Footprints of Hope

Dating V/S Courtship

Dating creates more problems than it solves: broken hearts, illegitimate children, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, and feelings of guilt or shame that can last a lifetime. As serious as these consequences are, the solution for them is simple: biblical courtship instead of dating. Courtship isn't just another form of Christian dating. It's radically different and proudly old-fashioned-as old as the Bible.

Although the process may seem difficult at first, it's been practiced successfully for thousands of years. Dating, by comparison, is less than a century old-on the timeline of history little more than an experimental blip. As an experiment, though, it has been a total failure.

Pain seems to be what pushes most people toward obedience. When the pain of dating is greater than the payback, then and only then are people ready for an alternative.

If dating is so wonderful, why does it hurt so much?

Whether you're sixteen and single or seventy and single again, dating is much more likely to lead you to anxiety and disappointment than to your marriage partner. If that's the case, why do so many people keep at it? The ten most common answers are:
  1. they're lonesome;
  2. they're impatient;
  3. they want to find a marriage partner;
  4. they want to have fun and feel good;
  5. they want to learn how to relate to the opposite sex;
  6. their parents, peers, and the world tell them they should;
  7. they're determined to live life according to their own schedule, not God's;
  8. they want to develop social skills and emotional health;
  9. they want to have certain needs met until a marriage partner is found;
  10. they believe it will prepare them for marriage.

God's solution for man's aloneness is marriage, not dating. Just as marriage became the first one-on-one, male/female relationship, the home became the foundational structure for the rest of society and a committed relationship became the foundation of the home. In fact, God instituted the home before He created the church.

The principles of courtship are God-centered and biblically based. Courtship is a biblical process of finding and choosing a mate while glorifying God and honoring and respecting each other. Dating, on the other hand, is the world's alternative to courtship. Its principles are man-centered and culturally determined. The words "Christian" and "dating" don't go together because their principles are exact opposites. Christian dating is an oxymoron.

The primary distinction between dating and courtship lies in the intent of the relationship:

  • When a couple begins a courting relationship, they both know the purpose of the relationship is to consider marriage. Conversely, casual dating is a romantic linking of a couple simply to enjoy each other's company for the present. In dating, both parties understand that while marriage may be possible in the future, neither person is seriously considering it at the moment. As a result, immediate pleasure is the whole purpose for dating, even for Christians who draw the line at sexual immorality.
  • Courting has a long-term end in view There are no casual "tryouts" in courtship, and it is reserved only for couples spiritually and emotionally ready for marriage.

Courtship is not merely a Christian way of dating. When we date, we often have a window-shopping attitude that has "self" as the base: How will we look "wearing" our prospective partner ... having him ... holding him ... owning him? We try on another person for size and see whether their style suits us. In contrast, someone in a courtship relationship says, "I believe God has led me to you above all others and I will honor, cherish, and marry you." No broken hearts. No painful baggage. No walking out.


  • Keeping the focus on Christ, not each other or the relationship.
  • Bypassing the destructive dangers of physical, emotional, and spiritual counterfeit oneness involved in dating.
  • Establishing and enhancing communication between parents and/or the accountability couple and the single persons.
  • Establishing a chain of counsel for couples during their courtship, engagement and marriage to avoid the destructive pain of dating.
  • Giving the parents and/or the accountability couple the opportunity to see the virtues and the faults in a future mate and encourage or correct them.
  • Being based on accountability first, then completion of courtship preparation before courtship begins.
  • Having commitment as its cornerstone, thus building a solid foundation for a lifelong marriage and preventing divorce from seeping through the cracks.

Courtship also leads toward a far more confident, contented life both before and after marriage, considering the fact that couples who are committed to each other in a monogamous relationship blessed by God.

Footprints of Hope