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Dating Deconstructed

Relationships with Purpose

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Dating means different things to different people. The human perception of dating is shaped by culture, religion, age, social status, and moral standing. In the midst of all the factors which shape the perception of dating, the question remains, what is dating?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary notes one of the definitions of dating as, “an arrangement to meet between two people usually with romantic feelings for each other.” In other words, dating has become a practice in which the focus is simply two people expressing their romantic feelings.

Another word that is usually used interchangeably with dating is courting. This word is considered old-fashioned and is rarely used anymore. The dictionary defines the verb “court” as, “to seek the affections of; especially: to seek to win a pledge of marriage from.” This word is the best to describe Christian dating. The main difference between dating and courting is the intentionality towards marriage. Dating without any responsibility or outlook to marriage is like playing a purposeless game just to pass the time.

Christians should do more courting and less dating. This would lead to more meaningful relationships, stronger marriages, and less heartbreak. Courting involves not just the couple, but their families. This creates accountability for both parties, which also leads to the preservation of godly standards for romance and encourages good familial communication.

Christian Courtship

The right type of Christian courtship is, first and foremost, Christ centered. Both parties involved should spend time seeking the will of God for their relationship and future. 

They should do this by having a solid personal relationship with God. Daily prayer and Bible study should take precedence for the couple both individually and together. 

The main purpose of the relationship should be to honor and glorify God with every interaction, conversation, date, and thought. There are three important points that any person seeking a godly and intentional courtship should keep in mind.

First, in seeking great purposeful courting, one should earnestly seek the will of God. The Bible bids the believers to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Second, know what you want or desire in a future spouse. To step into a relationship without knowing the character traits that are negotiable and non-negotiable in a potential spouse is a squandering of time and resources. If you don’t know what you want, you will never get it. 

Third, one must set limits and standards in the relationship. The person that fails to put limits will always end up in situations that will compromise or threaten their morality, integrity, and Christianity. Without these limits and standards, there is disorder. This creates an “anything goes” attitude in the relationship which eventually will lead the relationship astray.

As Christians, we are called to courtship and not just dating. The more courtship that is done, the better the chances of having an outcome of a healthy marriage. As humanity puts forth effort to do the best with what has been given to them, God will bless and demonstrate His sovereignty and mighty providence in each life and relationship.

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Christian Ponciano is the Associate Youth Pastor of the McAllen Central Valley Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church. He has a Masters of Divinity degree from Andrews University with an emphasis in Youth Ministry. Christian and his wife, Marileny, live in McAllen, TX. 

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