In my study group, we are discussing dating and courtship. Some of us were asked to take the opposite side of the study. My assignment is to discuss the problems with courtship and the good things about dating. I don’t think that dating is bad, but with courtship it says the relationship is revolved around the parents. I think it is a good idea to have a relationship with the parents, but not all the time. You aren’t in a relationship for your parents, your in it for yourselves. Also courtship says that its not okay to hold hands until you are married. Is this right? Some of the other reasons for courtship given to us is you go into this relationship only if your going to marry the person. If it is a first impression this is based on, then you are only wanting to marry this man/woman for their looks, isn’t this lust? Also some other reasons the parents give is courtship is protecting you from breaking your heart. It has always been said that if you fall off of the horse, get up and try again. Sometimes you have to learn from your experiences. Can you please help me answer this problem, and possibly provide some scriptural evidence, because I am having trouble finding this subject in the bible. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
I would encourage you to carefully look at the Bible Study Courses on this site that deal with marriage. I will give that address at the end of my reply.
First, you stated, “I don’t think that dating is bad, but with courtship it says the relationship is revolved around the parents. I think it is a good idea to have a relationship with the parents, but not all the time. You aren’t in a relationship for your parents, your in it for yourselves.”
You need to carefully consider Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” You need to have a good, close relationship with your parents ALL of the time, not just SOME of the time. The length of your life, and the quality of your life depend upon it. That is a promise from God. Who wants to live a miserable life? Who wants to live a life that does not go well? That is exactly what we get when we do not honor our parents.
By the time that you are thinking about getting married, your parents have been married for 18-20 years or more, unless they have been divorced in that time. Even if they have been divorced, they have some experience in the matter of marriage that you do not have. Most of the time, if parents have made mistakes in their marriage, they do not want their children to experience the same heartaches and troubles in theirs, so they try and give wise advice to their children. Sometimes children think that their parents are just being hypocrites, when they make different rules for their lives, than those under which they had to live when they were young. Believe me, when parents set rules for you, they are thinking about the heartaches and troubles they faced under more lenient conditions. They do not want you to make the same mistakes.
I recently had someone bring a car to me that they were thinking about buying. I looked over the things that I could, but then I called someone who works with cars everyday, a mechanic. I said, “They are thinking about buying this car… What can you tell me about it? Do you know of any common problems that you have seen with that car and year?” Immediately he told me of a flaw in the head gasket in that car. If that was replaced with the newly designed one, then it should be okay, he said.
The same reason holds true for consulting closely with parents when choosing a life’s partner. Your parents have had experience in that area. You are foolish not to consult them about the subject. They have lived in that relationship a long time. They know more than you think about the subject. Even if you do not consider your parents as having a happy marriage, usually they will steer you in the right direction so you are not stuck someday in the same unhappy situation.
In another part of your question you asked, “Also courtship says that its not okay to hold hands until you are married. Is this right?”
The Bible says in I Corinthians 7:1,2 says, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” The Bible makes it very clear that you are not to affectionately touch a woman that is not your wife, because it will lead to immorality. First, in your thoughts, and eventually in your actions, if not restrained.
The reason that there are so many divorces today go right back to the dating problem. When you date so many girls and touch them and kiss them, you are compiling a list of comparisons in your life and experience. Later on, when you finally marry one of them, you are going to compare her to all of those previous girls. Maybe your wife does not kiss as well as one of your previous girl friends. In your mind, you are going to think about that, and find your wife less than the best, and find some dissatisfaction with her. For people who are immoral before they get married, it only gets worse. Seeming dating has been a time of trying one and dumping her when she seems less than pleasing, it thus sets a precedent. Why should you be stuck with someone who is less than totally pleasing and satisfying to you? That carries over into marriage. If the pattern of your life has been “try her and then dump her,” then you are going to be no different in marriage some day, other than by the grace of God. When you have been married for a time, and you begin to take you wife for granted, and she does not meet all of your expectations, then you will start looking for another person.
If you obey the Bible and do not touch a woman, until it is the one you marry, then you will not have those comparisons in your mind. You will learn to kiss together, and will not be comparing it to kissing someone else. And that will carry over into every part of marriage. The wise person will obey God in this. The foolish person will not, and will thus experience much heartache and trouble in marriage.
You also stated and asked, “Some of the other reasons for courtship given to us is you go into this relationship only if your going to marry the person. If it is a first impression this is based on, then you are only wanting to marry this man/woman for their looks, isn’t this lust?”
First, you should never court someone with whom you are not betrothed or engaged. Courting is simply chaperoned dating, and still leads to broken hearts, because there is still nothing sure about it. The word “court” is defined as “to allure, tempt, to seek the affections of” (Merriam Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
The error of dating is that it, in truth, causes people to break the spirit of the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE… (Exodus 20:17). If you are dating or courting a young lady that will end up being another man’s wife, and you are seeing if you can work up feelings in your heart for her, then you are sinning. And the fact of the matter is that you will never feel comfortable again in your life being very close to someone that you once dated, but never married. And the one that you do marry, will watch very closely how you talk and act toward someone that she knows you once dated. Your wife will not really trust you around that person, because she knows that you once cared for her. There are more heartaches and lifelong troubles than you realize, when it comes to taking part in dating or courting.
Part of your above question was, “If it is a first impression this is based on, then you are only wanting to marry this man/woman for their looks, isn’t this lust?”
Betrothal is NOT to be based upon a first impression, but a careful observance of a person, preferably, around their family. Anyone can put on a good act around other people for a limited time. What you want to do is see them with their own family — that will tell the true story.
How can you commit your life to someone that you have never dated or courted? How can you commit to marry someone with whom you have not yet fallen in love? Look around you and see who meets the qualifications of God’s Word. Can you see any virtuous young ladies as described in Proverbs 31? A young lady needs to look for a spiritual young man as described in Ephesians 5. You will be happy with that person, based upon God’s Word, and if you are a spiritual person yourself. Are you going to refuse this path? Then what you are saying is that you know more than God, and that your heart is a better judge of people than God.
The bottom line is that you will either pick a wife based upon God’s Word, or you will pick her based upon your own heart. Jeremiah 17:9,10 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” That is why so many marriages end in divorce. They are started based upon feelings, and feelings change, so the marriage fails.
When God created a helpmeet for Adam, He did not ask Adam if he wanted a blonde, brunette, redhead, etc. He did not ask Adam if he wanted a wife with blue, brown, or green eyes. He did not ask Adam for his opinion at all. God knows what is best for us, and what will truly make us happy and contented for the years of our lives. Does it not seem very hypocritical to say that we are trusting what He says in His Word about eternal life, if we are not so sure about what He says about marriage for this time upon earth here?
The Bible says of Isaac in Genesis 24:64-67 says, “And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
Isaac is one of the few men in the Old Testament who only had one wife for life. Study Genesis 24 and see how she was chosen. It is interesting to note the order above: “she became his wife; and he loved her.” If you choose someone based upon Bible qualifications, then she will not be hard to love. But if you choose someone based upon your heart feelings, then you will end up being disappointed in life, and will find that person very hard to love, later in your marriage.
Please carefully study the Bible Courses dealing with marriage. They go into much greater detail. The first one can be viewed at “http://www.pathwaynet.com/libertyb/biblecrs/marriage/mariage1.htm“