Monday, 1 July 2013

Beyond the Labels: The Dating VS. Courting Debate

If you've grown up in a Christian environment, you're most likely well-aware of the dating vs. courting debate. When it comes to love, romance, and relationships, there tends to be a lot of confusion in the Christian community... some common questions I've heard and that I've had are:

- Should I date or should I court?
- When is the best time to date/court?
- How involved should my parents be?
- How physically intimate should a couple be   
   before marriage?

and of course the oh-so-popular question:

- What IS this courting business even about anyway!?

Before we look further at these questions, we need to dig into the Word about what God says about relationships. Part of why the church is confused as to what's okay is because the Bible does not specifically outline "courting is better than dating" or "thou shalt not date until thee is 21." But from what the Bible does say, we an paint a pretty detailed picture of what our relationships should look like: 

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14

"Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:1 - 4 

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." 1 Corinthians 6:18

These verses are just the beginning of God's layout for good relationships.

And although the Bible does not flat-out give us an answer, when we look at verses like this, we see God's opinion on the dating/courting debate - neither one is the right way to go about relationships. 

Okay, okay, don't have a cow. Y'al may be confused by this statement, but let me elaborate. When we look at this issue as an argument in which to choose sides, we are missing the point - the main question at hand: is my relationship honoring to God? 

There's no formula or process that's more God-honoring than another - in fact, love shouldn't have a formula or process at all. Every situation is different.

I don't believe that courting is wrong, I don't believe that dating is wrong, I don't believe that kissing before marriage is wrong, or that having a relationship before the age of 20 is wrong. I believe those things because if a couple is 100% focused on God and what honors Him in their relationship, then they can't go wrong!

Putting labels and formulas and man-made rules on relationships is wrong. Sure, everyone can have certain standards for themselves, and the Bible definitely makes it pretty clear that some lines are not to be crossed until marriage under any circumstance (i.e. premarital sex or overt physical/emotional involvement). But our standards should not cause us to compromise God's real plan for us! If we are so hooked on not dating until we're 20, and we turn down every man that proposes interest until that point, we're being unwise and we could be missing out because of our selfishness. We have turned "waiting" - something that should be God-honoring - into stubbornness and selfishness. Instead, we should enjoy our time of singleness while we have it, and simply be ready whenever God may bring someone into your life. Don't simply turn someone down because of age, or situation, but in every situation, seek what God's will is for you in this season of life. When we simply pray about everything, and stop sticking to our silly list of rules, it gives us freedom. And the best thing is, we honor our Father, the true Lover of Our Souls.

If you're already in a relationship, then the same thing applies. Simply be ready for whatever God has for you. You're not compromising standards, you're simply being free and being ready and I promise you, you will have a fulfilled and pure relationship, whether you marry that person or not.

I encourage you to always question your motives for your actions in a relationship, make sure to always pray over everything, be ready for whatever God has for you, whenever, seek advice and counsel from your parents and pastors ALWAYS, and remember that love is not a formula.

So you may decide through prayer and seeking counsel that dating seems to be the best choice for you, or that courting seems to be an easier situation for staying pure for you, but regardless of your decisions, we need to learn to look beyond the labels and start looking at relationships for what they really are: a way to love others as best we can and to the glory of the King.
















    











6 comments:

  1. Bravo, Mary Kate! This is something I've been thinking about lately. What is very important to one person is not such a big deal to someone else, and what may ruin one relationship could enrich another. As long as we're holding to God's firm decrees, there's so much that is flexible in this area.

    Thanks for being brave enough to say so!

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  2. I've read so many blog posts about this, and I think this was the best one yet. I love that you said how a relationship should really focus on honoring God, and I totally agree with you on that! This post was awesome :)

    ~Molly~
    mollyslittlecorner.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks y'all! I appreciate the encouragement :)

    ReplyDelete
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