“You have to kiss a lot of frogs to catch a prince.” This was my understanding on how you go about finding a mate. Dating was the norm. I grew up like most; my parents had an age requirement that we had to be 16 before we could start dating. Of course all the while my goal was to date for marriage. Meaning you only date those with potential to be a future mate (someone who is, or has the potential to become a Christian, someone who is going to be a hard worker, who treats you well, etc.). In high school I would have been willing to date, but only once had an opportunity presented to me that I turned down because I knew he would never go to church with me. If he did it would be “for me.” However, I knew a lot of peers who did start dating in high school who inevitably broke up and had their hearts broken just to start the whole process over and over again. My group of girl friends at school had a ritual of taking the newest girl who was dumped out for a day at the mall to cheer them up. In the back of my mind I always dreaded feeling the way they did. However, I knew it was inevitable and thought I should get started soon so I could get that part out of the way and find my prince sooner. Yet no suitors came until I was in my early 20’s and by then I was so worried of not finding anyone that I went on dates with guys who had no potential of ever becoming Christians. Fortunately for me, nothing became serious or long term, so I never had my heart broken. However, I was very disappointed when things never worked out.
I give you all this background to explain how the idea of courtship was so foreign to me when I first met Anthony (who is now my husband). He grew up being taught courtship and had never dated before. And though I didn’t know what exactly his beliefs were, I could tell from the beginning this guy was totally different from anyone I had ever met, someone special. So when he explained how he wanted to go about our relationship, I liked him so much I went along with it, even though I thought some of it was kind of weird, and some of the “precautions” were in my mind unnecessary. Time went on, and we got engaged. During this engagement we started talking about our beliefs and how we would raise our family. Even though we were not “dating” as I had envisioned myself doing, I still didn’t see the necessity of courting over dating. I went along with this for Anthony, yet I still thought it was okay to date, and I did not want to make my kids “miss out.” It took Anthony some time to convince and show me that this was the better method of finding your mate.
Now I am a convert! “Why?,” you say? After comparing my experiences with those of friends who used the dating method and after experiencing my first long term relationship and engagement, I see the difference. The reasons why my husband’s family chose courtship makes total sense and have blessed my husband and I with a guilt free, wonderful beginning to our love story.
When looking at dating, I now see some major flaws. First, I see that dating can be practice for divorce. As mentioned earlier, I saw many friends go through breakups. I noticed that it got to the point where a peer would become more and more scarred and would in turn put up a higher wall, every time their heart was broken. In a sense, it became easier after each break up to the point that breaking up was normal. Breaking up would come from big arguments and even the small and the stupid arguments. Now, put two people in a marriage relationship who are used to breaking up when things are no longer fun or smooth, and what is going to happen? It is going to be easier to want to break this binding relationship off as easily as they did with the dating relationships.
Second, there is a need for saving your heart for your spouse. When we start dating at a young age, every breakup we have is not only breaking your heart, it is giving away a piece of your heart. Special things like kisses and endearing touches are given away to people who may not even turn out to be your spouse. You will always have the memory of that person on your heart. When you court, you haven’t given away your heart and each thing is new and special and if courting is done in the right way, it helps keep the couple from going too far. Dating makes it harder to stay pure because the more you date, the more desensitized you can become and there might be more opportunities for you to go too far and lose your purity. Lots of people will disagree with me and say that purity is just part of self-control and even in a courtship you have to practice self-control. This is true, however the difference is in how a courtship works vs. how dating works. They have different rules and expectations. Typical dating offers more opportunity for temptation by allowing time for being alone and the fact that there is less accountability from parents. Those who are young should do all that they can to avoid temptation. “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” 2 Timothy 2:22.
Every courtship will be different based on different circumstances, but there should be some core standards that stay the same. A young person should wait to court until they are ready for marriage (age, maturity, etc.). He/she should wait until they have found someone they believe could be the one they will marry (no dating around). There should also be heavy family involvement (both in the decision process to determine if this is “the one,” and in the courting process itself). Also during the course of the courtship, the couple should be smart with their decision making which my husband and I feel includes keeping alone time to a minimum. The Proverb writer says: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” 4:23. We rarely went on alone dates; we did a lot of group activities. We also spent a lot of time together with family and friends, allowing each other to bond with the other’s family.
After comparing both dating and courting, these are my reasons for believing that courtship is the smartest and wisest way to go about starting your love story.
By Andria Warnes
Andria is married to Anthony Warnes who is the pulpit minister for the Miller Street church of Christ in Wheat Ridge, CO. She is a stay-at-home mommy to Brooke and Owen.