I walked into work the other day and was asking my co-worker Jill how she was doing. She quickly gave me an all too familiar look that told me that she and her newest boyfriend were having trouble. Over the last five years I have watched as Jill has entered into one relationship after another and each seems to end the same. Of course, after each break up she has a new list of things she swears she will never do again, but inevitably she gives into the guy and ends up compromising even her own set of standards. I wish I could say the tragic cycle that Jill is on is a rarity that few ever encounter, but the sad truth is there are several people who follow the world’s pattern of dating and guy-girl relationships and find themselves in the same situation that Jill often finds herself in. The reason? While there are too many to list in one sitting I will briefly touch on why the world’s way of dating prepares for ugly break-ups and divorces while courting helps prepare guys and girls for successful relationships.
You may be wondering how going on “harmless” dates with others or entering a dating relationship sets you up for divorce and disappointment. Well one reason is that when you are dating someone and things seem to go awry you just “break-up.” The problem is that this mentality is carried into marriage and when the marriage, like any other relationship, goes through hard times you just want to get out of the relationship and so you begin to ponder divorce.
Also when you first begin dating someone you feel the need to impress them or get the other person to like you. Often this will lead to someone trying to change their interests or part of their personality in order to win over the other. However, once married or as time goes on you feel less of a need to impress and your true colors begin to show. At this point the two people are usually so emotionally attached that one or both will compromise standards they want in their future spouse in order to “save” the relationship. And if this relationship ends one person is usually left devastated.
On the other hand, a courting relationship is very different. Instead of getting into a relationship right away, those who court will first be friends. It is only when the guy and girl feel the Lord may be calling them to marry that they enter a courting relationship. However, the courting relationship is very different than the dating relationship in that there will be no ownership and both will understand that they are basically just friends who are seeking God together to see if He is calling them to marry. Instead of going on dates together, the couple will spend time with each other’s family and in group settings. That way they will truly get to know the other better and be able to better discern if the other is the type of person they want to marry. Though it is difficult, the two will try to keep their emotions in check at this point and be as objective as possible. If the two feel they are not right for each other, it should not be difficult for them to remain friends and since there is less of an emotional attachment it is less likely someone will be devastated should the relationship end. However, if they feel called to be married and others confirm it, it will be easier to stick through the rough patches of marriage because they know it is God-ordained. Also, the foundation of the relationship is usually stronger than the foundation dating relationships are built on and it will be easier for the two to withstand the storms of life together.
Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not saying that people who date won’t have strong marriages or that their relationship won’t be God-ordained. Just from my own personal experience, and being in ministry for the last six years, and watching many couples get married I have found that courtship does a much better job at preparing people for marriage and as a result those who court usually have better marriages. I realize this may be a foreign concept to you, but I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to interact with, and have relationships with, the opposite sex. Remember, the most important thing about any and all relationships is that we keep Christ at the center and allow Him to be Lord of the relationship.
If you are interested in learning more about courtship and how to have pure relationships with the opposite sex you could attend the Finish Well 2012 conference. At the conference there will be sessions available on this topic. The conference is a homeschooling highschool conference that is being held February 24-25. For more information visit http://finishwellcon.com/.