Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Relationship Series: Let's Talk about Dating

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This is now the third post in The Relationship Series. In the first post, we discussed the primary purposes of marriage: Procreation and Representation. We discovered why they’re important and what they mean in marriage. Then, last week, we found out what it looks like for a husband and wife to fulfill these purposes. We looked at the roles of a husband as a Priest, Prophet, Provider, and Protector, and the importance and beauty of the submission and “management” (so to speak) of a wife.

To be honest, though, we’ve barely begun to explain marriage. It’s the incredible unifying of two individuals. It’s one of the greatest manifestations of love on earth. It’s the intimate knitting of two hearts. It’s to be treasured above nearly all else. It’s practically indescribable.

Because of this, it seems to make sense that finding the right man or woman to marry is vital. Indeed, it is! Quite understandably, it’s become one of the most popular topics among the Church’s youth. There are countless video series, books, and programs, all centered on the issue of dating.

So how do you date in a Christ-honoring way that will produce a godly marriage? The simple answer: you don’t.

The fact is that, if your goal is to have a lasting, God-glorifying marriage as we’ve discussed so far in this series, dating will make no sense! Instead, a biblical “dating” relationship is so fundamentally different from society’s version that it might as well be called something entirely different. Many Christians, me included, call this version of dating “courtship.”

But why is courtship better than dating? The answer to this question lies mainly in their purposes.

Courtship and dating are completely, foundationally different, because their purposes are utterly different. Courtship, on the one hand, is directed toward marriage from the very beginning. Its purpose is to allow a man and woman to determine whether each other is suitable for marriage.

Courtship is not an end. It’s a means.

In other words, courtship is a way to get to the goal: marriage. It’s not the destination itself. This, of course, is in stark contrast to society’s idea of dating, which encourages individuals to get “in a relationship” without even thinking about marriage. We’ve treasured the process more than the destination!

So what’s the purpose of dating? Ask those around you, and you’ll probably get a variety of answers. Some say it’s to learn more about yourself and others. Some say it’s to give you an opportunity to love and serve. Some say it’s to have fun. Perhaps the most legitimate reason I’ve heard for dating is that it gives you experience in relationships.

All I can think to ask when I talk to people about dating is, “Why?”

Why? Why do you need to date to learn more about yourself and others? Why do you need to date to love and serve? Why do you need to date to have fun?

Then comes the “experience” argument. What experience are you gaining from a dating relationship? In reality, dating is divorce practice. And most often, when people talk about getting “experience” in a relationship, they mean either experience in physical intimacy or experience in break-ups. One is sin outside of marriage and one is sin inside of marriage.

The point is that, if the purpose of dating were directed toward marriage, it would be done in an entirely different way than it is today – even in the Church. Biblical courtship (or dating, if you must use the term) is such an important part of building a Christ-honoring marriage. In fact, it’s almost as precious and beautiful as marriage, so we cannot help but to give it the attention it deserves.

We’ve begun to touch on why courtship is better than dating, and I invite you to continue the discussion and ask questions in the comment section. There’s much more to the topic!

But how do you go about courtship? And why does that matter? These are questions that will be answered in the next post in The Relationship Series!