Sunday, June 20, 2010

For those who have asked: Dating vs. Courting

Last night I officially went on my first date ever (and last date with this particular guy, we decided we're just going to be friends). Some people think that this means that I left the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" viewpoint that I had in highschool behind. Well, partially yes, but mostly no. For those of you wondering how my viewpoint on romantic relationships has changed since high school, here's a general explanation on what I believe now.

First, I think most people have missed the point of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". Kissing dating goodbye is not about never going on dates. By "dating", Joshua Harris meant an attitude and a lifestyle--an attitude that romance is all about me, and finding someone that I enjoy being with, and a lifestyle of "trying on" different people romantically. That is what Joshua Harris kissed goodbye. When he finally did meet and court his bride, he took her on dates. The fact that I went on one date (and plan on going on more should another guy of godly character ask me) does not mean that I'm changing my attitude toward romantic relationships.

God is Lord over my love life.
I pursue purity in both mind and body.
Every relationship is for the purpose of glorifying God.
My responsibility in any relationship is to pursue God's will.

These sum up my attitude toward relationships, romantically involved or not. This was my attitude in high school, and that attitude has not changed.

I still think dating when you're not ready for marriage is pointless. That's why I never dated--or even just "went on one date"--in high school. I knew I wasn't ready to get married. I still recommend that high school students avoid romantic relationships and "dating" until they are at least out of high school. But I am no longer in the "not ready for marriage" stage. If the right guy comes along, I could realistically marry him within the next 6 to 12 months. (Obviously, this would not be realistic with every guy, so I'm only open to pursuing relationships with guys who I could realistically marry within this time frame.) Could that potentially mean being a married college student? Yes. Could that potentially mean not finishing college? Yes. Are either of those things to be avoided? I honestly don't think so. I'm open for whatever God's will is. And over this past year, God has made it pretty clear that I am no longer in the "sit back and wait" stage. I am now officially in the "sit up, look and pay attention" stage. Or, for those of y'all that speak Joshua Harris, I've moved on from "I've Kissed Dating Goodbye" to "Boy Meets Girl".

I think debating dating vs. courtship is pretty useless. I quit using the term "courting" when I got to college, because it confused people too much (or they associated it with negative views of Joshua Harris). Nowadays, I'm more likely to say something like "biblical dating". While we can debate specifics (such as, should the guy ask out the girl first, or should he go and ask the father before the girl even knows he's interested?), the plain and honest truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all for every romantic relationship. I've seen plenty of relationships that were hybrids between what people traditionally think of as "dating" and "courting". As long as a relationship is conducted in a way that is pleasing to God, that emphasizes purity and accountability, let's not get hung up over specifics.

In my case, it doesn't look like any relationship I have will fit the traditional "courting" mold for several reasons. Anyone who is interested in these reasons may ask me, but I'm not going to go into them here. Nevertheless, I don't think that disqualifies me from having God-centered relationships. I still plan on "courting" as I plan on having a relationship/relationships that emphasize high family involvement, accountability to the church, service to God, and purposefully moving in the direction of marriage be it God's will. If not following a lock-step guide to getting there disqualifies me from "courting", so be it. That's not my concern. My concern is conducting my relationships in a God-glorifying manner.

I went on one date with Josh to see if God had anything further planned for us beyond friendship. I had seen his godly character in action and wanted to get to know him better as an individual, and in our particular circumstances, a date was pretty much the only way to do that. Josh treated me very respectfully on our date, and our conversation was really interesting and God-centered. At the end of the date though, Josh made it clear he wasn't interested in anything beyond friendship. And I'm okay with that, I think God's will for us after that date was pretty clear. I don't have any regrets, and when Mr. Right does finally come along, I won't have any qualms telling him about Josh.