Roughly one in three marriages in the United States are likely to end in divorce, according to national statistics. But some Christians believe they’ve found a solution by handing over the task of matchmaking to God.
A 2015 documentary by filmmaker Amy Kohn goes inside the world of Christian courtship through the lens of Kelly Boggus, a single woman in her late 30s who is saving herself for marriage. In her 20s, Boggus moved in with the Wrights, a Michigan family in whom she entrusted the important responsibility of helping her find a mate.
The Wrights run a website called “Save The Kiss” to espouse Christian courtship as a lifestyle. As practiced by the Wrights and some other American Christians, this form of courtship centers around the belief that God is in charge of bringing romantic partners together. Young people are expected to abstain from any romantic interaction with the opposite sex ― including kissing ― until marriage.
A young person’s parents, and particularly his or her father, are responsible for vetting potential mates and praying for signs that the pair is compatible. If it is ― and if the young people consent ― then a marriage is arranged.
Ron and Dawn Wright became Boggus’s “spiritual parents” to guide her on the journey of courtship, as her own parents were against the idea. “I think it’s weird,” her stepfather says in the film.
Kohn said when she first learned about Christian courtship the concept fascinated her.
“I couldn’t believe something like courtship existed,” the filmmaker told The Huffington Post. “Parents working in conjunction with God to find their child’s spouse was a very foreign concept to me.”
But for Boggus and the Wrights, Christian courtship adheres to God’s own expectations for sex and marriage. On their website, the family writes: “Courtship is the process of finding out if it is God’s will for a boy and a girl to get married.”
“They truly believe that practicing courtship is the best way to protect their kids from heartbreak and divorce."”
But it isn’t just about God. The Wrights also view courtship to be the only cure for what they call “the date-and-heartbreak cycle” in which they say most young people are trapped.
“They truly believe that practicing courtship is the best way to protect their kids from heartbreak and divorce,” Kohn said.
Ron and Dawn started their own relationship in a typical, American fashion and went through a number of emotional upheavals in the early years of their marriage, they explain in the film. They decided to adopt courtship principles later on and are now raising their biological daughters in this tradition.
Kohn, who said she is non-religious and comes “from a liberal political perspective,” had never known people who practiced Christian courtship before meeting the Wrights. But despite their differences, Kohn said there were aspects of their belief system she could understand.
“At the time [of filming] I was single and I hated having to look for potential dates,” Kohn said. “When I learned that in courtship someone else did this work...I thought it made courtship somewhat relatable to other single people looking for a mate.”
But as the documentary depicts, the process can be slow going and doesn’t always end in marriage. It’s been five years since Kohn first showed up at the Wrights’s doorstep to begin filming. According to the filmmaker, Boggus is still living with the family and has yet to find a mate.
“I was really in awe of the Wrights and Kelly because they have such faith in God – an unshakeable faith,” Kohn said. “I think their faith gives them hope and a sense of promise for their lives that is really wonderful.”