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The Master's Grip: In His Grip

Working definition of courtship
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I posted this as a comment on another's blog...I thought I would post it here...this is definitely a work in progress, but here you go:

I am going to start with the dictionary defintion and then expand from there:
v. court·ed, court·ing, courts:
v. tr.: To try to gain the love or affections of, especially to seek to marry.
v. intr.: To pursue a courtship; woo.

To honestly define "courtship"...I believe that you probably need to be able to define "dating." Why you may ask? Simply put whenever you wander from the cultural norm (which at this time is dating for relationships) you have to know what you are leaving to define where you are going. There has to be something you don't like about the norm that you want to change or pursue in another way...so for that purpose, the definition of "dating"
n. date:
a. An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest.
b. One's companion on such an outing.

So for definition sake let's define the cultural norm of "dating" as a "social relationship, often with romantic interest." If that is the case, then it would seem that the large difference between "dating" and "courting" is the commitment level of the relationship...that brings us to another "definition"

n. com·mit·ment:
The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action or to another person or persons

Okay, that all said...One part of a definition that I often hear is, "Being committed to helping each other discover God's will for each other. Doing what is best for the other in their relationship with God." While that is important and good, as Christians I would hope that you would be doing that no matter how you defined your relationship stage whether it just be friends, dating, courtship, marriage, or whatever. So while I agree that it is important I believe that courtship is more than that. If it is only the above then probably you should just remain friends or if you find dating acceptable pursue that route. My caution for you on the dating route...social norms can create a considerable amount of pressure on a couple, if you are not ready for a commitment level beyond a "social relationship with possible romantic interest" then make sure you leave it there! Once you enter the "dating game" the pressure to advance the relationship beyond what you are prepared to commit to only gets greater.

So if so far the definition I have given comes down to, the level of commitment in the relationship. As commitment has been defined as "being bound emotionally and intellectually to a course of action/person" the concept of the future plays a large role. Honestly you cannot allow yourself to make a commitment of that magnitude to another person until you can honestly say (via personal belief and input from mentors, etc.) you are prepared for the planned result of the commitment or at least believe you will be by the time you get there. In other words if you can't say you feel you would be ready for the big "M" word, marriage, within the next two years I wouldn't recommend entering into a courting relationship. By defining your relationship as a "courtship" you have agreed to pursuing a level of commitment that goes beyond social or romantic interest. Courtship is the process of committing to pursuing a life-long relationship with another person, that isn't a casual, social commitment...that isn't a commitment to be made lightly.

A couple of questions I would recommend asking yourself...
1. Do I see myself ready for or being ready within the next two years to make a commitment to a life partner/mate within the context of marriage?
2. As far as I currently know this individual that I am interested in do I see him as a person who I would be willing to, yes, marry? I am not saying that is a for sure answer, but as far as you know now.
3. Has our relationship gotten to the point that to continue on we need to deepen the commitment level of the relationship? In other words is the relationship at the point where it would be best to become "more than friends" or is there still more to be discovered at that stage of "just friends" that would better prepare you for the next, you can't wait forever...and you will never be perfect...but be honest with yourself.

So friends, dating, courting...what's the answer...well, first off how is your relationship with God...sounds trite I know. However if you don't have that in place all a relationship will do is make it harder (take that from personal experience). Can you honestly say that you are at a place in your relationship with God that taking a relationship with another person will strengthen and deepen both of your personal relationships with God, and not draw away from? Are you prepared/ready to make a commitment to be bound emotionally and intellectually to the process of pursuing a life-long relationship in the context of marriage with this other individual, or are you just "interested"?

Finally I am not saying that when you enter into a courtship relationship that you are betrothed or that marriage is for sure, it's not. You are entering a relationship with a person who you desire to make deep commitment with, to pursue the mutual goal of a future relationship finally (hopefully) culminated by marriage...so it is not for sure, but definitely understood to be in the plans...if it doesn't happen it should hopefully be because you have both come to realize that God has other plans...not because you didn't try or weren't really interested...but that you did try and in trying God led you elsewhere. Now ideally if the decision is made to part ways it will be mutual...but I will tell you from personal experience (on both sides) that it doesn't always work out that way.

In His Grip,


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posted by James Dasher @ 11:17 AM,


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