4 Differences Between Courtship and Dating

Heyyo! It’s been a while! 😀

Soooo…. my last post created an earth-shattering controversy. So earth-shattering, in fact, that I almost took down the blog post to further think through what I was trying to get across.

Am I being dramatic?

Yes.

Am I being serious, though?

Yes.

A lot of you had questions asking me to clarify what I meant in certain points. After hearing/reading what several of you thought I looked back at the post and realized that, yeah, I wasn’t very clear. What wasn’t I clear about? (Well, that’s what I wanted to know when y’all came with ‘clarification questions’)! ;P

Apparently… (and admittedly)… I made it sound like courtship and dating were kinda the same things.

 

Exhibit A:

“The point of a courtship is to find out if you’re good partners for marriage.”

 

And you guys… this is a point I re-stated and emboldened. I’m sorry- it’s sad. I still hold to this view but I offered no explanation for it. I didn’t tell you what I meant when I said this. Courtship is a period of getting to know each other on a deeper level, with an eye towards marriage, but that does not mean you can just court any one of your friends to see if you’re a good fit. Two people entering into courtship should already have a special friendship and have a growing, God-honoring attraction. Courtship means you’re getting to know each other on a deeper level with the hope and intent that marriage will follow.

 

Exhibit B:

(Prepare yourself… this is pretty crazy.)

“The point of courtship is not marriage…”

 

Wow. I was distracted. And I remember being distracted that night, too. I’m sorry to the three folks that ‘liked’ this post… I hope this wasn’t the statement that made you decide to hit that ‘like’ button because I’m tearing this statement apart.

You guys…. this statement… well, it just isn’t true. Courtship, though it is still a period of getting to know each other in a more serious way, is indeed with an eye and a hope towards marriage. The point of courtship… is to get to know each other better for marriage. So, yeah, the point of courtship is pretty closely related to marriage!

(Note to self: never write blog posts while singing out loud.)

 

Exhibit C:

“A courtship that was carried out in a God-honoring way- even if it didn’t end in a proposal- was a very successful courtship.”

 

I still agree with this statement whole-heartedly. That post wasn’t all lost! Click here to read the whole thing if you’re super confused by the post you’re reading right now.

Since the one question you question-askers all had in common was “So, how is courtship and dating different?” I am going to give you four ways that I think they’re very different.

Let’s get started!

1. Accountability

Ahh… this is what courtship is mostly known for. Always having people around to make sure you’re in line, to make sure you can’t truly get to know your boyfriend/girlfriend, to make dates awkward, and more.

Not quite. 😉

Accountability is definitely #1 on this list. This is a huge difference between courtship and dating! The sad thing is that most people tend to stay away from courtship because this reason really does have so much to do with it. But they also tend to put a bad light on it, like what I stated above. Accountability, in most people’s minds, sounds more like “stalking”. People will always be watching your every single move. But in reality, the people you ask to keep you accountable are just making sure you stay within the boundaries that either you or your parents put into place for the relationship. They won’t be following you and they won’t be staring at you from afar making sure your every move is recorded in a book. (And if someone is stalking you, following you against your will, and/or recording your every move in a book… I urge you to contact help. Food for thought 😉 )

Dating tends to be more ‘on-your-own’. The couple is by themselves most of the time and it’s really up to them how far they go together, what they do, what they talk about, and where they go. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh, well, that doesn’t sound too bad. I and my (boyfriend or girlfriend) are mature enough to make decisions like that together. We both want to honor the Lord in our relationship.” That’s all good and well, truly it is. I’m glad you both want to glorify God in your relationship… but is the longing to glorify God enough for our sinful natures?

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

The sexual drive in humans is natural and God-given… but it can be a danger if we’re not wise. If you’re by yourself with a person you’re deeply attracted to you can easily fall into sin without even thinking about it first or you may end up finding some excuse.

In a dating relationship, self-gratification is normally the basis of the relationship. Instead of focusing on God’s pleasure, the couple is often looking for personal pleasure. This oblivious self-centeredness can lead only to dissatisfaction, promoting an attitude of lust (taking what I want) rather than the Scriptural attitude of love (putting others above yourself and protecting them from impurity).

Consequently, dating opens the door to many temptations.

A courting couple can avoid numerous temptations by the choice to be held accountable to God-given authorities.

 

2. Parental Involvement

Not only is having the parents involved wise, it is very helpful.

Now, this kind of goes along with the ‘accountability’ aspect of courtship, but I think it is very important to expand on the parents’ role in their child’s courtship.

In a courtship (with exceptions, which I’ll write about later in the post), parents tend to be the primary accountibility partners. They are always there to give you wise council, keep you in check, and be excited with you. 😉

(Because this blog is primarily read by girls (and is kinda meant for girls… sorry, guys!), I want you to understand that I’m writing in the girl’s perspective. Guys and gals have different roles in a courtship just as they do in a marriage. With that said… moving on!)

Parents are your safe-guard. They will most likely be the first ones to tell you if something concerns them, and your daddy will be the one protecting you- trust me! I know that I’ve so appreciated also having my mom around to ask opinions to and tell my thoughts on things to.

Parents do much more than “bless the relationship”. They are there to offer guidance, place proper boundaries, and model the relationship they want us (their children) to have. They help us avoid pitfalls and cheer us on. They will be seeing the young man who’s interested in you and you’re interested in through different eyes than you. Now, don’t get offended, I’ve been there before, we tend to see things through rose-colored glasses when we’re in love. It’s true! 😉 Your parents will be looking at him through eyes that accompany a heart that only longs for the protection and well-being of their little girl, while, we on the other hand, will be looking at him through eyes that accompany a heart that, means well, but really only wants to see the good in this charming young man.

Parents will be the one questioning this young suitor who’s come calling. They have only love and concern for you, and want the very best for you. If you rely on them and entrust your heart to them before anyone else on this earth, you will not be dissappointed.

Here are 2 exceptions (I’m sure there are more, but I feel like these cover the main categories):

  1. Ok, so if you’re an adult (I don’t mean 18, 19, 20, or even 21. I mean if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or older), parents may or may not be in the picture. Also, if you’re young (18, 19, etc.) parents may not be in that picture either. If they’re not then I encourage you to put yourself under the guidance of a trusted, older couple in the church, your pastor, etc.
  2. If you’re parents are unbelievers and don’t attend your church, then I would encourage you to again seek council to an older, trusted couple in your church or your pastor. However, I would also encourage you to keep your parents in the loop at all times. Even if you’re parents don’t hold to the same beliefe as you, they still cherish you and want the best for you.

 

3. The Hope is That Marriage Will Follow

Yes! Of course there is hope that marriage will follow! This is a very big part of any courtship!

Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other. Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage.

The main difference between dating and courtship involves the goals to be reached by spending time with a potential marriage partner. Men and women who choose to date often have no commitment to consider marrying the other person. Maturity and readiness for marriage are not considerations in the decision to date. Instead, couples usually date with the selfish goals of having fun and enjoying romantic attachments.

Courtship is undertaken only when both people are prepared to make a commitment to marriage. Dating tries to answer the question, “How can I find the one who will make me happy?” Courtship strives to answer the question, “How can I honor God and discern His direction regarding my life partner?”

 

4. Focusing on the Kingdom

Since one of the most important decisions we will make is the decision of marriage, we should make every effort to know and do God’s will in this area. A dating relationship is usually based only on what the dating couple presently knows about each other. In contrast, a Biblical courtship is based on what God knows about each partner and on His plans for their futures.

Jesus gave this instruction with a promise:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)

When a person makes a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ the foundation of all decisions—as he or she seeks God’s kingdom—God will provide all that is needed, including the marriage partner prepared by God just for that person.

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6 thoughts on “4 Differences Between Courtship and Dating

  1. Thanks so much Aly, for diving in further in these topics. I loved the way you explained things and backed it up with Scripture and clarification. 😉 I enjoyed it and appreciate your thoughts.

    Like

  2. Wow, that was sooo good Aly!! Thank you so much for outlining and scripturally talking about these topics. It was encouraging. ♥️☺️

    Like

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