How To Make Catholics Look Like Crazy Extremists: A Courtship Fisk

Sometimes, it seems like Catholics forget that while Christ told us that we should not be “of the world,” we still have to live in it.  “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil” (John 17:15).

That’s why articles like this one make me so exceptionally angry.  People who spout this kind of extremism and then wrap it up in phrases like “Traditional Catholicism” are, in my opinion, more of a problem than the Nancy Pelosi brand “catholics” of the world.  They aren’t keeping themselves from evil; they’re retreating from the real world into a mystical Utopia that doesn’t exist, and making the rest of us look completely deranged in the process.

So, for your reading pleasure, I give you another fisk, this time on a blog post pointed out to me by fellow Catholic Geek, Matthew Bowman.  Alas, he couldn’t do his own fisk on the subject; apparently (according to various Facebook commenters), he’s not allowed to have an opinion on the topic because . . . he’s male.

As if that made sense.

But he didn’t ask me to fisk this particular example of hysterical absurdity.  He didn’t have to.

So, from “Traditional Catholic Femininity,” I give you “Stages of a Traditional Catholic Courtship.”

As per the usual fisking procedure, the original text is in italics and my commentary is in bold.

With over 50% of marriages ending in separation and divorce, it is important that one prepares for a successful marriage by following God’s guidelines for courtship.

Wow.  I’m impressed.  You must be some kind of biblical scholar or something, to know exactly what God’s guidelines for courtship are.  Gee, I wonder what your source for that insight might be?  Perhaps sacred scripture?

*does a search for “courtship” in the online Douay-Rheims Bible*

Look at that.  The word “courtship” appears . . . nowhere in the entire bible.  “Marriage” appears in a grand total of thirty four verses.  Most of them talk about a “marriage feast,” or whose daughter was “given in marriage” to whom, or a “marriage turned to mourning,” and so on.  One from Wisdom issues a warning about how “they neither keep life, nor marriage undefiled.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1601 through 1658, has a lot to say on the subject of marriage in general, its purpose, the celebration of marriage in the Latin church, and its effects . . . but diddly squat on the “guidelines for courtship.”

So . . . tell me again where God has these “guidelines for courtship.”  I’d dearly love to see them.

Fine.  Moving right along, then?

In modern society, a lot of people base love on feelings, on looks, or drama, which they misinterpret as passion.

Okay, fine.  Modern society has a lot of problems; that much at least is not in dispute.  But, silly girls misinterpreting stories in novels for real life romance isn’t exactly a new thing.  Just read Sense and Sensibility, and you’ll get the point.

Some men will deliberately provoke drama in order cause emotional distress or feelings of jealousy within a woman ……by the way, this is a form of emotional abuse.

Hold on, I thought you were talking about courtship rules, not how evil some men are.

Also, easy on the ellipses.  You only need three dots to get your point across.

Modern dating and traditional courtship are two very different things.

Date [deyt], noun: a social appointment or engagement arranged beforehand with another person, especially when a romantic relationship exists or may develop.

Courtship [kawrt-ship], noun: the wooing of one person by another; the period during which such wooing takes place.

Sounds like someone is making a distinction in language where none actually exists in practice.

Words are the core of thought; if you change the words, you change the thought.  Except here, it looks like someone’s trying to change the word and therefore change the behavior of a society, and it isn’t working.  All I see is an arbitrary distinction with no real meaning behind it.

Dating is usually done as a recreational thing…ie spending time with someone to have fun, engaged in sexual pleasure and then see where it leads.

Thank you for playing this week’s edition of Basic English Punctuation.  You fail.  Do not pass “Go;” do not collect $200.  Fix the ellipsis, and use “i.e.” correctly.  And find a comma or two, while you’re at it.

I love how the word “usually” is so often followed by a generalization so enormous that it loses all its meaning.  The author is apparently trying to paint “dating” itself as an intrinsically sinful act, which is absurd.

I went to a very Catholic school; there were “dating” couples all over the place; so many, in fact, it was a bit annoying at times.  Know how many of those annoyingly cute couples are now happily married in the Church and have a whole herd of Catholic kids?

You guessed it.  All of them.

So, where’s all that evil “fun” and “sexual pleasure” you were talking about?

Dating is usually done as a recreational thing…ie spending time with someone to have fun, engaged in sexual pleasure and then see where it leads.

Once again, I recommend proofreading before hitting the “publish” button.

Whereas courtship is an intentional and purposeful process carried out with marriage as the ultimate goal.

When you say that, you obviously mean that dating can’t do those things.  What universe do you live in?  I once again remind you of all those dating Catholics I knew in college, who are now happily married with lots of fat babies.

It implies being in a honorable, exclusive, chaste, respectful, committed and loving relationship with a person of God’s choosing.

Once again, you’re making a distinction where there isn’t any.  Dating done right includes all those things.

The main purpose of courtship is a process of looking to see if the person who is courting us has sufficient virtue to be a good husband and father – and vice versa. In essence, you are auditioning him for the role of husband and father to your future children.

I keep repeating myself . . . again, DATING accomplishes all that when done properly.

As a result, courtship is never done for an extended period of time or you increase the chances of falling into sexual sin. Anybody that claims to be dating you or courting for 2 years or more is simply wasting your time. It does not take 2 years or 6 years to know that this is the person you wish to marry and have a family with.

How about all the other reasons a good Catholic dating couple might not get married immediately, like financial reasons, finishing college, one having a military career, etc.?  I guess they’re just out of luck, and are evil, sinful people, and not good Catholics, according to your preposterous standard.

Courtship is of a short period with a definitive end. It ends either in an engagement or in the dissolution of the relationship.

So is dating.  But I think I’m starting to repeat myself.  Again.  Or still . . . I’m not quite sure which at this point.

Traditional Catholics do not date

So . . . all those previously mentioned Christendom Catholics are just . . . not really married?  Or are they not really Catholics?

Who are you to say such a thing, anyway?  Last time I checked, the Pope was in Rome.

and we do not do recreational dating either.

First: you don’t get to speak for me, the Traditional Catholic Organist and Music Director.  Get down off your high horse before I drag you off.

Second: you’re still wrong because “dating” and “fun” are not mutually exclusive.  You CAN go on a date and have fun.  “Recreation” being fun.  Duh.

Sounds to me like you’re saying that I can’t go on a single date with a gentleman, just to get to know him better and see if a steady relationship might be in the works.  In that case, we might have a fun evening, some perfectly chaste and proper “recreation,” and then part ways and not continue our relationship.  And guess what?  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Calm down before you hurt yourself.

Unless courting, unmarried persons have no business in keeping company (ie spending lots of alone time together) with a member of the opposite sex.

Once again, it’s “i.e.”  Try to get it right next time.  Now, on to more important matters . . .

. . .

. . . ahem, where was I?  Oh.  Right.  Reading something about not being allowed to spend time with a member of the opposite sex . . .

Hold that thought, folks.  I need a drink before I can continue reading this post.

Now then.  Where was I?

. . .

Oh, right.  So, you’re telling me — with a straight face, no less — that I’m not allowed to “keep company” with any adult male that I’m not courting?

Sorry, Matthew, Declan, Ross . . . we can’t be friends anymore.

Oh, wait, you do clarify that you mean “lots of alone time together” and not just regular time.  That must mean we can be friends after all, guys . . . so long as we’re properly chaperoned at all times.

Look, we don’t live in the 18th or 19th century.  The rules of our society are different.  Of course, one should mind one’s own behavior, and not put oneself into a near occasion of sin.  If I am attracted to John Smith, say, it might be wise to not spend time alone with John Smith in my home or his, especially not if there has been alcohol involved.  But if I work in the same office as John Smith, alone time might be part of the way my day goes, and how in the world can sitting in an office with the member of the opposite sex qualify as a near occasion of sin?  If you’re that scrupulous, I suggest you find a spiritual advisor, and leave the rest of us alone.

Building a chaste, holy marriage begins before you get married.

Oh, look at that.  You said something correct.

Wait for it . . .

The only legitimate reason for company-keeping is courtship, which is a preparation for marriage.

And THERE it is.

So . . . I can’t work in an office where there might be a single male present?  I can’t go into a store where I might accidentally bump into a man?  I can’t have male friends?

Here, let me go get a burka while I’m at it.

You just described what it’s like to live as a Muslim woman.  Congratulations.  And you’re claiming to be a “traditional Catholic”?

Before embarking on a traditional Catholic courtship, you need to ensure that both you and your intended are prepared, spiritually, financially and mentally.Catholic Courtship is the period after spiritual, mental and financial preparation has been completed. You have to have it right with God, have it right with yourself and have it right in the bank before you begin considering courtship and marriage if you want a life-long marriage.

You both need to have it right with God, right with yourself and right with your finances (ESPECIALLY the man) before you embark on a courtship.

. . . because I didn’t hear you the first two times.

I won’t disagree that before contemplating marriage, you should be right with God, yourself, and your finances.  But where did you get this idea that only “courtship” takes those things into account?  For the millionth time, you’re making a distinction without a difference, and it’s getting really old.

Proverbs 23:27 says, “Complete your outdoor tasks, and arrange your work in the field; afterward you can establish your house.”  There is a proper order and time for all things including romance.

Um, no it doesn’t.

Proverbs 23:27 (RSV) says: “For a harlot is a deep pit; an adventuress is a narrow well.”  Or, if you like the Douay-Rheims: “For a harlot is a deep ditch: and a strange woman is a narrow pit.”

I also tried it as Proverbs 27:23, just in case you just transposed the numbers.  “Be diligent to know the countenance of thy cattle, and consider thy own flocks.”  So, no luck there, either.

I searched the online Douay-Rheims for “outdoor,” for “task,” and “establish,” and none of those words returned any result remotely resembling what you just quoted.

I have no idea where you got that alleged bible verse, but if you can’t even quote scripture correctly, why should we listen to you, again?

The true man of virtue, who is mature and responsible, will ensure himself and his finances are in order, to properly care for his prospective wife and family, before embarking on courtship. Otherwise, it is like a pilot planning a flight with insufficient plane fuel. A man who is unemployed or not gainfully employed has no business courting.

Once again, you’re implying that “courting” and “dating” are different.  If a guy is broke and living in his mom’s basement, does he have enough money to take a girl to see a movie?  Probably not.  So no, a broke guy doesn’t go on dates, either, and probably isn’t looking to get married.  You’re creating an issue where there isn’t one.

If one is sure that one has a vocation to marriage, but is not yet able to court i.e. due to age, or still in school or not able to provide for a family, then one has no business keeping company with the opposite sex. You do not want to be an occasion of sin to the other person.

There you go again with the “keeping company” thing.  If I live in the real world, I am required to “keep company” with male human beings, some of whom are single.  Just walk into a restaurant or any office in the country.  Spending time alone with a man is not automatically a “near occasion of sin.”  If it is for you, once again, I recommend you find yourself a spiritual advisor, and stop projecting your problem onto the rest of us.  Men and women can be friends without being an occasion of sin for the other.  Good Grief, men and women can be acquaintances and coworkers without being an occasion of sin for the other.

It’s a sin of presumption to place yourself in the danger of sin before you are able to provide for a family.

Placing yourself “in the danger of sin” is always bad.  But how can being in the same workplace with a member of the opposite sex automatically equal an occasion of sin?

Seriously, if I agreed with half the stuff you’ve written so far, I’d be wearing a burka and praying towards Mecca five times a day.

In Summary, there are two main pre-requisites for courtship:

  • You must be prepared financially, spiritually and mentally
  • He must be in gainful employment and financially able to fulfill his prospective obligations as a husband by providing for his family

Whoa, double standard much?  “You” must be prepared financially, spiritually, and mentally, but hey, so long as the guy has gainful employment, he’s good.

Sure, go ahead and treat that potential husband and father to your children like a means to an end and see how that works out for you.

So now we know that courtship itself is a process, but what does this process entail?

Here are the stages of a traditional Catholic Courtship.

Once again, you’re flinging that “traditional Catholic” label around again with nothing but your own opinion to back it up.

FRIENDSHIP STAGE

In this stage, you are primarily looking to see if

  • you have things in common
  • there is some physical attraction
  • if he is able to take care of his manly marital obligations to protect and provide

Okay, things in common, physical attraction, and does he have a job.  Sounds like what I’d be looking for on a first date.  Glad we could clear that up.

Highlights of this stage include:

  • It should last between 3-6months or less
  • You should avoid being alone together
  • You should avoid emotional intimacy
  • There should be no signs of physical affection between you
  • Any dates or time spent together should be within a group setting or in the company of others
  • You get to know each other in a very casual manner via a few short telephone conversations and socializing together in group settings

“Avoid emotional intimacy”?  “Within a group setting”?  “Short telephone conversations”?

Check your calendar.  This is not the 18th century.  And re-read the above paragraphs on the whole “near occasion of sin” thing.  If you’re that uptight about spending time alone with a man (in broad daylight and not in a bedroom or other tempting location), you’re the one with the problem, not dating in general.

During this stage, you need to be completely detached in order to have clarity of judgment to determine whether he/she has virtue or not.

“Completely detached,” is it?  Yeah.  You go right ahead and act like that.  I’ll wait right here.

We’re human beings.  We form attachments with people.  There are varying degrees of attachment, and one of them is friendship.  It’s impossible to “get to know” someone without SOME kind of attachment forming, even if it’s just the “we know each other’s names and that neither of us like sushi, and we both like Marvel movies” and “I kind of like this person, let me find out if we can like each other better.”

Regardless of how handsome or talented he may be or of how much money he has, if he has no virtue, you will be absolutely miserable in the marriage and will pay for it for the rest of your life.

And what if the woman in the scenario has no virtue, hmm?  Going to address that, are you?

Once you two have determined that you intend to court, he needs to approach your father or male head of the home to ask permission to court you and then you two move on to the next stage.

We do not live in the 18th century . . . get that into your head or we’ll never get anywhere.  I am not living in Afghanistan.  I have a great deal of respect for my father, but I am not his property, and I am not under his protection.  His permission is not required for anyone I might care to date . . . or court, whatever.  I would hope the gentleman in question would earn my father’s approval by his actions, but my father’s permission is neither here nor there.  I am not a minor (and if I was, I wouldn’t be dating OR courting); I am an adult, and can make my own decisions on who I’m planning to date . . . or court . . . or engage in some social activities for a short amount of time to attempt to discern whether the two of us have the vocation of marriage.  Whatever you want to call it.  Get your head out of the Jane Austen novels and back to reality where it belongs.

COURTSHIP

In this stage, you are primarily looking to see:

  • if he has enough virtue as well as if he is able to practice moderation of his sexual desires towards you.
  • if he able to sacrifices for you by showing self-denial and self-control in his sexual urges.  If he is not man enough to make these sacrifices now, when you marry him, you will receive the nasty surprise of him being an adulterer or porn addict
  • if this person will give you the best chance, as well as your future children, of getting to heaven.
  • if he loves you.  His love for you will be evidenced by his ability for sacrifice and self-denial of his urges towards you, by his respect for your honor and your reputation, and also by his ability to do the hard work of providing for you.

. . . and where are the guidelines for how you’re supposed to treat him?  How about you making sure you can “moderate your sexual desires towards him”?  How about you giving him “the best chance, as well as your future children, of getting to heaven”?

It works both ways.

Highlights of this stage:

  • It should last between 3 – 6 months or less
  • There should be no sign of physical affection between you as you need to be detached so you can objectively  discern if you should marry him
  • You should avoid being alone together;  this shows respect for God and respect for the person that you claim to love
  • You will be spending a little bit more time together in this stage, but you need to avoid late night dates and ensure that your time together is spent in public or in the company of friends or family members – this way, the public acts as a chaperone.
  • You will, at this stage, also get to meet and know each others’ families

So, you have to be “detached” and “objectively discern” whether or not you should marry . . . good luck with that.  No human being is THAT objective.  True, neither party in a relationship should let fluffy “feelings” dictate their entire relationship, because feelings change, and fluffy romance is only nice for a short time or in movies.  But that doesn’t mean that those fluffy feelings are objectively wrong, or shouldn’t be there at all.  They, too, have their proper place in a relationship.  We’re not teenagers with a crush, but we’re not supposed to be robots, either.

A truly virtuous and honorable man will defend your purity, your honour, and your reputation.  If he is not doing this, he will not make a good husband or father as he has no clue on protecting and defending his family.

And how about you safeguarding HIS honor and reputation, hmm?  Once again, it works both ways, and if you can’t do that for him, then you certainly don’t qualify as the prospective mother of his children.

During this stage, he would be looking to see if you are able to submit to him; if you show inclination to submit to him.

You did not just say that.

You mean like they “submit” to the males in their lives?

I’m sure you’re making a horrible attempt to reference Ephesians 5:22: “Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord.”  But that isn’t the same thing as “submitting” to anyone.  Fluffy Horde members or psychotic feminists trying to debunk Christianity like to hold up that verse as proof that Christians in general (and Catholics in particular) are backward, evil, misogynist pigs.  Turns out, they’re just as wrong as you are.

That verse doesn’t mean that a wife must blindly obey or “submit to” her husband at all times and in all things.  If that was what it meant, it would be permission for every emotionally and physically abusive spouse in the history of the world.  What it actually means is for the wife to follow her husband’s lead as the head of the household, because division between mom and dad in front of the kids is a recipe for disaster.

To get the whole message, you have to keep reading the verses that come after it:

Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church: Because we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:23-30)

Just to clarify, this is the way a husband ought to love his wife, according to this bit of scripture:

Yeah, gentlemen.  Love your wives as Christ loved the Church.  Not a single bit of fluffyness in there, is there?

So, ladies, your husband loves you enough to die for you in the horrific fashion pictured above.  In return, you love him just that much, and because successful families don’t operate like an American democracy, but more like a hierarchy (like . . . oh, right, the Church), he takes the lead as the head of the house.  He is responsible for your safety and well-being, and that of your kids, too.  He loves and cherishes you; you in turn love and cherish him.  If each one loves the other more than himself, then neither one is lacking.  There’s order in the home, and the kind of love that “nourisheth” and “cherisheth,” so that both of you (and all your kids) can be saved.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.  This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself: and let the wife fear her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

“Fear” in this case doesn’t mean “fear” justifying a bully or a tyrant; it means closer to “reverence.”  Go find a copy of Strong’s Concordance, and you’ll see.  English is a crappy language when it comes to strict accuracy.

So you reducing that beautiful, amazing description of mutual love between a husband and wife to the word “submit” (with no other explanation or follow-up) is just plain disgusting, not to mention inaccurate, incomplete, and downright fraudulent.  With that kind of attitude, you’d be more at home in a mosque.

ENGAGEMENT AND BETHROTAL

The engagement is when you make the decision to get married.the engagement is when you make the decision to marry.

It generally begins with him asking your parents or family elders for your hand in marriage and then proposing to you.

In what universe?

Once again, as an adult, I am not under my father’s protection.  Not in the society we live in; that’s just a simple fact.  I pay my own rent and bills, have my own job, and decide for myself who I will marry, or not.  My father (and, oh, right, my mother) would either give their approval or disapproval to the person I chose, and I, as a good daughter raised right by the aforementioned parental units, would respect their opinion of my choice, and would strive to choose someone that would merit their approval.

But their “permission” has nothing to do with my decision, as a mature, responsible adult in the Catholic Church.

If you’re so emotionally immature that you require your father’s permission to do something so life-changing, maybe you should reconsider the whole “marriage” thing.

On a more practical note, what happens if my father is dead?  My nearest other relative would be my younger brother.  Am I supposed to have his permission to marry someone?

What if I don’t have a brother?  Then what?  According to your rules, I’m completely out of luck.  I apparently can’t get married without SOMEONE’S permission . . . what would I do, go find my uncle?  A cousin?  Where does it end, and how in the world does my uncle or cousin or whoever know me well enough to either grant or withhold their PERMISSION for me to do something so momentous as GET MARRIED IN THE CHURCH?

In ancient times, the Church did not consider a couple actually married until they underwent the rite of Bethrotal.

Although, the use of this rite has fallen to the side, a lot of traditional Catholics and bringing this back into practice.

Okay, fine.  I like good, Catholic traditions.  A ceremony for a betrothal?  Sounds cool.  As Catholics, we still publish the banns, so that’s already covered, anyway.

So after the proposal and engagement, you both go to the Priest to get betrothed.

Sorry, these days, that’s optional.  Most people call their home parish and ask “hey, can we sign up for Pre-Cana?  And can we claim a Saturday for the wedding next year?”

Once you get betrothed, you are both bound to marriage unless it is a grave cause.

Says who?  Last time I checked, an engaged couple WASN’T MARRIED YET, so they still can’t have sex, and they can break off the engagement if something happens and they realize it’s a bad idea.  If they weren’t allowed to change their minds at this point, then they WOULDN’T BE ENGAGED, they’d be MARRIED ALREADY.

“Bound to marriage”?  What does that even mean?  “Unless it is a grave cause”?  I think you meant “you are both bound to get married unless there is a grave cause to prevent it.”

You fail.

Still, during this period, there should be limited and very moderated signs of affection.

Once again, we already know the rule about “no sex before marriage,” and if you’re engaged, you’re not married.  But hand holding, a hug, a kiss on the cheek, maybe a light kiss on the lips . . . go for it.  People show affection through physical signs as well as words.  The line between those appropriate physical signs of affection and an occasion of sin is a spot the two of you should have settled between yourselves a long time ago, and it’s different for each couple.

The length of this stage should be between 3-5 months. So aim to get married within 5 months or less.

Under what rock do you live?  The absolute bare minimum for marriage prep is six months.  It varies according to the rules laid down in each individual diocese, but the shortest I’ve ever heard of is six months.

According to Canon Law, specifically Canons 1603 and 1604, the rules laid down for marriage preparations are left up to the local ordinary (aka, the bishop of your diocese).  As I said, the minimum is different depending on where you are.  In Virginia, I believe their dioceses say six months.  Down here in Fort Worth, it’s nine months to a year.  So, you’re either blindingly ignorant, or you’re deliberately trying to get around the rules laid down for you by the bishop in your diocese.

Why should I listen to you, again?

Highlights of this stage:

  • To avoid near occasion of sin, any signs of affection should be very limited and in small doses
  • Avoid alone time together
  • Yes, you can hold hands occasionally, but definitely no French-kissing.  For reasons why read my article on The Perils of Passionate Kissing for The Unmarried.
  • You can now begin to show signs of submission to him ie deferring to him on major decisions and so on as you both plan for your coming wedding and marriage
  • You should still be practicing self-control and he should still be showing self-denial towards you at this stage.  If he is unable to deny himself now, he would be unable to deny himself after marriage

So . . . I can’t spend alone time with someone I plan to spend LOTS of alone time with for the rest of my natural life?

One of the points of dating and marriage prep is to gain useful life experience (in the proper, chaste context, of course) in how to live with this person.  Because, guess what, there are no do-overs.  You can’t change your mind after you say “I do.”

If I am NEVER EVER allowed to talk to this person or spend time with him outside the watchful eye of my parents, how will I ever know how we will really act around each other when no one is watching?

And seriously, there you go with the whole “submission” thing again.  You’re just as horribly wrong about that in this paragraph as you were before, and I’m done repeating myself.

By adhering to above guidelines for a holy courtship, you can look forward to having a happy, holy and faithful marriage.

Oh, so it’s that simple, is it?  I wish.


Marriage isn’t something to be undertaken lightly; that’s why Holy Mother Church has things like Pre-Cana classes, marriage prep courses, sponsor couples, and the advice of a priest for two people considering that.  Marriage is the building block of any society — married folks have kids, and raise them, and those kids are the ones who will be running this society in another twenty years — and the Church has an interest in protecting it and the people who decide to get married.

What your little “guidelines” do is the exact opposite of any of that.  You’re not protecting anyone; you’re holding up an impossible standard of behavior that is utterly foreign to the society we live in, and would cripple any person’s attempt to find a husband or wife.  We’re not supposed to be “of the world;” but we do have to live here.  It’s our job to make the world better, and retreating from it and into a Jane Austen novel isn’t going to accomplish that.  It’ll make us miserable, and prevent us from changing the society we’re in.  If we listen to you and your “guidelines,” we’ll be crippling ourselves, and abandoning our duty to fight for what’s right and good out there in the scary, sometimes dangerous society.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we should just jump into the society and do exactly what it tells us to do.  Saint Vincent de Paul said: “As it is most certain that the teaching of Christ cannot deceive, if we would walk securely, we ought to attach ourselves to it with greatest confidence and to profess openly that we live according to it, and not to the maxims of the world, which are all deceitful. This is the fundamental maxim of all Christian perfection.”

We can cling to a desire to be chaste; we can go on a date both to have a fun time and to discern whether or not I’m called to be with this person for the rest of my life; we can decide for ourselves whether or not to marry a particular person, with no one’s permission.  And we can do all of that while still remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Nothing you said has anything to do with the real teachings of Christ or His Church; they’re the anachronistic daydreams of someone who wants to hide from the world, not change it for the better.  I can go on a date, and still cling tightly to those teachings, and save myself and maybe help someone else to do the same by that means.

All I’ll get if I listen to your “guidelines” is a migraine.

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