What is Courtship?
According to Online Etymology Dictionary, courtship is “paying court to a woman with intention of marriage.” This is a stark contrast to dating as is most commonly practiced in modern American culture. To illustrate the differences, let's look at a comparison as seen in “The Road To Marriage” (source unknown).
|Goal is Romance||Goal is Marriage|
|Unnatural setting of perpetual recreation||Natural setting of real life and family|
|Practice for Divorce||Training for Marriage|
|Rose-colored Glasses||Magnifying Glass|
One of the dangers of dating is that the two people may become emotionally attached very soon in the process. When this happens, they drop their guard and become blind to many of the warning signs that the relationship is not going to work out. “Making out” contributes strongly to this attachment and is not tolorated in this courtship process.
Either person can end the courtship at any time. And since they are guarding their hearts, they will be able to end the courtship without either one of them being crushed. They will walk away from the courtship with respect for one another and no hard feelings. Later, when they see each other at church, the store, etc. they will not feel awkward, angry, or hurt.
I learned about biblical courtship several years ago while attending home school conferences. Since then, I have been praying to God to guide me in developing a Christ-centered plan for biblical courtship for my children. As a Christian father, I want to help my children take a path that brings honor and glory to God by establishing and leading them in a clear plan for biblical courtship. Below I will begin to outline and eventually detail a 3 phase plan for courtship.
Note: As I see it, a father should take more of a lead role when guiding his daughter as opposed to his son. As a result, I will outline the plan for a daughter first since it will contain all the basic information used for a son.
FOR A DAUGHTER
Phase 1 – Spiritual
Phase 1 begins when a young Christian man approaches me and requests to court my daughter. If I see no obvious reason not to allow the courtship, I will then (in private) ask my daughter if she is willing to enter into a courtship with this young man. If she says no, I will politely deny on her behalf. This will protect her from accepting the courtship out of the pressure or awkwardness of rejecting the young man herself. As her father, it is my duty to guard her heart.
If my daughter says that she is willing to enter into a courtship with the young man, I will begin scheduling time to sit down with him and go through the scriptures. There will be many important issues of theology and doctrine to discuss so this will not be accomplished all in one session. The primary focus of this phase is to make sure the young man loves Christ and is actively seeking to serve God in every area of his life. He is not expected to be perfect, but heading in the right direction. Secondary, but also of importance is to see if there are any incompatible beliefs. This is very important since my daughter will be expected to submit to the spiritual headship of this man.
Phase 2 – Practical
Upon satisfaction that Phase 1 has been as successful as is humanly possible, we will move into Phase 2. This phase is much more between the young man and my daughter than myself. Most of my involvement here will have already taken place. This includes helping my daughter prepare a list of practical things that are important to her in a marriage. Things such as, where to go to church, whether or not to homeschool, whether or not she will stay at home to raise the kids, finances, politics, etc. The list will be very extensive and will range from very important deal-breakers to minor issues of no real consequence and everything in between. The young man is expected to prepare such a list as well prior to starting this phase.
Once the lists are ready, the two will sit down together and interrogate each other with their lists, making notes as they go. Like Phase 1, this phase cannot be accomplished in one session. Each person will have time to pray between sessions and seek God about any differences.
Phase 3 – Emotional
This phase is where the two begin spending time together to find out if they will develop any feelings for each other such that they actually want to get married.
This is a rough draft and nowhere near completion.
First draft: 2014-04-04