Courtship vs. Dating [From My Perspective]

7:07 AM

Hola readers!
I've kinda danced around this post for awhile now. Honestly the thought of diving into this very contro topic scares me.

Just a little. 

For years I considered writing this post, but being only about thirteen at the time I didn't feel yet ready to explore the controversy between courtship and dating, but because many say I'm an adult now, I guess I can?
First off, what made me want to write this post is two things.
1. Joshua Harris' book I Kissed Dating Goodbye
2. People telling me, "I'm dating Jesus," or "I don't date - I court."

The latter makes me laugh each time - especially about dating Jesus, but we'll get into that in a minute. Before I begin rambling about dating vs. courting, you should honestly know: I don't think anyone should say which one is better between dating or courtship, because I don't think there's ONE certain way to go. This may sound absurd but bear with me.  
Ever since Joshua Harris' book hit the market, seemingly every Christian wanted to kiss dating goodbye. While I didn't read the book until much later after it was first printed, I still felt it's effects  from friends and family even at the young age of eleven. Many girls I knew at the time had on their blog's sidebar, "I'm dating Jesus," as did circulating Pinterest pins when I was about twelve and thirteen. 
Pretty much all my conservative Christian friends (whenever dating was brought up) told me that their parents said NOT to date and that courtship is the only way to go. 

Which is all fine and good...I guess. But to say you're dating Jesus is absurd and a bit silly. He's the son of God - One we're pursuing a closer relationship with, yes, but He's not someone to substitute your boyfriend. He's not to be a replacement of relationships in the real world. He's meant to be a guide. Not a boyfriend in any sense of the word.   
 But I've found that those same people who proclaimed they weren't going to date, are now in unhealthy relationships or bad places in their lives. They became the reverse image of what they were trying so hard before to create - the perfect Christian teenage girls. That's never going to happen. 
They told me that they were waiting for 'the one' yet when 'the one' didn't come up and the fear of never having anyone settled in, they settled for less. 
They had gotten it into their minds that they were waiting for 'the perfect one,' that one day he'd pop up into their lives and all would be amazing, without the sexual temptation, without all the messiness of 'real dating'. They had it that there wouldn't be anyone else, that the courtship would go perfectly, that all would be well and marriage would be the next step. (And of course they'd live happily ever-after). 

And sadly, I think this came about from people (mostly older adults), telling them that courtship is the way to go and wait for 'the one.' I'm not saying the adults were wrong,  the idea courtship is a beautiful thing, but I can't help but wonder if we're going about this all wrong, dropping labels on things and then acting like it will all be OK, that courtship will take away the messiness of dating a different guy each week, if it will help us find 'the one' anymore then dating will. 
Let me explain:
what if it's not whether you're courting or dating, but where your heart is? These girls may have been playing by their church's rules, by I Kissed Dating Goodbye (and I must add that this book wasn't intended to set the rules for EVERYONE), and by their parents, but by the time these girls grew up and faced the real world, it became extremely apparent that it wasn't where their hearts had ever truly been. The convictions the parents' held to weren't their's, so in the end they had been worthless. The girls still wanted to have a boyfriend so they could meet a certain social criteria, to satisfy certain needs they thought only a guy could. 

It isn't what we say or think that defines us,
it's what we do
Jane Austen↢

We've put dating and courtship in boxes, closed them tight and given people a choice - one or the other. But I think we need to be making sure the people who are going out in the dating/courtship world need to have their hearts in the right place. I don't think it should be about, "am I dating or choosing courtship," but, "am I right where God wants me? Am I following Him with my whole heart? Am I waiting on God and His timing?"
When people ask me why I don't have a boyfriend yet I don't want to so coolly reply, "I don't date - I'm courting." Because I feel this answer doesn't cut it. It comes across in a holier-than-thou-better-than-you way and I feel the right answer should be, "I'm waiting on God." 
Because isn't that's what you're doing in the first place? This season of no relationship had NOTHING to do with whether or not you're courting or dating or why you don't have a boyfriend. It's not because Jesus is your 'boyfriend.' It all leads up to God, and because you want to honor Him, you're waiting on His timing.
While the terms courtship and dating do help define where you're going with your relationship - especially when it comes to whether or not your parents will be involved and all that jazz, I still feel where your heart is is what is the most important of it all. 

We shouldn't treat Joshua Harris' book as a god nor should we treat the word 'date' like the devil. Both can be bad if you're heart is in the wrong place, if you don't truly care of physical boundaries or playing by God's rules.  
 One day when a guy comes along -if he does - and we're attracted in more then a physical manner, I don't think it's right to automatically say right now we'll say 'no dates' (I'm all for group dates actually), and I don't think that you must say you and your boyfriend/girlfriend are in a courtship (not 'dating' - heaven forbid!). Each relationship is different and differs to where you live, who you are, how you two met, etc. Prior to that relationship I think you only need to focus on God - not thinking all the technicalities beforehand until that day actually arrives. 

And another thing: I think we as a church haven't helped in allowing two responsible adults go on a group date to the movies without getting judged. I once heard of a teen who was berated for going on a group date and not pursuing a 'real' relationship because it went against 'what Joshua Harris said.' I don't feel going on a date is wrong. I don't think we as Christians must say we're courting. I don't think there is a complete set of rules each Christian must follow. 
I have to ask in every situation I place myself...

Where. Is. My. Heart. At.

That's the most important question. It will define your boundaries, how you live your life and treat others. If you're truly following after God you won't use guys to satisfy your needs but you'll want to grow closer to your Heavenly Father.  You won't use dating as a way to 'be cool' because you'll already know you're defined by Christ's blood. 
So in the end it doesn't matter about dating or courting - what matters is that you're truly following Christ. That's what it all boils down to. 

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15 of your thoughts

  1. Wow, YESS, so much yesss.
    I wrote a post on this a few months ago, and I agree with what you said 100%. I believe that it doesn't matter weather you call a relationship 'dating' or 'courting', its about your heart is right, and you are truly relying on God, and trusting in him to bring the right guy along. I honestly don't really like Joshuas Harris's book because people do treat it like a 'god' and I know some other homeschool friends whos parents are like "follow all the rules in this book or else", and thats sad to see parents push their kids that way, because when they get out on their own....they might just want something different because of the fact that they were pushed into 'courting'.
    Great post! You explained this so simply! Love it!

    1. Thank you for you awesome input! I agree that parents (not meaning to) push their kids the wrong direction when using only Josiah Harris' book as their dating bible and don't make sure their kids hearts are in the right place.

  2. This is fantastic!!!!
    Came across this post from a link on someone else's blog and I just wanted to put in my 2 cents and say that this is right on. Thanks for speaking up with your thoughts, it was awesome.

    1. Aww thank you! I'm glad you stopped by and put in your '2 cents.' I really appreciated hearing your thoughts!!

  3. Wonderful post, Kara!
    I enjoyed Joshua Harris' book, and thought it had some very good points in it that can benefit a lot of teens today. However, like you said, it is not the dating bible, it is not a rulebook, and it's not for everyone. I can understand why a lot of young people don't like the book- they've viewed it as a "do this or else" kind of thing in regards to dating. I wish it wasn't like that- so many people have missed out on the best parts of the book (which really are about ultimate life lessons, not necessarily about dating only) because of that mindset!
    Like you pointed out, the main things to consider are where your heart is, why you're pursuing the relationship, and where God is leading you.
    Anyway, sorry to ramble and leave such a long comment! I guess it's just becuase that's something that's always annoyed me when people start talking about how they hated "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". xD

    Thanks for writing another great post!

    1. Yes, I did like Joshua Harris' book and I hope that by any means I didn't imply anything other then that. And I agree - the mindset of the book is fantastic but it became a rule-book instead of a helpful guide and informative read on one young adult's view on dating, whereas the homeschool/teen world took it almost as a dating Bible.
      I love your rambles Emily! Keep up sharing your views in a Christ-like way. <3

  4. Well hey! I think you're spot on with this post. I appreciate your courage too, because I know it's hard to speak out against traditions. I really, really like what you brought it back to: our heart condition. Really every aspect of the Christian walk come back to the heart, now that I think about it.

    Also, I agree that courtship/dating is going to look different for every couple, (and that the I Kissed Dating Goodbye has created some unrealistic ideals). I'm a very nonconformist person, and personally if my turn comes, I would hate to be labeled as either dating or courting, or try to fit within the supposed guidelines of either. I definitely believe in standards and boundaries though. And I think Joshua Harris' books helped a lot of people, but things can be taken too far.

    While we're on this topic, what do you think of the idea of praying for your future husband? It's something I have controversial opinions about, so I'm interested to see what you think of it! Anyway, if I haven't said so already, good post! Thanks for speaking out about truth, and bringing it down to the most important thing. :)

    1. I agree so much with you! When my time comes (if it does), I would hate to label myself as 'dating' or 'courting' because honestly people see dating and courting in different ways.

      Ohh I love this topic about praying for your future husband! I honestly used to be all for it, but now as time has passed my views have changed pretty drastically. If anyone feels led to pray for their future spouse (for instance, my mom actually did I think), I'm not against it, yet I also don't think we should encourage everyone to do it. I feel that by praying for our future spouse like he/she exists we're assuming (obviously haha) that we're going to get married which I honestly feel is taking the place of God. We're assuming that God already as that planned for us when sometimes he doesn't. I feel instead we should pray that he prepares us for marriage if that's the plan for our lives and if marriage isn't what he has planned that we see him as enough. I think we should take seriously into account that marriage may not be his will and before we seek a spouse to need to seek him as enough.
      I hope I made sense and really I could turn the topic into a very long blog post - which I actually might! Haha. So be on the look-out for that because I could ramble on this topic for hours on end. Thanks so much for asking - I'd love to hear your thoughts as well!!!

    2. Well, now it's my turn to say I agree with you so much! Same: I'm sure God leads some people to pray for their future spouse, but like you said we don't even know if we'll have a future spouse! Personally, I see it creating unhealthy fantasizing in young girls, just like reading lots of romance novels or listening to love songs, only we say it's okay because I mean, it's praying, so how could that be wrong?! But that's just my opinion, and I know a lot of girls struggle with being single.. still I'm not sure if this would help that feeling or not! Anyway, there you have some of my thoughts on it. :) But I hope you do write a post about it all now. I'd love to read it! Oh, and I like the alternative you said too: praying that we'll be ready for marriage if that's God's will for us. To me, that's a much healthier option!

    3. Yes, when I use to pray for my future husband it became more of a fantasy! I enjoyed the thought of him, future dates, etc, more then the idea that I was actually praying to God for Him if that makes any sense? Haha.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  5. Hello Ladies, I'm a guy that have stumbled across this blog and by the way, it's a very well written.I think that dating is a result of courtship; dating is also more of the title slightly below the "relationship" title. Courtship turns into dating and in turn, dating may of may not lead to a relationship. All men are far from perfect, but the ones that care for your well-being, provides, and spends time with you (may not give all of his time), may be worth paying attention to. As far as praying for a husband goes "God helps those who helps themselves", so help us out ladies, give us signs that you're interested and it will make you more approachable. No guy likes the idea of being rejected, so help us out a little ladies! Well, there is my two cents lol Take care ladies!

    1. Hey Sheen!
      Welcome to Saved by Grace! I have to say it made my morning to see the perspective of a guy around here since - as you can seen - it's dominated by girls. I agree that girls need to allow the guys they are interested in to know that they're interested, however (and this is how it is for me) I'm always afraid that I'll come across as too flirty. So I think on both parts it's hard haha.
      Anyway, thank you for your "two cents" - it made my day.

  6. The important thing to note here is that you have your focus on God. Your relationship with that guy or girl in your life can be going perfectly, you might even be planning about marriage seriously, but if your significant other becomes an idol, replacing or contending with God as the reason you wake up in the morning, there's something wrong. If your focus really is on God, then if the relationship is his will, it WILL work out. You don't have to worry about wether your courting or dating, or how much you hug or hold hands or kiss. If your focus isn't on God However, then even if the relationship is seemingly going perfectly, it can and probably will topple like a Jenga tower. Even if your motivations are pure and you both love each other very much, something can happen.

    For me this is very real because it did happen. I was in the perfect relationship with the perfect girl for all the right reasons, except one. I wasn't focusing on God, I was focusing on her. She, in effect, became my god. And I believe that I became the same to her. She broke up with me even tho our relationship was going perfectly. It hot me so hard I was speechless. I'm still struggling with that as it was only 3 months ago.

    Moral of the story though, if you aren't focused on God, continually seeking His will, going into a relationship really is a huge risk. It may even drive you to the point of suicide if he/she calls it off, or if you have to do the same. Don't let that happen. Fix your eyes on Him, not him (Or her).


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