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Courting and dating are buzz words when it comes to Christian relationship advice. The debate between these two terms gained lots of attention during the days when the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was basically the evangelical Bible on Christian dating and singleness. In this article I will define Christian dating and courting, I will discuss the pros and cons to dating and courting, and then I will share my personal beliefs on the most biblical way to date.
I recently sent out a tweet about a dating article I wrote. A true Christian will only court! Rather, the Bible gives us commands about marriage. Therefore the only thing Christians can do is apply biblical principles to their approach of meeting and marrying a spouse. The two most common approaches used these days in Christian communities is dating and courting. At the very end I will tell you my thoughts and beliefs.
Christian dating is probably the more well-known of the two. The rules of Christian dating are basically the same as secular dating minus anything sinful like premarital sex or living togetherwhich often happen in secular relationships.
Christian dating usually starts by a guy and girl going on a few dates. At this point the commitment level is very low and the two are just feeling each other out socially to see if they would like to become a boyfriend and girlfriend. Many people date just to date and do not think too far down the line. Marriage is a scary word to hear too soon. You can date just to date in secular dating. Variations of this approach play out in Christian dating practices as well. But usually dating is not as intentional about finding a spouse as courting is.
A boyfriend and girlfriend relationship is often seen as a valuable relationship in itself rather than seen as a means to marriage as is the view in courtship. Before the two officially become boyfriend and girlfriend, which usually happens after some type of DTR talkit is not wrong for these two people to go on other dates with other people they may be interested in. You could go on a date with Joe on Tuesday and then go out on a date with Scott on Saturday. If you have not committed to being boyfriend and girlfriend, usually it is not expected that other dates with other people will not happen.
The dating season usually has phases to it. The longer the dating relationship lasts, the more serious this relationship becomes. Eventually the couple gets so serious and committed to one another they get engaged and then married. Usually this whole dating process takes between 1 and 3 years on average for Christians.
Christian courting has a lot more rules, structure, and expectations compared to Christian dating. In Christian courting this mentality would not happen. Christian courting is only for those Christians mature enough to be married. You would not court in high school, for example, because you would not get married in high school.
When you court you are saying you are ready for marriage. Not only are you ready for marriage in general but you are also saying you believe you would like to be married to the person you are courting Christian dating vs relationship will go through this intense season to see if marriage should occur. Christian courting emphasizes a pre-courting phase that values friendship and group activities before any type of romantic interest is expressed.
Those who promote courting state that you can get to know someone better without getting romantically involved. Before committing to courtship, you should observe this person closely and build a relationship with this person in the safety of a Christian community and in group settings only.
Once a guy and girl would like to take the next step in their relationship, it is expected that the man should do all the relational heavy lifting. Before even talking Christian dating vs relationship the girl about his feelings or asking her out, he should first talk with her dad or any other male Christian leaders in her life.
Once he gets their permission, he would then approach the girl and explain his intentions to court her with the purpose of seeing if marriage is right for them. Courting is a relationship that is very front loaded. In dating the commitment starts low and then builds. In courting marriage is discussed on day one and the two are both fully aware that they are courting with the specific intentions of seeing if marriage is appropriate for them. During the friendship phase is when you should have decided if this person is the type of person you would like to marry.
You should already know enough about this person to determine if they meet the requirements on paper to be your spouse. The big questions about spiritual compatibility, life direction, and compatible lifestyles should already be known. The courting season is really about seeing if the two of you fit relationally and want to be married.
During the season of courting there is a high emphasis on ability, transparency, and guarding your heart. Alone time is frowned upon and mentoring with an older married couple is ideal. Because of the extended friendship phase and all the time and preparation that went into the relationship before the courting even started, courting is usually much shorter than dating and usually lasts between 6 months and 1 year before engagement occurs.
The reason I Kissed Dating Goodbye exploded on the Christian scene is because there was a huge problem in the dating style of Christians at that time. In general people were dating just like the world dates.
Some of the common problems that occur in Christian dating is that people do not guard their hearts enough. Since there is more freedom to date who you want without testing that person more in friendship, there is also a higher risk of having lots of bad dating experiences.
Lastly, since ability and Christian community is not as emphasized in dating, the likelihood of sexual promiscuity is often greater than in courting. Those who date, however, are usually very comfortable around the opposite sex and have healthier, more realistic views on relationships and the opposite sex. The relationship experiences they have in dating prepare them and give them relationship skills that will benefit them later when they do meet their future spouse.
Courting, however, is a lot more rigid and has many more safety checks in place.
This can often benefit the couple once the courting starts, however, those who religiously follow the courting model are notoriously single for much longer because their Christian dating vs relationship and expectations are often much higher than those who practice Christian dating.
Christian courting does promote purity in general more than dating but it also hinders healthy relationship experiences. Courting promotes unrealistic expectations because you think about the opposite sex far more than actually interacting with them. Social skills needed for a successful relationship one day are not developed as early and there will be lots of false Christian dating vs relationship shattered once a courting relationship actually begins. So what is the best approach for Christian singles?
Is dating or courting better? The answer to that question is completely personal. Unlike I Kissed Dating GoodbyeI believe taking a hard stand on the details of dating or courting takes us away from biblical principles and causes legalism. I believer, rather, that the Bible gives us relationship principles that should be applied to your search for a spouse.
You can take any approach and do it for the wrong reasons. You can use one approach sinfully and another approach morally. I believe God cares less about what approach you use and more about how you use that approach. How you approach the search for a spouse and why you are searching for a spouse are more important than the method that you use.
If you disagree and you really believe in courting, for example, then you should do what you feel is best. If you have a strong conviction to search for a spouse in a very specific way, then I believe you should follow that conviction until God changes it and gives you peace to do otherwise. What follows is by best interpretation of biblical relationship principles applied to the process of a Christian single looking for a spouse. In summary, I basically believe in taking the practical approach that is often associated with Christian dating combined with the spirit and motives of courting.
I like the practicality of dating and not overthinking things, but I also like all the heart preparation and intentionality of courting. Do what you feel is most biblical, most honoring to Christ, and gives you the best chance of fulfilling the desires God has placed on your heart for a healthy Christian relationship. Christian Advice for Dating an Older or Romans Posted on Sunday, April 1,Christian dating vs relationship
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