Courtship VS Dating
By Katie Cochran ~ September 13th 2007
Dating or courtship, which course is more Biblical? The culture we live in promotes and even encourages dating, while courtship is a dying flame. In the 1800s, the accepted course for a man interested in a woman was to ask the woman’s father, get the okay from the woman herself as well, and then come and visit the house where she lived, getting to know her, seeing if she was “the one.” But the fore mentioned method has faded almost to non-existence, and if you say the word courtship many people, including Christians, will look at you like you are from another planet. The modern “thing” is definitely not courtship! It is considered “old-fashioned” and “primitive.” Despite courtship’s unpopularity, it is Biblical, and promotes a healthier marriage.
Dating, according to the Webster online Dictionary, is “An appointment for a particular time. A social appointment, engagement, or occasion arranged with a [my emphasis] person of the opposite sex. To go out on usually romantic dates.” Dating occurs between two people only, and they are of the opposite sex. So what you essentially have in dating are two people going out, mostly at night, alone.
Courtship, from the same dictionary, is defined as this: “To seek the affections of. To seek to win a pledge of marriage from. To seek an alliance with. To engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage.” Notice that the definition of dating never mentions marriage, while the definition for courtship most certainly does! When a Christian courtship is begun, the man and woman involved should have a mutual understanding that they are friends who like and have an interest in each other. The focus is that they get to know each other; becoming good friends and caring for one another as brother and sister in the Lord with purity, godliness, and kindness. These two should pray for and encourage one other to walk in the ways of God and pursue intimacy with Him to become the man and woman of God he created them to be. They are giving it a try; they are listening; they are yielding to Jesus Christ for the direction of their relationship. God may want them to marry; He may want them to each marry somebody else. And there is always the possibility that God would have them serve him as singles. Whatever life path has been appointed for them, the man and woman should be waiting patiently on God, aligning themselves with purity, holiness, and the Word of God. The man and woman should have a mature understanding that if the courtship does not work out, they should part as friends, without resentment and with all due respect for each other’s feelings. It’s all about God, not the individuals! The man and woman must put their hope in God and let go of their desires.
Although it may not be “hip” and “cool”, courtship is Biblical. Would you say that God “dated” his people? Of course not! He didn’t try out the Assyrians, and then move on to the Egyptians (or any other group of people). From the first he chose a lowly tent-dweller named Abraham… And he’s pursued a people for himself ever since. Never has he dropped his people, or tired of them.
And we see that repeated in the Bible over and over again. Despite his people’s ungratefulness, God continued to pursue the relationship all throughout the Old Testament. Look at Boaz and Ruth in the book of Ruth. Boaz was attracted to Ruth, but he didn’t ask her on a date! He went to Ruth’s nearest kinsman and proposed a marriage because he saw a woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, and accordingly got down to business to secure her—just like God did for us.
It’s easy to get carried away while alone with another person, to let emotions rule over what is right. Dating can even become an emotional “fix”; an activity that people need in their lives to feel loved and secure. Oftentimes, purity is violated during and/or after a date. One or both people probably walk away fantasizing about the other person; again, I don’t know everyone’s thoughts, but thinking comes natural to the human brain. And even during the date, it’s easy to think, “one little kiss won’t hurt” but kissing was meant to awaken passion, not be an individual action. And think about this, you are most likely kissing someone else’s husband or wife. What if you’re happily married to someone else someday and you see this person again; wouldn’t it be hard to act natural around them? The bottom line is that being alone with someone from the opposite sex for romantic purposes (dates) invites thoughts and maybe even actions that aren’t pure. God made us this way, he wants us to have feelings for one of the opposite sex, but only in the context of marriage, as the Bible so clearly states. “Sadly, dating today directly leads—almost universally—to premarital relations. ‘Leads to’ is probably not even the right term, because ‘dates’ today often involve said ungodly behavior on the first date! Actually, more often than not, immorality is the expected norm as part of the first date, and most of the ‘dates’ that follow.”1
The older, more proven Biblical model of courtship will lead to a healthier marriage, free from the guilt of the “break-up” mentality, and past emotional attachments of casual dating.
“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”
Article on Dating and Courtship by David C. Pack