This might come as a shock to you. Despite being single, eligible and hoping to be found, I refuse to date. Instead, I am waiting to be courted. Ellen K. Rothman’s book titled, Hands and Hearts: A History of Courtship in America, records that young people started to push back against the accepted forms of courtship in the 1920s. This caused a cessation of the norm (courting) and made way for what is today known as dating.
During courtship, a man and woman sought parental involvement, thereby providing the “covering” that parents provide. The two were chaperoned whenever and wherever they met as a measure against the risk of fornication. Private meetings were not allowed.
Courtship also happened in the confines of the same faith and was always geared toward marriage. As such, the man and woman received lessons on the requisite foundations for a solid marriage. The trend of “testing the waters” before deciding whether to make a commitment (aka checking for sexual compatibility before marriage) did not exist.
Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was betrothed to Joseph before she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. In the story of Ruth, Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her: “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you that it may be well with you?” Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions regarding Boaz, who later honoured her in public as he took her to be his wife. Conversely, in Judges 14-16, we see Samson demanding of his father: “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” He went against his parents’ counsel and pursued a woman from a different faith and reaped disastrous consequences.
Today, society glorifies dating through public platforms such as billboards and social media, thereby creating unnecessary pressure. Here is why, with God’s help, I will not get sucked into the pressures of dating. For one, parental supervision is absent, meaning the covering that would protect me from making wrong decisions is not available. Without this kind of protection, I would rather not date. Proverbs 15:22 says: “Without counsel plans will go awry, but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.”
Secondly, dating comes with an implied expectation of sexual intimacy. Yet fornication goes against God’s advice to flee from youthful lust (2 Timothy 2:22) and gives room to fulfil the lust of the flesh (Romans 13:14). Speaking of which, I wonder if the phrase “kissing many frogs” includes having several sexual encounters before settling on “the one”. Physical intimacy before tying the knot overpowers the ability to reason and clouds judgement concerning serious lifetime commitments such as marriage.
In Song of Songs 2:7, we are warned: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” This verse encourages us not to force romance lest the feelings of love grow faster than the commitment needed to make love last.
Dating exposes one to multiple instances of falling in love and breaking up, which our hearts were never designed for. Numerous encounters means bonds are created, while frequent make-ups and break-ups leave a trail of scars of rejection, calloused hearts, bitterness, feelings of insecurity, lack of commitment and the inability to trust fully.
Since dating gives room for break-ups, the commitment to work through issues is a foreign concept and the notion that marriage is permanent is watered down. This attitude is hazardous because it could lead to divorce – knowing that when things get tough I can always conveniently and unapologetically bail out.
Dating would also make room for me to compare my spouse to a trail of exes, thus inhibiting healthy relations with him and causing dissatisfaction in our marriage.
Dating almost always encourages the establishment of the relationship on strong romantic feelings, but are these feelings enough to support the lasting relationship called marriage? I believe marriage is a good thing because one gets a partner with whom to exercise dominion over God’s creation, raise a godly generation and portray Christ’s relationship with His bride – the Church. Therefore, two people should not go into marriage based on the dating ideology as it is structurally weak and vulnerable to the winds of change and adversity.
Dating often excludes accountability and fellowship with other believers. When these two relational factors are absent, a dating Christian couple is left alienated and, eventually, lost.
However, everyone makes mistakes and everyone can learn from them. It is possible to start over by choosing courtship over dating. As we seek God’s will, may He sanctify us completely, and may our whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).