Here is my courtship post from July '07.
If you're a homeschooler like I am, you've probably received the popular question, “Why aren’t you going to date/why don’t you date?” In response, I’d like to give some of my perspective on this issue.
First of all, many people haven’t ever heard of courtship. When you tell them you aren’t planning on dating, the first thing they think is, “How are you ever going to get married?!” So let me give a little insight into courtship. Courtship is designed with the thought that marriage is permanent, and so to find an appropriate mate requires discernment, with the guidance of parents. In courtship, you do not have a romantic relationship, but rather one with a high standard, godly and honorable.
There are many ways to “do” courtship, but there are a couple basic principles and stages. The first stage is, obviously, friendship. If a young man thinks a certain woman could be his future bride, he then discusses it with his parents and prays. If his parents agree and are at peace with it, he will get the father’s permission, concluding that marriage will be probable. One difference between dating and courtship is the father is involved in courtship. In most dating scenarios, it is boy and girl alone. Most of dating has to do with useless infatuations and “this person likes this person this week”. There is no long term commitment, especially if the participants are not ready for marriage! In an ideal courtship situation, the families will have already known each other for a while, and perhaps go to the same church. With this, the father would have a pretty good idea of what the man’s beliefs are, his character, and his relationship with his parents and siblings. Usually the father will have questions to ask the young man about theology and doctrine, his life goals, and other things. For instance, if the man was planning on being a missionary in another country and the woman he wants to court doesn’t want to leave the state, there would be a problem. After a period of months of examination and determining God’s will, and both agree that it is God’s will for their lives, they decide to marry. This is called the engagement/betrothal stage.
These are my thoughts on courtship. Of course, each and every courtship is unique. There will be differences in every courtship story you hear. I personally have not reached the age to court, so what I know is what we’ve learned and what my family thinks will work. In conclusion, I would like to add a section from a book I highly recommend. It is called, So Much More, by Anna Sofia & Elizabeth Botkin.
How should a girl relate to young men? The Botkin girls respond, “When in the presence of young men, we should act as though our husbands might be in the room watching us. We should pray that no young men ever rob us of feelings we are saving for our husbands, and in the same way, we must not defraud other young men of what belongs to their wives, because God has chosen wives for them, too. It is almost as though they are already married, and this fact should affect the way we treat them, so that they will think of us “as sisters, with all purity” (2 Timothy 5:2).
John W. Thompson explains his views why dating makes this difficult: Dating, even Christian dating, generally results in a series of emotional attachment or bonds with different dating partners. To express this language of romance, a young woman gives a piece of her heart to a young man when she becomes emotionally involved with him. By the time she meets the man she will marry, she will have only a fragment of her heart left to give. Even without going out on a date, a young woman can give pieces of her heart to several young men during her youth, so that by the time she marries, she is no longer a one-man woman (1 Tim. 5:9) Yet Paul’s analogy of Christ and the church in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 explains that a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, not just physically but emotionally too. The goal is not just physical purity but emotional purity--only one romance for life!