I was first introduced to the idea of courtship while reading The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler. I was automatically intrigued. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year now, and I really like him. A big focus of ours has been building a relationship the right, God-honoring way.
In our society, dating has become extremely difficult. People are “dating to date,” and turning away from God’s design for a romantic relationship. In order to properly address this topic, we should first define both dating and courtship. Dating is, according to the dictionary, going out with someone in whom one is romantically or sexually interested. On the other hand, courtship is dating with a purpose around people you trust. As a whole, courtship is about approaching relationships in a way that avoids the downfalls and temptations of this broken world. While dating isn’t inherently wrong, there’s a much better way to do it.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
While courting will look different in every relationship, there are some basic principles that should always be present in order to avoid pain and temptation. First, courting is more serious than dating. Courtship is only applicable when both people could see their significant other being their permanent spouse. (That doesn’t necessarily mean they will be.) In our culture, relationships are being used as entertainment. People become involved romantically with people they could never see themselves marrying.
Courtship requires community. Dating is full of temptation. Sex before marriage and even sexual activities that “aren’t really sex” have become acceptable and even encouraged in our society. Needless to say, this is not God’s design for romantic relationships. He commands we “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Community helps defeat temptation. It involves going out with each other’s friends, families, or even church groups. Avoid being alone with your significant other, and have an accountability partner on standby. That doesn’t mean you can never be alone. Just be sure it’s in an environment where temptation is minimal, like taking a walk or playing games in the backyard.
Courtship is genuine. By being around people who hold you accountable, the couple gets to know each other in an authentic way. It is not lust-driven. You genuinely like the other person for who they are, not what they can offer you. I’ve found this extremely crucial while being in quarantine due to the Coronavirus. My relationship currently consists of Snapchat, text, and FaceTime, and I love it. I like my boyfriend for who he is as a person, not because of anything physical. He’s constantly making me laugh with his outrageous ideas and stories. Also, when you’re alone with your partner, it is easy to unintentionally put on a front. After all, you want to put your best foot forward so they like you, right? Hanging out around people you’re comfortable with, your family and friends, helps you act like yourself, and allows the other person to see the real you.
Finally, courtship seeks wisdom. When in a relationship it can be so easy to fall head-over-heels “in love” with someone and lose sight of reality. I’ve learned that having people I trust, who are close to me, offer advice helps combat the infatuation. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Additionally, if I’m always around godly friends and family, I have people who have watched the two of us throughout the entire process. They can offer great advice!