I’ve been asked many times this question. Is there actually any difference between dating and courting? Can’t I date several guys to find out the right one for me? Can I choose the guy I want to marry or wait for God’s perfect will?
So what is Courtship?
The word courtship seems to be a foreign concept in the majority of the Body of Christ.
What is Courtship?
Courtship is a commitment to honor God as you seek a life partner and to protect both individuals in the process of confirming God’s will. It focuses on obedience to the principles of God’s Word and the fulfillment of His plan in the lives of the man and woman. It also honours the authorities He has placed in your lives and provides the unique protection they can offer. Courtship is experiencing the blessing of God by loving the Lord Jesus Christ and honouring both sets of parents.
Dating on the other hand can be referred to an activity two people share together with the intention of getting to know each other better on a potentially romantic level.
Dating could also mean when two people engage in social activities in order to determine compatibility. In the dating world, this means socially interacting with someone you are interested, which could include going out to dinner, attending parties together and so on. It is a casual way of getting to know someone on a personal level and deciding if you want to form a relationship.
What is the purpose of courtship?
The purpose of courtship is to determine a couple’s readiness for marriage and to discern the will of God for a covenant marriage not contract. Courtship is about open and honest exploration of each other’s 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. Courtship is a process that ends in a lifelong covenant relationship.
The differences between dating and courtship
- Courtship encourages a life of purity. Dating tends to assume that you will spend a great deal of time together (mostly of it alone).
- Courtship encourages time spent in-group activities or with other people the couple knows well. Dating tends to be egalitarian (no differences between men and women in spiritual or emotional “wiring” or God-given roles).
- Courtship tends to be complementarian (God has created men and women differently and has ordained each of these spiritual equals to play different and valuable roles in the church and in the family). Dating assumes that a good relationship will “meet all my needs and desires,” and a bad one won’t — it’s essentially a self-centered approach.
- Courtship approaches relationships to — Romans 13:8-14 (love others, work for their soul’s good; and not look to please self) Dating tends to assume that there will be a high level of emotional involvement in a dating relationship, and some level of physical involvement as well.
- Courtship assumes no physical intimacy and more limited emotional intimacy outside of marriage. Dating assumes that what I do and who I date as an adult is entirely up to me and is private (my family or the church has no formal or practical authority)
How is courtship done?
The man initiates courtship. When a man senses God leading him to pursue marriage with a particular woman, he should seek counsel from God-given authorities. In most cases, he will consult a Pastor. The man should also inform his parents. As God’s direction to pursue courtship is confirmed through the man’s authorities, through insights from Gods Word, and through prayer, he should contact the woman’s father together with his Pastor/Elder of his church. The church must have a structure for courtship and marriage who would take on a supervisory role in the process to request permission to initiate the courtship. Only when the woman’s father has given the man his blessing to enter into a courtship relationship with his daughter is the man free to focus on winning her affections.
A courtship should commence when God has confirmed that this is the right time for the man to pursue marriage and that this woman could very likely be the helpmate God has been preparing to be his wife. God often confirms His direction through His Word, the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the approval of God-given authorities.
Do not enter into courtship until you are at a stage in life when marriage is a realistic possibility. Understand the importance of the decision you are making regarding marriage, and establish commitments about your relationships prior to entering a courtship. Until you are ready for marriage, ask God to lead you in developing friendships with godly men and women, but do not try to win the affections of those friends.
The Couple should Get to Know Each Other’s Families The family plays a critical role in helping a man or woman identify characteristics and traits of a potential partner that are important to know before deciding to get married. (See Proverbs 1:7–9.)……
More on part two where I give tips for single ladies and gents. I’ll also share what happens next after courtship! ….