Courtship, Dating and Right Relationships

By Tracey Bartolomei

For those who are disappointed with the results of the dating scene, an alternative is now gaining popularity. Before automobiles and the information age, those eligible for marriage practiced a custom known as courtship. Some grandparents can probably still remember the days when young ladies did not go out with men unchaperoned. Instead, family and group activities were the most common and accepted form of socialization between the sexes. When a couple believed that their interests could involve ones of eventual marriage, they began some form of courtship. Courting was used to become better acquainted with the other party and his/her family. Family involvement generally played a significant role in the courtship process. The practice of courting has been a vital part of the Judeo-Christian culture for thousands of years. This old fashioned idea is currently gaining a following of singles that are looking for smarter ways of tying the knot and keeping it tied.

With the AIDS epidemic and a divorce rate hovering over 50%, many are expressing strong concern in the area of relationships and marriage. Most marriage counselors now recommend taking a more "preventive" approach to marriage. It is much easier to have a healthy lasting marriage if you don't enter in with a lot of "emotional baggage" from past relationships. Counselors say that the key elements to a successful marriage are friendship, compatibility and strong communication skills Courtship is viewed as a viable means of developing these elements.

The main difference between dating and courtship is the attitude that one assumes towards relationships and the activities in which the couple engages before marriage. Contemporary dating is generally a self-focused past time. It is characterized by expectations of physical/emotional intimacy without commitment. Self-gratification is paramount. If either party is no longer gratified the relationship ends; thus, a cycle of short-term relationship begins and continues.

In courtship, both individuals have the understanding that marriage is the eventual goal of the relationship. Courtship takes a more thoughtful, long- term approach to a premarital relationship. The emphasis is on developing friendships and seeking compatibility in ones future mate. Courtship doesn't actually begin until each feels that the other person could be a perspective marriage partner. Their time together is spent getting to know teach other better through conversation and group socialization, rather than sexual intimacy.

Various Christian books and recent radio programs have given much attention to the subject of courtship. Josh Harris' book Why I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Elizabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity are two top sellers. The Internet is another excellent resource.

Used by permission of The Christian Citizen