Dig into the Bible with us as we take a close look at the Scriptural basis for Biblical courtship vs worldly dating. Please copy, share, or print this article. Visit our inductive Bible study main page for more studies like this and other books of the Bible. For the rest of our series on serving God in singleness, be sure to read part 1 and part 3.

Biblical Courtship vs Worldly Dating Part 2 of 3

Dating & Courtship

Let me give you a few statistics on the Divorce Rates in America:

First marriages – 50%

Second marriages – 67%

Third  marriages – 74 %

Single Parent Families

28% of all US children now live in single parent families

Families comprised of married couples with children decreased from 40% in 1970 to 24% in 2000.

BBC News, ShanghaiSeptember 13, 2005"The rules of love, and separation, are changing in China. Until recently divorce was rare in the communist state. ... Small wonder then that the divorce rate jumped by a fifth last year. ..If both parties [in an unhappy couple] agree - the divorce will be issued in only ten minutes, for as little as ... ($1)."

China's divorce rate is rising: some 2 million (2,000,000) couples are expected to join the ranks of the divorced every year. Getting divorced used to be seen as an embarrassing loss of face and cause for anger and grief by almost all concerned. But nowadays it's generally treated with tolerance and understanding.

These are alarming statistics. Our enemy is working aggressively to destroy the family. There are, of course, many factors that are contributing to the demise of the family, but one of the most important and fundamental causes is the worldly, unbiblical approach guy/girl relationships.

 

Divorces continue to rise about 17% annually in China.

 

We all know what dating is, but how many really know what courtship is? Jeremy tells me that when he started courting Rebecca, he had to explain to Chinese friends in a paragraph what that meant, so perhaps in Chinese there is not even a word that describes Biblical courtship. So what in the world is courtship anyway?

Christian Courtship is the process of determining whether it’s God will for a man and a woman to marry one another. It has three essential elements.

1.               Its goal is to ascertain God's will using Biblical principles so as to glorify Him.

2.               It is honoring to both sets of parents.

3.               Great care is taken to protect the emotions of both the man and woman.

 

We shouldn't however get hung up on terminology. If Biblical principles are being applied, it doesn't matter whether it's called dating or courting. It is convenient to use the terms for identification sake, but the application of Biblical principles in the relationship is what is really important, not the labels we put on it.

There is No Specific Bible Formula for courtship! That is, you cannot go to a specific passage that tells exactly how to court. The word “courtship” is not even found in the Bible. Not only that, but the Bible is very short on models for courtship and has none that are consistent with the current Chinese culture. So how can we possibly know from Scripture what we should do? Though there is no specific courtship formula in one passage of Scripture, God supplies us with all the principles but they are sprinkled throughout the Bible. As with many other topics, He requires us to study diligently to put together all the pieces.

The Process

Preliminary Steps

1.                           Prayer

2.                           Waiting for the Lord's leading

3.                           Getting counsel

4.                           Asking her parent's permission

5.                           Asking the lady

The Actual Courting (we'll look at this in depth in a few minutes)

Two Possible Outcomes

1.                           Decision that the Lord is not bringing them together. The Lord can show this to either one, but it is normally mutual

2.                           Engagement

Three of our four sons have successfully courted four young ladies. Jason is now happily married to Christy and Jeremy to Rebecca, and Chad courted Susan until the Lord showed both of them that they were not the ones that He had for them. Emotions were protected and there were no hurt feelings. Chad subsequently courted Kara and the Lord led them to be married. In each of the courtships, God's will was sought and glorifying God with their relationship was pursued.

I thought it would be helpful to look at the concept of Biblical courtship by comparing it with typical worldly dating.

 

Characteristics of Worldly Dating

Characteristics of Biblical Courtship

Mixed Faith or No faith is OK

Catholic & Jew

Baptist & Atheist

Committed Disciple & Lukewarm Believer

The ONLY thing that really matter is that they love one another.

Both must be faithful disciples

2 Cor 6:14-15

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

Rev 3:16

16'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Attracted by the Physical – external qualities

Her eyes, her hair, her figure, etc.

 

Attracted by the Spiritual – internal qualities

1 Tim 2:9-10

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

1 Peter 3:1-4

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Youradornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be  the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Self-centered

Phil 3:18-19

18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose  glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

 

God-Centered

Ps 143:10

10 Teach me to do Your will,

For You are my God;

Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Rom 6:11

11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

2 Cor 5:15

15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

 

Casual

Like buying a pair of shoes

Not my style

Don't like the fit

Too expensive

Finally decide thinking, “Well, in any event, I won't wear this pair of shoes the rest of my life. I will probably get tired of them in a few years and I can get another, maybe a better, pair at that time.

Creates the mindset that a relationship is short term and lasts only so long as everything goes well and both individuals are happy in it.

The relationship goes wherever the circumstances and the emotions take it.

Paves the way (sets the stage) for divorce.

Divorce is epidemic, but what is God's view on divorce?

Mal 2:16a "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "...

Matt 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,  5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'?  6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

Use the glued paper illustration

 

Purposeful

A number of years ago at our business in America, we had an order processor named John B. who was about 15-16 years old at the time and he had started dating this young girl. He was a Christian young man and knew a fair amount about Biblical principles. As we talked about his dating relationship, I asked him why he was dating her. He thought about it and thought about it. You could tell he was ashamed to admit to me that he was just dating her for fun to have a good time. So he finally said to me that he guessed he was dating her because he was interested in marrying her! Clearly John B. was a few years away from any serious consideration of marriage.

 

Let's go back to our definition of courtship. Can anybody tell me what is the purpose of courtship?

 

Gen 24:4

4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac."

Emotion Driven – Little or no accountability – Trusting their own judgments (at the time when their judgment is the least reliable) –

Anything goes – On the spot decisions

Prov 3:5-7

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

And do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

 Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

 

Think about it. How dumb is it to make the 2nd most important decision of your life based largely on strong emotions that makes your judgment the least reliable it ever is.

Seeking God's Will (Word, prayer, counsel)

Jim Z. says, “Stacy, you are objective about everything that I know of except your relationship with Pat.”

Share with them my decision not to marry someone unless 100% of Godly counsel was in favor of it.

The Word

Ps 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

 

Prayer

Prov 3:5-7

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

And do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

 Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

 

Counsel / Accountability

Prov 11:14

14 Where there is no guidance the people fall,

But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Prov 15:22

22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated,

But with many counselors they succeed.

Prov 20:18

18 Prepare plans by consultation,

And make war by wise guidance.

Cultural Standards

I don't know how many times I have been sharing a Biblical principle with someone and he says, “Yes, but in China we........” Guys, I enjoy learning about Chinese culture and I enjoy considering the similarities and differences of Chinese culture and American culture, but when it comes to making life decisions, culture takes a distant second place to the Bible. Consider some recent (in my lifetime cultural changes in America)

Divorce was something people were ashamed of. Now it's commonplace and accepted as the norm.

Living together out of wedlock was a disgrace. Now it is recommended prior to marriage to see if you are truly compatible!

Abortion was illegal and was kept secret because of the stigma attached to it. Now, it is routine to have fetal tests done to see if the baby is going to have any deformities. If any are found, the mother will kill it so she can try to have one that is more perfect.

Homosexuality was something that was rare and always kept hidden. In just a few short years, it has come to be something that people are not only open about but even quite vocal and seemingly proud of it! Incredibly, it being taught to children in the schools as an acceptable lifestyle alternative!

Has what is “right” and what is “wrong” changed in America? Certainly not! These same types of cultural changes are taking place here just like they did in America, but in China they are taking place at a much faster pace.

Biblical Standards established at outset

Matt 7:24

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

 

Basing your life decisions based on culture is like manufacturing a jet airplane out of plastic.  It may be colorful and really be cool looking, but it can’t possibly withstand the stresses of flight. Believe me, you don’t want to risk your life by flying in a plastic jet. In the same way, don’t base your life decisions on culture. Trust your Lord and His Word to guide you in your life decisions.

Lustful

Matt 5:28

28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Pure

1 Tim 4:12

12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

1 Thess 4:7-8

 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

Uses others

Others are merely objects we can use to help us get what we really want. Sure, you want to be nice and please her. But the real reason is so that she will like you and do what pleases you. It is not ultimately about what is best for the other person.

Edifies others

Rom 15:2

2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

1 Cor 8:1b

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies

Phil 2:3-4

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Physical Emphasis

Holding hands

Hugging

Kissing

Petting

Sexual relations

Spiritual Emphasis

Praying together

Time in the Bible together

Serious discussions

Activities to get to know each other

Solely the couples decision generally independent of counsel or parents (until, of course, it's time to pay for the wedding!)

Honoring to parents with parental approval.

Biblically, the lady is under the authority of her father until he “gives her away” at the wedding ceremony.

 

Ex 22:16-17

"If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. 17 "If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.

 

1 Cor 7:38

38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

 

What if one or both sets of parents are not believers? Should their advise still be followed? Generally, the answer is “yes”. Jesus makes it clear that the commandment to honor your father and mother is not just for children.

Mark 7:10-13

10 "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH';  11 but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that." 

Numerous verses show that God can change hearts and that He is able to obtain His desired outcome.

Prov 21:1

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;

He turns it wherever He wishes.

Private with frequent one on one settings

Often late night situations

Prov 6:27-28

27 Can a man take fire in his bosom

And his clothes not be burned?

28 Or can a man walk on hot coals

And his feet not be scorched?

Public with mostly group settings

Prov 14:16

16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.

 

Either leads (varies but often the woman)

Man leads

Gen 2:18

18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."

 

1 Cor 11:3

3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

 

Eph 5:23-24

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

 

Now, this is not to say that the lady must submit during courtship to the man as she would during marriage. She is still under her father's authority until they are married. Nonetheless, the woman should not be taking the lead when courting.

Results:

Misunderstandings → Mitzi

Immorality

Broken hearts

Divisions → Youth groups

Fragile foundations → Even if marriage results.....

Results:

Harmony, Unity

Purity

Built up in the Lord

Fellowship

Solid foundations

Click on the following links for more in our series on Biblical courtship vs worldly dating, singleness, and preparing for marriage:  part 1 and part 3.

If you found these study notes helpful feel free to check out my library of inductive Bible study notes, topical Bible studies, and character studies chapter by chapter.

 

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