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Courtship – What’s It Good For?

January 16, 2007

We’ve been talking about purity in church recently (my church – my brother is in a different one, and I’m not sure what they are talking about right now).  This has me thinking about relationships, and how Christian young people should go about them.  I’m a bit further along with my thinking about this,  being how I’ve experienced more of life than Chris, but both of us are facing decisions about how we are going to pursue marriage.  Both of us have been brought up on Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, the whole nine yards.  The interesting thing is that, while Harris’ books talk about eliminating purposeless dating, they really don’t have a system about how to approach relationships.  Boy Meets Girl talks about pursuing marriage in a purposeful manner, but it doesn’t really say much about specifics on courtship – basically, it says that our parents should be involved if possible, and that marriage should be in view when we begin our relationships.  We don’t see much in the way of defining courtship, and it has taken on this very serious state in my circles.

I  wonder if we have sort have exulted this word “courtship”, so that when someone says it, you assume that the relationship is on the cusp of engagement.  In fact, I’ve seen godly couples avoid the word courtship because of the way those around them would react to it.  Also, I’ve seen the avoidance of the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”, again, to root out the casual nature of typical dating, and I’m not sure we have better words to describe the early stages of a relationship.  Again, I’ve seen godly couples use those words in a godly way.  What is important in a guy/girl relationship?  What essentials should we shoot for?

I think that we should make sure that a relationship is God focused, first of all.  A relationship will fail if we don’t focus on God first and foremost.  Secondly, we need to have a purpose – open ended relationships that are pursued “because they feel good” are not helpful.  Third, I agree with involvement by parents – after all, they’ve been there before.  However, I wonder if we sort of ratchet up expectations on relationships before they have time to naturally blossom, and thus quench relationship with unrealistic expectations.  My hope is that regardless, I will be able to pursue marriage in a God glorifying way – what’s important isn’t what people around me think, but what God thinks about a relationship.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MichaelQ permalink
    January 17, 2007 11:05 am

    I think you hit the right idea. One just needs to keep _every_ relationship with a Godward focus.
    (Not that I’m an expert or anything though, ask your parents :P)

  2. January 20, 2007 9:23 pm

    I tuned out on the whole courtship thing when I realized that it was all a vain hope that one could pursue relationships without the risk of emotional pain. When you hear about people on their third and fourth courtships, you’re basically doing the same thing as dating anyway. I still have a tape floating around of speech class where I expanded on the futility of such systems.

  3. January 20, 2007 10:24 pm

    Wow, I have to say, its been a long time since Michael Q, Joe, and myself have conversed on any issue together. Good times, good times.

    A weird dynamic I’ve noticed is the whole putting a courtship on a pedestal, like I described above, basically putting it just under engagement on the relationship pantheon, while also expecting that you won’t see any emotional pain out of the relationship. That’s like getting excited for winning the lottery before you actually know you’ve done it – while there’s a chance you may not be disappointed, that is not guaranteed. Look, you are going to experience emotional pain if a relationship goes sour. It is just going to happen. Nor do I think that everyone is going to get into one courtship and then get married. Again, totally ridiculous – the point of a courtship is to figure out if you are going to get married, and the answer just might be “no”. The one thing that Christians should seek to correct in the culture is the expectation that romantic relationships shouldn’t have a purpose (or at least ones that have lasted more than say, six months). You can’t keep a relationship going too long without deciding on whether you and her would get married.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents – whatever you call it, glorify God while doing it.

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