Dating and courtship, revisited

If you want to get Christians to start brawling with each other, start a discussion of dating and courtship and which one is better. Both sides will start swinging pretty quickly. Each side has good arguments, but before moving forward we need to agree on three things about dating and courtship.

  1. The Bible gives no clear commands either way regarding which system is better.

  2. Both advocates of dating and courtship are people of good conscience who want what is best for people in their teens and twenties.

  3. Dating and courtship are both infinitely superior to the “hook up” culture, which often involves a series of anonymous one night stands.

When I was in high school, the way the teachers and administrators talked to us about dating had similarities to what we know today as courtship: Heavy parental involvement, accountability, avoiding unnecessary temptation, and so forth. The courtship culture did not really ramp up until I was out of high school and into college, and by the time I started reading about it I was already married. Nonetheless, I am thankful it has given me things to think about many years from now when my sons are old enough to be dating.

Different things work with different people, as well as different families. While I think overly-legalistic courtship procedures can be too overbearing, greater parental involvement in a young person’s pursuit of a mate is almost always a good thing. Furthermore, some young people are wiser and more committed to sexual purity than others, while others are more impetuous and less disciplined.

Whichever system you prefer, Christians need to respect each others opinions on dating and courtship. Since there is no clear Biblical commandment at stake here, we must not judge each other for how we believe. Where no clear Biblical commandment exists, Christian liberty must be respected.

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