04.03.09

Courting Rules

Posted in Excerpts at 08:55 am by admin

EXCERPT – Chapter Twenty Three – Courting Rules   

 

Ramona and Virgil Smith

Ramona and Virgil Smith

     In May of 1950, right after I had turned sixteen, I received a warning letter from an American missionary named Virgil Smith.  Missionary Smith was at least as charismatic as my father.  He was known as a handsome man, forty-six years old, and highly intelligent.  He’d trained as a dentist in the United States before becoming an Assemblies of God missionary.  Missionary Smith’s wife, Ramona, was as beautiful as he was handsome, but was tragically crippled by a long and deadly battle with Parkinson’s disease.—     

     Missionary Smith’s letter to me was apparently prompted by a complaint he had received from one of his church members about a young girl named Dulcinea.  It seemed that Dulcinea was having a relationship with a boy who was not a member of the church.  The tattletale member and Missionary Smith both remembered that Dulcinea and I had been good friends during my stays in Joinville.  Undoubtedly, they said, I was the one who had influenced Dulcinea to sin. —     

     “Have nothing to do with ‘puppy love!” he wrote.  “It is not of God.  No good comes out of it, but much evil.  We do not permit it in Santa Catarina.  It is considered sin by the leaders of this work.” —     

     He then kindly enumerated, just in case I was unclear, the Official Instructions of the Churches in Santa Catarina:

  • 1. Courtship and dates are permissible for those who intend to get married and are of sufficient age. All courtship just for pastime is sinful.
  • 2. All dating must be in the presence of chaperones.
  • 3. All “petting” is considered carnal and sinful.
  • 4. All love affairs with unbelievers are considered sinful, and tantamount to forsaking God.
  • 5. Those who practice these things are considered rebellious and therefore subject to exclusion from the church.
  • 6. None of this prohibits friendly conversation between the young people of both sexes. There is clearly a difference between wholesome conversation and courtship. Wholesome conversations need not be in secret. There need not be dates set for wholesome conversation.

    Graceann’s Comments:

          After reading this chapter in my book, a friend who intimately understands the Koran remarked that these courting rules were very similar to the ones practiced by fundamentalist Muslims.  These rules, were only a few of the ones that I was expected to live by and as the preacher’s daughter, I was expected to set an example.  These rules became impossible for me to follow. I was constantly seen talking to friends who were not members of our church. However, in the accusation that I influenced Dulcinea, I was very upset because I knew that I had absolutely no influence on her choice of boyfriends.  I expected my Dad to be on my side and was terribly disappointed when he did not believe me and insisted I apologize to Brother Smith. I refused to apologize.  Dad seemed very sad and disappointed at my decision.  I too felt sad about this conflict with my father, but I also felt betrayed by him because he should have believed me.      

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