Dating verses Courting
By Tom Brown
Joshua Harris wrote a book with a provocative title, "Iíve kissed
dating goodbye." You need to kiss dating goodbye. I believe that dating is
the worldís way to find a spouse. Many might be wondering,
If I donít
date, how am I going to find a spouse?
You should find a spouse through courting. Courtship is more
of a scriptural way to meet a prospective spouse than dating. What is the
difference between dating and courting? Let me say first of all: Donít
get hung up on terms. It is possible to use the word date but not
necessarily have the same understanding as my definition. I am giving you
my definition of dating. If you say you date but donít do what I define
dating as being, then I feel you are practicing courting, although you
might still use the term dating.
My definition of dating is that it is a modern game where intimacy
is practiced before commitment. It often involves romantic talk, holding
hands, kissing, making out, and oftentimes sex. Commitment never proceeds
intimacy. The word date comes from the word mate. It doesnít sound good
to tell someone you are mating with Mr. X. You prefer to use the word
dating. It sounds so much better, but in reality, dating and mating are
sometimes the same. I looked up the word date in my encyclopedia
and it said, "see Sex and Teenage." Even my
encyclopedia agrees with my definition.
Courtship is the time-honored and successful practice of learning
about someone enough to know whether or not the two is compatible for
marriage. It often involves friendship, discussing each individualís
future plans, knowing the parents if theyíre alive, and praying
privately for Godís will in the matter. After deciding it is Godís
will to get married, the couple prays together and then go to their
parents to seek their blessings and finally to the pastor to seek his
approval. After engaged the couple still avoids intimacy until marriage.
Commitment comes before intimacy.
Someone might be thinking, How old is this writer? Iím
under forty, and my wife, Sonia, and I proved that courtship could work in
this modern age. We both were virgins when we married each other. So donít
tell me that this is unrealistic. We never kissed or even held hands until
we were engaged. It can work. Weíve been married for almost 18 years,
and are still in love. J
Why people fall away from the Lord?
Iíve been pastoring for almost two decades, and Iíve noticed
that the number one reason people are led away from God is because they
get involved in a relationship which is not honoring God. People rarely
fall away from God as a result of drugs, alcohol, or cults. Christianity
is a relationship, so it stands to reason that an unholy relationship will
be the number one cause of backsliding.
We are relational people. Our faith is based on a relationship with
God. We need a relationship with God to fulfill us. Satan knows this, so
he tries to replace your relationship with God with a wrong relationship
with another. If he can succeed, you will discover that your relationship
with God will suffer.
Dating is Satanís method of getting you distracted from God. As I
said before, dating involves intimacy. Once a person develops intimacy,
they can easily make each other out to be idols. The Romeo and Juliet
syndrome takes place.
"Oh, I canít live without you! I need you! You are everything to
Like Romeo and Juliet you will began to despise the advice of your
parents and others who care for your spiritual well being. You will soon
give more and more time to this person. You will began to spend less time
with your family and Christian friends. Before you know it, you rarely
"Who cares, Iím in love!" you say. Remember the end of
Romeo and Juliet: they killed themselves! That is not exactly a romantic
Satan tried it on me
Hey, I am a guy! I know what Iím talking about. Satan tried to get me
involved in wrong relationships with different girls. Oh, they were so
pretty! But they werenít born-again, Spirit-filled girls. I knew God had
called me into the ministry, so I realized my choice for a wife was
critical. None of the girls I liked were interested in being a preacherís
Satan almost got me on several occasions. One girl, who was drunk at
the time, said to me, "Tom, with you being religious and all that,
and me being such a sinner, we would make a good couple." Yea, sure?
When I met Sonia at church, I asked her to play tennis with me. We saw
each other every week at a nursing home that we ministered at together. We
went out a couple of times. In all those months, we never saw each other
as idols. We were simply good friends.
The trouble with many marriages is they are built on sex, not
friendship. There is more to a marriage than sex. Yes, sex is fun, it has
its place, but friendship is even more important.
Many argue that unless you have sex before marriage, you might not be
satisfied with your spouseís performance. They say, "Better find
out if you are compatible sexually before marriage than after
You know this argument is so lame. Common sense tells us that sex will
be wonderful so long as you are in love with the person. It doesnít
matter if they can do gymnastics in bed, what matters most, is if they
love you. Sex is meaningful with someone you love. You can learn to
perform better as you go along. That is part of the fun.
Get it out of your system
Another argument of the proponents of sex before marriage is this: if
you wait until marriage to have sex, then you will always desire more;
better to get it out of your system before marriage than to do it after
This argument is so ridiculous. I would argue just the opposite. Sex
can be addictive. Iím more worried about playboys settling down.
Take for example a man who hates to shop. He decides to go to Wal-Mart
and gets himself some overalls. Let me ask you this question: how long do
you think he will keep his clothes? Remember he doesnít have many
clothes. Yet, you and I both know he probably will keep those overalls for
On the other hand, a woman who loves to shop will buy some expensive
clothes and add them to her dozens of outfits. How long do you think she
will wear them? Not very long.
You see you donít have to try on many clothes before you will be
satisfied with what you bought. My wife loves to shop. She will take hours
trying on different dresses to see which one she likes. Finally, she
decides on a dress, only to take it back later. On the other hand, I try
on one pair of shoes, it fits, and I take it home. I will wear those shoes
out until my wife encourages me to get another pair.
Trying on different people does not make it less likely that you will
want to keep the one you picked. Actually, chances are you will more
likely become dissatisfied with the person you married, because you know
what others are like, and you might start to reminisce about the other
guys you slept with. But someone who knows only one person, does not have
anyone else to compare him with, and is more likely to be satisfied with
their "one and only".
Fornication or Adultery
Modern dating has failed the church. The fact is divorce is just as
high among Christians as it is with the world. I believe a major
contributing factor to divorce is fornication.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. (Matthew 19:9, KJV)
Notice two words Jesus used: fornication and adultery.
Jesus gave the cause of divorce as being fornication. The result
will be that the person will committeth adultery. Fornication is
sexual sins committed before marriage. Adultery is sexual sins committed
during marriage. You rarely have adultery until you first have
fornication. Jesus placed fornication as the cause for divorce. Adultery
is not necessarily the cause for divorce. Adultery usually was preceded by
During Jesus day, a prospective bride swore to her virginity. If she
said that she was a virgin but after marriage the husband finds out she
had lied, then according to Jesus and the Law of Moses, the husband could
legitimately divorce her.
I know what you might be thinking, The past is the past. Yes, I
believe that, but what if the person claimed virginity when she was not a
virgin. Then the person could not be trusted, and thus, Jesus said it was
all right to divorce her because lack of trust.
The main cause of divorce is not what is happening during marriage but
what happened before marriage. How you live as a single person, will
eventually show up in your marriage. If you are a fornicator before
marriage, you will more likely be an adulterer during marriage. If you
remain pure before marriage, you will more likely remain pure during
marriage. A sexually pure person is better prepared for marriage than a
fornicator would be.
I know God can forgive and transform us. Mary Magdalene in the Bible
proved that. I am not predicting that you will have trouble in your
marriage if you messed up before marriage. At the same time, I would be
lying if I told you that how you live as a single person does not have any
bearing on your marriage, because it does.
As the Church, we try so hard to work on marriages in trouble, when we
should be working just as hard on relationships before marriage. We should
expect purity before marriage, just as we would expect purity during
Dating simply sets the stage for sin. And worse, I feel dating is so
expected and sometimes, encouraged by the church, family and Christian
friends, that we wonder why people fail sexually, and later, get
disappointed when they fail in their marriage.
I know Christian parents who allow their teenagers to date. The world
expects teenagers to date, so parents feel like they must go along with
the world. Listen, unless a person is ready for marriage, they should not
be placed in a position to perform the duties of marriage. We are not
called to go along with the world. We are to be holyópure and simple.
It is crazy for young fifteen, fourteen and even thirteen-year-old
people to date and experience intimacy. Dating is serious business. Yet it
is becoming the norm for this age group to have sex.
The Dating Game
Sex is serious. The Bible says, "Flee fornication. Every sin that
a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication
sinneth against his own body" (1 Cor 6:18, ASV). We are not to play
near fornication, but flee it. Letís face it: dating as it is
practiced today, does not agree with this scripture. When people date,
they are not fleeing fornication; instead they are flirting with it. They
are seeing how close they can get to sex without actually doing it. Thatís
The scriptures also says, "Do you not know that he who unites
himself with a prostitute (fornicator) is one with her in body? For it is
said, Ď"The two will become one fleshí (1 Cor 6:16)."
Fornication is similar to the act of marriage. When you fornicate you are
acting as though you are married. You are one flesh during sex.
"But Iím not married." I know. That is what makes sex
before marriage so serious. One flesh union should be reserved for a
husband and a wife, not your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Modern dating has taken something very serious that God has made and
turning it into a game. Youíve seen the Dating Game, and that
sums up dating: it has become a game. Dating has become a recreational
activity. Yet, God says it is serious. Sex is not like playing
sports or games. It is not meant to entertain you. It is meant by God to
draw together two people who are in love and who have committed to spend
the rest of their lives together.
Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your
feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not
sentimental gush. (Philippians 1:9-10 The Message Bible)
Real love is not sentimental gush. I know guys will say
anything to get sex from their girlfriends. They will even use the famous
"I love you" line to get what they want. But real love is sincere.
Does the guy really love her? Is he ready to take responsibility for a
child that they might conceive? Love must be sincere. Love is not selfish.
If a person really loves someone, then he will make sure not to do
anything, which might hurt her.
Love is intelligent. I know we usually do not associate love
with intelligence. Hollywood makes love emotional. But God makes love
intelligent. Okay, so you feel something for this guy, but use your head,
not your libido.
Courtship places intelligence as a premium to a relationship, but
dating places emotions as the prime indicator of a relationship. Courtship
understands real love.
Dating is basically selfish. Does love motivate the guy who sleeps with
his girlfriend when it will scar her emotionally and damage her
relationship with God? Does love motivate the girl who leads a guy along
then breaks up with him when she finds someone better?
Smart love looks beyond personal desires and the gratification of the
moment. It looks at the big picture: glorifying God and serving others.
The Wrong Cart
Dating is not an essential part of the complete teenage experience. You
can serve God better without it.
I can hear some people say, "Hey, Pastor, you are throwing out the
baby with the bath water. The problem isnít dating. It is
self-control." Give me a break.
How can we expect to exercise self-control if we constantly put
ourselves in compromising situations? As I wrote earlier, my wife and I
were virgins before we got married. That is not to say we were not
tempted. We were. The only time we had to repent before God was when we
placed ourselves in a position we should not have. We were alone in her
parentís van. They let us borrow it. After eating dinner, we headed back
to Soniaís house, only to make a detour into the woods. Mistake! We
almost fell. That was the only time we placed ourselves in that kind of
I can imagine couples constantly placing themselves in compromising
situations. Sooner or later, they will fall. Iím sure Sonia and I would
have eventually succumbed to fornication if we had constantly placed
ourselves in that kind of position. But we didnít.
The problem is not lack of self-control. It is buying into the whole
modern idea of dating. We are expected to be alone. We are expected to say
no, when there are no safeguards that are in place. Iím suggesting that
we place the safeguards in place. The best safeguard is to teach and
expect our members to practice courtship.
When you go to the grocery store, the most important thing to do is to
get a good shopping cart. Not one that has wheels constantly spinning
around. You may want to go straight down the aisle, but if you are not
real careful, your cart will veer off course into a can of tomatoes. You
didnít intend to hit the cans, but you started off with the wrong cart.
May I suggest that dating is the wrong cart to begin with? It just
doesnít work. Courtship will work.
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