Thursday, February 13, 2014

Courtship Vs. Dating {Part Two}

{A guest post by Beth Grace of Modestly Stylish}

So, in my first post {link here} of courtship and dating we covered a lot of ground. We defined what each one really was according to Webster, how marriage was included in it, the accountability factor to authority and never being alone, and the emotional roller coaster. Today's topics go a little more deep and I am just going to jump right in! 

Ready? Let's go!

Here is the biggest problem in dating and even sometimes courtship.

Get ready for it...

Physical contact.

You want to know what is causing most of your emotional feelings for each other? Yep, you got it. Now here is where I disagree with some people that are dating or even courting. With dating, Hollywood portrays physical contact as a good thing and the couple are kissing by the end of the first date. Is this acceptable?

Think of it in this way. What if you break up and don't marry the first guy or girl you hugged, held hands with, and kissed? You just treated somebody else's future husband or wife as your own. Girls, you just kissed another woman's husband. Boys, you just touched another man's wife. Even in some “courtships” the couple is allowed to hold hands or give “Christian side hugs,” but that isn't what true courtship really is. There shouldn't be any form of physical contact before you're married. There shouldn't be any when you are engaged.

I have had people tell me that it's okay to kiss and hold hands after you're engaged, in fact they said that the couple should have a little physical contact before marriage. Please, give me a biblical reference to back up that statement and then I will believe it. What happens if the engagement is broken off for some reason? Again, you treated someone else as your own spouse and you didn't marry them. It is so tempting for a couple to desire physical contact between each other, and it's hard to keep your hands to yourself, right? Even with hand holding I have seen couples act inappropriately. But it's only hand holding you say! I know, but it's all too easy to overdo it and brush up against each others' arms as you passionately hold hands. In courtship there shouldn't be any physical contact. At all. NONE. Not even after the engagement. That's a bit extreme sounding, but trust me, it should be that way. If you start with just hand holding it's exciting at first, but after a while the fervor will die off and it's suddenly no longer special. Start hugging, and after a time even that will seem boring. Enter kissing and more physical contact. And more. And then more. And then suddenly you find yourself in immorality and sin. All too many couples have tried to keep guidelines and not go too far, but the temptation of the flesh is strong. Innocent hand holding has careened into bigger immoral problems. Young adults, you need to keep yourself pure and stand strong in God. There is nothing wrong in refusing to have any physical contact before marriage. I personally have been given a hard time about waiting to save my first kiss for marriage, but girls and guys, it's worth waiting for. Don't give in. So many couples have fallen into the immoral lifestyle because they were so emotionally and physically attached to each other. They didn't necessarily have true love in a pure relationship together. If you marry someone because you feel like you are in love, than chances are you are marrying for the wrong reason. True love isn't a fancy or a feeling. Someone once told me that true love is “sacrificing your needs to meets the needs of the one loved.” People, you want an act of true love? How about Jesus taking upon the sins of the whole world and dying for us that we might be saved. We were the ones who benefited from His sacrificial actions. Therefore, if you care about a person so much, you are willing to serve them even if it won't benefit you in the process. True love is about being a servant. You care about someone so much that you are willing to serve them for the rest of your life.

Another good reason to keep your hands to yourselves during a relationship/courtship process shows character of commitment. Commitment to remain pure, commitment to resist temptation, and commitment to God.

If your partner can have commitment in this specific area it's a pretty good sign he or she will have commitment in marriage. In dating there is no commitment. The process of dating is like this: You try on one outfit and if that doesn't work you find another. And then another. This actually demonstrates a lack of faith in God and not waiting for Him to bring the right one. Instead you depend on yourself and basically try to find “the one” on your own. In the end all you have are a bunch of broken hearts and broken relationships. In courtship, because you don't physically or emotionally attach yourself to a person, you can still continue to have a friendship with them, even if the courtship doesn't continue. No regrets of any past actions.

In courtship the focus of the relationship is on the character and spiritual maturity of the potential mate. You discover whether or not your partner is ready for commitment. Before the courtship process begins you should already know if he or she is spiritually minded and mature enough to enter a committed relationship, and more importantly, marriage. Always look for what kind of character he or she has. Your attraction to someone should never be for physical appearance but rather, their character. Dating is more steered towards having fun together on social outings. Yes, you can get to know someone through it, but do you really learn to know them? If you spend a patterned habit of just having a good time together all the time, then how is that preparing you for marriage? I'm not saying that you should never have fun together, but what happens when it becomes only fun and games? Where is the practice of commitment? How is that helping your foundation for marriage? Something to think about.

So, in conclusion, which route is better? It seems more simple just to take the easy way, but is it truly worth it? What will you gain spiritually from dating? Most of the time, the right way is the hardest way. I am choosing the hard way. I believe courtship is my way to know my second true love, after God, who I pray is, and always will be, my first. I hope you will join me. 

Okay, so now you have made it through all of my ramblings and thoughts about this controversial topic. Good job to those of you who made it through all of it! Take some time to think and pray about which choice God wants you to make when it comes to true love. I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day and are filled with God's unconditional love! 

About Beth Grace:
A fashionista searching for new ways to have a clean modest style, but still appear stylish -all inside God's standards! You can find her online here at Modestly Stylish


  1. Wholeheartedly agree! Thank you for putting all of this together. You did a perfect job. It's so uplifting finding others so passionate for God. ^_^

  2. Helloooooooooo!
    As a girl who's never been in a relationship and therefore should not lay down her word as law, I still cannot resist offering my two cents. :D I want to say up front, though, that while I disagree with many of the points you've made in this post, I'm not trying to be obnoxious or start a fight or attack you in any way. I just want to offer a differing opinion-- in love, of course. :D

    First of all, I think it is dangerous for Christians to start calling anything that they don't agree with "sin." The Bible obviously does not lay down the law specifically for every single situation that you will find yourself in, and though we don't want to fall into the trap of, "well, it never SAYS we can't do such-and-such," we also don't want to be "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." And I don't think the whole courtship vs. dating idea is really founded on actual Scripture at all.

    Please understand that I'm not advocating that we go all secular and do exactly what the world does-- I’m not at all in favor of casual dating that just tootles around from person to person with no goal in mind except that of “having fun.” I don’t think relationships ought to be treated that way-- marriage should be the idea in mind, even if the relationship has not necessarily begun with the fixed goal of “we’re going to get married, definitely and totally.” A dating/courting relationship, in my opinion, should be undertaken with the possibility of marriage in mind, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting out casually just to get to know the person.

    This is, like I said, just my opinion-- my personal convictions and interpretation of what a Godly marriage and the preparation for such should be. This is not Scriptural canon, nor am I trying to make it out as such. It’s an opinion. And what I’m here to talk about is the physical contact thing, actually, so I’ll save further thoughts on the whole courtship vs. dating, commitment and accountability thing for the other post. Heehee.

    Okay. So. Truthfully, I don’t think any Christian has the right to tell any other Christian that what they are doing is wrong unless the Bible clearly states it, and even then it should be done lovingly and privately. And saying that any physical contact before marriage (please note I’m not referring to That Which The Bible Explicitly Reserves For Marriage Only) is just not Biblically founded. There is little said about it in the Bible, but what is said is either positive or completely neutral. In your post you said, “Please, give me a biblical reference to back up that statement [about some physical contact being okay before marriage] and then I will believe it.” I would like to point out Jacob and Rachel in Genesis 29-- here’s what verses 10 and 11 say.

     “And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.
    And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.” (Genesis 29:10-11)

    Now, this kind of kissing is obviously a familial sort-- probably on the cheek, and not really intimate. But it IS physical contact, and I think most people would agree it’s far more intimate than simple hand-holding or side hugs or whatever else couples typically do. And it’s portrayed as a natural and normal thing for Jacob to do-- and he and Rachel were most definitely not married yet (and wouldn’t be for another 14 years).

    To be continued...

  3. Part two...

    Later on you said, “What happens if the engagement is broken off for some reason? Again, you treated someone else as your own spouse and you didn't marry them.” How exactly is kissing, hand-holding, etc., treating someone else as your own spouse? Certainly these are things spouses do (and they are beautiful things) but this is a cultural expectation and is not actually Biblically founded-- that is to say, the Bible never states that such things are only for marriage. (Again, there is just one thing the Bible says is only for marriage, and I’m being vague here for the sake of younger readers.) It’s a way of expressing affection, and obviously you wouldn’t do this to just anybody. No, I don’t believe people should go around kissing when they first meet like they do in movies, but again, this is my opinion and the Bible really says nothing about it. This is just the conclusion I have drawn based on my own studies of the subject. (No, I have not experimented in this study by running around kissing random guys. :P)

    About having no physical contact even during the engagement, you said: “That's a bit extreme sounding, but trust me, it should be that way.” Do you have a biblical basis for this statement? I’m not trying to be argumentative, but you didn’t present a proof or reference for this rather strong declaration, which honestly did come across as a little extreme and even harsh to me.

    “It's all too easy,” you said, “to overdo it and brush up against each others' arms as you passionately hold hands.” What, exactly, is wrong with brushing up against someone’s arm? o.O It becomes very easy to start obsessing about something as little and trivial as a human being touching another human being (not in an inappropriate way)... aren’t there more important things to be worrying about?

    I did agree with the points you made about commitment-- I believe that a couple should be strongly committed to each other and to God, and willing to exercise self-control over their desires to be together. However, the conviction about exactly what this commitment entails can vary from couple to couple, and it is not right to impose your (or anyone else’s) personal beliefs and opinions on someone else. What is right for one couple is not always right or necessary for another. Someone who is a recovering alcoholic should probably avoid restaurants that include bars-- someone who has no problem with an alcohol addiction could easily visit a restaurant of that sort and not even be tempted to get drunk. In the same way, some couples will find even hand-holding to be overly tempting, while others will be able to kiss before marriage and leave it at that.

    And I want to be clear that I’m not condemning couples who choose to wait for everything-- if that’s what they’re most comfortable with, that’s great. (To say that they’re wrong would be to refute everything I just stated about personal conviction! Heehee.) But I do think it’s wrong for couples who DO wait to cast a judgmental eye on those who have chosen not to.

    Still to be continued...

  4. Part three and last!

    I do, however, feel that people in favor of saving absolutely everything for marriage tend to attach too much value and importance to things like kisses, and are finding their worth as a couple in the fact that they saved their first kiss for their wedding. When we make it all about the kiss and whether it was “saved” or not, we make it into a status symbol-- those who waited being better than those who didn’t-- instead of a mark of affection between two people who are in love. And that’s really what it comes down to. It’s between them, not you. Having the wedding kiss as a big part of the ceremony is a wonderful way to demonstrate to the loved ones who are present that, hello, these people who love each other just got married! But ultimately it’s their business. End of story.

    I should clarify here that I do think saving your first kiss for your wedding day is a beautiful thing, and personally I would love to do that. But if circumstances or opinions change and I end up kissing someone before I marry him, I don’t believe that would be sinful, and I don’t believe holding hands, hugging, etc., are sinful either.

    “In courtship, because you don't physically or emotionally attach yourself to a person, you can still continue to have a friendship with them, even if the courtship doesn't continue. No regrets of any past actions.” Why would you not want to attach yourself to a person emotionally? Certainly heartbreak could come of it, but heartbreak can come of any attachment--platonic, romantic, whatever-- we may form, and to cut ourselves off from forming attachments to other people entirely would be unhealthy. Regrets come with life, it’s part of the package, and no one can expect to live a life free of emotional tribulation. Certainly we shouldn’t seek it out, but we can’t possibly avoid it entirely.

    Annnnnnnd I think that’s I have to say on the matter for now... again, I hope what I wrote did not come across as if I’m picking on you or trying to start a fight-- I’m simply expressing a different way of looking at things. Thanks for reading this very long exposition! :D

  5. The long-awaited Part Two... :)

    Very well stated, Beth, and I think you drew a pretty clean picture. Courtship is not something to be taken lightly, but should be instigated between one man and one woman ***who are already friends*** and are looking into the possibility of marriage. Courtship doesn't begin with a man going, "Oh, she's pretty. Let's see if I want to marry her." but more of, "I'm good friends with this girl, and I respect and love her and her family a lot. I think she may be the one God has planned to be my wife." The modern aspect of dating is simply pairing up and having fun, and if marriage comes from the pair, then that's the way it is.

    I really like your points about the physical contact. While some may say that contact is fine as long as it's controlled, it can become dangerous. And I'm talking about your romantic physical contact. If you happen to walk by someone and accidentally hit his arm or his hand, that's not what I would deem real "contact." While it was brief, it didn't mean anything. Interpreting that as the condemned physical contact is going to the extreme. When a couple walks around the world holding hands and kissing, obviously they're romantically together. The hard part comes in when that couple is no longer a couple and has paired up with other people; then that man and woman who held hands and kissed are now holding hands with and kissing other people! Seeing the old couple and the two new couples, one can only assume that the hand holding and kissing between the first meant nothing because they're no longer together. But what can be said for the present couples doing the same thing? What if they all break up? There's no commitment there for anyone. It's just kiss and be happy.

    And this is a difficult topic because the Bible doesn't lay out the exact groundwork for men and women. Yes, I think they should get to know each other, but God DID say that it was good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1). Touch how? I believe that includes ALL sorts of romantic physical contact whether it be hand holding or the extreme. Why? Touching evokes emotional responses, especially in women, and that emotional response is the trigger to heartbreak and worse later on. Also, the Bible says to avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). If a couple is seen holding hands and kissing in public, even on a controlled level, how are we supposed to know that they're maintaining the same restraint in private?

    It's true that the self-control level can vary from couple to couple. What I'd say is this: don't flirt with temptation. Even if you and your “man” are firm in your self-control, how are your actions viewed by others? If someone who was struggling with his/her self-control sees how you interact with your man, how will it affect that person, especially since he/she knows that you are a Christian? Paul talks about eating meat offered to idols in 1 Cor. 8. He summed it all up by stating that if he were to offend his weaker brother, he wouldn't eat the meat, even though there was nothing at all wrong with the meat. And we should adopt the same approach in these situations: if our actions will be a stumblingblock to others, then we're better off not doing them.

    Thank you so much for this post, Beth! I know topics like this are hard to write about, especially since so many people have so many different views! But whether they agree with you or not, no one should say that this particular post is the foundation of Christian courtship. The final authority is God. He is the one who set up marriage and romantic relationships in the first place, and all relationships should be glorifying to Him.

  6. I totally agree with you, Beth! Thank you SO much for sharing these posts on courting and dating!!!
    Miss Dashwood, saving your first kiss for your wedding day is not a "status symbol." At least, it isn't for those who really mean it. To remain pure is the main motive. How do you know that after you experience it once, you won't keep wanting more and more? I believe, after much prayer... and observation of how other people went about courting (what they call courting) or dating, that abstaining from the appearance of evil, keeping completely pure before marriage is VERY important. Courtship, and I mean REAL courtship, starts with the two families getting to know each other, usually without any romantic intentions. The romantic part starts later after the two people already know each other pretty well. And yes, regrets do come with life, but we have no reason to go looking for them.

    1. "How do you know that after you experience it once, you won't keep wanting more and more?"
      That's when you need to exercise self control. I think the reason that we have a shortage of good christian families is that in an attempt to protect children from sin children they never build their self control. Now I am not saying that you throw kids out into the world and hope they make it. I was homeschooled and I plan to (if I God blesses me with a family) homeschool my kids aswell. Mainly because at a young age kids aren't mature enough to make good decisions for themselves. But this mindset that we should never put ourselves in a position that a wrong thought could come into our mind is wrong. If we do this then we could never walk out of our door for fear of sinning.

      I think in part 1 you used the verse talking about staying away from doing something that has "the appearance of evil". I think that what you took from this verse isn't exactly what was intended. We couldn't even walk into a grocery store because grocery stores have inappropriate magazines and someone might think we are reading them or buying beer which is also sold at a grocery store. If this verse was saying what you suggest then Joseph and Mary were in sin. Mary was pregnant and they weren't married....that has the appearance of evil but I think we can all agree that God was completely in that. :) I believe this verse is talking about things you are unsure of. Like if you aren’t sure if something is good or bad then just stay away from it.

      If you would rather do courtship instead of dating there is nothing wrong with that but one's preference should not be taught as one of God's laws.