Dating & Courtship
By Frank Hilton • ©Word-Spirit • All Rights Reserved.

INTRODUCTION
In my last article "Being Single Isn't A Bad Thing" I spoke about the benefits of living single and how a person should live contently in that state. Now we are going discuss the prospect of dating and courtship in the Kingdom of God.

THE WAY OF THE WORLD
In the world, dating was more about going out and then “sleeping together” afterwards. Then, if they liked each other, than they would continue with their fornication and most likely move in together. Then after some time, arguing destroys the relationship; they part ways and both are left with deep wounds of the heart.

In the first article of this series, I pointed out that dating/courtship and marriage is not done the same way in the Kingdom of God as it is done in the world. Relationships in the world are not built on godly conduct, the word, self-control or trust. When these attributes are missing and inordinate affection or lust is the “glue” of a relationship… IT WILL FAIL!

SHOULD I EVEN “DATE?”
Some Apostolic believers and even Church pastors do not believe in dating (as the world uses it). This can be a good thing though. The reasoning behind this is that, a person should wait on God to show them who they will marry, and then go through the courtship leading to the marriage. This is how I personally went about it and got married. However, this is not the same conviction with everyone.

I use the term “DATING” in this article only to imply that two people are just getting together in a group setting as a “date” so they can get to know each other better. I don’t use the term “date” to imply a couple is in a relationship. It is just a casual time getting together.

WORD OF CAUTION: If a person desires to be in a relationship because they are lonely or discontent. That may not be a good reason to find a boyfriend/girlfriend. Trying to find a relationship just because you are lonely can cause you to make the wrong decisions. If this is you, go back and read my article "Being Single Isn't A Bad Thing"

WHAT IS “DATING” FOR?
As I said before, I use the term “dating” lightly as a means of a casual interaction between two people in a group or public setting. The reason people should go on a “date” is to get to know each other. This time period should be used as a way to decide if a courtship is possible.

This “dating” period is just to get to know the history of the person, their beliefs and their desires in life. It is also very important to understand their spiritual walk with God and their family upbringing. You want to know what kind of person they are first before getting to serious.

APOSTOLIC FOUNDATION
Before anyone ever starts to “date” or get involved in courtship (relationship), they must make sure that they are prepared for this journey in their life. Without a proper foundation and godly guidance, they can ruin their life forever if they end up getting involved with the wrong person. Here is what they need…

• They should be fairly grounded in the Lord and what His word says
• They should decide before “dating” what their moral guidelines are according to scripture
• They must not be ignorant of the temptations they may face
• They must have godly guidance from godly parents, teachers and pastors
• Always pray and fast as to what God’s will is

BEST TYPE OF PEOPLE TO “DATE?”
When it comes to young people (under 20 years), while they are trying to find the will of God in their lives, they may not make the best choices. The reason is, because it is the most critical time for them, and if they get involved with the wrong boy or girl, it can lead them away from God. This is when godly, compassionate adults in their life are needed.

The best way for any young person or anyone over 20 to have a sucessful chance, is to only “date” people who are in the church and grounded in the truth; and are right with God. For we read…

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

Any time a person “dates” an unbeliever or even someone in the church who is not actively pursuing God with their whole heart is potentially a danger to one’s spiritual walk with God. It is wise for a person to seek council about a potential prospect as to whether they are truly living for God or not.

THE GUARD-RAILS OF DATING AND COURTSHIP
In the world there are no guard-rails, but in church, dating and courtship MUST HAVE some godly convictions that should not be crossed over. Doing so can cause some great pain… even while attending a church. The purpose of guard-rails is not to stress that couples are bad, but to safeguard trust, godliness and respect. When men and women respect each other’s moral integrity, it can only produce good things.

Here are some godly principles to govern your dates.

• Dating should strictly be done in public places and typically with chaperones; especially for young people. Anytime a “date” takes place when a couple is alone will automatically put that couple in a place of temptation. It is best to date in group settings or at public events.
• Even though most people are attracted to each other by what they see or feel, it is important that each person doesn’t allow infatuation or mislead emotions to cloud their sense of what is right and proper during dating.
• Bring God and prayer into the dating process. This will help keep God in the middle of what is going on. This will also tell you how open they are to God.
• Refrain from any suggestive conversations that can lead to temptations. Words and emotions can wreck a date fairly quickly, especially if the couple ends up alone.
• Be respectful, courteous and listen to each other carefully. Treat each other like friends and do not be something you are not. Be real, sincere and let God’s light shine through you.
• When on “dates”, couples should not kiss at all. Traditionally, some couples don’t kiss until they are engaged. This may be old-fashioned to some; but some courting couples don’t even kiss until they get married. This is good advice, but each person must get this conviction from God on their own.

WHEN COURTSHIP BEGINS
When spending time during the “dating” phase of a friendship; and both couples develop very strong feelings for each other, they may decide that they want to begin a courtship (relationship) together. This courtship is for the sole purpose of seeking God as to whether it is His will for this marriage to take place or not.

This courtship is to be taken very seriously. It is not a time to play games with a person’s emotions. If both couples are not in this for the prospect of marriage, then they should cease as a couple. This courtship is a time where prayer and fasting MUST be done until God answers.

In reality, courtship can be more dangerous than “dating” because when two people emotionally get attached to each other, the temptation to express that “love” is strong, thus it may lead to sin. Both couples need to be very strong in the Lord and maintain proper conduct, even if they end up being alone; which isn’t a good idea. It is best to still maintain that group setting until marriage.

I have seen more couples who were courting fall to fornication, then by those who were casually “dating.” I don’t care how much Holy Ghost a person has, if they are not careful during this courtship, the couple can fall into sin and trust will be broken before they even get married.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A COURTSHIP
During the phase of courtship, hopefully a person has a good sense of the prospective person. However, as more time is spent together, each person needs to dig deeper inside and see what this person is really like; because most relationships starting out only display the good side of a person. Here are some things to really consider if a person is someone they want to marry.

• Do they display holiness on the inside and outside? Do they dress modestly? This often can reveal their commitment to God and scripture.
• Do they hold the same convictions as you? Are you both compatiable spiritually? This will matter when it comes to many things in the home.
• How does the man treat women in general, especially his mom? Is he kind, loving, respectful; or is he the opposite. Because, how he treats his mom, will be how he treats you.
• How does the woman act towards her dad or pastor? Is she gentle, loving and submissive; or is she the opposite? Whichever way she treats her dad/pastor, will be how they treat you too.
• Does the prospective spouse fulfill the role that scripture teaches for them? Does the man take ownership of his leadership in a home? Does a woman foster love and respect as a loving submitted wife?
• Does the person pay their tithes and give in the offerings?
• Do they struggle with things you are not willing to work with?
• Are they disciplined in handling money; do they have a good job?
• Is God the absolute first in everything they do?
• Are they submitted to the leadership in the church?
• Are they a person who fasts and prays?

The point of courtship is not to find the perfect person. The process of courtship and marriage is to find out if it’s God’s will. And if it is God’s will, then you will have to live with some flaws. However, you cannot ignore the major flaws if you want a happy and blessed marriage. Everyone has some flaws; some worse than others. But, if some of the flaws I mentioned above are really bad, and you feel that the person can’t overcome it, you may want to reconsider marriage with that person.

CONCLUSION
When finding a potential spouse in the Kingdom of God, a lot can go wrong if a person doesn’t seek God’s will above everything else. Just because a person really “loves” someone doesn’t mean that it is God’s will for them to marry. I will be talking about this in another lesson.

We have to understand that God created us to have emotions, affections and even intimate desires for the opposite sex. It isn't wrong to feel that way. However, because of the sin of Adman/Eve, a person in a relationships can be temptation to cross the boundry. Therefore, we have to teach caution to those who are embarking on the journey of marriage. People have to be re-taught the right and moral way to do this.

The process of “dating” should only be a casual interaction between two people to get to know each other. This process allows a person to learn what they are looking for in a future spouse and what God’s will is. Trying to use “dating” as a relationship in-of-itself, often leads to broken hearts.

Even though the process of courtship is more serious, it is by no means a time to settle for less than what God has for a person. Rushing into a relationship for any reason besides finding out if it is the will of God will lead a person to make wrong decisions. Loneliness or just wanting to get married as soon as possible is not the right reason to get married.

My final though on this lesson is this… PRAY & FAST before you get to deep into a relationship with someone else. It is best to hear from God before courting someone. However, that is not always how God does it. Being sensitive to what God wants will pay great rewards if you do it right and with His blessings!

Read: Understanding What You're Feeling

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And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mar 16:15-18)
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