Many Christian families are leaving modern dating practices behind in search of purer relationships. The practice of courtship is returning to those who wish to teach their children how to prayerfully select their future husbands and wives. Courtship is based on biblical principles of honor, respect and God's design for marriage and family. The premise behind courting is that eligible men and women will know each other deeply on an emotional level before marriage and sexual intimacy.
Be Ready to Court
In its eight-part series on courting, Boundless, a ministry of Focus on the Family, notes one difference between modern dating practices and Christian courting is that young men are expected to wait until they are ready to marry before they begin to court. This means that courting does not begin in the early teenage years but after a young man has gainful employment and can support a family through his income. Therefore, the first step in courtship is not choosing a young woman to pursue but preparing for marriage.
Approaching the Father
Dennis Gundersen, an experienced pastor, father to four sons and owner of Grace and Truth books, writes in "Courtship and Dating: So What's the Difference?" that courting relationships are open and accountable to parental supervision and, therefore, need to be under the authority of the head of the household. Ephesians 6:1 says, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." This scripture and other similar verses such as Hebrews 13:17, Colossians 3:20 and Deuteronomy 11:19 support Christian belief that parents have authority over their children as long as they are not married. Gundersen points out that young men must request permission from fathers before spending time with their daughters, another example of respecting the father's authority.
Spending Time Together
Once parental permission is given, there are expectations to when and how the couple will get to know each other. In a courting relationship, most couples spend time together with each other's families and always under supervision. Gundersen suggests that modern dating encourages young people to participate heavily in recreation activities such as eating out and going to the movies; whereas, courting centers around family life. The connection with the family, household duties and responsibilities creates a realistic picture of what life will be like after marriage and protects young people from disillusionment that could lead to divorce.
Setting Physical Boundaries
When courtship begins to take a serious turn and the couple is committed to deepening the relationship, it is important to set boundaries on physical intimacy. Scott Croft, writer for Boundless, remarks that even though the Bible does not say to refrain from romantic kissing before marriage, physical contact above greetings with hugs and nonromantic kissing crosses the line of physical intimacy. Opinions on the appropriateness of kissing vary, but one thing is clear, sexual intercourse is for married couples only. Couples can protect themselves from temptation by spending time together in public places or with family.
- Courtship and Dating So What's The Difference; Dennis Gundersen
- Boundless: Biblical Dating: Parts 1 through 8
- ESV Bible: Ephesians 6:1, Hebrews 13:17, Colossians 3:20, Deuteronomy 11:19
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