Tuesday night America watched while Jill Duggar and Derrick Dillard shared their first kiss at the altar. 19 Kids and Counting has sparked the interest of people across the country. The Duggar girls released their first book this year and between courtships, engagements, weddings, and pregnancies, their faces have been plastered across the news stands. But isn’t it concerning that their traditional values are so far from our culture that we watch them as if they were monkeys in a zoo? Courting is the way most people dated until the late 19th century. It’s a traditional, old-fashioned way of getting to know someone. Sure, some people push courting to the extreme in some areas and their parents leave little room for couples to set their own standards or make their own decisions, but there are also many good motives behind a courtship. Our culture has distorted and misinterpreted the original purpose of a courtship. Basically, as the Duggars refer to it, a courtship is “dating with a purpose.” So what can we learn from this old-fashioned dating?
- Love should be a commitment. So many times we see people fall in and out of shallow and commitment-free relationships over and over, only looking for what benefit the relationship will offer them. When they get bored or mad, they simply move to the next relationship. When people enter a courtship it’s an important commitment to really get to know someone for who they are, to work through problems, and to give someone a fair chance before giving up. This is not to say that you have to marry the first person you date. It is to be taken seriously though, a vow to not take someone’s heart and feelings lightly.
- Dating should be done with the purpose of marriage. Many relationships struggle because they don’t have a real goal or purpose. You have to establish why you are dating. While couples court, they look to each other as a potential husband/wife. Again, this does not mean that you have to marry someone if you date them. It simply means that your relationship has a goal of marriage in mind. If you can’t see yourself marrying someone and if you don’t think it’s God’s plan, then you have to accept that and move on. You also have to ask yourself if you can picture yourself getting married in the near-future? If not, then what is the purpose of the relationship?
- Boundaries and accountability are important and keep the focus on the real purpose of the relationship. Some couples save their first kiss for marriage, some until their engaged, some don’t, some even refrain from holding hands until engagement. The boundaries set are between you, the person you’re dating, and God. But by setting boundaries, you create accountability. In courting, couples spend their time with friends and family and try to avoid spending all their time alone. This helps you get to know someone in a realistic setting and helps hold you accountable. What’s important, is that courtship sets the focus of the relationship on getting to know someone- their character, interests, passions, dreams, struggles, failures, and accomplishments. It’s just loving someone for who they are.
- Keep God at the center of the relationship. Perhaps the most important thing we can learn from a courtship is that God is honored and sought throughout the relationship. We can look to his word and prayer to guide us through any relationship and honor his will for our lives.
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young, but be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your faith, and in your purity.