Saturday, May 26, 2012

Background: A Brief History of Dating

Here is an excerpt from a really good article called "The Gospel and Sex" by Tim Keller. It speaks on the evolution of "dating" and "going out." I hope we remember this in about 13 years…


In the United States prior to 1910, young adults engaged in the practice of “calling.” A man asked if he could “call on” a woman; this meant visiting and getting to know her in her home surrounded by her family. Some- time after World War I a new system arose that was loosely termed “going out.” A man would ask a woman to accompany him to a place of entertainment. In her book From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth- Century America, Beth Bailey sums up what this change meant, the foremost change being a shift in power from the woman to the man. (17) When “calling,” the man entered an unfamiliar setting in which the woman was at ease and controlled the time, tone, and agenda of their time together. In “going out,” the man gained the power to determine the setting, tone, and agenda.

A second change was a shift in focus from the family to the couple. With calling, the man first entered the woman’s family, and the family had a great deal of control over whom its young adults were seeing and spending time with. With going out, however, the couple gets to know one another with little or no family input. Families have far less information and far less opportunity to counsel regarding the advisability of a relationship.

A third change was the shift in emphasis from assessing character to having a good time. Instead of the qualities that make a person a good mate (faithfulness, steadiness, honesty, responsibility), the desirable qualities became superficial ones like attractiveness, sexual chemistry, and social status.

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