Courting or Dating: Is there a Difference?

Before you begin reading please understand that I am not against dating. If my children are mature enough to guard their hearts and remain sexually pure until marriage than they do have the option to date freely once they are out of my house.

But I think that this is a very difficult task for believers let alone unbelievers to achieve or else we would have more people openly admitting that they were sexually pure on their wedding night. With that said let us begin…

The key differences that I’ve found between dating and courting are that a courtship has an intended goal which is marriage; on the other hand dating is simply the act of spending lot’s of time with someone that you like romantically. There is no mutual intended destination.

When the two dating parties stop liking one another they are free to move on to someone else. In my experience and the experiences of most people that I have spoken to, it is this ‘moving on to someone else’ that I want my children to avoid. When written on paper (or blog) it has no meaning, but if we think back to a time when someone wanted to move on and we didn’t want them to move on…it becomes more than mere words.

The Bible gives many examples of Gods intended ideal and that ideal involves the parents assisting in finding a mate. It doesn’t include dating several people throughout the teen year to get accustomed to whatever it is that folks may trying to get their children accustomed to.

Some biblical parent or relative involved relationships include Isaac and Rebekah…Jacob and Rachel…King Ahasuerus and Ester…and Mary and Joseph.

With courtship the parents are welcomed into the approval process of the future mate. Christian parents should naturally and Biblically want to protect their children from those who might take advantage of them, temptations to sin, marriage before they are prepared or from those who would bring them much grief in marriage.

We will not tell our children who they can or can’t marry but we will give our approval or disapproval based upon biblical principles. Marriage requires a lifetime commitment on the part of the marrying couple, so the final decision will ultimately be theirs. We will protect and advise our children, where they have little experience or wisdom. Our children (at the present time) respect and honor us, listen to our advice and seek our approval for important decision. This is a lifestyle that my children have known since birth and I am quite sure that it will no different when they begin to seriously pursue a romantic relationship.

Courtship is simply us applying wisdom to help our children make a good marriage decision – and our children (if wise) will listen to our parental advice in an area where they have little experience.

Part of our responsibility in the courting process will be to guide our children in the guarding of their hearts. We will also advise the young man or women and assist them in getting to know the particular child of ours that they are interested in. This will allow them to make a wise and informed decision as to whether they desire to spend the rest of their lives with our son or daughter.

We will have potential love interests spend time with us as a family in order for us (and sometimes our other children) to assess character, beliefs, convictions, goals and life direction, compatibility of temperaments, etc.

Courtship is basically about waiting until you are sure. In courtship relationships with the opposite sex are cultivated openly, with respect and restraint. Emphasis is placed on family activities (including church family).

These are some of the guidelines that we follow prior to the courtship beginning.

1. Let God know you are looking, and seek His guidance in finding a spouse.

2. Do research to discover what a godly mate is like.

3. All relationships will start out as friendships and advance only if both parties are pursuing marriage.

4. The only reason to move a relationship beyond a casual friendship is to determine if it is the Lord’s will for marriage.

5. Pray for Him to sabotage any attempts to advance a relationship that is contrary to His will.

6. With Gods blessing the main goal during this time will be to get to know the person better than a friend. (not sexually)

This is a guideline that we use. Just remember, it’s not about the rules, it’s about the heart! Use the Bible as a guide to keeping your children’s relationship holy. It doesn’t matter what rules I write up as a parents, it’s up to each of my children to want to have a relationship that is pure, holy and pleasing to God.


  1. says

    You might find my blog of interest where I critique Josh Harris’s “kissing dating goodbye” book. Sadly Harris is quick to point out the problems he see with dating but is silent about the problems his “alternative” has caused.

    You are giving the typical definitions and problems that the “courtship” group attributes to dating. You might take a look at my blog entry that asks what is dating and what did Harris supposedly “kiss goodbye?” Dating can have a lot of meanings.


  2. says

    I once heard someone talk about the bad part about dating (besides the obvious) is that the whole dating thing–getting together, breaking up, getting together, breaking up, etc. Is not the pattern you want in marriage. That’s why courtship is a better option, simply b/c it IS an example to marriage!


    The Proverbs Wife Reply:

    @oh amanda,

    Amanda I agree.


  3. Anonymous says

    Hello. I am facing this issue now as my oldest son is requesting more information about our views on courtship. As we express our views, the question now rearing its head is how are we to handle a ‘breaking up’ as one party or the other decides this is not THE one for me? What are your plans for this issue?


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