While most of us can say that we’ve dated, not all of us can say that we’ve courted. Most of us probably aren’t even sure what courting is. How is it different to dating, anyway?
- Dating is usually arranged by the couple, through mutual interest in one another
- Courting is usually arranged by the families of the couple, often via a third party such as a matchmaker
Here are some of the other main differences between dating and courting. When courting:
- It’s understood upfront that each person’s intention is to determine whether the other person would be a suitable marriage partner
- The man and woman have no physical contact until after marriage. This includes holding hands and kissing. As such, they can get to know each other without experiencing any pressure of physical intimacy
- The couple will not spend any time alone together. Members of one or both families, usually the parents, will be present at all times. After all, they need to ensure that they approve of the prospective new addition to their family, as well as their son or daughter
There are inherent problems with both dating and courting:
- When dating, spending time alone with a member of the opposite sex can be a difficult temptation to resist. That’s why so many couples submit to sexual sin. Christian couples who are dating must set firm boundaries in place and both actively commit to keep them. They must always honour Christ during their time together through their words, thoughts and actions, and permit sin no opportunity to gain a foothold in their relationship. Just as with couples who court, the parents of couples who date should be involved by providing wise and discerning guidance for the couple
- The main difficulty presented by courting is that it restricts the opportunity for a couple to really get to know one another. If a couple is never permitted to be alone together, then they won’t be able to relate one-on-one and learn to understand one another emotionally and spiritually, before they marry
Neither dating nor courting is mentioned in the Bible. That’s because God is more concerned with the character and spiritual maturity of each person. If we put Him and His law above anything else in our life, then He knows that we will be better equipped to both date and court with great integrity.
God calls us to first establish a strong relationship with Him, before any other. He will then guide our steps, both as we seek a marriage partner, and always.