Lexet’s critique of Sigma Frame’s models of courtship and marital structure.
Topic: Courtship, Sigma Frame’s article, Models of Courtship and Marital Structure (2018 October 3).*
Audience: Christian men; Single men; Pastors; Elders;
- This study was conducted by the author of Lexet Iustitia, and was first published on 2018 October 4.
- This article was updated on 2018/10/4 and revised for reposting on 2020/2/7.
- Updates are underlined, not in bold.
- Sigma Frame (SF) has added some commentary in blue text.
Feel free to ask questions or critique below. It is not a full length analysis of every aspect of Sigma Frame’s original article.
This article addresses Sigma Frame’s article about courtship, and the power dynamics within a courtship. I encourage all to read it, although non-Christians are likely to not care nor be interested in it. As a Christian, it is important to know and understand what the Biblical model for “finding a wife” is. In the article below, the reader will come to understand what the word of God says on the issue (which is what I affirm).
Something to consider, however, is that even in Christian circles, men face the dilemma of being forced into a non-biblical, or even anti-biblical, system to become married. This dilemma subjects Christian men to intense temptation, and puts them under extreme pressure to marry, if they wish to retain their sexual purity. I do not aim to address that here, or what to do if you encounter this dilemma. I may touch on that later, but I believe a man should understand what marriage is, who he is, and what he expects his wife-to-be to be, before he considers a relationship.
Depending on the woman, her family, and church circumstances, it’s possible that a man might have to be flexible in his approach (dating vs. courtship). For instance, it would be practical to date a woman in her middle to upper twenties who lives alone, while it may be more prudent to court a younger woman, or woman who lives with her parents.
I. SIGMA FRAME’S POSITION (and definitions)
Sigma Frame defines two courtship models, which correspond to the sex holding the majority of “power” in the interaction.
- The Courtly Love Model is the traditional (for modern times) model where the female holds power. For the sake of clarity, SF has taken the liberty to label a marriage based on this model as a matrimony. This is the dominant model for courtship, and is the dominant model in Bible believing Christian circles (Reformed, Evangelical, and Baptist).
- The Respectful Courtship Model (humorously labeled as the “Tingly Respect model” in SF’s essay) is the historical norm. Again, for the sake of clarity in meaning, SF has labeled a marriage based on this model as a patrimony (from Latin, patrimonium, or the obligation of the father).
SF: These models are further defined and explored in a follow up essay, The Feminine Dilemma (2018 October 27).
Marriage is known as “holy matrimony,” and stems from “Matrimonium.” Matrimonium is the combination of mater (mother) and monium (obligation). Matrimonium used to be a system where the wife should become a mother, and stay with the father of that child. From a highly technical, and semantic point of view, it appears that defining a marriage as matrimonial according to the Courtly Love model does not make sense.
However, the legal definition of patrimonium is the private and exclusive ownership or dominion of an individual, to the exclusion of others. Sigma Frame’s article is about the FRAME of the courtship, the relationship itself, and how they contrast. The contrast of Matrimony and Patrimony fit into this narrative. The fact that this distinction has lasted for centuries is a major clue to the truth of how relationships should operate.
SF: There are several reasons why I adopted these two words, “matrimony” and “patrimony”, to refer to the respectively defined relationship structures. These reasons are briefly described here.
- “Patrimony” is used to replace “matrimony” when referring specifically to the Tingly Respect model, in order to easily and clearly make a distinction between the two relational structures.
- The word “patrimony” accurately reflects the nature of the Respect model.
- English culture has used the word “matrimony” to refer to a marriage since circa 1300 AD, which is around the same time that the perverted concept of Chivalry appeared.
- Reintroducing the word “patrimony” to replace “matrimony” makes a break with the tradition of Chivalry (and modern Churchianity), and returns (nominally and symbolically) to an earlier tradition which has been replaced in modern times by Chivalry and Feminism.
- It is important to differentiate between the two structures so that people can make a clear distinction of what they expect in a marriage, and also communicate this in meaningful words.
B. My Position on Sigma Frame’s Definitions:
I agree that these are good working definitions for the courting phase/pre-marriage phase of a relationship.
For those of us in modern times, the traditional norm of a relationship is that men chase and initiate, while women respond. From my own understanding, this has been the predominant model since Victorian times, when men would “call” on women, and meet in the parlor rooms of the woman’s family home. This custom has fallen out of practice, but the model itself is still hammered into most men from a young age, from all angles, especially pop culture (as of 2008, when logic and reason were turned upside down).
In the context of the Christian community, this is also true to an unhealthy degree. Christian men are taught that men initiate, and take charge of the relationship. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Prov. 18:22) is quoted to death in these circles. But the reality on the ground is that Feminism and Chivalry dominate the intersexual dynamics being taught and practiced in the church, and as such, marriage is more of a risk than a benefit, Christianity notwithstanding. (Dalrock has explored the deceptiveness of this belief in detail.)
My personal viewpoint is traditional, and now a minority view in Christianity: Men are to take charge, take responsibility, and provide for their families. They lead their household.
However, there is no Biblical basis for saying the individual man is personally responsible for making this relationship happen. The very same book of the Bible that is cited to push men to be proactive in their dealings with women also tells men to not waste their strength on women.
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” ~ Proverbs 20:29 (ESV)
“Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.” ~ Proverbs 31:3 (NIV)
“33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.” ~ 1st Corinthians 7:33-34 (ESV).
With a minimal number of exceptions, the norm throughout the Bible is a man dealing with the father of his interest, or the fathers of both arranging the relationship. (That is not to say there was no veto power by the man or woman in the cultures of the era when scriptures were recorded.)
Even the exceptions prove this rule: Boaz (or his relative) was bound by law to marry Ruth, as her kinsman redeemer. In fact, there was another kinsman redeemer closer in the line of “priority.” Boaz only married her after going through his city’s leaders, and receiving permission from the other redeemer. It was also a legal obligation of his. He took responsibility, but he didn’t initiate the relationship.
The other exception commonly cited is Hosea, a prophet who was commanded by God to find a wife of whoredom, in order to graphically illustrate the specific nature of Israel’s spiritual adulteries. Hosea’s marriage (and presumably all the drama and gossip that came along with it) was intended to make the Israelites aware of God’s perspective on their spiritual profligacies, and so shame them into repentance.
However, in most pulpits, the command for Hosea to “man up and marry that slore” is the underlying message emphasized. Meanwhile, the risk, heartbreak, and implicit fraud involved with Hosea (or any modern man) marrying a promiscuous woman, or having an adulterous wife, are totally ignored. It is not by coincidence, that this omission mutes God’s perspective on the issue altogether, and shunts any sense of shame that might arise in the parish.
Quite frankly, the book of Hosea, and the Church’s spin on its message, proves more Red Pill principles than just about any other book or chapter of the Bible.
II. THE PRESUMPTIONS OF POWER IN A COURTSHIP (OR RELATIONSHIP)
Sigma Frame claims: men tend to (1) comply, while women tend to (2) fight to establish power, or (3) fold and bow out of the relationship. I can agree to this assertion in general, but believe there are strong exceptions to this, as both sexes have tendencies to do (1) and (3).
As per (2), the word of God makes it clear that, as part of the curse on man, women will try to usurp the authority of her husband.
“Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” ~ Genesis 3:16.
Regarding (3), I think the tendency for males is to fold to the woman, or to “make them happy” and give the woman what they want.
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and [disobeyed my command]… cursed is the ground because of you…” ~ Genesis 3:17.
The result of this curse is that there is constant friction between the sexes, with power being a fluid force. Men tend to abuse their power, or give it to the woman, who tends to desire that power. It takes great strength and willpower for a man to find that balance.
A. The Courtly Love Model
The very nature of the Courtly Love model is that the man must conform to her wishes and whims, and act according to her schedule. The man pedestalizes the woman in every way: he singles her out, she knows this up front, and he must perform in order to win her affection. He is at her mercy the entire time. The woman definitely holds the power in this system.
The Courtly Love system is Blue Pill (or anti- Red Pill) because the woman doesn’t operate within the man’s timeframe and prerogatives. He does not set the rules or boundaries of the relationship or how or where it is to be conducted.
Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to maintain a Red Pill Frame in this type of relationship, because the men who participate in this system (1) tend to be of high character, (2) have a moral belief in the model, thinking it is the man’s duty to accommodate his wife, and assuming that love must necessarily adopt a supplicating response, or (3) believe that a particular woman, or the personal rewards of “having and holding her” [Translation: “owning and f*cking her”], makes it worth going through this process. [Note: This is a form of Beta-persistence.]
Sigma Frame is absolutely right in that a man becomes a plea bargainer in this form of a relationship. However, I believe this plea bargaining can occur in any model of relationship that is not properly maintained. (Crappy emo music exists because of plea bargaining betas.)
B. The Respect Model
Sigma Frame posits that in the Respect model, men retain power, but women have an advantage in the way of choice. The model works such that the woman trades her choice for marriage, while the man consolidates his power.
SF: To elaborate further, the woman’s power of choice is phenomenally glorious during her peak SMV years (18-25 years old). This power (based on her youth, beauty, undefiled fecundity, and the inspiration that she imparts to the man) is absolutely necessary to negotiate a high-stakes marriage with a suitable man. By marrying one man during her peak, she forfeits all other men (and experiences with men) as a cost of opportunity, but gains a multitude of benefits through that marriage that will extend throughout her life. Once the woman loses her power by becoming defiled or by waiting until wilting (~30 years old), she forfeits landing a high quality man in marriage, and runs the risk of not marrying at all.
I do not know anyone who has gone through this process for courtship, but have read about it in books or posts online. Some might claim that this is what the Duggar’s practice, but that family calls for the suitor to submit to the father… forever.
SF: The Duggar’s structure seems similar to Confucian Filial Piety, which is the standard family structure in Chinese cultures. The single man does not maintain any sense of personal identity, as he is over shadowed by the patrilinear governance of the family – a senior male figure. This might seem like a drag to younger men, however, the positive flip side is that he receives (1) financial support in developing his career, and (2) mentorship and guidance, in the hope that he will one day assume the position of the patriarch within the family. Younger, independent, feminist women hate this patricentric structure, but more mature, marriage-minded women appreciate the emotional stability, financial security, and the occasional family drama that accompanies this model. It is noteworthy that the Chinese family structure, as it pertains to societal preservation, has lasted since ancient times, and continues to be one of the most stable social structures in the world. Thus, the Filial Piety structure might offer several case studies which manifest the Respect model.
The Respect Model should theoretically work both ways with a father and the suitor: mutual respect, and an understanding of boundaries. From a Christian perspective, this is due to the father’s authority over his household, until the daughter marries and cleaves to her husband.
III. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF BOTH MODELS
A. The Courtly Love Model
“Women are more likely to attract men who possess an equitable SMV/MMV with hers.”
FALSE. In Christian circles, this is highly unlikely. Not only are men and women expected to go to college, but men tend to abandon the church between the ages of 18 and having kids. In my experience, the men who attended were college age and younger, or mid to late thirties, while the women were 18 to mid-twenties. The women are not interested in their peer group (contrary to secular culture). They are openly hypergamous in “not settling” for the not too older, successful, charming, fit, and wealthy man (men who generally don’t exist in a Bible-based church).
SF: Your comments are a fairly accurate description of most churches. But when I say that women are more likely to attract men who possess an equitable SMV/MMV, it doesn’t mean that women will necessarily be attracted to these same men. This is one of the weaknesses of this model, since women cannot respect the type of men that the Courtly Love system delivers to them.
In my situation, I would be forced to consider someone older (never happening), or more than five years younger (no personal opposition and preferred, but most people would not be ok with that these days).
“Men have sincere convictions about committing to an LTR/marriage.”
TRUE. Something must have gone wrong if an Alpha survives this process. Either the relationship was teetering on immorality, or the marriage was against parents’ disrespected wishes.
A friend of mine who went through a super short courtship confessed that his wife admitted she was struggling with temptation. The courtship is supposed to guard against such struggles, meaning the model produced a marriage in spite of the system.
“Men’s honor is assumed.”
FALSE. You will still be shit tested to death. Men are conditioned to fall into the trap, hence so many single Christian girls in their late twenties.
SF: To elaborate further, men’s honor, in this case, is based on the Courtly Love mythos of Chivalry, and how well a man conforms to the rules of Chivalry. Thus, honorable men of high caliber tend to fall into this system. (This is NOT the same type of men that women find attractive, as mentioned earlier.)
- It is popular: TRUE. Case in point: Joshua Harris, even after his retraction of his books.
- The structure inverts the Biblical analogy of marriage: True.
- Marriages based on this model lead to conflict and divorce… Probably FALSE. Marriages from any model come to the same tension and conflict. However, this model speeds up the process, as the woman enters the marriage with this power.
- The Model shows feral inclinations of the flesh: TRUE. This model absolutely promotes pedestalization, and the idea that a man must prove himself to a woman. There is no obligation for the woman to be committed to the relationship.
- Respondent cannot make a determination as to Sigma Frame’s remaining claims due to lack of sufficient information, experience, or belief.
B. The Respect Model
After this sentence, I will post my thoughts in as many words as there are relationships formed from this model: .
In all seriousness, this model needs to be fleshed out. It can only work in a Christian environment, or in a culture influenced by Biblical Christianity, and not churchianity. This model must be fleshed out in order to advocate its implementation. The likelihood of a person finding this in the real world is slim to none. I believe only incredibly orthodox communities that are legalistic and quasi-pharisaical would practice this model (e.g. Doug Wilson’s “church”, Mennonites, Conservative Presbyterians, “fundamentalist” Baptists, or super small, rural, non-denominational churches). However, as our boy Dalrock has pointed out numerous times before, people like Doug Wilson are beta’s in disguise. It is very common for men to vocalize support for Biblical Patriarchy out of insecurity. They lend their voice, but not their actions, to this position.
SF: If they were to see REAL Biblical Patriarchy, they’d lose bowel control and blaspheme.
IV. THE REALITY OF COURTSHIP
A. What Courtship Should Be
For those men who are Red Pill and Christian, who would like to be the man that maintains power over the relationship before marriage, there is really no clear cut way for that to happen. A woman is under her father’s authority until marriage. The man has zero “power,” other than the woman having some interest in him. Ideally, the character of her father would affirm the character of the prospective suitor. That is what the Respect Model should be. A man should display certain alpha qualities in every aspect of his life. The demonstration of his consistent alpha behaviors is key.
1 Corinthians 7:36-38 is sometimes improperly translated, confusing its meaning. Because of improper translations, some say this verse pertains to an engaged man and his virgin bride. This is not the case. In fact, this verse is critical for understanding biblical relationships, because it directly states the authority of a woman to marry, and whom she may marry, is in her father. The verse is properly translated to convey what the Greek text says in the NAS.
“If any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. So both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.”
B. What Courtship Is In Reality
The Great However, however, is that what is described above does not happen in modern Christianity, save for pure ceremonial purposes at a wedding. I know of only one instance where I think it may have happened, and that is from my experience in several denominations, in several regions, of at least four states. That means any suggestion of the Respect Model existing is hearsay, in my opinion.
For my friends, and myself (a successful courtship that left me unscathed), we are forced into operating under the Courtly Love model. Most Christian fathers are not alphas, nor men of character, regardless of what they say or practice. They either prefer a dating model, where they can abdicate their authority (through compliance and folding), and check out of their family, or are puppets of the daughter/wife.
I have never seen a Christian man make a hard decision for his daughter, where he said, “This will be done, for your benefit, regardless of what you think.” In fact, the only time I have seen this happen was to make an awful decision that was not in the best interest of the female, of the church, or as an example for all other single females in the church. A conservative church I attended openly demanded a single pregnant member to abandon the father of the child, against all biblical precedent and common sense. Fortunately for many, I was not present when this announcement was made.
In today’s world, a marriage or relationship is the mutual exchange of mate-choice for commitment. But we are without clear societal and legal controls to guarantee that commitment. Sigma Frame is correct to say that,
“The weak link in the chain is not so much a lack of courage or righteousness in the man’s authority, but in the willingness of the woman to continue in a posture of submission.”
While SF says this is for the Respect Model, this is true for both models of courtship, as proven by recent divorce figures. Regardless of the models used during the pre-marriage phase, every relationship faces the same tension after the exchange of nuptials. In the Red Pill community, this is ascribed to hypergamous tendencies, while in the Christian community, it is ascribed to our sin nature, and a direct result of the curse.
“Women who pine for power, but who fail to achieve it in a relationship, often resort to cheap but greatly annoying substitutions of pseudo-power. This situation is especially prone to occur after a woman loses her SMV/MMV power (AKA “hitting the wall”), while her male counterpart is reaching his peak SMV, which further enhances her sense of insecurity and powerlessness.”
Many men in the red pill community do not realize this, and have a problem in transitioning from being single and Red Pill, to maintaining that “frame” or “mindset” once they are in a LTR. This is men tending to COMPLY. We let our guard down, and think we can ride off the achievements of the past.
The reason why we may see a tendency of marriages to fall apart based on what model was used in establishing the relationship has more to do with the individuals, not the model. The model may have set the pace, so that conflict comes sooner, or in a different way.
While I believe the Church should advocate a method of “courtship,” it is critical to define gender/sex roles, and roles within marriage, and hold firm to those values. Men must decide whether or not the system of marriage in our society is worth the battles he will face.
In all reality, establishing an LTR as a man is committing to lifelong battle against our nature of letting our guard down, fighting against societal pressure against our interest, and fighting the usurpation of our authority in a relationship. While a man of character (the proverbial Alpha) may come across many “losses,” he will wage this battle nonetheless.
SF: Lexet, thanks for taking the time to study the models and write this essay. I’m thankful to have this review back up on line.
- Christianity and Masculinity: Marriage Structures (April 15, 2016)