Online dating puts romantic prospects at our fingertips in seconds. Text messages let us interact with the least amount of effort. And with today’s modern attitudes toward dating, we’re tempted to look to serve ourselves first before thinking of the needs of others.
All these factors have led to a sharp decrease in the idea of “courtship” as opposed to dating. In fact, many young singles today don’t even know there’s a difference between the two. Here’s a quick refresher to help you decide if courtship or dating is the right path to finding the person you’re meant to be with.
How It Starts
Courtship doesn’t start with a first date or even with an introduction by a mutual friend. It actually starts much earlier than that with each individual deciding on their intentions. While dating can be more casual in nature, courtship has a decidedly more serious goal in mind: marriage. So unless your goal is to ultimately make a commitment to marry, courtship is not for you.
Not all couples who court get married. However, they go into the relationship hoping to find out if they are truly meant to be together forever.
God’s Role In Courtship
While marriage is the end goal of courtship, it’s not the only factor in the equation. God plays a major role in Christian courtship. When couples court, their aim is not finding someone fun to be around and to whom they are attracted. Instead, they are seriously trying to discern whether the person they are courting fits into God’s path for their life. With Christian couples, courtship re-frames the dating process as less about personal satisfaction and more about God’s will.
Modern dating is focused squarely on the two people involved. But with courtship, it’s another story. If you decide to follow the path of courtship, other people will have a say in your relationship. In addition to thinking about God’s will for your life, you’ll also be taking into account the guidance of outside parties.
The most common outside parties in a courtship are the parents of each individual. Often, they are closely involved in the courtship process. They offer advice to their son or daughter. They spend lots of time interacting with the person their child is courting. And they offer support when they are in agreement about the potential marriage of the two people courting.
Besides parents, the couple may also include siblings, mentors, pastors, close friends or other authority figures in their courtship. Having the support of those closest to them is an important part of courtship for Christian couples.
The guidelines for physical relationships are varied with modern dating. Depending on the people involved, expectations can vary wildly.
That’s not the case with courtship. It’s assumed that the couple has decided to hold off on many forms of physical intimacy until reaching a decision about the future. Instead, they focus on forming a relationship based on honesty, openness, trust and emotional intimacy while looking to discern God’s will for their relationship. The physical side of the relationship develops only if they decide to make a commitment through marriage.
Traditional courtship isn’t the only way to find “the one.” However, many Christian couples have found that this process made it easier to decide whether they had found the right match. If modern dating hasn’t been working out for you, consider a traditional courtship to make sure you’re following God’s will for your romantic life.
You may also be interested in Dating With A Purpose: Why It’s Important To State Your Intentions From The Start