So here it is, a full explanation of how I view dating, what I will do when it comes time, and something for my future girlfriend (and friends in the present!) to look back on and keep me accountable with. :o)
So, I became a Christian in April of 2009. I was wrapping up my 12th year of existence. Because of some bad experiences with relationships before (it started for the wrong reasons, it ended for the wrong reasons), I wanted to go ahead and set some godly rules for dating. I knew it wouldn’t happen any time soon, but I knew that if I went ahead and made those rules for myself, it would be easier to stand by them when temptation came.
I already had an idea of what I wanted to do. After seeing the example the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family has set, I knew I wanted to do something like that, something that would honor God and would leave us both grateful, feeling pure, and with no major regrets at the end of the day if the relationship didn’t work out.
So I figured courtship would be the best option. 🙂
So, what exactly is “courtship”? How is it different from “dating”? Why is it important for there to be a distinction between the two?
Well, let’s start first with defining courtship. It would take me too many words to describe it accurately, and since others already have, I’m going to let them take a whirl at it!
I have already mentioned the Gil and Kelli Bates family on this blog before (I think!), so I will let Kelli Bates answer this particular question here :
“Traditional dating often focuses primarily on good times and physical attractions. Courtship (or dating with a purpose) focuses more on deepening friendships, learning commitment, and developing the inward qualities of selflessness and self- control. The youth learn to communicate in a wide variety of settings and experiences, often with other family members and friends. Since the time together is quality time, they have a big head start on a lot of couples that get physically involved, but after several years of marriage, realize they don’t even know how to talk to one another. These sad couples feel like they don’t really know each other at all. They feel little to no romance or appreciation. They wonder if they made the right choice, and many end their marriage in divorce, beginning again with many wounds and scars from their previous relationships. We desire for our children to have relationships that prepare them with patience, purity, and character development. That makes for a healthy, happy, harmonious marriage! So whether you choose to call it courtship or dating with purpose, the distinction is a commitment to purity and a commitment to honor Christ throughout the relationship.”
Wow! So that’s what courtship is, and that explanation also helped define the goals a little bit better, too. I cannot tell you how much I love that term, “dating with a purpose.”
So how are courtship and dating different? Well, the definition of courtship already provided some clear contrasts between it and dating.
Dating is how the world does relationships. It tends to be more physically focused, with emotional learning coming later. It tends to focus on “love,” with friendship, the key to any successful marriage, coming later. The world wants all the pleasures now, with responsibilities coming later. But this will never work. That’s why the divorce rate is so high.
But why is it important that we have a differentiation between dating and courtship? Let me explain why I believe it is important.
I have a friend and mentor that once told me that names were not very important as long as we behave the right way. While I see his point, I disagree.
We as Christians are called out from the world. We are supposed to be different. And I think that this should reflect in all areas of our lives, including how we conduct relationships. I think that the term “courting” helps to better define the idea that we have. It helps to separate what we are doing from what the world is doing.
So, I have chosen to court. But that’s not all. I have one other personal conviction.
By May of 2009, I had come to my decision about courting. My next question that I asked God was, “when?” I knew what I was going to do, but I was wondering when would be the time! So I started praying about it.
About two weeks later I knew what God wanted me to do. However, those two weeks had been very interesting. Within the first part of week one, I was already getting an answer. I felt God was saying that I shouldn’t court until I was 17. Of course, 17 doesn’t mean I have to start courting then, just that I can’t start courting until then.
But alas, wretched man that I am, I rebelled. It was a learning experience, and something that God used at the beginning of my faith to teach me full surrender to Him.
Explaination: God said 17. I was saying 14. Of course, at less then a month until I turned 13, you can see where I was going. So, God took a route that was interesting for me to go down.
Every time I prayed, I would see the number 17 in my minds eye. No matter what I was praying for, I would see the number 17 in white with a gold trim. Nice, huh? I guess God’s philosophy is that if He’s going make a point, He’s going to do it in style!
Anyway, whether I was praying the blessing over the food, or praying during devotions, I would see””17.”
So I eventually gave in. I let God have control of my life in this arena. It has been very much worth it! God has helped guard my heart and helped keep me from much heartache. He has helped me focus on Him a lot more, and it has helped me to learn to give Him control in other areas of my life, too.
I probably won’t “date with a purpose” until later. I will probably be 18 or 19 when I begin a relationship, but it will be worth it to know that I waited for God’s plan.
I would advise others to seriously consider doing something like this themselves. Of course, you don’t have to do what I did, but I think that,
1) Following the path of courtship,
2) Waiting until you are older to start a relationship
are great ideas. They will bring greater trust in God (in my experience), and will help prevent unnecessary heartache from a relationship that wouldn’t go anywhere.
To end, I will answer one last question I get sometimes. Why?
I decided to do this all because of one basic truth concerning romantic relationships: the end result of a relationship is supposed to be marriage. If your relationship is just temporary, if it is just to pass the time, if it is just to fulfil the desires of the flesh–which is sin–, then why even be in it? It is irresponsible, unwise, and wrong and mean to all parties involved. I want to be in a serious relationship, one that has a purpose. That has an end to the means. It will have a purpose.
So while I may not use the term “courtship” every time, I will always use the term “dating with a purpose.” Actually, I will probably use it more often than courtship, just because I like it better. 🙂
So think about it. Pray. Seek God’s word and His guidance. I can promise that you won’t regret it, either way.