Dating and courtship are two different things but cannot do without the other. In every courtship, dating is part of its activities. On the contrary, not every dating is based on courtship. According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia
“Dating is a part of the human mating process whereby two people meet socially for companionship, beyond the level of friendship, or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or marriage. It can be a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by the couple. While the term has several meanings, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.’’
So dating is part of courtship for those who have marriage in view and part of friendship for those who are just friends. Dating is that moment when someone engages in a planned activity with his or her partner on a fixed date especially as regards to their relationship.
Many questions have always arisen as to if a Christian should date. I am aware of so many religious effects on our inclinations to be in relationships but that notwithstanding it seems so many are becoming flexible and therefore questioning the long stands of religion on moral issues. I will be answering the question here without writing a very long article or overly religious article. I want us to understand the background of this culture called courtship and dating.
Many may want to start linking the origin of dating and courtship to a particular event or series of mindsets developed in later times but I strongly believe that courtship started with the first man while dating is only part of courtship activities. I am not suggesting that Adam and Eve dated but the instincts and tendency to engage in dating and courtship was there. Dating is a “moment of meeting” while “friendship and courtship is a moment of discovery!” The Bible said in Genesis 2:22-23
“The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.“
You see, God did the match-making; He brought them together which means He arranged a date for them! He made the woman for the man and brought her to the man. Meanwhile, the man had met with animals before and there was no suitable companion found and then there was a woman! When Adam had met the woman, he exclaimed out of the discovery he made
“This is the bone of my bone and the flesh of my flesh”.
The marriage didn’t happen immediately God brought Eve to Adam, it happened when Adam accepted that Eve is the suitable partner.
Now, I want to clearly say that courtship is very different from being in a sexual relationship. In whichever way, dating is possible! Many people date but not many people date because of the right reason! While some move from sightseeing to the bed, other few moves from sightseeing to the altar while many others move from sightseeing to solving problems together! Truth is that both went for sightseeing but both ended up doing different things. I want to establish here that dating doesn’t guarantee that one is ready for marriage. Believers can date and engage in courtship or friendship as the case may be but believers are expected to court for the right reasons which are no other than marriage.
Marriage is the only way to be sexually engaged to a partner, it is the only way God ordained and has no other alternative. To see why it is so, check out my series on marriage. Therefore the only kind of Christian courtship that exists is one solely and sincerely based on marriage-in-view. If that is the case, it means courtship is not for everyone, it is not for people who are still not ready to consider getting married! For such people, platonic friendships may be the option.
In courtship, it is not the man that is considered to make options but the woman too! Just like Adam couldn’t find a companion for himself from the animals, a lady may too discover that she is not compatible with a particular man through courtship and a man too can make his own discoveries. These discoveries have to be discussed among the two with a sincere approach! Just like a man cannot marry any kind of woman, it is safe to say that a woman cannot marry any kind of man. All these issues of incompatibility can be discovered and resolved through sincere courtship. It is true that divorce is ravaging most of the marriages in this century but once one is married, the issue of making the discovery of incompatibility is closed! That is why courtship is very important for those considering marriage and platonic friendship for those who are not ready for marriage.
Having said the above; Christians don’t experiment sex in that level of relationship. Like earlier noted, marriage is the only relationship where sex is permitted! In fact, what makes marriage different from every other relationship is the intimacy gotten only from sexual practices.
I will end by reminding the younger ones who are not ready for marriage that courtship is not possible for them until they are ready for marriage. Friendship would be the best option! After all, dating is still possible in friendships. In many cases, friendship is much more important than courtship, sometimes friendships override courtship and graduates straight into marriage. I will explain in brief what I mean by friendship in this context.
Christian friendship is not like that of the world which in many cases becomes only about sex! Worldly friendships tend to be always selfish! Younger Christians should engage in friendships with not just one person but several other persons. Because it is dangerous for one to create an unhealthy bond and emotional attachment with one person which will affect how their relationship with other people will look like. This is because when it is all about one person, we will be easily misdirected by our inclination which in all sincerity is carnal.
I will summarize with this; when someone is in a romantic relationship with another person, they are prone to pretend without knowing it that they are all good and caring but when one is in a platonic friendship with someone; their weaknesses are made known to each other. When they come to the age of reasoning marriage, one would be surprised to discover that his or her friend is the right choice.
Even if weaknesses are evident, one would be able to prepare himself to condone such weaknesses. But romantic relationships often tend to present one as the right person even when in truth the person is not! Due to the sexual emotional driven false care and attention gotten from many romantic relationships, many weaknesses are hidden by default and when they enter into marriage vows, the eyes are open and they begin to see so many things they were not prepared for before entering into marriage! On that case, the chances of divorce become high and nearly inevitable.
Friendships are safer and more sincere than courtship, after all, everyone knows courtships are leading to marriage and at that point, the same risk of lust-driven good characters are likely to surface. I am not saying there is nothing like godly-romance but the general term “romantic relationship” means a relationship built solely on romance. Godly romance has nothing to do with lust.
Platonic friendship is ideal! Courtship only becomes important when one is planning to marry someone he or she hasn’t spent time with before. But generally, platonic friendships build future marriages to last longer. I do not mean to say that there were never romantic-relationships that ended well; however, they are not usually the case! Have you ever witness couples who married after ten or some years of belonging to the same Christian fellowships or after some years of being friends without considering to be married later but later saw themselves being in love? Such marriages are much more promising than those who met their partners in a club, party or elsewhere and dived into courtship!