Passion Defined

My Story For His Glory

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Courtship! (Part Two)

Okay, so you probably saw the word “courtship” in the title and instantly began to imagine a scene from the 1800s with a young man in his best suit fidgeting uncertainly on the parlor sofa, trying his hardest to carry on a pleasant conversation with a beautiful lady who seems to be amused at the young man’s nervous plight. Or perhaps your mind dashed to the Wild West and saw a charming cowboy strumming a guitar and serenading his sweetheart on the front porch of a rustic cabin. Whatever came to your mind, I think we would all agree that when we think of the concept of courtship, we think of something black and white, dated, or just not the thing anymore. In a word: Weird! Well, I’d like to make a “weird” proposition: Take a walk with me through some historical events that have shaped the way our culture has come to view courtship, dating, and much more!

Yes, this is the second part of my little series which started with, Dating (Part One). If you remember, I left you with my statement that there is something better, something greater, and something more fulfilling than dating. Well, I’m hopefully going to support that proposition in this post, so let’s get going! It’s going to be quite long, but there was just no way I could leave anything out! So go grab a snack and get comfy; we have a wonderful time ahead of us! ;-)
Let’s start with some historical context to establish a perspective from which to draw from. Courtship was originally the means by which a young man and a young woman began an exploration; a journey, if you will, through beliefs, standards, and interests. For Christians, the elements were doctrine and convictions, in addition to the other things already mentioned. Courtship was a time for a couple to get to know one another with the mindset of marriage being a serious possibility. Okay, doesn’t sound too weird yet, right? What changed? Why did people begin to think differently about courtship? Here’s where some historical events come into play. Many things contributed to the change in mindset about courting, but since this post isn’t primarily about history, I will mention only a few. The first two are the Industrial Revolution and World War I. At this point, you are probably questioning my sanity, but don’t stop reading yet!!! These two events helped create division in families and drew the young men and women away from the oversight of the parents and into the world. Think about it. Fathers and mothers at that time began increasingly to work long hours away from the home and even the teenagers and young adults became more and more involved in work or pastimes outside the home. As a result, familial bonds began to split. The innovations of the Industrial Revolution also brought about things such as automobiles which gave young people greater freedom from the oversight and protection of parents. No I’m not saying cars are bad! I’m saying that certain things led to a progressive distancing of the family, and this is the key that led to a dramatic cultural change in thought. When the families began spending less and less time with each other, where did the young people turn for a social fulfillment that they weren’t getting at home? Their peers. Now, let me throw this disclaimer in: I’m not in the least saying that cars, the Industrial Revolution, friends, or jobs outside the home are bad! Please don’t misunderstand me. What I’m saying is that the rapid change and growth greatly contributed, in some way or another, to the fracturing of the American family. My point, and where I’m going with all of this, is that when the parents didn’t play as big of a role in the lives of their kids, the kids turned to their peers to meet a need they sensed, and this progressively culminated in a generation whose tendency was toward their friends more so than their parents. Starting at this key time in American history, young people began to gravitate toward the wishes and influences of the society and this philosophy was applied to all aspects of life; music, clothing, hair styles (see where I’m going with this?)…and yes, even relationships. This is when young people began to really take certain things into their own hands and as a result, dating emerged as an independent, parent-free method of becoming involved in relationships that quickly escalated into behaviors hardly imaginable in that day and age. Another key factor in the change in thought about courtship was the fact that men, as the leaders of their families, began abdicating their authority. Men left their God-ordained roles as the leaders of their homes and as a result, parental oversight declined. This made it increasingly easier for teenagers to get away with more and more in their activities. There’s no denying the fact that beginning in the 1920s, young people began to rebel against the traditional structure and authority of the family. Every history textbook I’ve read, Christian or secular, documents the change that our country went through. The age of rebellion took great leaps and strides in the 1960s, culminating in demonstrations such as Woodstock. No, it wasn’t just a big rock concert: It was a time of throwing off all moral restraint and authority. This is really only scratching the surface of factors that contributed to this pivotal point in our history, but I would probably have to write a book to fit everything else in here, so I’ll leave it at that. ;-) What I want us to see is that there was a point when general beliefs were challenged and changed, leading to what we now accept as fact.

I’ve already shown why I believe dating doesn’t line up with Biblical principles, so I am now going to lay down my arguments for courtship being a better model for which to find a spouse. I think we would all agree that the ultimate end of both courtship and dating is to find a life-partner. So how is it that I can say courtship is better than dating? It really boils down to this: I think that the long-term benefits of courtship, combined with the negative consequences of dating, prove courtship to be the best way to find a spouse.

The first benefit of courtship is that you remain under the authority and protection of your parents. With the wisdom and advice of your parents, much needless difficulty can be avoided as you proceed through a relationship. I don’t know where we got the idea that when someone turns a certain age he/she becomes totally independent from parental authority. God’s Word says that children (young or old) are under the authority of the parents and the time when we see them released from that family structure is when they leave to have families of their own. We see this principle in Genesis 2:24 which says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” I think it’s interesting to note that not only does this imply that the man is under his parents authority all the way up to the time of marriage, but it also seems to indicate that the man is with his parents until he gets married. Something to think about! Having the parents involved in such an important thing is crucial because one can rely on the wisdom and discretion of the parents. No, I don’t think parents should be dictators! I think that they can really help protect from potential difficulties in a developing relationship. Dating tends to leave the parents out and bypass their authority when it comes to decisions that are made in the relationship.

The second benefit of courtship is that you save yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for your spouse. In a courtship, the focus is first on seeing if a relationship would even work before the two individuals get involved emotionally. The first step would be for the young man to talk to the girl’s father to see if he “qualifies” to be a suitor for his daughter. If the father determines that the young man is mature and that his vision and beliefs are similar to those of his daughter, then the two begin to talk about their beliefs, convictions, and the visions for their lives. By doing this first, the two will save themselves from becoming prematurely attached to each other. There is great wisdom in this because if a guy and a girl get emotionally involved with each other only to find out that they really don’t believe the same way, then it’s going to make things harder later on. It will either cause heartache if the relationship ends in a break-up, or it will cause marital problems later. Realistically, there probably won’t be any two individuals that line up perfectly in beliefs, but there are doctrinal things and convictions that must be agreed upon. By working them out ahead of time, the two will not have to worry about it causing difficulty in the future. Also, since courtship’s focus is on discovering if the person would work in a future marriage, it helps protect the two from possible physical failure. When the two people spend time together in a courtship, it is in a protected setting with others there to help ensure that the young people are being pure in their words and actions. While it may not seem appealing to be under “surveillance,” it is for protection. It is very unwise for a couple to spend large amounts of time together alone, because that sets them up to fail. Courtship helps people stay on the safe side. Dating, on the other hand, tends to greatly limit any oversight that would help ensure that purity is observed in a relationship. So often couples purpose to keep their dating relationship pure, but somehow, they end up going further than they ever intended, only to regret it later on. Courtship helps save guys and girls from those possible regrets.

A third benefit of courtship is that it cultivates a true, Biblical perspective of love. Hollywood has done a great deal to destroy the Scriptural concepts of love and relationships, and the typical perception of love is something that merely makes you feel good and brings satisfaction to you. It’s based on selfishness and the immediate fulfillment of pleasure. Courtship helps to protect the Biblical truth of love and romance as is seen in Scripture because through courtship, the two individuals will realize that marriage is more than all the romantic stuff; it’s a life commitment. It may not always be easy, but true love will help in the times of adversity and difficulty. True love is based on being self-less, not selfish. It gives and keeps on giving even when it doesn’t feel like it. Marriage is the place for romantic love and I certainly don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s in the proper context. I know, it probably sounds weird for a GUY to be talking about romance like that, but based upon Scripture, I believe that romance is perfectly fine if it’s in the marriage relationship. Courtship really helps the two people focus on more than just the temporal; they are talking about making a covenant to join their lives together to work as one for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Romantic love is a great part of a marriage, but if a couple thinks that is all they need to get them through then they are in for quite a shock! Courtship helps develop the Biblical perspective of love by focusing on more than just the immediate.
These are the reasons I believe that courtship is the way to go. When you examine it closely, courtship lines up more with principles of Scripture than dating. I know this is weird compared to what is commonly accepted and practiced today, but hey, Christians are supposed weird, what can I say? We are not of this world, we are of the Lord. We follow a King that was hated by the world, so why should we expect any better? Christ tells us in His Word in John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Christ chose us out of this world to be different (a.k.a. weird!). It’s okay if we do things differently because we belong to a kingdom not of this world.

Now, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to courtship. It’s going to look different for every family based on the convictions, standards and beliefs of the families. Obviously I don’t know exactly how it’s going to be for me (if the Lord wills that I marry!) but all I can purpose to do now is strive to keep my heart pure for whoever the Lord has for me. I can’t tell you exactly how to do it, even if I had already courted, married, and was living happily ever after! ;-) This is something that will need to be discussed with your parents and the family of the other individual involved.

So what can you do now? Well, I already mentioned one thing: Strive to keep your heart pure for whoever the Lord has for you to marry. God will bring that special person into your life when it is His perfect time to do it. Trust Him! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” He has your plan in His hands so trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t lean on your own understanding! In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. (Proverbs 3: 5-6) If you find yourself thinking about a particular person more and more, evaluate your thoughts to see if you are giving away your heart prematurely. Save your heart for your future spouse! I know, I know, it’s a whole lot easier said than done! I greatly struggle in this area, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to stop purposing for mental purity. Another thing you can do is come up with your personal vision for your life. Know what you believe! That way, when you do meet that person, you can know based upon your beliefs if he/she is someone the Lord may have you join together with. So take heart and trust in the Lord. If you have committed to courting, know that you aren’t the only weird one out there!

Hopefully I’ve given you something to think about! My prayer is that you would take everything I’ve said and hold it to the light of God’s Word. If I’ve said anything contradictory to Scripture, please show me! I know I’m not perfect and I don’t have everything figured out, and I’m always willing to learn! ;-) Once again, comments and questions are welcome. I love discussing topics like this!


Maiden of Purity said...

Wow Joshua! That was uterally amazing, and very powerful to read. I have always wanted to do such a post on my own blog, and yet I never had the words to do so. But, I guess two years in age does make a BIG difference! :)

Ok, now for my see, defining courtship is actually quite long, and especially contrasting the two is a long, long, discussion. Nevertheless, I have had in the past, and I know it will come up again, other girls question me if I have a boyfriend, or do the whole dating game. Simply I say no, and yet, is there a way to tie up the entire discussion in just a few understandable words? I know there is, and yet I don't know what to say. I don't want to just say no, if I would continue on with my belief and opinion and lay out the role of courtship, I could perhaps open up the opportunity for witnessing. Do you get what I'm saying?! Thanks, Vanessa

Joshua said...

Wow, tough question! Here are my thoughts...
When people do the "dating game," chances are they don't really understand courtship and what it means, so it might be difficult to have some way of putting EVERYTHING into just a few sentences! I guess it can be done briefly, but it still involves explanation for full understanding. Perhaps if you got the question, "Do you date?" you could either simply say no, or say that you are going to court instead. Either way, chances are you're going to have to explain yourself, so I don't know exaclty how to "sum up" the discussion. It all boils down to the fact that courtship is a way to explore marriage without premature emotional attachment. BUT, someone who dates isn't necessarily going to have a problem with being emotionally attached to someone, so THEN you would have to go into why it isn't best to be emotionally involved with someone prior to marriage. I could probably go on and on about how it's difficult, but because there are so many drastic differences between the two, it's really going to take some manner of explanation. My pastor has a really good definition of what courtship is and maybe you can take this and adapt it for something you can use: "Courtship is the process by which a couple seeks to determine their readiness for marriage and seeks to discern God's will for a covenant marriage that will be God-honoring." Yes, this often can lead to a great opportunity to be a witness! If you have the chance to tell why you believe what you believe, then by all means take it!!!

Perhaps the best thing I can say is a brief way to sum it up is explain that you court, and then define courtship. That will either make people think you're totally weird, or it will spark an interst that may lead to an opportunity to explain further what courtship is all about and why it is a good thing. Does that help?

Allison said...

I guess I've been familiar with the term courtship for too long; because I often forget about the "old fashioned" courtship idea from the 1800s. That's good for me to remember, because often I forget how distorted the view of courtship is, which means I need to be ever more careful that I'm explaining what I mean by it clearly.

I like a point Jasmine Baucham made in a recent post, when she was explaing that we do not have to have crushes. She said that since the Bible commands us to guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23) it is definitely possible, but only when we are finding our suffiency in the King of Kings. It we are reluctant to give Him our whole heart, we cannot expect that we can guard it. I think a proper understanding of biblical love and what it means to guard your heart is vital to understand what the vision and purpose of courtship is, and then marriage as well. That would make sense why it's hard to briefly describe courtship, because most people don't understand the basis for it! (it all comes down to worldview, doesn't it?) Because Ithink many of the "contradictions" to courtship are because people don't really understand those two things I mentioned and want to claim that they are "in love" with someone at 14 and silly stuff like that.

Like you said though Joshua, that false idea of love brings marriage problems, and that brings many people to the excuse that they can divorce because they "aren't in love" anymore. As I'm thinking about it, this false view of love is probably due to the fact that movies, music, and other secular things have had more influence than the church, and the church is just following along. We've bought into so many lies of the culture that we begin to agree with them and don't stand on the firm foundation of Scripture to back up our beliefs! What a sad state indeed...

I need to go now, so I'll stop my rambling. :)

Zac said...

GREAT POST!!!!!! I was going to do a courtship post on my blog but it would be almost exactly the same as yours! I could literally copy/paste yours and not change anything, I totally agree with everything you said, but I won't. lol :P

We watched the movie "Fireproof" the other night and I was thinking, how different their marriage would have been if they had courted. "Caleb" even said that "at first they loved each other but now there is nothing".

Fireproof it a great example of what a marriage with out courtship can become.

Maiden of Purity said...

Yeah, it kinda does help a tad Joshua. I know it was a hard question and it is a tough one to pin point down and give a clear answer in just a few minutes and addressing it girls who are the average immature teenager. When I do mention some of the things I believe, they will give me just a puzzled look as if I'm crazy and weird, which I know I am! But, I do appreciate you brain storming for an easier explanation and trying to help me out. I'll just pray for a great and catchy explanation when I get caught in a question as such again.

Now, if you don't mind, (I hope you don't), I have one more question: I have had girls ask me, "How can I keep my mind pure, and quit the fact of always thinking of so and so?" I have given suggestions and yet I would like to know if you have any yourself?!? Sorry for more questions!!! :)

Joshua said...

Haha, no problem! Hmmm, how to keep your thoughts pure... Well, first of all, ask yourself if what you're thinking would glorify God. Take every thought captive and evaluate it. (2 Cor. 10:5) Also, ask yourself if your future husband (or wife in a guy's case) would appreciate what you're thinking about a particular person. I know we like to think that when we find someone that just seems to knock us off our feet, we think they just HAVE to be the one God has for us. Well, that may not be the case and generally it's not. If you wouldn't feel comfortable thinking a certain way about someone if your future husband or wife could see everything you were thinking, then don't think about it! I know, once again, much easier said than done, but also think about this: You may be thinking about someone else's spouse! That's what really gets me. We need to treat each other with honor, not only in our actions, but also in our thoughts.

Another thing you can do, and it's unpleasant but so beneficial, is tell your parents about it. I know, who wants to tell their mom and dad about their crushes??? But hey, they know what it's like and they can pray for you. Remember, God wants your heart, and when you constantly dwell on another person, your focus is turned from Christ to something else. Don't let other things compete with God!

Maiden of Purity said...

Whoa, that is a total awesome suggestion and answer you gave me! I loved the part where you mentioned, "I know we like to think that when we find someone that just seems to knock us off our feet, we think they just HAVE to be the one God has for us." That made me grin and kinda laugh, but literally, it's the bare truth. But what really hit me was the part when you said, "You may be thinking about someone else's spouse!" That really hit home. Wow, great answers, they helped me and I will pass them on to other girls who struggle with this.
Yes, the majority of us have it hard to tell our parents about so and so, and yet, I know that it is the right suggestion. I know some girls where they tell me almost everything, and then I ask, "Um, what do your parents have to say about this?" And they will just reply, "Please don't tell them, they don't know!" I find that sad and devastating for the parents because they don't have their child!

Would it be fine with you if I use some of your words in your comment when others ask me how to keep their mind and heart pure? Because your answers Joshua were fabulous and really speak to the average person out there.

Maiden of Purity said...

By the way, this is my favorite thing about blogs...speaking with others and getting new ideas! Your blog has really opened my eyes to many things, and having discussions like this with like minded teens, is awesome! Your blog is great!!

Kristen L. said...

Wow! Nice post.
O.K. I just want to stop and thank you Josh. You have started something in my life. I don't know what it is going to look like yet, but you were the first to start it. What is it? Looking at relationships. I mean ever since i was a little girl i've thought about my future and relationships, but this is deeper. As i get closer to "dating/courting" age, i realize that i need to look deeper into what i think relationships should look like. Recently, i've started reading "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris. I'm on chapter 5, but already they have taught and reminded me about many things i should be striving towards. Shortly after i started reading their book, i realized that their brother wrote "I kissed dating goodbye," which i own! I really want to start reading it. It seems like God is trying to lead me to look deeper into my heart.
Also, one of my other friends posted something about dating on his blog. So, i am pretty sure God is trying to get my attention.I don't know what He's about to do, but i think He used you to start something. Thanks.

Joshua said...

Oh Kristen, thanks so much for reminding me!!!I meant to put some book recommendations at the end of the last post but forgot!!! Anyway, yes, read "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" as soon as you can. It's a dynamic book and it's probably one of my ultimate favorites. Also another great book by Joshua Harris that has to do with relationships is "Not Even a Hint." It may have a new name now, but that's what my version is called...Anything by Joshua Harris is awesome! ;-)

Daniel said...

Once again a great post. One thing that truly still boggles my mind, and I think it makes it harder to bridge the gap per say to those who date, is that most of them at our age and probably even till their late twenties, is that they have no view of looking towards marraige, it is all about the casual, self-gratifying relationship. I still can't understand it because my whole view is about persuing a relationship for marraige, but it truly does create problems in discussion. It especailly pains me when i talk to christians who date, and they are truly creating so much heart-ache for their future. I think a lot of what contributes is men not taking their proper place in the church and the home.

One thing I would recommend beyond what Josh has said is to keep yourself occupied. I personally have the most problems when I am not focusing on a task. Not to say that you cannot relax, but severly limit your time when you are just sitting there doing nothing, it will just drag you down. I don't remember the verse but it basically says that Satan uses idle hands. Hope that helps

Once again I apoligize for poor grammer and such, stupid box is still giving me problems...
*bashes the comment box*

Daniel said...

Oh and everyone should read "I kissed dating goodbye" it help me to solidify my beliefs and gave me scriptural backing for them.

Abby Fields said...

Great post, Josh! At first i was a little intimidated by the lenght, but you did a very good job of clearly stating what you believe. I definately prefer a longer post in contrast to a shorter post that doesn't cover everything. I totally agree with everything that you said. In my family, the unspoken rule was prerry much no dating until 18, and when I reached 18, I had decided that I needed to set my standards high. lol, I did subconciously expect Prince Charming to come to my door on my 18th birthday though. Hahaha! I have noticed though, that over the year that I could have been dating, I really grew in ways that I would not have grown if I had been tied down emotionally to a guy. Especially in personal growth with God. I could see how easy it would be to make a "boyfriend" the center of my world instead of God and find my identity and purpose with who I am with instead of pleasing God in all that I do. Anyways, just my thoughts on this, thanks for the post! It was very encouraging!

Ps... "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" is a great book! Everyone should definately read it! I think that "Boy Meets Girl" was pretty good too, if I remember correctly.

Joshua said...

Hey Abby, you made a really, REALLY good point! These years before marriage are some of the best years of our lives in the fact that we are able to focus entirely on God. Like you mentioned, it would make it so very difficult to have emotional involvement with another person and STILL have your attention on the Lord. I think the years before marriage are key to growing in your relationship with God because that also prepares you for marriage. Thanks for that very insightful comment!

Moriah said...

Great post Joshua! :) It's sad that not very many people believe in courtship anymore. :(

Maiden of Purity said...

Hey it's me again!

Concerning this topic, I have yet another question (I'm one of those people who always ask...)

A guy once came up to me and was trying to test my faith and the whole ball game. Thus he was trying to get his ways and his philosophies into my mind and was beginning to get quite forceful with the benefits of dating. He put me into such a position that I myself became a bit confused, and yet prayed in my mind for God's pure understanding to come within me. He questioned me with the thought of, "Is dating a sin?" Of course he went on with more questions, things I wish I could ask as well, but it has nothing to do with this topic! Now, regarding the question, "Is dating a sin?" I couldn't answer his question to the fullest desire, I felt ashamed and to be quite honest, foolish...I answered, yes it is a sin, and yet couldn't find much to back up my point. He tested me to the fullest and was hoping that I'd fall and give up. He also knew my belief on guys/girls, and the act of purity, and thus really pin pointed me down, and mocked me over and over. I did bring up my beliefs of courtship and God's ultimate plan for the young man and lady, nevertheless, he was more interested in the fact of dating and wanted to specifically know if dating is all sinful. And would you be condemned by God if you dated a girl and ended up marrying her and everything went fine. That's something I couldn't answer...

Abby Fields said...

My quick thoughts on your question, "is dating a sin?" is that first you would have to define your terms and make sure that you are both talking about the same thing. Dating in and of itself is not sinful...but your actions WHILE dating can be sinful and it can set you up to very easily sin. The thing about courtship is that is based on the foundation that man is sinful and we realize that we need other people around to hold us accountable to God. Does this make sense? There are probably a bunch of other aspects to consider also, but this was the first thought that came to my mind.

Michelle said...

Joshua, this is so good and so very well written! Bravo! The Lord has truly blessed you with an amazing gift to write.

I've been wanting to do a post on courtship vs. dating but I don't think I could have written my thoughts across as clearly as you did here. Like Zac had said, I wish I could just copy and paste it all because if I were to write a post on courtship, this is exactly what I would like to say!

Vanessa: I was briefly reading where you asked the question of one of your friends: "How can I keep my mind pure, and quit the fact of always thinking of so and so?" That caught my attention, as I know many girls who struggle with this, (I think it's something all girls and guys struggle with at one point or another) and one thing that has helped me tremendously is whenever you start thinking too much about a certain individual, pray for that persons future wife or husband. That will put things in perspective real quick like! ;) I know it does for me anyway!

Also, I thought y'all might like to read one of my favorite definitions of courtship along with this post.....

"Courtship is supposed to be the time to find out if you are right for this person. It is not the wedding-planning segment of the relationship. That is called engagement. Courtship is the time for two people to get acquainted in a non-threatening manner, with parental oversight. It is a time for getting to know each other. It is a time of finding out and discovery. If, after a few weeks of "finding out," you find out you are not interested, then it is not a disgrace. It is not even a huge deal! Unless, of course, you have made it a huge deal by making courtship more than it ought to have been."

"One of the first ways to wreck a courtship is to start acting like it is an engagement. Parents can do this by running ahead when they should be exercising wisdom and caution by checking to see how their daughter is doing and by getting to know the young man who is doing the courting. Well-meaning friends do the same thing when they start congratulating the couple and asking them about the honeymoon. All of this exerts undue pressure on the couple. It changes the tone of the relationship from low-key to high-pressure. It makes the two people involved feel like they must resolve all their issues immediately. Often this is not possible, so one or the other asks to please be excused. So ends the courtship."

I really liked this excerpt from an article, as having sisters, we know from experience that some guys tend to treat courtship as an engagement!! When that happens, all it does, is put too much presure on the young lady and makes her turn the other way. She will feel trapped when a courtship is treated like engagement, and I think that's where many courtships go wrong like this article said.

Anyway, I think Joshua did a great job of explaing courtship with a balanced view. It's been a while since I've read something so "right on" about this subject.

Joshua said...

Well he put it pretty bluntly didn't he? ;-) I can see how this would be a tough situation to be in and the first thing that came to my mind was the same thing that Abby brought up: While dating in and of itself can't be absolutely called a "sin," the behaviors and actions involved in dating do violate Scriptural principles. There are some people that "court" and might as well be dating based on their actions, and there are some people who date that are more conservative than some people who are courting! If I said that dating was just an all-out sin then anyone could look and say, "well that couple is 'courting' and they're going further than that couple over there that's dating, so is that a worse sin?" What that guy was doing was attacking your belief because he felt a different way. Is he a Christian? Often times when other believers treat people that way, it's because they feel under conviction for that same issue and will mock you for it. I guess it comes down to this. Both dating and courtship are labels; the actions and principle associated with them, however, are entirely different. Courtship helps protect from sin while dating makes it extremely hard to avoid sin. Those are my quick thoughts; if I think of anything else I'll be sure to mention it! Thanks for the question.

Michelle, great comment and I really appreciated what you had to say! :)

Allison said...

I had a similar question as you by a friend, except she asked me if I thought youth group was a sin? I had to answer no, youth group is not a sin. I have to be careful what I label "sin" because sin deserves the wrath of God. So in my answer to her question, I responded with the question:
How would God be most glorified?

Because that is the purpose. Our purpose in life isn't to do whatever is culturally acceptable or the norm but to obey the Lord in the fullest way we can. So while I have many reasons to argue why youth group is determental and "bad", I cannot claim it's sin.

I wanted to add that even though I'm basically just repeating what has already been stated. Ultimately, our vision needs to be bigger than "go to college...find a spouse...get married...have kids..." (or whatever the normal idea for life would be) That is such a short term (often selfish) vision. Our vision needs to be greater; focused on becoming and raising culture changers who are not content with sitting around and following the short-term, foolish ideas of the world. We need to work hard and allow God to use us to accomplish great things for His kingdom! And in setting our standard and vision high, we often reconsider the reason and purpose in the "smaller" things like dating, where we go to school, youth groups, and the like. Because we don't want to just do them to do them, we need to have a purpose and vision for them! My dad is great at helping us with that because he often asks us the purpose in things we do. :)

I hope that made sense...

Allison said...

Whoops! Sorry for my typos above, I should've read over my comment! :P

Cindy said...

This is great, Josh. I'm coming by because Amelia recommended your post!

My son is almost 28 and has been married for almost 3 years. He lived at home until he married at 25. I believe another good thing about still living with parents, is a young person can gradually learn how to survive on their own and make good decisions, without being thrown out into the world to sink or swim.

I have a 23 year old daughter who is still waiting for the one God has for her. I constantly pray that God will bring her the one He wants her to have, and keep away the ones He does not want her to have.

Maiden of Purity said...

Hey y'all!

Thanks for answering my question! All of y'all's answers were really helpful and really gave me insight on how to deal with a question like this if someone would approach me again. I loved the fact of how Abby put it, and stating if my actions are pleasing to God. And Allison, your question of, "How would God be most glorified" really made sense. It really does all fall in the lines of, are my actions pleasing to God? Would I do this in front of Jesus if he was sitting next to me and I really saw him? Also, the comment Joshua left also left a great way of putting it, and with you saying how this guy was probably just testing me. No, he is not a Christian sadly, and really is quite a young guy. He's only 13 years of age, and yet with his words tried to over power me. I appreciate y'all helping me with this. We as Christians just got to stick together! Nevertheless, my last question still hangs in the air, "And would you be condemned by God if you dated a girl and ended up marrying her and everything went fine?" He also asked me this. Thinking of what this conversation was all about really threw me back, and also to realize of how young he is. Thanks everyone!

P.S. I have this question on my blog from this girl concerning the topic of hugging the opposite gender. Her question sates, "What about hugging the disabled?" If any of you have any suggestions about this question, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog addressed to her question!

Southern Maiden said...

Josh -
I really enjoy your blog - it's soooooooooooooooo encouraging!!! It's also inspiring to find youths who are sold out for God, and I appreciate that. God bless ya.

Hey Nessa-

You asked some good questions!! I have a few things to say....

If you date a guy before marriage, if he's the first one you've ever dated and you're the first one he's ever dated, y'all get married and everything's just peachy, it's still wrong. Yeah - still wrong. Remember how the Bible says to treat the opposite gender like brothers and sisters in Christ WITH ALL PURITY? Remember how the Bible talks about the marriage bed being UNDEFILED? What if you hold hands or hug all the time or even kiss on the cheek? If you're engaged, I think it's OK to hold hands and flirt (personally, I'm saving my first kiss for my wedding day) but anyway...
You can't give any part of your body to a guy before the deal is sealed. It creates feelings that WILL blind true-heart feelings. We girls naturally want that - but it doesn't count for anything!

What if you date and everything works out OK and y'all get married? But what if your'e not the first girl the guy has dated, even though he's the first guy you've dated? That will hang around throughout your marriage and torture you both - even if nothing really happened between him and the other girl. She had his heart at some point. And what if you date someone else and are so convinced that he's the one, but then he breaks up with you, and THEN you just happen to find the ONE for you? Then the tension in the marriage will be your fault! And did y'all notice when I said "the ONE"? That's because there is only one, and any kind of dating, IS IS IS IS IS(!!!!) just trying the guy/girl out. Everything could work out just fine, but dating is not anything but a search. If we date, we are NOT engaged. We're trying the person out to see if we want to be engaged. What if, by some sliver of a chance, they just happen to not be the one God has planned for us? I'm not willing to take that chance - it's not worth it. Dating is wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. That's my whole convivtion on that point. Ü

Joshua said...

Hi Ms. Cindy, thanks so much for taking the time to comment! It's wonderful to hear from a parent that has gone through this and is going through this process and has had great success! I agree that staying at home greatly helps one learn how to make wise decisions. My plan is to stay at home until I get married and I have learned so much more and made such wiser choices because of the counsel of my parents than I ever would have if I were already on my own and trying to make certain decisions!

Hey Vanessa, I had another thought. No, God's not going to "condemn" someone for dating and marrying the person he/she dated, but there are always consequences for one's actions. I think that's the heart of this question/issue. Like I said in "Dating (Part One)," my parents dated and they have been married for over 20 years now, but they both desperately wish they had known about courtship instead of dating because of the devastating consequences. Dating's focus is on the immediate and people who date don't often consider how their actions are going to have negative repercussions in the future. Southern Maiden (Erica) alluded to this in her comment as well, about how dating will lead to difficulties later in life. Basically, we need to be much more focused on eternal things than dating allows for, and we need to have a much greater vision. Courtship allows for that greater vision because it helps a couple focus on more than just the side of marriage and love that is portrayed by Hollywood and the rest of the culture. It prepares a couple to enter a lasting covenant that will bind a man and a woman in a unified vision to raise up Godly generations to continue in the ways of the Lord. In Scripture, we see that this is one of the responsibilities that we have as Christians.

Erica, thanks for you comments also! I'm so glad it has been encouraging and hopefully it will continue to be so! ;-)

Southern Maiden said...

Thanks for joining my followers Joshua!

Anonymous said...

I have a question????? If dating is like getting to know the person, how do you know then when you found the right spouse without getting to know the person(dating)? I know courtship is the right way, but how are you suppose to get to know the guy/girl without spending time with them? I have never heard of a courtship breaking apart because the two found out that they are not ment for each other. Does that happen?? If so then isn't it kinda like dating (in a sense)?

Maiden of Purity said...

Hi there,

You're question makes much sense and actually I have heard of a guy and girl courting and the whole relationship thing was cut off because they found out that they were not made for each other. No, when courting it is meant to spend time with each other. To make sure that this is the exact one God has for you. Nevertheless, when you are spending time with each other it is often the case that either your parents, or perhaps a sibling will tag along to keep things in check. Because when a girl or guy find each other, mixed feelings will take place, and it may be hard to keep your purity. Absolutely not, if you happen to call the relationship off while getting to know the person it is not like dating. When dating the girl or guy just hang out together without really discussing the purpose of the relationship. Courtship would be asking questions, and seeing if this person will fit the needs of you and the will of God. Dating is often done out of curiosity, and just wanting to have some fun. Courtship is the pursue and the beginning of perhaps a life long committment! When courting, contact of the two is normal and that is the only way the two can get to know each other, either phone calls, emails, or moments together. Nonetheless, it is all done with a watchful eye of someone older, or someone to follow behind and keep the two accountable. Dating is often taking the other gender, trying him/her out and if something goes wrong they split up. Courtship defines if this guy will fit my needs, or if this girl will be my helper. Hours of prayer are always done between these moments, and seeking God if this is the right one.

I haven't entered this moment yet, and I know if God wills it it will come soon. I know that God will bring trials and perhaps a few young men that will not be the right one, but I pray that His will be done in my courtship and that I will meet a young man who will be my Prince Charming!

God Bless


Michelle said...

Hello! I thought I would help answer your question since I have 3 sisters and lots of experience with courtships! ;)

First, courtship is the time to get to know the person only in a different way than dating. Courtship is more of a safety net with parents guidance. With dating, most people date around for the fun of it giving away their heart and emotions too soon to someone that they will most likely never marry in the end. With courtship you only pursue someone who would be a potential marriage partner.

The way we, in our family get to know someone who has expressed interest, is our family likes to have him over for dinner or for a game night and that way he gets to know our whole family as well as just the young lady he is pursuing. If my parents know the young man and know that he is well trusted, my dad will sometimes let my older sister go out to coffee in a public place to get to know the person better. However, you need to make sure the parents know exactly where you are going from point A to point B and it's a good idea to be home by dark. As my dad always says don't place yourself in a place of temptation and always stay above reproach.

If after you (and your family) get to know the person, and see his character etc, and the Lord giving you the go-ahead to pursue something more, then you can proceed to engagement AFTER getting to know him WELL and VERY well at that! ;) And that sometimes takes a lot of TIME and patience!

And no, courtships don't always work out like you see in books and magazines! You will learn lessons along the way, along with your parents. There is no cookie cutter way of doing things. Each courtship has been different for our family. The key is abiding in Christ and keeping yourself pure in heart, mind and actions.

When courtship doesn't work out, it's just as much an answer to prayer as to when one does work out. If nothing else, I will guarantee you it will draw you closer to the Lord!

But I will say this again, take your time to get to know the person! Many of times the person will seem so right and not until after several months (maybe more!) will things start coming out. Really watch their character and how they treat others, their siblings, and parents (even animals!).

Also, one thing we've learned is to work out doctrinal differences BEFORE you continue on with a courtship. It will make things much easier later.

And as wonderful as courtship is, if for some reason you start getting to know the person and seeing things aren't working out, you may still feel hurt no matter how much you guard your heart and emotions. We're human, and the Lord created us with emotions. Even in a friendship only, if you just cut off a friendship you will most likely be hurt unless you're as hard as a rock! ;) It's life and there are sometimes going to be disappointments in life.

Also, if the courtship doesn't work out, you can still be friends as a brother or sister in Christ knowing that your relationship was pure.

And that's why courtship helps us avoid having such a broken heart, as with most people dating, it will get your emotions wrapped up too soon and makes for a worse broken heart or hurt feelings than if you would have guarded your heart and emotions in a courtship and have your parents guidance.

I will end with this.....Surrender EVERYTHING to the Lord and be willing and ready if the Lord says no. Don't settle for anything less than God's best. He has the perfect one for every person if it's His will they marry.

Anyway, I hope this helps! I don't have brothers, so I'm not sure how a guy would answer this question. :) But this is how our family usually does it. :)

God Bless!

P.S You might find it helpful to read the snippet of an article I have posted in a my comment above. :)

Joshua said...

Hi! Just wanted to add my two cents about the questions you asked about getting to know the other person and how it kind of seems like dating. A very important first step in any courtship is the young man goes to the father and the father kind of "interviews" the guy to see if he is mature and if his convictions and beliefs line up with those of the daughter/father. If they don't, then a young man shouldn't even begin a courtship if there are issues that can't be resolved. Much should happen between the father and possible suitor before the guy and girl ever officially begin courting. I know I'm probably beating a dead horse by saying this, but it helps prevent any possible "break-ups" in courtships. Now, if convictions are the same and a couple proceeds in a courtship but along the way there are differences or they just don't sense that this person is who God has for him/her, there is no shame in stopping a courtship because at that point, it's still in the trial stage. By trial stage, I mean that you're looking to make sure that there would be nothing that would hinder a marriage and also this is a time of much, MUCH prayer. Through prayer, the Word, and the counsel of your parents, the Lord will direct your steps and He will show you if this is indeed the right person. Courtship helps prevent pre-mature heart attachments and so if a courtship is called off, it's not like dating because dating welds two hearts together before it is time. So no, if a courtship was cut off, it would not be like dating because the two would not have become attached to each other. Even if a couple go as far as a courtship, they should still have the mindset that they are quite possibly talking to someone else's future spouse, so ALL purity should be observed. As far as getting to know a person, you don't have to become emotionally attached to someone by just getting to know them. You DO spend a great deal of time with the person or are in contact with him/her in some way. If not, then you wouldn't truly be able to get to know the other person! You have to be able to communicate with someone if you're trying to see if you're going to spend the rest of your life with that person!!! Often times a couple that begins to court will have known each other for many years so getting to know a person isn't that great of an issue, but my old associate pastor went through a courtship in just a matter of weeks! BUT, he had been corresponding with the father, seeking the wisdom of his parents, and both individuals shared the same convictions and vision for their lives. As far as "knowing" the girl, he pretty much didn't know a thing until he met her in his twenties just prior to their courtship, but God brought them together in a miraculous way. Ultimately, we don't have to worry about the "getting to know" aspect because God will work all things out in His perfect timing. Our responsibility is to trust that He brings us through every season of life by His sovereign will, and when it's the season for marriage, He is going to work everything our for His glory as we seek to follow His will and His ways. It's going to look different for every person, so we just have to trust that He will do everything just the way He wants! Hopefully that helps answer your questions! If not, let me know how I can be more clear! ;-)

Joshua said...

Haha, I posted my comment before reading what Michelle said, so hopefully it COMPLETELY answered your questions! ;-) Lots of good thoughts Michelle, and it's always great to hear from someone who has seen first-hand others who have gone through this kind of situation.

Moriah said...

I tagged you! :)

Daniel said...


Could you define flirting for me, because the way I see people flirting generally it's not appriate till marriage.

Sorry about mis-spellings don't have spell check...


Southern Maiden said...

Don't worry about the spell-check thing, Daniel. I'd be happy to define flirting for ya! (this might sound quite complicated, but then, I'm a complicated person!)

I should have stated that more clearly - sorry! I meant MY idea of flirting. My idea of flirting is just a way of letting someone know you like them. Not the regular, worldly way! For example, when a girl runs up to a guy, sits in his lap, and giggles histerically. Or when a guy wraps a girl in a big hug without warning. That's not right - not modest or treating them like brothers and sisters in Christ with all purity. There's NO purity in that! No godly motives. But I think it is a truth that flirting is a way of showing your admiration for someone. I BELIEVE that when a man and a woman are engaged, the deal is (pretty much) sealed. They have already declared their devotion to each other, and the engagement and engagement ring is sort of a "promise" to be true to one another til the wedding hits (which some people post for a year later!). If you're ENGAGED to someone, your'e not going to want to be a whole cushion on the couch away from them, like you were when courting. The engagement is just the perparation time for the wedding. The couple's hearts are already pledged to one another! They can hold hands and look into each other's eyes with playful fun. I don't believe in kissing before marriage - that's almost as holy as the covenant (in my views). It wouldn't be right for the guy to take the girl out by themselves for a "date". They should probably be within view of others til they say "I do." But giggling and joking around and , yes, holding hands is an OK way to spend the engagement days, I think. The parents of the girl (and also the guy's parents) can watch over their children and declare the limits, but the couple should probably already be mature enough to discern wisely for themselves what's right and what's wrong. That's a great question, Daniel, and it really got me thinking hard! Thanks for the challenge, and I hope my answers helped.

Daniel said...

Yes they totally did, I understand what you mean now. I think that MAYBE (depending on the couple) holding hands is ok fairly far along in the courtship, but as you said that needs to be looked at with the wisdom of the parents involved.


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