For Valentine's Day: Consider Courtship -McManus
Thu Jan 27 20:54:52 EST 2000
from: Smart Marriages
January 27, 2000
Advance for Jan. 29, 2000
(first of a two-part series)
FOR VALENTINE'S DAY: CONSIDER COURTSHIP
by Mike McManus
As Valentine's Day approaches, if you are single, do you find
asking life's biggest questions: "Where am I going? Who is going with me?
How will I find my life partner, and know that he or she is the one?
we live together first to find out?"
There are nearly 50 million never-married American adults -- more
ever before, because they don't have good answers to these questions. In
college, millions live in dorms with both genders, with manifold
opportunities for quick sex, what they call "hooking up."
Fortunately, Leon and Amy Kass, married nearly 40 years, and
at the University of Chicago for 25 years, have written an inspiring new
called "Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying."
an anthology of the best writing ever about wooing and winning a life
Instead of Seinfeld and Ally McBeal, it offers Shakespeare's "Romeo and
Juliet," the Bible's "Song of Songs," from Tolstoy's "War and Peace, the
courtship of Emile and Sophie."
"We invite people to ponder why Adam and Eve, when their eyes were
opened, covered their nakedness," says Amy Kass. "Can modesty transform
into love? What does Socrates mean when he says that love is of
or Kierkegaard mean when he says that absolute faith in marriage is the
attribute that makes a man lovable? Why does C.S. Lewis think that Eros
cannot deliver what it promises without the promises of marriage?
"What does Robert Frost mean in suggesting to his daughter and her
"Two such as you with such a master speed/Cannot be parted nor be
From one another once you are agreed/That life is only life
Together wing to wing and oar to oar."
Leon Kass, calls their book and new college course, "a superior kind
sex education. Present sex education is stripped of the context of love
lasting marriage. We've found a way to educate hearts and minds without
preaching. The imagination allows students to identify with characters
don't meet on the street, who can move their hearts and souls to a finer,
higher, truer understanding."
As Amy Kass put it at a seminar hosted by the American Enterprise
Institute, "We think the time is ripe for a sexual counter-revolution and
renewal in love that leads to marriage. More and more people, especially
young women, are owning up to their personal unhappiness with, and are
looking for alternatives to, the hook-up culture."
However, when asked how students are reacting to this rich diet on
courtship, Leon Kass said, "Their reactions are mixed. There has been no
active rebellion, no wild and ideological reactions. They are taking it
seriously. But some of their sensibilities are odd. The class had a hard
understanding what shame has to do with nakedness. One said, `Why should
be embarrassed about being naked?'"
Other student opinions are pitiful: "The thought of living with the
person for 50 years is simply incredible." :"We are not supposed to get
married until we are 28, so we know from the beginning of all our sexual
relationships that they are supposed to be impermanent."
However, the Kasses believe that beneath this unromantic,
cynicism, young people really do have longings for wholeness, intimacy
fidelity - longings that they do not yet realize could be satisfied by
They assert that women have power to demand courtship. "Men make
advances, women should offer resistance plus the promise of yielding
the man prove worthy," said Amy Kass: "This a woman does not because she
sexually repressed, but because it is marriage she is after - not
brief affairs, or even a long-term relationship. If women as a group
more sexual self-restraint and eschew cohabitation, men will be compelled
David Blankenhorn, President of the Institute for American Values, is
delighted that "middle-aged academics, are telling the world that they
uncovered a new cure-all wonder drug for young people who want to find
love. Amy and Leon have reinserted courtship into our national
on sexuality, love and marriage in this rich book full of beauty, truth
But Blankenhorn is alarmed by the withdrawal of parents giving
to their adult children. "This generation of adults lives in
ignorance about the mate selection behavior of their own children. This
calls on parents who have abdicated their responsibility "to reflect on
we might do to change things."
Why not give the book to your unmarried children?
END TXT © Copyright Michael J. McManus 2000.
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