(Photo by Isabela DeLeon)
Courting Vs. Dating
By Melissa Valle
You go to school and you hear news that your close friend and her crush have just started dating. You are hopeful of how far they will go. You pull your friend aside and ask her how it is going in her new relationship. She says, “Well, I like him but I don’t want to be with him forever. Just for now.” You just nod to what she says and move on to the next topic of conversation.
You then go to church and overhear that Kyle from your old youth group is courting someone from Texas. His parents found a great match for him and they will be getting married by the end of the year. You think to yourself, “Wow. Things are moving so fast for them.”
Relationships are often a big topic of conversation. Who has been dating whom for how long? Have they said, “I love you,” to each other? Have they thought about getting married? One thing that I’ve noticed is that there is a common misconception with dating and courting. Both the purpose and the idea of the two. In this article, I want to establish the differences between the two.
Dating: Involves being in a romantic relationship with someone without the commitment of marrying the other person. In a sense, the couple is establishing their relationship and checking each other if they are compatible for marriage. In dating, the couple has plenty of time to themselves. However, there is a lot more temptation lingering around in that alone time.
Courting: Involves a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek God’s will to marry each other. The parents and mentors of the individuals are always chaperoning the future bride and groom so they hardly have any alone time together.
Dating today has changed dramatically over the years. Unfortunately, people have abused the original intent of dating. Dating is meant to honor God, getting to know someone, see if they are meant to be your spouse, help them grow and ultimately point them back to the Lord. Now, people find their sovereignty and refuge in their partner. They date to “have fun” or form a romantic attachment. Romantic attachments are beautiful, but in the right setting and with the right person. This is crucial because our hearts are so deceitful. Proverbs 4:23 reads “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Christian author, Jefferson Bethke says, “Dating without the intent of getting married is like going to the grocery store with no money. You either leave unsatisfied or take something that isn’t yours.” See, if we were to date for the right purpose and for the original intent, if we were to seek the Lord’s will in everything, even in dating, there would be less heartache.
Typically, courting can scare a lot of people. For starters, there is not privacy with your future spouse. It is ultimately jumping into a marriage. Some may think that courting doesn’t “give them chance” to get to know other people or “take things slow.” However, one of the main reasons why courting gets such a negative connotation is because it involves a lot of one thing; faith. Faith in trusting your mentors and parents in choosing the right person for you. Faith in your future husband or bride to be. Faith in the marriage itself, not leading to divorce. Finally, faith in the Lord and what He has in store for you. Courting is a unique way of saying, “Here is my life. Here is my marriage. Lord, I give that all to You.”
In whatever type of relationship, courting or dating, I believe it is vital that the goal is marriage and honoring the Lord in that marriage. In the midst of our broken world, marriages, courting, dating; all of it can end. Badly. That’s okay. Because my prayer for you all is to remember that the Lord loves you more than your spouse ever could. He proved that on the cross and when he rose on that third day defeating your sins and removing you from those shackles of shame.
Lord, I thank you so much for these readers. Lord, in the times we live today, it seems as if our self-worth is only proven when we are in a relationship. God, I pray that you would remind them that that is not true. I pray you would meet these readers where they are at. May you be with them if they have felt lonely for too long and are beginning to wonder if there is something wrong with them. Lord, remind them of who You are and what You’ve done and that they are so loved by You. May Your love be sufficient. Lord, give them patience and strength through any trials they may be facing now and in the near future. That they may seek Your Kingdom first for no rewards. Be with them.
In Your name,