Many relationships are based on the love of a sport, hobby or physical attraction, but a godly courtship is based on the individual's relationship with God. This kind of courtship centers around a third party, God, rather than focusing on the individual partners. This courtship process focuses on religious compatibility and a shared belief system.
An Explanation of Godly Courtships
Courtships are nothing new. Many past societies, even ancient ones, encouraged proper courtships that followed formal rules of etiquette. Royal Persian courtships involved officials and royal decrees, while provincial Sicilian families required deposits of livestock. Courtship has been largely replaced by dating, which is more casual. Some Christians, however, find it important to pursue godly courtships which honor their religious beliefs like purity and honesty. These types of modern courtships are preparations for possible marriage between two Christian believers.
Dating or Courting?
There are some fundamental differences between dating and courting. The main difference is accountability. This list will help you see the differences more easily.
- Courtiers are never alone unless they become engaged. This makes sexual abstinence easier for both parties.
- During courtship, pledges of love and emotional promises are not made until the official engagement.
- Overt flirting is not acceptable, neither is dressing immodestly.
- While a couple is courting, they continue to worship and practice their faith together.
- Family members and religious leaders encourage the relationship by offering counseling.
- A courting couple participates in group activities only until an engagement.
- The focus of this kind of relationship is to get to know the other person without the pressures of an emotional or sexual relationship.
- People who are dating are often alone with one another. Many people think this leads to higher instances of pre-marital sex.
- A dating couple is less likely to have a set of shared values when entering the relationship.
- Flirting and sexually suggestive language is common in regular dating situations.
- Dating couples often avoid family and friends to focus their attentions on one another
Activities for Courtships
During courting, the couple will interact with one another through church-based or family sponsored group activities. There are several group venues that couples may participate in.
- Church picnics or events
- Musical concerts
- Family reunions
- Birthday parties
- Seasonal parties
- Religious holidays
- Outdoor events
- Movies or plays
- Family dinners
- Religious services
Ending the Courtship
Ideally, the courtship will end with an engagement but this is not always the case. This kind of courting does not involve a legal contract. An uninterested party may stop the courtship anytime they like. The best way to end a courtship is to go through the proper religious leader or family leader. Traditionally, ending a courtship is not stopped directly. Ending the relationship is done courteously and involves prayer. The unhappy partner visits his or her religious leader along with the parents or guardian. He may give specific reasons why he would like to end the courtship, but this is not always required. The other party is contacted by the pastor or priest. Both parties are then free to begin a courtship with someone else or may be required to wait a specific amount of time before beginning anew.
Is Courtship Right for You?
Courtship may be difficult for people who have experience dating. This kind of relationship has limited involvement, at least at first, and involves many religious practices. However, for the observant Christian who wants to refrain from sexual activity before marriage, courtship is the perfect way to proceed. Spend time in prayer and counseling before beginning courtship. Continue courting under the leadership of a priest or pastor that you trust to guide you in this important activity.