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The Difference Between Dating and Courtship

The Difference Between Dating and Courtship
The issue of whether we should date or court as Christians is a really critical one and it is rarely talked about in the body of Christ. Let's go over it and then draw our conclusion. This was my answer to a question that was asked in our online Whatsapp community. (You may join our community by clicking here)

Dating is a word coined, crafted and largely associated with the world. It usually has no basic boundaries or ethics. It however has a number of attributes alongside its assumed rules and values:

First, two people can claim mutually to be boyfriend and girlfriend if they are physically attracted together (not if God says). Also, there are no boundaries or ethics in this type of relationship and sadly, they most often end their relationships after a while - few months and years in some cases.

Although the above points are generalizations, they are true depictions of most cases regarding dating. Courtship based on the biblical model of love, romance, sacrifice, dignity, and covenant implies the following about how two people could begin a process that may eventually lead to marriage:

1. Both parties should back off, receive counsel, and pray to hear from God with other mature leaders and/or parents before allowing their hearts to be pulled towards each other emotionally/romantically. Part of discerning the will of God is judging whether or not the other person meets the biblical criteria and qualifications of being a good mate, being able to raise children, and being a family leader.

2. Attraction should never be only physical. Based on 1 Thessalonians 5:23, one should be attracted to another in three areas:
a. Physically
b. Emotionally and Intellectually
c. Spiritually (this includes personality).
This is to say that a person needs to meet the criteria in each of these three areas. For example, it is a huge mistake to marry a person because they are strong spiritually when not attracted to them physically. They also need to be two people who have confirmed beyond all doubts that it is the will of God for them to be together. Again, in a courtship, at some point, the man should formally ask the woman's father, parent, or relevant guardian for permission to marry the woman before he officially proposes to her. 
With these and a whole lot of other processes that goes with courtship, there is a very clear difference between dating and courtship. The Bible is so in tandem with courtship than it is with dating. Ranging from sexual purity to having guardians and hearing from God. It will be conclusive to say that courting should come first (not dating) and then marriage.

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