Courting vs Dating (Courtship and Dating Top 4 Differences)
1-Courting puts spiritual connection first to become equally yoked.
2-Courting prioritizes mental connection by intentionally getting to know all aspects of the person.
3-Courting cultivates emotional closeness, safety, and vulnerability.
4-Courting preserves sexual contact for marriage alone.
There are lively debates around courting vs dating for Christian singles to consider. The definition and meaning of courtship may sound outdated to some in our modern world. When hearing the term, many have images of their grandparents being chaperoned by their parents with their special someone. In those days, courting was about getting to know your potential partner as much as possible in a safe, pure environment. Often, these courtships led to successful marriages that lasted lifelong. Fast forward to today’s dating scene and we see surface-level connections, one night stands, and high divorce rates. Obviously, many things have shifted in our culture and the practice of dating is definitely one of them. It’s time for Christians to resurrect the idea of courting and redefine what godly relationships should look like.
The first component to courtship is spiritual. God instructs us to “..not be yoked together with unbelievers..” (2 Corinthians 6:14, NIV). Therefore, we should intentionally court other Christians. Unfortunately, many people compromise this principle because they are unable to find enough Christian singles to date. However, we’ll never experience the same level of connection with an unbeliever as we would a Christ follower because they share our values, beliefs, and worldview. In addition, courting other believers creates wonderful opportunities to do spiritual activities together, such as attending church, Christian concerts, reading the Bible, and serving. These activities will help us to not only grow closer with God, but closer to one another as well.
Considering the variety of ways to think of courtship, a second major component is mental. Unfortunately, our sex saturated culture encourages people to lust over the person they are pursuing, which is dishonorable both to God and to them. Instead, we must“….take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) by edifying them with our mind. We need to intentionally get to know them. How do they see life? What makes them tick? How does their mind work? Discovering the answers to these questions will give us a glimpse into the fascinating way God has uniquely crafted them, rather than looking at superficial outward appearances alone.
The third component to courting is emotional. Unfortunately, many people in the dating scene today withhold their emotions for a variety of reasons. Some don’t want to be hurt again because of previous negative experiences. Others don’t want to feel tied down so they keep their emotions surface-level. Still others avoid feeling anything substantial because they are only concerned about personal gain and physical pleasure. These approaches all hinder true intimacy. Instead, if the connection feels safe and warranted, we must allow ourselves to develop authentic feelings to cultivate god-honoring relationships. We must also be willing to share our emotions about life, others, and them to allow our hearts to become slowly integrated.
The fourth component is physical. Sex is promoted as casual and meaningless everywhere we look in our society. Consequently, most people in the dating scene expect to have sex within the first few dates. However, as Christians, we must ascribe to a higher set of morals that honor God by preserving sex for marriage alone. When sex is permitted before marriage, it often becomes the focal point of the relationship, stunting the emotional, social, and spiritual areas of intimacy needed for a successful long-term relationship. Also, when sex is acceptable, many men use women merely for physical gratification, leaving both partners feeling empty and unsatisfied. Therefore, we must develop a “no sex” policy with the special someone we are courting and commit to spending time with them in public to avoid sexual temptation and to keep our relationship moving in the right direction.
So, please join us in Godly courting by pursuing other believers, honoring them with your mind, allowing yourself to develop feelings, and preserving sex for marriage alone.
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Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a licensed psychologist in Denver, CO and founder of a Couples Retreat, a Christian Dating Site for Christian Singles, a Couples Bible Study, and a Porn Addiction Seminar.
What are some other major differences between courting and dating?
The bottom line is that it does not matter what you call it as long as both the man and the woman are Christians and the endgame is to ultimately find a marriage partner. "Dating" is not necessarily another word for fornication - anything that involves sex before marriage does not qualify as real dating, not even close. I used to drink the "dating is bad, courtship is the only right way" Kool-aid myself. Joshua Harris did Christian Singles a great disservice when he wrote "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" which he himself later recanted, now married with kids. Throughout my twenties, I was so committed to courtship and was very intentional about the marriage aspect within the first few conversations. My intentionality coupled with a courtship-fueled intensity only led to awkwardness and broken relationships in the end. One thing that was immensely helpful in the healing process and realizing where I went wrong with all of this was the set of in-depth online courses offered by ApplyGod'sWord.com. For those who would genuinely seek a godly spouse, I now recommend a hybrid approach that combines the serious heart preparation of courtship with the intentionality and effort of dating. More and more people are also meeting through online dating nowadays - my pastor said that 50% of the weddings he has recently officiated are people who met online. After the heart preparation, do your due diligence and decide which site is right for you - SingleRoots.org is an excellent resource (and they have a great humor section).
Someone has been awaiting approval for 1 month who sent me a smile when am I supposed to find out if he is approved?
I’m glad I found this article. I’m 28 years old and only recently became a Christian. I also recently found out that a friend of mine that I’ve had a crush on for a while likes me too. But I’ve been scared to start “dating” again because of what dating has meant to me in the past, and fear of falling back into sinful habits. The guy I have a crush on is a Christian as well, in fact he’s who talked me into going to church, which led to my salvation. This article has helped me process how I can have a relationship with someone without it being the typical “dating” that I’m used to. I think it’ll still be hard sometimes to not want to fall back into old patterns of “dating” but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Hi I've been looking for some advice and you seem like a good person to ask...I'm agnostic but the guy that I like is a Christian. I've never met anyone like him he's truly an amazing person and he lives his life for God. We have been talking about courting...well he introduced me to it but I don't want him to do wrong by what he believes for courting me. I go to church with him as much as I can and we both agree on not having sex but I'm afraid that in the end me not being a Christian will not only hurt him but also our relationship. There are things in the bible that i think are weird and I wouldn't be able to follow it fully even if I tried but he really does live by it. I don't see a problem with being with the opposite sex or with divorce bc love isn't always perfect and I don't want either or us to change our beliefs for the other but I also don't want to give up on us. I don't know what advice you could give me on this but anything would be helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read this..
We are lights in darkness, it's important we share unconditional love in view of the public as a witness too. Patience makes it perfect work. My redeemer.
Thanks Doc....i just joined, and your words are so encouraging
Thanks for the enlightenment Dr. Wyatt. Many Churches don't even stress over the topic important. Thanks once again Dr. Wyatt
Thanks for the enlightenment Dr. Wyatt. The painful truth is that some of our modern day Churches don't even consider the topic important... that's why they don't stress over it. The Bible has proven it. 'Can two walk together except they be agreed?' The warning of the apostle not to be unequally yoked is not only an authoritative word to the Christian believer; it is a wise human word that it is fatal to ignore. An unequal yoke is bound to chafe. Do not think that being `in love' is enough and that after marriage you can win your partner to discipleship. It may not be so. Besides, Christian marriage is a sacrament made before God. You must both start from the same place. The two must be one in Christ. May the All God help us all. Most importantly, to finish strong. Amen.
I agree and am encouraged with this well stated article. Well done.
I pray Christians should revisit the idea of courting and redefine what godly relationship should look like.
Thank you! As single believers, we have the opportunity to be salt and light through how we live our lives in ways married adults cannot. And when we find that special someone, we can be salt and light together. The standard doesn't change. Wish churches could speak to this significant portion of the adult population, too.
Good article. right on
Thank you Dr.Wyatt, all you've said is correct. My church here in Nigeria encourages courtship. I kissed dating goodbye and i am looking forward to courting my life partner. People may think it's old fashioned, but it spares a lot of emotional headache.
Thank you Brother :) Very Encouraging
Yes. Very accurate.
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