Courtship: I think we've messed it up

Let me start out by clarifying a few things.

With all my heart, I believe that marriage is a wonderful, beautiful and God-ordained institution. I believe it should be treasured, protected and fought for at all costs. I believe that relationships leading up to marriage should be held with a high level of importance, and that those who are not ready to enter into a marriage should really not be involving themselves in romantic relationships.

So yes. I have some high standards.

But something I’ve noticed keeps bugging me.

The courtship versus dating battle keeps on raging, although it seems with not quite as much rage as in years past. The conservative Christian community insists that courtship is the Biblical alternative to dating, and in many ways, they are still right. For all of the reasons I stated before, courtship appears, on the outside, to be what every Christian should be striving for in their romantic conquests. At its basic definition, courtship is the way to go. No doubt.

But like so many other things that we conservative Christian people, especially in the home school community, have taken and run with…we’ve messed it up. So badly that many of our peers are turning away from it with a holy vengeance, swearing that it ruined their lives. Why?

I think its because of how courtship is presented nowadays, and how we’ve got it stuck in our minds.

What I’ve noticed is that there is far too much hype over courtship. Someone who is adamant about courtship and preaches it faithfully, when they finally do enter into it themselves, make the biggest deal out of it. A celebration is called for! Blessings abound! Pictures are taken! Oh, but don’t get too close cause you’re not married yet, even though with all the fluff and fuss, you’d think they were! And so begins your time of getting to know each other, odds are with complete parental supervision (including all messages and conversations), and so much rejoicing over this wonderful relationship.

And then…something happens.

Maybe it’s a truth that comes out, a reality that sinks in, or a personality trait that one didn’t see before. Maybe it’s a belief system, or an opinion about child rearing. Whatever the reason, the relationship goes south, and subsequently ends.

Everyone, but especially the girl in this party, is brokenhearted. Here’s just hoping it didn’t end badly and that the couple can still be friends afterward. All in all, there are still hurt feelings and place in your heart that you pray will be healed so you can move on. Everyone is so surprised. They never saw it coming. Heck, your parents and siblings probably had their wedding outfits picked out already, and were wondering what you were going to name your kids. And odds are, if more than a couple months had passed, you were already wondering the same thing…when and how is he gonna propose?!?

Hold on.

I think this is where we messed it up.

This is COURTSHIP, people. Not a wedding.

Courtship is time when two people who are actively pursuing a marriage relationship can get to know each other on a personal basis to determine whether they are a good fit for each other or not. They can discuss beliefs, opinions, desires, dreams, and ultimately learn as much as they can about each other before taking the step into getting married.

That’s what courtship is.

Courtship is NOT a guarantee for an engagement ring.

Courtship is NOT an assurance that you’ve found the one with whom you want to be with for the rest of your life.

Courtship is NOT a free ticket to a wedding.

But we sure do treat it like it is!

Yes, I do believe that entering a relationship with someone should be taken seriously. I mean, this is someone’s life you are messing with, so you want to be sure that, if everything checks out, this relationship could be something that you would be willing to consummate. It is an exciting time. I mean, its not every day that you find someone whom you genuinely admire and can see yourself (ohmygosh) marrying! And the falling in love part is a-stinkin-mazing, just for the record.

But I think we would do well to tone down the excitement and hype just a tad, so that we are not so shocked and devastated when these things end.

Being in a relationship with someone does not instantly mean that you are going to be planning a wedding in a year or two. We females, especially, have this stuck in our brains. Its no surprise since it is ingrained in our very nature to be relational beings, to crave that sort of relationship and long so deeply for a man to fall in love with us. Its not a bad thing. Really. Its just bad when we make such a big deal about it.

You know what would be really great? To see a meshing of two worlds. To see the serious and the chill coming together. What do you think would happen if we placed the seriousness of courtship with the relaxed, at ease attitude of dating? Probably a culture clash that would result in a full-scale war carried out in vehement Facebook comments and blog posts. But I think you get what I’m saying here.

People in the dating realm spend so much time getting to know each other with very little commitment and a relationship that can easily be broken off. People in the courtship realm spend far less time getting to know each other, but in a setting that demands full commitment and reaps horrid heart consequences if ends without a wedding.

It would just be kinda neat to see a little bit of both.

Call it dating, call it courtship. Call it betrothal for all I care. Whatever label you put on it, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing (did ya get that? That was one of the many things my husband told me during our pre-marriage phase). Relationships are important, so make sure you are doing it for the right reason. If you’re doing it for fun and cause you’re attracted to someone, then maybe you need to step back and grow up some more. But if you are doing it because you genuinely desire to find out if this person is the one you want to marry, then my suggestion would be to just…




  1. Hannah, this is spot-on. To make the relationship an all-or-nothing situation really puts the pressure on both parties and defeats the purpose of courting to begin with. Parents need to back off even more than the two involved parties, in most cases.

    Very insightful!


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