Hello princesses and princes 🙂
Let’s get back to the fun stuff that we had been talking about before the chaos of life took over…
In the first Godly Dating article, I briefly mentioned the topic of courting. But what exactly is courting/ courtship? Why and how is it different from dating?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines courting as follow: “to seek the affections of; especially: to seek to win a pledge of marriage from” someone. My favorite definition, still from Merriam-Webster explains that to court is “to engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage“. Other definitions explain courting to be the act of giving “a lot of attention and praise to (someone) in order to get approval, support, etc.” or “to act in a way that shows that you want or intend to get married”. As for courtship, it is simply “the act, process, or period of courting.”
Dating, on the other hand, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the series of social engagements shared by a couple looking to get married.” Note, however, that reality shows us that two people who are simply dating do not necessarily look to get married. Often time, dating is even viewed as the period where two people are only getting to know each other, BEFORE actually considering themselves as a couple in a full-blown relationship.
In addition to the distinction mentioned above, here are 6 differences, between the two terms, that marked my understanding of the topic:
- While Courting and Dating are, in theory, synonyms, in practice, they imply different things. Normally, – I say normally because this is not always respected today – courting does not include lovemaking, but dating often does. When in a courtship relationship, partners refrain from sexual activities, (and often times, any sort of physical exchanges, like kisses and hugs, for instance). While in the dictionary, lovemaking is included in the list of synonyms for dating, it isn’t the case for courtship.
- In the world, dating often disregards the dimension of “dating with a purpose”, the purpose or end goal being marriage. This is another difference with courting. When two people are in courtship, they are in a “serious relationship” with the intention of getting married.
- Christians prefer to use the terms courting/courtship instead of dating, to refer to the period before the engagement, because of the two previous points. A Christian is not to be “dating” because it implies a dimension of casualty and possibly an active sexual life, which is frowned upon by the body of Christ and the Bible, (sexuality before marriage is a sin: read my articles about abstinence).
- Dictionaries seem to show that these two terms mean exactly the same thing. But in reality, everyday life shows us that their implications and meaning are very different. Beyond the element of abstinence, when two people are courting, they are very serious about finding out if they are a good fit for marriage, as mentioned earlier. This has an impact on how they approach daily life and future plans. When courting, you do not just take it day by day like you do when dating. In courtship, partners are expected to find out what is the other person’s vision, and how they both see the future (which in turn, has repercussion on the day to day life). Speaking of marriage, careers, children, family life etc, is necessary and should not scare the other person away. It actually is expected in courtship. But while dating, these topics can frighten your significant others; because they might not think about you under that light. This will inevitably result in conflicts and misunderstanding of different kinds.
- Another significant difference between dating and courting is that when two people are courting, THEY ARE BOTH aware that the end goal of the relationship should be marriage. They know that they are not to be on that level of their love journey for an undetermined period of time; after a while, courtship partners have to decide if they can move forward and further prepare their marriage, or if they are not suited for each other, thus, should end the relationship. However, when dating, often, only one person (typically the woman) thinks about a future with their partner. This can lead to unfortunate scenarios and unpleasant surprises; for instance, the partner who only sees today might start to feel rushed into thinking about something they are not interested in yet. And this is yet, another reason why young Christians are encouraged to court and not date.
- Finally, courtship involves seeking God’s counsel, wisdom, and direction, while dating rarely (not to say never) does.
I personally, think that dating and courting are distinct depending on the environment you find yourself in and the meaning it gives these two words. I, quite honestly, use both. Because in my head and heart, I KNOW that if I am in a relationship, it is with the intent to get married. I am not just going out there casually dating anyone and involving myself in frivolous relationship and activities. I also refer to my “courtship partner’ as my BOYFRIEND, because he is not my fiancé, YET, and “courtship partner” is just too long to say you guys, lol! However, while I refer to him as my boyfriend, our relationship remains godly; we do not sleep together, have inappropriate conversations or touch each other inappropriately, etc. We are not perfect and have made our share of mistakes, but, we interact with each other in a way that does not displease God. And while we are both very affectionate, we stay within the limits allowed by the Bible and the “courtship guidelines” (which we will talk about in the next article).
Now, what does the bible say about dating or courting? We will go more in depth in the next article but, here are two very good verses on the topic:
- “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22. The way dating is presented and understood in today’s society is lustful, sinful and far from righteous. And because God tells us to flee those unrighteous youthful pleasures, courting IS godly dating.
- “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23. When you engage in a relationship in which tomorrow is totally uncertain because your partner does not even think about tomorrow, you are exposing your heart to hurt. Courtship is a way to guard your heart because both parties know what they are in for, they are aware that if ever they are not a match the relationship will end, peacefully. There is no such thing as “casual courting”; courtship is serious.
I pray God enlightens you on this topic and guides you on your journey towards finding your life mate. I hope this article helps you understand that godly dating is courtship, and why it is so.
PS: Do not forget to subscribe to my youtube channel where I will discuss the topic a bit more.