Dating or Courtship: Which Term Should a Christian Use?

Christian Dating

Once a subject frequented by author giants such as Joshua Harris, courtship and dating have now been left in the dust as an irrelevant topic. Unfortunately, with the dramatic exit of Harris and his co-authors, we are now left with many questions and few answers. Frequently, during conversations with fellow Christians, I encounter this subject and often find it difficult to speak on. After all, it’s an awkward topic and is supposedly foolish for one of my age to even think about. Unfortunately, this is just as deluded as the idea that the Patriots are a good football team.

In a famous book, the author writes, “An Olympic athlete begins training at an early age. You don’t see someone begin training a day before the 400-yard-dash. It takes years of preparation, all for that moment.” While I remember neither the author nor the book, the quote remains with me to this day, a reminder of the fact that nobody is too young to begin preparation for marriage. If you’re reading this as a single kid, you need to start preparing.

But how do we, then, prepare for such a massive point in our lives? Obviously, the answer is not found within practicing the words, “Will you marry me?” and buying a ring at the age of 10. Indeed, true preparation is preparation of the heart and mind, not of the body. While physical conditioning is required in Olympic sports, the athletes on that track battle with the mind, not the body. So, too, is marriage. We must prepare by growing, both spiritually and mentally, and maturing in the different areas of our life. A man that acts like a boy will be hard-pressed to find a wife, but a boy that acts like a man will find himself surrounded by adoring fans.

My mom began praying for her husband when she was fifteen years old. At the time, she hadn’t met my dad, who wouldn’t appear in her life for another year, and had no idea of God’s plans for her. However, she operated by faith and was therefore rewarded on her wedding day. Her prayers were answered; she had the man of her dreams, a dashing young Bible student by the name of Keith McFarland. And so, on June 29th, 2001, a couple united, one that would bear five awesome children. Oh, and me.

My mom’s prayers most certainly affected my dad. Those of you fortunate enough to know his stories will understand the full meaning of what I’ve said, but suffice it to say that he would probably be a different man if he hadn’t had the Godliest woman in the world praying for him.

Now, with that being said, we know that we can start preparing for marriage at any age, and that this preparation involves prayer and growth. However, we still haven’t found the difference between courtship and dating.

Unfortunately, my answer is probably going to annoy you: there is no difference. Here’s the thing. Back in the ’90s, Joshua Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye and his following discussions on this subject rocked the Christian world. Never before had someone presented such opinions and Biblical evidence for an argument on this subject. Here, Harris called the Christian community to stop dating and begin courtship. Now, almost thirty years later, I disagree.

I would actually state that in our pursuit of the proper mode of relationship with the opposite spouse, we have gotten lost in the terms of the relationship. Instead, we need to be focusing on what proper courtship constitutes. So, call it what you like, but at the end of the day, your term doesn’t matter- your intention does.

Of course, marriage should be end goal of all relationships. Otherwise, they are pointless and the couple ends up practicing for divorce. When marriage is the goal of a relationship, the relationship will remain focused. However, without an emphasis on a Godly marriage, the relationship will not develop to its full potential.

So, with that said, we know that dating should be focused on a Godly marriage. This constitutes pre-marital counseling, discussions on the future, and other things. Obviously, being a teenager, I don’t know everything surrounding the topic of marriage, but you should understand at least the rudimentary basics.

To conclude: Even though it’s difficult to prepare for marriage, we should do so at a young age, readying our hearts and minds and engaging in prayer. And, when the day arrives that you or I are old enough to date, make sure to keep God in the center of the relationship, else it derail and crash.

Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks a ton for reading! I hope you really enjoyed that post. If you haven’t already, be sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side), so as to not miss out on posts like these. Thanks again for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Shoutout to Joseph Oakley for requesting this post.

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46 thoughts on “Dating or Courtship: Which Term Should a Christian Use?

  1. As far as terminology goes, courtship sounds more impressive, but they’re not all that different. You could just call courting intentional (of marriage), chaste (retro word!) dating.

    For the world, dating is an end in itself. For the Christian, courtship is a means to the end of marriage.

    Thanks for the post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Right. I would say, however, that too many Christians attribute dating to secularism and courtship to Christianity. At the end of the day, they can and occasionally are switched. For more of this, read my post on Christian Dating in a Secular World

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  2. AMAZING post!! I agree wholeheartedly. Too often, young people get caught up in the “now”, rather than the “later”. We should have a romantic relationship with someone, only when we are mature enough spiritually and emotionally, and are both not far away from being able to get married. Early romantic relationships are why there is so much heartbreak and pre-marital sex. So, I say, wait until you’re ready, pray a ton about it, and let God be a part of your romantic relationships.
    By the way, you should read the book “The Sacred Search” by Gary Thomas. It is AMAZING, and so extremely inciteful. I highly encourage it!!
    Sorry for the long comment, have an awesome day, and thanks for the great post! Keep it up!
    -Keziah

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good post! I personally prefer the term courting just because I have the terms dating and courting defined in my head, and courting represents more than the word to me, but I totally agree that many get carried away about terminology when it’s the heart that matters! There are some beautiful people that are pure in their dating and do it with the intention of marriage, and there are people who “court” just because that’s the only term their parents approve of, but they are impure and break up after a short time. So many also do this with their faith, using terms and labels when it’s about one’s personal relationship with God. Thanks for raising this subject!

    Liked by 2 people

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