movement's popular self-help books, this dissertation is the first to examine . of the Christian courtship movement, including dating with the purpose of marriage in .. The denominational pattern of religious organizations was decreasing, and. And seven other principles for Christian dating. Satan wants to subtly help you build marriage and family idols that are too fragile for we develop depths and patterns of trust that will serve our intimacy, covenant-keeping. Because we value Christian family life, we seek to have a courtship process that will The courtship approach pattern that we teach is meant to be of help. of time in “relational” telephone calls, e-mail, on-line chatting, or dating as merely a .
Defining Your Dating Style: The Guided Path – Part I - Christian Dating, Singles
In the Bible, fornication sex experience before one is married is classified as being equal to stealing and murder and idolatry. Most Christians would never think of committing murder—taking the life of another person—but God says that fornication is equally wicked.
The couple who progresses from holding hands to the act of touching and embracing—can scarcely ever return to the less intimate level and be satisfied.
One of the best safeguards to a pure courtship is a well-planned date—an evening filled with activities that are all planned—things to do and places to go that are planned in advance.
Visit the homes of lonely people in your community, especially the aged and widows and shut-ins. They enjoy having a group of energetic young people singing a song, engaging in conversation, or letting a word of testimony.
Plan activities with the family at home. Spend time together cooking a meal, making candy, popping corn, looking at pictures, or playing simple games.
Spend at least part of each dating period reading and discussing a passage of Scripture. Both can agree to read the same portion of the Bible at the same time each evening of the week. These are things to do, and places to go, in order to make your courtship constructive and filled with purpose. The choice of courtship The Scriptures are clear: The Law in Israel forbade intermarriage with persons from the non-Jewish nations round about them Deuteronomy 7: We are not to marry pagans.
Believers are not to give their daughters to unbelieving boys or their sons to unbelieving girls. The New Testament commands the same thing. To those who are not yet married, we must say this: Those who seek your hand in marriage might be generous and well-trained and handsome—but unless they are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ not necessarily members of your churchand are concerned about obedience to the Scriptures and give clear evidence of knowing the Lord —you must not even consider dating [courting] them.
Failure to observe this basic law of God has led to shipwreck in thousands of homes—and any girl who marries a young man with the idea that she will change his undesirable traits after the ceremony, is only inviting disaster!
If a person is not honest and trustworthy before the wedding day, the words of a marriage ceremony will not change him.
If he is careless about handling money before marriage, he will likely exhibit the same characteristics later on. There are other instructions related to choosing a good partner. You will have confidence and trust in your special friend, and will not really have a desire to date other persons.
These things will be more important than his or her physical attractiveness. You will be lonely when circumstances require the two of you to be separated. You will long for the day and the hour when you can be together again. You will hurt when your special friend is hurt or criticized.
You will rush to the defense of your friend and seek to support him or her. You will want your children to have the character qualities and attitudes which are evident in the life of your special friend. If each of you is bubbling over with these seven characteristics, it is quite evident that love between the two of you is really growing. And remember that true love can thrive without physical contact.
The base for your companionship is too shallow. Your interest must be in the total person, not merely in his or her physical charms. Engagement All of us have read the account of the engagement of Joseph and Mary, as it is given in Matthew 1: They prepare for marriage by further testing their love, further learning to make adjustments, seeking to correct faults, and making plans for the wedding day.
The couple should only enter into the betrothal period after much prayer, and with the full confidence that God has been leading.
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Sometimes when a young man becomes engaged, he thinks that because the matter of whom he is going to marry has been settled—he can now relax and let his ordinary behavior surface. He may have previously been play-acting. For this reason, sometimes, one or both of the partners realizes that the engagement was a mistake and this is not to encourage breaking engagements —yet while engagements should not be taken lightly, it is far better to break an engagement than to seek a divorce after marriage.
Qualities that should surface during engagement A prospective marriage partner should have a strong faith in God and should accept the teachings of the Bible as his rule for life—including the practices of nonconformity and nonresistance.
He should manifest self-discipline, exercising reasonable control over his temper, his words, and his bodily appetites. He should have ambition and purpose, showing a sense of responsibility toward work, and toward getting things done on time. He should be willing to admit his mistakes, take responsibility for them, and vow to profit from them. He should have mature ideas about how to handle money. He should not be a miser who saves every penny, nor should he be a careless spender, spending everything as fast as he earns it.
Only marriage relinquishes ownership of one's "good" body to one's partner. Parents must overcome this naivety when a teen complains about parental restrictions. To the all too common gibe, "You don't trust me," the only possible answer is - "True! I wouldn't trust myself either in those circumstances. An inheritance of passion all stored and reserved for one partner, and an inheritance of security in a partner with a proven track record of faithfulness and self-control. You may think that your children pick things up at school.
Yes, but from whom? From those whose parents have opened the door. Most parents think it is cute and natural to see their children's growing fascination with the opposite sex. It doesn't matter because they survived the dating system, and here they are in church loving God. But they are still reaping what they sowed, often in a later generation who bear the fruit of their careless immoral ways.
Parental foolishness starts early on in the pre-teens, where crushes are condoned, and the habit of living in fantasies is established. It can all sound so cute coming from a ten-year old, but any notion of seeing others as "special friends" needs to be addressed at that age.
Any signs of attempts to catch the eye of others with make-up, style of dress, hair, phone calls, attention-seeking behaviour, must be addressed parentally at that age. Dates occur in the imagination before they actually happen if children have an expectation that dating is normal.
Courtship, Engagement, and the Wedding
Watch for isolationism where a child withdraws into a fantasy world dreaming of being together with somebody else emotionally. We cannot underestimate the enticement to sexual impurity with which we are constantly bombarded in the media today. Our teenagers are bombarded with sensual and lustful images - commercials, movies, magazines etc. They are surrounded by peers talking about who thinks who is cute, what their first kiss was like, and they are informed about sex education material they do not know how to handle.
This is a violation of the Word of God. We must train a generation that is innocent, not worldly-wise. It is the only way in which our young people will have peace. Relational Pressure Our young people need relationships. They need to learn how to relate to members of the opposite sex. But does dating help or hinder them in this process? The antidote to that loneliness is not dating it is family and fellowship. Most teens sense alienation from their family and parents.
We call this modern phenomenon "The Generation Gap. It is unreal because there is no biological inevitability that teenagers will go through a phase of separation and rebellion towards their parents. It is real, because where parents have failed to build relationships with their children, in many instances, the Gap appears. It is a phenomenon largely symptomatic of a departure from biblical parenting.
The antidote is creating, from early childhood, an atmosphere of security, love and worthwhile activities that would give no cause for a sensible teenager to want to look elsewhere for a life.
The second context where the Bible speaks of relationships is in the church, which is, in essence, an extended family. The church provides a setting where all kinds of relationships can be established with absolute purity.
To belong to the Body of Christ is a wonderful privilege, enabling us to prepare our children for relationships in the world within secure boundaries. It is an extension of relating as brothers and sisters, and in a group context that can occur with absolute purity, as it did with Jesus.
The antidote to loneliness is fellowship, not dating; the need is for friendship, not sexuality, The exclusiveness of romantic relationships precludes building friendships.
Dating substitutes sensual feelings for friendship, passion for honour and respect, foolish jesting for thankfulness, our pleasure for His business. There is no commitment by either party to continue beyond the first date, and there may be others they would consider dating given the opportunity.
Courtship, Engagement, and the Wedding
They both know that. The main purpose of dating is to try out as many partners as possible in the process of looking for the perfect one. Thus, by definition, breaking up is as common as dating itself. There are more pop songs written about breaking up than pairing up. Dating becomes a preparation for handling divorce, not a preparation for building a permanent marriage.
We were designed for sexual involvement with one partner, but we get used to the idea of rejecting and being rejected in the search for the perfect relationship. The more dates you have, the more the boundaries become blurred. Rejection becomes a way of life, and saying "I love you'' becomes meaningless. It is no more than saying, "At this moment in time, I find you sexually attractive. If it doesn't work out, we can simply break it off. It provides no training for having to work it out for the long haul.
It is practice in divorce at an early age. Dating builds insecurity into relationships. Imagine a marriage without scars of rejection to overcome, with a partner you can trust, because you have not been spoiled by earlier partners who have proved untrustworthy. Imagine a relationship without having other faces in your mind and the comparisons that ensue against the spouse that God has given you. Imagine having no pornographic images of Miss Universe with which to tarnish the beauty of the wife who is at your side.
They only occur in marriage, or in anticipation of marriage. God has created us to fit this biblical norm, and the romantic response is intended to come to its true fulfilment only in marriage. Recreational dating envisions a one-on-one relationship apart from marriage, but it should be no surprise when it leads to its intended climax - becoming one flesh.
God designed us that way! To try to survive exclusive relationships sexually unscathed is like fighting against the grain of creation. So how are we supposed to find a way to arrive at those exclusive relationships which prove to be marriages made in heaven? We must break out of the mould of our culture. The alternative to dating is not courtship Introduction The word about the inappropriateness of dating has got out, but I'm not entirely happy with the response - which is usually an attempt to adapt the system rather than discard it.
These attempts usually take one of two forms. Firstly, there is an attempt to take the risk out of it, so we talk about double-dating, where in reality peer supervision is no more and no less than peer pressure. Secondly, there is an attempt to put something substantial into it, so we tell our teenagers that dating is no longer possible, courtship is the way to go.
Because of this misconception, we have actually made the problem worse. Knowing that they are not allowed to have casual friendships falling in and out of loveyoung people are led to believe that they can have exclusive relationships with the opposite sex through courting.
They can become as pre-occupied with courting as they can with dating, which is worse, because it has the added pressure of the seriousness of marriage. Teenagers do not need the frivolity of casual dating, nor do they need the intensity of serious courtship.
Courtship is not the alternative to dating. I believe in courtship, but courting is what a man and woman do in preparation for marriage. Courting is not what Christian teenagers do instead of dating.
Courtship is essential in its proper place, but unessential for our young people as a contrived form of dating.
What is the alternative? What should they be doing with their teenage years? It is a time for "Father's Business. Although we don't know much about what happened during his teenage years, we do know what his focus was. Most teenagers see these years as a time for "my fun" but Jesus saw them as a time for his Father's business. We will never evidence a radical change in our young people until we are convinced that teenage years are not supposed to be years of care-free, independent, experimental, frivolous self-gratification.
They are to be years of training and preparation. Our culture has emphasized external fun more than internal preparation, the result is a generation that is both unhappy and unprepared. Teenage years are a time to lay a foundation and start to practise "being about Father's business," thereby discovering calling and destiny.
It is to be a preparation for life. The preparation of young people for marriage is one of God's great purposes for the church. It is not accomplished by setting up a dating pattern that is built on the same sinful pattern as the world, except that it is practised between believers rather than unbelievers. It is a time of preparation under parental supervision Consider again what we know about Jesus' teenage years.
This is entirely consistent with the whole of the Bible. The emphasis is on the father's responsibility, and the preparation under his supervision for the teenager to be able to become responsible. In Old Testament law, a father has particular responsibility for his daughters in the biblical pattern.
He was expected to be able to guarantee his daughter's virginity Deut If another man violates that by becoming sexually involved with his daughter, two things happen Deut 22;28,29the two should get married and the man must pay the father a dowry.
We can learn from this that there is no such thing as sex without responsibility. The principle is seen in the dowry system. In the Bible, the dowry is a demonstration of assuming financial responsibility. The man who has a sexual relationship with a girl has to marry her; he must assume responsibility for her and her children.
He cannot just walk away from it all. If he does, because he has had to pay a dowry, the father has money to provide alimony for his daughter's financial security.
That would make a teenage boy think twice! But the issue is not primarily money, it is responsibility. The problem of our culture is not merely sexual immorality, it is also sexual irresponsibility.
In a biblical pattern there is no escape from responsibility. Teenage years are a preparation for responsibility, not for irresponsibility. To get married, there is going to be a dowry to pay and that dowry will require years of work! When we see teenage years characterized by irresponsibility, we know we have missed the mark.
Parental supervision is designed to train toward responsibility. It is a time of warfare Young people are built for warfare Ps 8: If he can destroy the preparation for marriage among teens and singles, he can destroy countless homes and families later on. The foundations have been undermined. The flood tides of filth and sensual temptation are destroying future marriages before they even begin.
The enemy can be resisted, however. Young people are built for war! To be a force against evil, we need to train an innocent generation. But people are afraid that our children will be naive and not know what's going on in the world. That's how they are supposed to be! As soon as they know what's going on in the world they are seared by it, but when young people are distinctively pure they offer a powerful unique example. The time of one's youth provides the greatest opportunity, while carrying the least responsibilities, to damage the enemy's kingdom.
That is why the bible talks about singleness as a gift, and as a good gift at that. Teenage years preoccupied with dating are the worst of both worlds. There is the care of worrying about your partner or a succession of partners without the benefits of marriage, and there is no freedom to serve God without distraction either.
It is a time for prayer Teenagers should be praying for a husband or a wife, not a boyfriend or a girlfriend. So should their parents on their behalf, because finding a partner is a matter of faith, not striking lucky when playing the field. It does not necessarily require being part of a large crowd. For example, see Ruth 2: It is a time for teamwork One factor in high divorce rates is that couples build relationships on the basis of romance, not of working together.
Adam and Eve met and married in the context of work, hence the word "helpmeet.
- 2. Engagement
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Sadly, too many young people learn to live for themselves and their own pleasure. They don't know how to work for the common good, to work as a team. They will take the same self-centredness into marriage because they do not know the fulfilment of accomplishing something together. The first place to learn teamwork is the family, then there comes the need for group projects such as team ministry.
Team ministry requires some external purpose, a reason for sacrifice. When that vision is clear, self-denial is possible and working together begins.
It opens up the possibility of far greater success than we can achieve on our own, and it is the best context in which to build friendships rather than the modern preoccupation with talking about relationships. When you focus on knowing one another, you become introverted. When you focus on a goal, you get to know one another.
It is there where you learn to communicate, and then that you don't worry about what to talk about! The environment of ministry is the best place to find a mate, for there you see the possibility of being equally yoked.
Rather than building relationships on physical attraction, teenagers and young singles need to discover what they are really looking for in a partner. They are able to do this through the intensity of ministry and a sense of inadequacy in being able alone to fulfil the call of God on their life.
They need to build friendships of loyalty and faithfulness that do not get discarded when emotions change. It is a time for friendship Biblically the word friend has the implication of close associate or neighbour.
It is used in the context of two people who pasture in the same field, i. So what are the ingredients of true friendship that our young people need, and how do these tie up with the dating game?
Take time to see what God has to say about friends in the following scriptures: On the basis of such criteria, parents need to monitor relationships so that these possibilities for genuine friendship develop. The contra indication, however, is seen in 1 Cor These criteria are the ingredients our young people need.
This is the alternative to dating. With these in place, they will be prepared and ready for the time when God opens up the possibility of marriage. Not until they know that they are ready to start thinking about the responsibilities of a spouse, a home, and a family should they start thinking about an exclusive relationship.
There is no set age when that becomes appropriate. For some, the readiness and maturity comes early. For others, even if they are ready, God has other plans than early marriage.