One of the biggest issues that divides the Christian sub-culture today is the debate over courtship versus dating. For many, the concept of courtship is completely foreign, so let me explain.
The purpose of a courtship is to assist a man or woman in seeking a proper spouse. I like to call it dating with a purpose.
In today’s society, your initial reaction to that definition was probably panic! Unfortunately, we live in a time where dating with intentionality, purpose, and commitment is usually looked at as – well, crazy. But it is actually less nerve-wracking than it seems, and can actually have very positive benefits!
I want to take the next few moments of your time to explain the three main principles of courtship.
Principle One: The Goal of Courtship is Marriage
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24
When you are interested in a certain person, it should be because you potentially see a future with them. Every advancing step in the relationship should be made with marital intent.
But it isn’t solely your decision. Both parents must approve of this person in order for your relationship to progress.
This leads to the next principle.
Principle Two: Parental Involvement is Key
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. – Proverbs 11:14
So many young people today shudder at the idea of having their parents involved in their love life, but actually, it is such a blessing!
You never have to worry about your parents not liking your significant other because they already approved of him in the beginning of the relationship! On top of that, there is less pressure and temptation when getting to know your spouse because your parents are always around to make sure no boundaries are crossed. This helps to ensure that you both save yourself for your future husband and wife.
Principle Three: Courtship Limits Potential For Heartache and Trouble
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. -Hebrews 13:4
The reason, of course, why there is less potential for heartache is because of the first two principles. By understanding the goal of marriage from the start of any relationship, an individual can make a more informed decision about whether or not to move on. If the marriage is something that both parties realize is not a good fit for them, the separation can be much less painful than in most common relationships. And due to parental involvement, those in a courtship have not given away too much emotionally or sexually, saving a lot of potential heartache for them and their future spouse.
There is obviously no exact cookie-cutter approach to relationships, but there are some basic wisdom principles that we can gather from the Bible and our authority figures. Whether you are in a relationship right now or not, I hope you can add some of these principles to your friendships and relationships.
Tara Hatfield is currently preparing to get married to Eric Skwarczynski, and serve alongside him as a full-time missionary with Rooftop Missions. She currently runs the Rooftop Shop, which sells handmade gifts from around the world to help support Rooftop Missions and the Azlynn Noelle Children’s Home.