My Experience with Courtship

A couple years ago I posted a note on Facebook about Courting vs. Dating (the original author of the note titled it that way). Time has passed and I have, as of a week and a half ago, become married. Our method of choice was courtship (or Christian dating whatever you wanna call it). I was asked by someone to write about my perspective on courtship having been one who’s practiced it from meeting to marriage. My intent in this post is simply to write my thoughts, opinions, and experiences on the matter of Christian dating (I welcome your responses in the comment section below!). I do not intend to bash modern dating, but to explain why I think Christian dating/courtship is a better, wiser approach.
Logan and Amanda Edmison
(Also, the picture to the right is of my sister and her husband).

The best way to address this topic, I think, is to take each of the three points the author made and show how these points were true, not true, etc… Let’s begin at the beginning:

The author’s first point is that Christian dating is different from modern dating in motive. The author characterizes the motive of courtship in this way:

“…courtship has one motive — to find a spouse. A man will court a particular woman because he believes it is possible that he could marry her, and the courtship is the process of discerning whether that belief is correct” (emphasis mine).

I found this statement to be true for me. As I got to know the woman who is now my wife I remember thinking that she was a wonderful Christian woman who would probably be a great wife. I finally asked her father (see method below) if I could court his daughter. Does this mean that I was going to marry her right then? No. I simply wanted to explore the thought that she could be a great wife for me more in-depth. My motive was not to have someone I could call a girlfriend. My motive wasn’t to be “cool” because I had a girlfriend. My motive was not to have someone that I could hug and kiss on for no good reason. My motive was simply to see if she would be good wife material (how this was done will be covered in the “method” section of this post). Any motive other than this does not seem like a good enough motive to cause me to pursue a woman. Any other motive, in my mind, is a waste of time, emotional, physical and spiritual investment. Again, this is simply my opinion and I welcome your comments down below…even if you disagree.

The author’s next point is that courtship is different from modern dating in mind-set. The writer distinguishes these two mind-sets by saying:

“In other words, modern dating asks, “How can I find the one for me?” Biblical courtship asks, “How can I be the one for her?”

The author’s premise is that modern dating is selfish and Christian dating is unselfish. I disagree that courtship is completely unselfish. When I was courting I tried to see if she was the girl for me. I tried to figure out if I wanted to marry this girl and if she’d be a good wife for me. I had selfish motives when looking for a wife. She needed to be the right fit for me.

That being said, I did also think about what I can do for her. I asked myself “what can I do to improve myself spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally?” As the seriousness of the relationship began to increase I worked hard at finding a job so that I could provide for her. I do not tell you this to pat myself on the back, but to say that my motives were not all selfish. When I first started courting her I had the intention to see if she would potentially be a good wife for me. As we talked more and more I began to realize that she would be and this caused me to start making the preparations necessary in order to have a wife (a way to provide and protect). It didn’t take long for me to start thinking less of me, and more of her. The relationship started out selfish (“would she be good for me?”), but quickly turned into selfless (“what can I do to be good for her?”).

Lastly, the author tells us that dating as a Christian is different from worldly dating in method. The author states this about the courtship method: (Warning: massive block quote ahead)

“Within this model, the man should follow the admonition in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 to treat all young women to whom he is not married as sisters, with absolute purity…The topics, manner, and frequency of conversations should be characterized by the desire to become acquainted with each other more deeply, but not in a way that defrauds each other. There should be no physical intimacy outside the context of marriage, and the couple should seek accountability for the spiritual health and progress of the relationship, as well as for their physical and emotional intimacy” (emphasis mine).

“In biblical courtship, commitment precedes intimacy.”

Time spent with my would-be bride (even after we were engaged) was spent with family, both mine and hers. When I was at her house, her family was there and vice versa. Many think that this means we were smothered by constant family interaction. That is a false assumption. Anna (my wife) and I had many, many discussions about Bible-beliefs, political beliefs, roles of husband and wife, etc. at both her house and mine. Our conversations were private, but we were not left alone in car or room somewhere. There was always someone around to “chaperone” us. They didn’t spy on us to make sure we weren’t having sex. They didn’t sit on the opposite end of the room and stare at us while we talked. They simply went about their normal business around the house. Their presence was enough to remind us that our courtship was to be spiritually, not physically, focused.

I’m amazed at how many people are against this thought. I’ve heard people say “that’s too strict! Let them go out on a date together alone.” In fact, when I bring this topic up with people many say “well that’s a great idea if you have no self-control.” Seriously? Would you say that about any other potential sin? I’m a believer in the “better safe than sorry.” Self-control or not, why would you willingly put yourself in a situation where sin could be possible? We are commanded to be holy (1 Peter 1:13-16), therefore we should avoid sin, or anything that could become sinful at all costs! The courting method is designed to help provide a hedge against getting involved in sinful conduct (I’m talking about sex before marriage). In that way I believe the method to be smarter than what many in our society do today. Is it full-proof in keeping couples away from pre-marital sex? No, but I think it does a much better job than our current dating scene today.

I must admit, I really love the idea of courtship / Christian dating. Through this process Anna and I were able to discuss issues that matter (religious beliefs, family beliefs, etc.) in a safe environment that kept us from being sinful in our physical conduct (we didn’t even kiss until our wedding day…no, I’m not saying that kissing before marriage is sinful). Through courtship Anna and I were able to get to know see each other in natural settings (interactions with family members). I saw her on her bad days and she saw me on mine. I saw her flaws and she saw mine. We were able to talk openly with each other about everything since we knew that we were looking to see if the other was “spouse-material.” Courtship in my mind is very much a “look before you leap” kind of endeavor. I was able to see if she would be the woman for me before I got physically and emotionally involved as opposed to after as most (not all) do today in modern dating.

If you would like to learn more please shoot me an e-mail at jackdodgen@sbcglobal.net. Also, please leave comments for discussion down below. I’d love to hear what you have to say, but remember that the comment section is a place for discussion, not hate. Feel free to disagree, but do it in a loving way. I hope that this blog enlightened a little as to what courting is. I enjoyed my experience with courting and I imagine, if you are someone looking to pursue a relationship with marriage as the end result, you will too.

Question: What do you think about the modern dating scene? Is it good or bad? Why? (I’d love to hear what you have to say).

 

 

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8 Responses to My Experience with Courtship

  1. Jack,
    What a great article!!!! I have always been a fan of courtship. Partly because I have done the whole “dating” thing, mainly because it’s Biblical! After reading this I am even more convinced that this is the best way! Thank you for sharing your experience with courtship.

    • I need to correct what I said about courtship being “biblical.” If something is “biblical” that means that God has legislated in that area. I should not have said courtship is “biblical” because God has not legislated (spoken) in the area of dating or courting. Therefore, saying it was “biblical” was incorrect.

  2. David Malley says:

    Thanks for this post Jack. Courtship is something I am still not entirely familiar with and your thoughts here enlightened me a little more. Well written article sir. 🙂

  3. Shameika Bahamas says:

    Regarding the selfish motive you had initially, I am not sure how ANYone could NOT think, “would this person be a good spouse for me?” At the beginning of the courtship there is very little one would know about the other person so finding out if there is anything to really pursue would entail having the thought… “would this person be a good spouse for me?”
    Regarding being “supervised” at all times… I can think of nothing more spiritually wise. I was of the thought that this might be strange but was planning on teaching/practicing it anyway with our daughter when the time comes. You helped in letting me know that the presence of the person alone is what helped. The scriptures tell us to abstain from the very appearance of evil and that we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own desired and enticed. 1Thes5:22 & James 1:14.
    Regarding kissing before marriage, Dr. Brad Harrub talks about creating connections that last a lifetime when we do things like kiss someone (especially if “our song” is playing). Therefore when we see that person again later (if they are NOT the one we end up marrying) or even hear that song, those feelings and memories come back to the forefront of our minds. In a way we are robbing our spouse (whomever than ends up being). I agree and believe that I cannot say it is “pure” to kiss someone to whom you do belong and only marriage gives you to each other.
    Regarding your question on the current dating scene: I am not a believer in it… I don’t think it is designed to find a spouse or even consider what God would want from the couple as they go through the process. It does result in marriage sometimes but that is not the true purpose of it— from what I have seen in so many cases. I don’t think it is completely shallow for some people but it is about investing all of you sometimes and acting like a married couple when you’re not which is not godly.
    I dated my husband but we would court if we could do it again (we would still marry each other in the end I’m sure!).
    Thanks for sharing Jack, when my friend told me your wife’s first kiss EVER was at the wedding I thought about that for days. She is blessed to have been raised by godly parents and you are so blessed to have her as your wife!

  4. Wesley Storks says:

    I really like the whole article. It presents a logical approach to those who would play the role of skeptic to the courting approach to the “dating” world. I particularly like how you alluded to the fact that we need to be proactive in our efforts to avoid sin and maintain holiness. Dating can lead couples into some very dark places indeed. I’ve seen it firsthand in multiple situations with people I know. It can turn out very ugly. Therefore, if there is a way that eliminates the possibility to fall into a sinful lifestyle, it will always be superior.

  5. 2011momof2 says:

    Thank you for sharing some specifics. I wasn’t raised knowing God and continue to learn more about this approach for my children.

  6. Alethea says:

    After spending my teen years dating in a worldly way, I can’t imagine choosing that way again. Especially after being shown by others that there is, in fact, a better, more Biblical approach. I’m thankful for those that are willing to teach what they’ve learned about the better ways.

  7. Great article, Jack! I agree that courtship really is the better way. One particular reason is the focus on not becoming emotionally involved before marriage. This is something people don’t talk about much, but the effects of becoming emotionally involved can be even more devastating to a marriage than physical intimacy. Case in point: the staggering number of divorces stemming from people becoming reacquainted on Facebook with old flames.

    The one point I might disagree about is kissing before marriage. I think you definitely chose the path of wisdom in not kissing before “You may now kiss the bride!” I’m not sure I could say choosing otherwise wouldn’t have been sinful. I have the right to kiss my husband because we are one flesh (Genesis 2:24) and our bodies belong to each other (1 Corinthians 7:4). As a married woman, it would be wildly inappropriate for me to kiss a man other than my husband. Why? Because my body does not belong to him; it belongs to someone else. Two unmarried people do not belong to each other (and may in fact end up belonging to other people). Thus they have no right to do those things which are for married people.

    It is just our opinion (based on the above scriptures), but the general rule we intend to teach to our children is this: if it isn’t appropriate for a married person to do with someone to whom he/she is not married, then it isn’t appropriate before marriage either.

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