with any problems that come up without outside assistance or agencies. Conversely, one of the biggest causes of poverty is being in a single-parent family. The welfare state says fathers aren't necessary, Government will provide...if you're willing to sign on for self-perpetuating serfdom.

Naturally, government isn't going to pass laws banning courting or establishing dating - that's too obvious; but it will sponsor government schools who's methodology is to say, "You're smarter than your parents, you don't need their guidance or to follow their authority, they don't know what it's really like out here. Here, go to this class, take this health course, take this condom - you have our blessing to go do whatever you can talk a girl into doing.

"What? You forgot to use the condom? You crazy kids! Don't worry, we have laws that will let you have an abortion, and if you want to keep the baby, well, Mama G has a program for that, too!"

pentamom said...

Here's the problem, though:

courtship didn't promote political liberty in any society before the Reformation, where every Western society had courtship (and no one but those considered beyond the pale of decent society presented an exception to courtship), and no Western society had political liberty to a degree that would be tolerable to any of us in this discussion. It might make sense to say that the lack of familial cohesion that underpins courtship promotes liberty, but it's the underpinning, not the courtship, that affects things. Courtship itself won't do a thing. And what you said was that "courting has the nice side effect of promoting personal and political liberty", which I'm not grasping as a side effect of courtship at all, but rather as a primary effect of a right understanding of family.

pentamom said...

BTW, at least I do now see how dating further undermines political liberty. I think I got that before. But there's an asymmetry, IMO. While dating helps tear down that which a faithless understanding of family, society and state has already undermined, I think it must be the corrected understanding, not the outward practice that is a manifestation of that understanding, that can be the only thing to build it back up. Rather like termites can bring down an already unstable house, but Raid doesn't make it any stronger. ;-)

Night Writer said...

Ok, I see where Pentamom is coming from: courtship reflects personal liberty, but it doesn't promote it. I agree with that. The two also support each other, though. A habit of self-control and self-government makes courtship feasible; a couple that courts, however, are in a better position to pass these characteristics on to their children, creating heirs that seek (and vote for) things that promote the same.

Interesting point about previous Western cultures (and even some modern, Latin ones) where courtship was common but personal liberty was not. In fact, people today would say that courtship restricts personal liberty. I would submit that the reason these cultures were restrictive is because courtship was seen as enforcing the cultural norm rather than glorifying personal liberty. It was performed as custom, and enforced by social pressure that lost sight of the point. The youth were conformed to their world (even though we might say that conformity was positive) rather than transformed by a higher revelation. Man falls backward when the rule of law supercedes the spirit of the law, and he ultimately loses the meaning as revelation becomes doctrine and doctrine becomes dust in the mouths of future generations. That is why we strive in our family, and in youth ministry, for our children to see that God is their God, not their parent's God. It's easy to assume, or settle for, an appearance of godliness in them even though their heart and spirit may be completely different. That is why it is so gratifying, in the case of Faith and Ben, that they are choosing courtship not because it is forced upon them by society or domineering parents, but because they recognize and desire the benefits. They are not conformed by social pressure, whether it's a worldly dating model or straitlaced Victorian approbation, but transformed by the renewing of their minds. Who knows what that model will lead to in this generation, and the next?

Gabrielle Eden said...

Courtship is just a good idea. it doesn't have to be overdone. It can be just good commons sense. Two people hang out around family members and avoid being alone together in ways that would lead to having sex.

They could still be alone together in public places like in a movie theater or at a baseball game. It's up to the individuals to decide how far to take the courtship idea. But basically, the idea of "dating" around other people is such a good idea.

Today dating is always associated with having sex, so that's why, I guess, the books on courtship are talking about kissing dating goodbye.

In any case, couples should go out of their way to avoid sex before marriage. As Ben said, if it becomes necessary to break things off due to finding out there's a problem in the relationship, it won't be so difficult if the physical intimacy hasn't happened already. Oh, that kind of wisdom is like breathing fresh air!

Bike Bubba said...

Yes, but even more important, Gabrielle, is to grow with one's family and church. Chastity is a lifestyle and a result; family and church are the necessary inputs.

pentamom said...

You probably all realized by now that there's a "lack of" in my second-last comment that doesn't belong there at all. I think I changed direction in mid-sentence. Sorry!

Gabrielle Eden said...

Bike, I don't see where I was disagreeing. In order to achieve the things I was talking about, a couple has to grow with their family and church. So, to say that's more important didn't quite make sense.

The courtship paradigm requires more cooperation with community than dating does, right?