First off, may I point out that I think dating/courting is singlehandedly the most written about topic with Christian teen girl bloggers. That being said, I don’t think there are many that have the same opinions I do.
First off, let me just destroy the myth that dating is evil. All of you, take a deep breath, and say this with me:
It’s OK to date someone without the intention of marriage.
Now this is exactly the opposite of what courtship says, and so allow me to justify myself.
1. Courtship doesn’t let you just have fun!
Dating is fun! It’s supposed to be–it’s not an interview for your future spouse! Imagine how you’d feel if your partner was treating every date like an interview for a marriage position, analyzing how you talk, your habits, how you treat your family, making pros and cons lists in their heads about you as a wife or husband. That is NOT the purpose of dating–if you think about it, it’s actually a bit of a jerk move. You’re focusing on what they can do for you and how they’ll help make your life better, rather than just being with them for them!
2. Courtship turns breaking up into almost a sin
According to courtship, you aren’t supposed to enter a relationship until you think you could marry the person. How are you supposed to know if you can marry them if you haven’t even gone out with them yet? I’m sorry, that just doesn’t make sense to me. Dating is meant to be between two friends who just want to get to know each other better, while having romantic feelings towards each other. It might last. It might not. And that’s ok. Yes, life would be better if we never had to go through break-ups. But don’t think that just because you break up you did something wrong, or betrayed this person you thought you could marry. It’s just healthier to go into a relationship understanding that nothing is for certain.
3. Courtship makes the relationship get dangerously serious very quickly
If you date with the intention of marriage, things get really serious really fast. A scenario I see all the time is when a girl goes out with a guy a few times, says she can’t marry him, and then breaks it off after 2 weeks of dating. Seriously–2 weeks? You don’t know anyone well enough at all to make that kind of decision after going out for only 2 weeks! (Unless there’s a huge red flag, like he’s a sex offender or something.) You’re not able to just go out and have fun learning more about this amazing person–you’ve skipped a whole stage in developing a relationship! Now it’s stressful and dangerously serious far too early into the relationship, since you’ve skipped the carefree dating stage altogether.
When relationships get very serious, it’s easy to slip up. Christian couples mess up all the time because they figure they’re going to get married anyway, and it gets a lot harder to wait–even early on in relationships (first 6 months). It’s really dangerous to throw yourself into a serious relationship early on before you’ve gotten to know how you work with the person just as friends–why not just spend the first few months in a not-so-serious dating relationship instead of an intense courtship?
Yes, it is important for a healthy relationship to eventually become serious. However, that shouldn’t be as early on as most courtship relationships. I believe that a couple should begin to date, get to know each other, then be able to say “Yes, I think I could marry this person”. Then it can become serious. Not before they’ve had a chance to get to know each other. The problem is that courtship thrusts people into a relationship that the two aren’t ready for emotionally as a couple, no matter how good friends they were before.
4. Courtship puts your focus on the wrong thing
Lastly, you focus too much on marriage. Yes, when you’re in any relationship, marriage is the ultimate goal. However, I firmly believe that we stress it too much–your relationship’s purpose is not to get married. Any relationship you have, whether it’s friends, family, or dating, should be one that first and foremost points you towards God. If you are engaged to an amazing man or woman who you’ve been dating for years and even if you’ve done everything right, but you don’t strengthen each other in your faith, it is not a good relationship. The end goal isn’t to be wed–the end goal is to be closer to God.
And I believe that dating, rather than courtship, often keeps perspective in the right place.
So what do you think? Are you/do you court or date? Or a mix of both? There isn’t one right answer, and I’d love to hear how one or the other worked for you!