Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Relationship Series: The "How" of Courtship

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Through The Relationship Series, we’ve discovered some of the less-often discussed parts of relationships. We’ve talked about purposes of marriage that are not so commonly learned (Part 1), roles of husbands and wives that far too few people understand (Part 2), and a form of dating that is entirely counter-norm (Part 3).

This post is no different. In the last post, we began to talk about the “Why?” of courtship. Now, let’s look at the “How.”

Honestly, there’s no black and white handbook for courtship. There’s no formula or set of rules. Even so, there are several key aspects of courtship that make it distinctly different from dating. Let’s explore each one and discover why they’re important.

Courtship starts with friendship.

Friendship is the first and perhaps most crucial stage of courtship. Although some dating relationships stem from healthy friendships, most don’t make use of them. Even worse, “blind dates” skip the stage altogether.

Friendship acts, in part, as a “filter” of those who may and may not make suitable life partners. Many people have the idea that you have to date slobs and takers at some point. It’s inevitable. You won’t know until you date them. This kind of thinking goes to prove that friendship is essential!

But friendship is about more than just weeding out the losers. Sure, it allows us to see character flaws in potential mates, but more importantly, it allows us to find good character traits that we would like to see in a husband or wife. Friendship is just that: friendship. The goal of friendship is not to find a spouse. But when the time comes, friendship is the perfect place to start.

Courtship involves the parents.

There’s a myth going around about courtship that parents “choose” a spouse for their child. This is far from true. Even so, parents have a critical role in courtship. Among other things, parents are to train up their children to someday be worthy husbands and wives.

The father of the girl, however, has even more of a responsibility. His goal, as the protector of his household, is to defend his daughter from a man who is unfit to be her husband. This implies, of course, that the young man should go to the girl’s father first. The purpose to this, though, is not simply to eliminate the jerks, but to ensure that a potential son-in-law is spiritually equipped, emotionally strong, financially capable, morally upstanding, and generally prepared to lead a home.

But why? Aren’t the guy and girl mature enough to make their own decisions? Perhaps, but there’s more at stake here. When a young man goes to a girl’s father, he’s demonstrating his own desire to protect her. Ultimately, it’s her decision. But if it turns out that this man is not a good match, at least he’s spared her from the emotional pain (not to mention awkwardness) of breaking off a relationship.

Courtship is about others.

Dating has a unique way of severing two people from those around them. Perhaps understandably, as soon as they’re declared a “couple,” a majority of their time is spent with just each other.

On the contrary, courtship is a group ordeal. That’s not necessarily to say that time alone is never allowed, but that it’s not the focus. You see, it’s easy to show love to someone when you “like” them and enjoy their company. Thus, spending a lot of time alone with someone often reveals less about their character than spending that time in group settings.

That’s what courtship does. It gives you the opportunity to see what this guy or girl is really like, whether they’re spending time with their family, serving in their church, or hanging out with their friends.

Courtship encourages purity.

Purity is a hot topic in churches and youth groups, yet somehow courtship is rarely advised.

Courtship is designed to help a guy and girl stay away from situations that might make it tempting to be intimate physically. This is partly because courtship is more group-focused, but also because it is focused on the end goal: marriage. Understanding that courtship is a means of getting to marriage encourages each person to patiently wait and trust the Lord.

But again, why? Why save the physical intimacy for marriage? What difference does it make? In reality, it makes a lot of difference. God designed the intimacy of marriage and the responsibility of marriage to go hand-in-hand. He made it to be enjoyed in order to demonstrate how incredible the commitment of marriage truly is.

Not only this, but He made sexual intimacy to be a symbol of the joyful uniting of Christ and His Bride when He returns. In sharing that special intimacy with just anybody, we’re saying that Christ is unfaithful and the Bride is not special to Him. This is why we should desire to save that intimacy for marriage, and it’s why courtship is designed to help us to do that.


Courtship is substantially different from dating. It starts with friendship. It involves the parents. It is about others. It encourages purity. When I think about the astounding gift of marriage and the role I have in it, it makes absolutely no sense for me to desire any relationship without these things.

I want to have a marriage that brings glory to my Creator. But I won’t get there unless I’m glorifying Him in my courtship.

Now what? How can I be preparing for a relationship before I’m ready to court? Stay tuned, ladies and gents, for the next post in The Relationship Series!