The concept of courtship (viewed as an alternative to dating) is at times controversial. Greatly acclaimed by some, it is likewise highly scorned by others. There is nothing sacred about the word “courtship” as compared to the word “dating.” Courtship is not a magic wand that can suddenly transform a romantic relationship into a holy pursuit. It is not a miracle cure for the world´s relationship ills. As a term, a concept or a set of principles, courtship is not the answer. I am more convinced every day that there is only One Answer in this world, and His name is Jesus. So why do I choose to use the word courtship at all?
Let me clarify something really important. I learned from personal mistakes that courtship is not about saying “no” when asked out on dates, it is not about potential suitors talking to your parents, it is not about going out on group dates instead of dates alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend, it is not about not having sex or not kissing your partner prematurely, and it is most definitely not about trying to be different from the world by sheer will-power.
Courtship is deeper than outward behavior. Courtship is a matter of the heart and the heart of the matter is Submission.
Submission may not sound very inviting, but it is the most peaceful place in the whole world—a place where deep joy and freedom abound. When I use the word courtship, it encompasses principles that apply long before I meet “the one” and which continue to be relevant after marriage and into eternity. Courtship is:
1. Submitting my emotions/feelings to the truth of God.
2. Submitting my future to the wisdom and Love of God.
While our emotions are an incredible gift from God, they are not to be our guide, especially when we´re talking about life´s most important decisions. Surrendering our fantasies, attraction and romantic feelings to God (yes, even when the other person is a wonderful, godly potential partner) takes away the emotional clutter and distraction from our hearts and minds so that God can make the first move, so that God can give us clear indicators when it´s the right person and the right time.
We often are in danger of elevating ourselves above God and thinking we know more about how to bring about a beautiful future for us than He does. A true follower has cast his life into the hands of the master. Don´t you agree that the most beautiful love stories will result from casting our lives into the hands of Love itself? When we learn day by day to fully trust Him and be satisfied with Him, our hearts can be set free from concern about who or where our future spouse is.
In God´s great wisdom, He has prepared parents or godly mentors who help us take our submission experience deeper yet. Sadly, many young people outwardly go to friends, family or pastors for counsel but are inwardly not willing to submit to that counsel due to their emotions that are already invested in a certain guy/girl. In turn, many parents, pastors and mentors are unprepared to give good counsel that would draw forth a greater experience in submission. However, if you know that your parents or mentors have a true connection with the God of heaven, there should be no fear but rather great peace and rest in knowing that they are on your side, they will fight for your future happiness and will guard you from unwise decisions.
The principles of courtship draw my eyes away from self-trust and call me towards the sweet Lover of my soul.
Courtship should never be put on a pedestal. Courtship, in and of itself, is not the answer, but it points me to the Answer. The principles of courtship remind me Who should be at the center of my thoughts, heart and life. You may call it by a different name, but for me courtship comes down to an attitude of the heart, an attitude of dependence and submission that I believe greatly pleases the Creator.