Caution: Explicit language.
When discussing dating and courtship, one of the most popular lines to defend courtship is the belief that when dating, you give pieces of your heart to each person you date. This belief is again based on a belief that all forms of dating mean that you “fall in love quickly”, that you end up having physical or sexual contact on the very first date and that you are certainly not finding a suitable spouse by dating.
Now obviously, the godly courtship doesn’t face any of these struggles – yet another belief. When courting, you’re not supposed to fall in love. It’s ok if there is a “spark”, but anything more wouldn’t lead you into a courtship simply because the danger of giving a piece of your heart to the “wrong” person is so big. So essentially, you should not be or fall in love with your courting partner.
I was raised in this belief and I was very strong in it. I was obsessed with guarding my heart, hoping it would please my parents, especially my dad. If I had to draw a picture of myself for you, imagine I’d be the princess sitting on a throne in a spotless white dress. My dad was a strong knight, guarding the gates to my castles, slaying every man who wasn’t clean enough for his taste. And even once he let somebody in, he was eager for the man to stay at the opposite side of the room, not letting him anywhere near me or my heart.
Only when the time of engagement comes a courting couple is allowed to actually try to start feeling something. But in some groups (not all of them), you’re still not allowed to touch. You can tell these couples by looking at them – a lot of times, they use some kind of device, like a stick or a piece of fabric, that they both hold on one end, as a replacement for holding hands. Every form of physical contact with the opposite gender is feared to “give something away”.
Now I can tell you from personal experience, the term “heart” is just a cover-up for something entirely different. Heart stands for virginity, better yet, for hymen. Essentially all the big fuss boils down to that. Any form of touching the other’s body is considered a harm to the girl’s heart/hymen.
As a young woman growing up, I had some “female problems”, nothing bad really but I felt like I should see a doctor just to make sure it’s all normal. My mother had huge issues talking to me about it, I couldn’t ask her a thing. I approached her with a lie, saying that I felt something was very wrong and I needed to see a doctor, knowing she wouldn’t let me go for the real reason. And yet, she denied me to see a gynecologist. I asked her why that was, and her answer was that there can’t be anything wrong “if the seal isn’t broken”. That was her euphemism for hymen. My seeing a doc would only lead to my “seal” being broken. And then what would I tell my husband? It would make me look like a liar. Every girl who’s not a virgin tells her husband that she isn’t “sealed” because of sports, the doctor or something else. Every guy knew that was the typical excuse. This conversation scared me. I was honestly afraid I had already broken my hymen by accident and would look like an adulteress. It cost me some sleepless nights and long prayer sessions.
I know they all say that the hymen isn’t what makes a girl a virgin. But while they say that, they mean the opposite.
Years ago I overheard a story my dad told my mom. It was about a guy and a girl who had just gotten married and were very unhappy. On their wedding night, he didn’t feel any resistance when breaking her “seal”, and neither was there any blood. The man felt robbed of this experience and was sure his wife actually wasn’t a virgin before marriage. He even thought of getting a divorce on the base of adultery. My dad felt sorry for the man, agreeing that he has a good enough reason to be divorced from his wife.
I started thinking about it and realized that it really wasn’t about the heart. All the planning of a wedding boiled down to defloration. What the bride should wear, something that was easily accessible and sexy at the same time. The fact that our weddings end at 10PM. That the place we spend our wedding nights at is usually in maximum half an hour distance. The fact that no christian fundamentalist man cares about planning the wedding, only about when and where the wedding night will be. I felt exploited. Back then I was courting Harry and I realized that the biggest virtue I had to offer wasn’t my meekness, my simple mind, my godliness, my biblical approach, nothing of that compared to my biggest virtue: I had an intact hymen.
At the end of the day, dating vs. courtship isn’t about the heart. It’s about the man opening a woman like a can of diet soda. If he doesn’t get to do that, it’s like somebody spit into your can of soda: You don’t drink it, you throw it away.