Many an intern has had dysfunctional romantic relationships because of Ron Luce’s fear-based teachings on marriage and courtship. In his character development class, Ron Luce teaches the Honor Academy interns the “godly” way to have a romantic relationship. He presents a several step process (I quit listening after #6) based on the formula of friendship first, courtship second. He encourages all the interns to have their future love interests listen to Ron’s teachings on this topic.
In fact, Ron is SO committed to this process that he says, “You can have the right person, but you mess up the process – Bam! You have a horrible marriage, or a horrible first 5 years of marriage or whatever.”
That is a pretty serious statement. If you don’t go about this right, you are going to have a terrible marriage!! So, it’s important that we do follow the Biblical guidelines on how to find and date/court our spouse.
So what does the Bible say about how to find a spouse?
In fact, the Bible hardly mentions anything about the courting or dating process because in those times the parents arranged the marriages. Not surprisingly, Ron’s sermon is very light on Scripture. For the hour or so that I listened, he only used some verses from Proverbs about wisdom and giving thought to your plans, etc. – NOTHING specific to HOW to find and date your spouse.
Despite the lack of Biblical evidence, Ron is so certain that God has laid out a plan for courting, that he gives an example of a couple who was unsuccessful in their marriage because they, “bypassed all the principles very clearly laid out in scripture.” This principle he was referring to is the one where you must be good friends first before “getting romantic.” (You can find the verse for that in II Opinions.)
So without any supporting Scripture or Christian tradition, Ron claims that his process is the one you must follow if you want to have a good marriage. Where does he get this authority? Certainly not from Scripture.
It is fine for a Christian leader to share their opinion about what they think is a wise course of action based on their understanding of the heart of God and human nature. But when they go beyond that and say that if you fail to follow their formula, your marriage is doomed, they are speaking out of line. If God himself failed to give us a formula for getting to marriage, then I don’t think there is one. And any one that we make up is not Scriptural or from the heart of God.
Am I overstating Ron’s position? I’ll let you be the judge. A few snippets from the HA Alumni podcast on iTunes, dated 8/7/07:
21:00 – Unless you have been great friends with somebody for at least 6 months, there is no way they are ever going to be qualified (to be romantic with you). They could never be qualified. You don’t know this person!
25:45 – (Paraphrase for brevity) If your first year of marriage is hard, it’s because you weren’t friends first. Katie and I had an awesome first year of marriage and it’s only gotten better after that.
Ron gives many other “Biblical” guidelines for your courtship including writing down a contract for your relationship and signing it, remaining emotional virgins, getting permission from the girl’s father before you start a courtship, etc. Are any of these ideas bad? No, not if its in your heart to do them. But neither are these specifically mandated anywhere by God.
The reality is that there is NO formula in the Bible for how to go about dating, courting or whatever else you want to call it. God has given us free will, a heart with specific desires and a mind able to think logically. The most we can do is use these gifts to seek wisdom and listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice. God’s plan for every person is different and unique. Trying to shove everyone into a mold that God didn’t create is not productive, helpful or spiritual.