Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Overview of Dating and Courtship

Dating was invented in the early part of this century. Prior to that time, marriage always involved much more input from the parents, and "trial relationships" leading up to marriage were not conducted at all. Courtship, which I intend to discuss further in this series of articles, seeks to fulfill the Godly model described in the Bible, which was conducted by God's people up until the invention of dating. My basic premise is that regardless of how we feel about things, we should follow God's model, because it will be the most effective and fulfilling. My intention is to convey that conviction, then to describe my current understanding of His model.

In overview, courting should only happen once and ends in a life- long covenant relationship. Dating happens lots of times, and ends in many hurts, heartbreaks, scars, and if you're lucky, a partner that just may stay with you for the next few years, or (if you're really lucky) the rest of your life.

In the modern dating scene you usually hide all your faults to give a false impression about yourself, in order to keep your partner liking you. Recreational dating is about self- gratification – you date to satisfy your own needs. 

Courtship is about open and honest exploration of each others lives and families leading up to engagement and marriage. Courtship is about marriage – you court in order to see if there is any reason why you shouldn't get married. There is no romantic interaction until after the commitment to marriage. 

Courtship is a word that has been adopted to describe a biblical model for the relationship leading up to marriage. In the Bible, the parents were always involved in the marriage process. They did not arrange the marriage without the children's consent, although they were certainly involved in the arrangements. Sometimes the parents found partners for the children, and then the children were consulted for their opinion. Other times the son would approach the daughter's father and make arrangements with him.

What's wrong with Dating?

There are many forms of dating, perhaps as many as there are people. Everyone has a different view of what is right and wrong. But there is a glaring fault in many of our models, a double- standard. Once we are married, we recognize that certain things are sacred to our partner. Things such as co-habitation, kissing, intimate hugging,
 s_x* and bringing up children. We recognize that not only our physical body, but our emotions, even our spirit are dedicated to that one partner, for the rest of our life (according to our vows).

The dichotomy is this: in dating, we presume to partake of many of these privileges of marriage. We would be shocked if a married man had an emotional attachment to another woman, and yet it's quite acceptable for singles to have a different emotional attachment every week. On the one hand, we save
 s_x for our partners (and some even do that sparingly), but on the other, we engage in rampant emotional promiscuity, giving pieces of our hearts away until one wonders what will be left for that special, life-long partner.

I have adopted the view that the Bible holds the truth for life