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DATING vs COURTSHIP part One
What is dating, What is courtship?
Not just word games, but a different perspective.
Introduction: Where we're headed!
The youth of today are getting ripped off. Instead of enjoying their teen years as they
build skills and character, they are getting distracted into the quagmire of relationships
which they are not equipped to conduct. The teen years are those where they have the
fewest responsibilities at the same time as having their greatest energy level. These
should be fun times, exciting times. They should be an opportunity to develop a deep,
intimate and personal walk with God, establishing themselves as young warriors who know
the Father and have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13).
Unfortunately, however, our culture teaches our singles to engage in multiple dating
relationships as though it were a normal and useful practise. The truth is, the modern
dating system has only been around for less than a century. And it is my conviction that
the wordly system of dating, as it is currently conducted by most people, is far from
God's original plan, as described in the Bible. I intend to expose the flaws I see in
today's dating model, and at the same time point out how Biblical courtship addresses
As Christians, our primary purpose in life is to seek and serve God, and fulfill our
destiny in Him. This is equally true in the area of relationships. We need to find out
what God's plan for relationships is, and then follow it. The current model that we are
using is ineffective, at best. It results in divorce more than half the time. There must
be something we are doing wrong. Let's study what we are doing now against what God has
described in His word, and draw up a new standard. I propose to call this standard
'courtship'. Other terms, such as 'betrothal' or even 'biblical dating' could be used,
although they would possibly be confusing.
An overview of dating and courtship
Dating was invented in the early part of this century. Prior to that time, marriage
always involved much more input from the parents, and "trial relationships"
leading up to marriage were not conducted at all. Courtship, which I intend to discuss
further in this series of articles, seeks to fulfill the Godly model described in the
Bible, which was conducted by God's people up until the invention of dating. My basic
premise is that regardless of how we feel about things, we should follow God's model,
because it will be the most effective and fulfilling. My intention is to convey that
conviction, then to describe my current understanding of His model.
In overview, courting should only happen once and ends in a life-long covenant
relationship. Dating happens lots of times, and ends in many hurts, heartbreaks, scars,
and if you're lucky, a partner that just may stay with you for the next few
years, or (if you're really lucky) the rest of your life.
- In the modern dating scene you usually hide all your faults to give a false impression
about yourself, in order to keep your partner liking you. Recreational dating is about
self-gratification -- you date to satisfy your own needs.
- Courtship is about open and honest exploration of each others lives and families leading
up to engagement and marriage. Courtship is about marriage -- you court in order to see if
there is any reason why you shouldn't get married. There is no romantic interaction until
after the commitment to marriage.
Courtship is a word that has been adopted to describe a biblical model for the
relationship leading up to marriage. In the Bible, the parents were always involved in the
marriage process. They did not arrange the marriage without the childrens' consent,
although they were certainly involved in the arrangements. Sometimes the parents found
partners for the children, and then the children were consulted for their opinion. Other
times the son would approach the daughter's father and make arrangements with him.
What's wrong with dating?
There are many forms of dating, perhaps as many as there are people. Everyone has a
different view of what is right and wrong. But there is a glaring fault in many of our
models, a double-standard. Once we are married, we recognize that certain things are
sacred to our partner. Things such as co-habitation, kissing, intimate hugging, sex and
bringing up children. We recognize that not only our physical body, but our emotions, even
our spirit are dedicated to that one partner, for the rest of our life (according to our
The dichotomy is this: in dating, we presume to partake of many of these privileges of
marriage. We would be shocked if a married man had an emotional attachment to another
woman, and yet it's quite acceptable for singles to have a different emotional attachment
every week. On the one hand, we save sex for our partners (and some even do that
sparingly), but on the other, we engage in rampant emotional promiscuity, giving pieces of
our hearts away until one wonders what will be left for that special, life-long partner.
I have adopted the view that the Bible holds the truth for life today. If you feel that
the Bible is not the standard for your relationships, then you might find some interesting
information here, but you may remain unconvinced. If you're still not sure about this
whole Christianity thing, now might be a good time to check out my
essays on Christianity.
Otherwise, you need to take the perspective that it's not what you want, but what God
The primary purpose of marriage is not to please you, but to serve God. (Another way to
say this is 'Our pleasure is not God's number one priority!' :) God wants us to be happy,
but "happy" is subject to so many variances in circumstances that it is a very
poor standard with which to judge life. Genesis says that God created Eve as a helpmeet --
to help Adam perform his duty, working the garden and taking dominion over the
earth. That is God's purpose for marriage -- a team, fulfilling His call together --
pleased with each other, certainly, but primarily focused on Him, not their own pleasure.
As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but
in looking together in the same direction."
So to have a successful marriage, the most important thing is to ensure that you follow
His principles that He laid down when He designed marriage. The irony is, when we focus on
His principles instead of our pleasure, we end up having a very satifying and pleasant
marriage! You may feel that courtship does not adequately describe these principles. If
so, I would be happy to hear from you, because I don't believe I have all the answers yet,
I feel I'm still on the journey. These articles have already undergone considerable
revision from readers' feedback. However, from my review of the Bible, it is my firm
conviction that the recreational dating scene is not God's plan for finding a mate.
© Copyright 1997-2000, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to
print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract
references the original URL, http://polynate.net/books/courtship/,
so that people can find the latest version.
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