Dating vs. Courting
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!!
What is dating?
As far as I understand the Bible dating is not scriptural. There is nowhere in the Old Testament where men and women dated before marriage. You will not find dating as evidenced by today's standards, or lack thereof, anywhere in the Scriptures.
The Old Testament saints approach to dating appears to be simply this: DON'T do it.
Dating is a form of experimentation.
What do you do in an experiment? You try several approaches to a problem until you find the right solution, the solution that best fits your needs. Now apply that same thinking process to dating.
Why do you date? To find a mate! So you decide that you will go out with some "guy" for a while and see if you like him (kick his tires, if you will). If you find him "sea-worthy" then you will continue to see him. If not, then you will look for someone else. What kind of commitment is there in that approach? This kind of "relationship" is based on trial and error. Not very wise when seeking a marriage partner, wouldn't you agree?
If you follow through with this train of thought after you are married then you just might find yourself engaging in adultery when things don't work out or suffering through a messy divorce.
Dating is an emotional experience.
You will continue to go out with someone as long as he makes you feel good. Again there is no commitment involved. This is a purely selfish reason. Ask yourself just how does he make you feel good. Things he buys you (is he spending his money foolishly or wisely), places he takes you to (would you want the Lord to find you there), things he says to you (sometimes what he is not saying is more important than what he is saying), or how he touches you (we will get to this in a moment).
Don't be governed by your emotions. What will happen when he takes you to through the drive-through at the golden arches instead of that restaurant with the linen napkins that you went to on your first date, or he doesn't say the things he used to or says the wrong thing because you are experiencing PMS? Will you "dump" him for his insensitivity? If you do, then you are the one who is insensitive.
A woman's emotions are a virtual roller-coaster ride. The moment you don't FEEL anything anymore you will begin to look for someone else. Stop and think what your emotions are based on: the weather (spring is an especially bad time for hormones), your health at that point in time, your job situation or friends and family's opinions. How can you possibly base a relationship, one that may lead to marriage with a life-long partner, on emotions? The answer is, you can't. So don't do it.
Dating usually involves physical contact.
There is always a lot of touching involved when two people date. Whatever it is: kissing, holding hands, walking arm in arm, or something else, there is a physical involvement. It is almost expected. You are thinking: Will he? He is thinking: Should I? Does she want me to?
This is a good verse to memorize: 1 Corinthians 7:1 "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman." Why? You'll see later when we talk about standards. This is the first verse I teach my saved "girls" in church.
For now let me just say this: one thing often leads to another, as the saying goes. Ask yourself where you want your relationship to go. What are the physical limits? Will you be able to stop there or will you go farther than you planned and have to live with guilt feelings and regrets? A man can talk a woman into doing things she normally wouldn't think of doing especially when a woman's emotions are in control of her thought processes. Be forewarned.
Dating is largely based on a physical attraction.
For the most part the world forces us to accept beautiful people and reject ugly, homely or plain-looking people. This is wicked to say the least. Too often relationships are based on someone's looks. If he is "drop-dead gorgeous" (tall, dark and handsome) then you are interested in going out with him. He may have the IQ of a pineapple, but hey "all the girls will envy you."
You know nothing else about him but what you see as far as his appearance is concerned. Big mistake! Now I'm sure there are plenty of "Apollo's" out there but good looks are not everything. (1 Samuel 16:7) But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
I'd rather have an ordinary looking man with a heart for the things of God than one who looks like (insert current Hollywood hero here) and thinks Hezekiah is a book of the Bible.
What happens when the physical attraction fades or someone better looking comes along? We'll discuss this further in the chapter on make-up.
Dating is a one-on-one experience for the most part.
Why do I say this? You want to be alone. Gone are the days of group dating or even double dating. You don't want anybody else around because you don't want anyone else to see what you are doing. Just what are you doing that you don't want anyone else to see? Remember: You may be able to hide from your pastor, your parents, your family or your friends but you can't hide from God. God sees all and God knows all!
"The emotions brought on by uncontrolled passions often lead to fornication and sin. God made human life and the human body in such a fashion that there is no need to experiment with sex ahead of marriage. When the time comes you will instinctively know what to do." (The Good Ship Courtship by Dr. Hugh F. Pyle, Copyright 1969 by The Sword of the Lord Publishers, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, page 35.)
When it comes to sex, look forward TO IT in anticipation of your wedding day; not back ON IT with regret because you experimented before your marriage.
Dating can be a lying game.
I'm not "calling" you a liar. I don't have to. The way you act on your date is proof that you are. When you are on a date, especially a first date, you are always on your best behavior. What do I mean? Your thinking process goes something like this: he likes country music (or that's what you've been told by the person who set you up with this guy) so I think I'll wear something with a western flair to it. Now you hate red bandannas and cowboy boots but you squeeze your feet into them so he thinks you are a country girl. You've just told a lie.
That is why dating is so dangerous. You are playing a game. You are trying to be someone that you think he wants you to be and he is doing the same thing to you. Neither one of you is being who you really are or honest with each other. (Psalm 120:2) "Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue."
Turn to Proverbs 6:16-19 "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
You may be able to fool someone else but not God. He knows who you really are because He made you. (Psalm 139:14-15) "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."
Don't ruin your testimony by lying or starting off a relationship based on a lie. One day you may find out who that person really is but it may be too late. The same goes for him, he may find out you are not what you represented yourself to be either. Be honest and demand honesty from him in return.
Dating can be dangerous to your physical health.
Know how he treats his parents and others. He may be charming to you now, but if he is disrespectful, abusive or violent with others, especially his parents and those in authority, then the day will come when he will be that way with you, too.
A rule of thumb is: A man who respects his mother will respect other women, especially his wife.
(Ephesians 6:1-3) "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."
Dating can leave you permanently scarred.
If you are not the first partner of the other person there can be serious medical and health complications. AIDS and venereal diseases are all too common today. Don't take a chance on ruining your life. Promiscuous sex is not a game. The results of it, even one time, can lead to permanent physical damage or death.
(Romans 6:12) "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof."
Dating can be dangerous to your spiritual health.
Don't do anything that would hinder your prayer life, your spiritual growth or your joy in the Lord. Sex sins can leave people emotionally scarred for a lifetime.
(2 Timothy 2:22) "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
If you are doing something that you shouldn't be doing you will not want to have fellowship with God. You will not be interested in praying or reading your Bible. Your spiritual life will suffer and some never fully recover spiritually from the "heat of passion." Why take the chance? Love God first and wait until marriage to love the man God brings into your life.
What is courting?
Courting I believe is scriptural. Courting is knowing about and spending time with that special someone that you intend to marry. There is no "experimenting" involved. Courting is based on facts. You have already determined in your mind that this person suits you based on his character, his reputation, his testimony and his walk with God. You will be attracted to his good qualities and also know if he has any bad qualities. This can only be discovered by careful observation of him and testimonies from others. This will be the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Turn to: (Amos 3:3) - "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" This should be the life verse for every courting, engaged and married Christian couple. It is my husband's and mine!
You should agree in doctrine, Biblical principles (submission to husband), beliefs and goals in life (service for God, missionary work, children, etc.)
Courting is "hands off".
My husband and I courted. There was no touch during the time that we were together and there were no regrets or guilty feelings that clouded our relationship. The time that we spent together was for fun, not for questioning IF we should do something that we felt might ruin our testimony or cause another person to stumble. There was an excitement in our relationship because we knew the conclusion to it was going to be marriage and the rest of our lifetimes serving the Lord together.
We waited with anticipation until we were married for our first kiss. My husband was 52 years old when we married and I was 42. Our entire church family cheered us. It was a special moment for them as well as for us.
Courting is never being alone.
Those who truly love each other can wait to enjoy each other fully after marriage. Don't let the devil fool you about this. You can wait if you seek the Lord and not fall prey to the tempter's tricks.
Always have witnesses that can verify your behavior and your testimony. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 "Abstain from all appearance of evil." When my husband and I were by ourselves it was in a public place, a store or a restaurant, with lots of people around. When we met somewhere we drove in separate cars. We took every opportunity we could to take temptation out of our path. Now you may think this is extreme. Do what works best for you, that's between you and the Lord. All I can tell you is that our marriage bed was undefiled.
I know there are those that teach kissing and holding hands is innocent and harmless behaviour. I have seen the results of what that "innocent behaviour" can do to some young girls. Sorry, hands off, though unpopular and old-fashioned is the best way. I teach it, my girls demand it, the men in our church understand and accept it.
Courting leads to marriage.
God intended marriage to be forever. And a lasting marriage is one that is built in part on trust and mutual respect for each other.
(Matthew 19:5-6) "And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Let's look at some Old Testament examples and see what we can learn from them.
Joseph and Asenath:
Asenath was given to Joseph by Pharaoh. (read Genesis chapter 41) Why? Joseph proved over and over again that he could be trusted. His reputation and character were impeccable and Pharaoh knew that God was with Joseph and was blessing him in all that he did (verse 39).
Boaz and Ruth:
Boaz became Ruth's kinsman redeemer. (read Ruth 2:10-12) Why? Boaz took notice of Ruth's unselfish actions toward her mother-in-law, Noami (verse 11). The story of Boaz and Ruth is a picture of Christ and the church, the perfect example of courtship and marriage.
David and Abigail:
Abigail was a wise woman. (read 1 Samuel 25:3-42) Why? David says of her that she was a woman of "good understanding" (verse 3). She diffused an explosive situation and took the blame for her husband's actions herself.
Character and reputation are very important when seeking a mate. They cannot be overlooked. The character and reputation of these three individuals was proven by careful observance over a period of time. Each was attracted to the other because of their character and reputation. Watch and wait, observe, look before you leap.
Marriage arranged by the parents is a good idea. You say, "That's old-fashioned." Yes, but it is scriptural. God arranged the first marriage, that of his son, Adam with Eve. Abraham arranged the marriage of his son Isaac to Rebekah.
Next objection? "That is unheard of today." No, it's not. My father, my spiritual father that is, arranged my marriage. God brought my husband and I together. He was living in the Ukraine as a missionary and I was living in the United States when we "met"? God's hand was in our relationship from the start. We both knew the reputation of the other or we would never have considered the other person. We also had the recommendation of our pastor concerning the other's character.
Why should a father and/or both parents be involved in picking a spouse for his child? More often than not a parent sees things in the "intended" mate that his child will not. The child is too emotionally involved. The parent will reason with a clear mind and not with his heart. It is wise for parents to help make the choice. Most young people are not mature enough to look for character, conviction, compatibility, and similarity of goals and purpose in a potential spouse. The wisdom that a parent can bring to the situation may be the only roadblock to a future filled with heartache and tears.
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