We CAN be friends…

For starters, this entry is going to be a little different from the format of my normal posts. I was chatting with one of my brothers earlier this week and he presented to me after our dialogue that I should do an entry on the importance of being friends before a courtship. This principle was foundational in my route to marriage. My husband and I were friends for 2 years before we even entertained the idea of becoming involved in courtship. Matter of fact, neither one of us gave it much thought until approached by others about one another. And I guess the fact that I was only 16 when we first met had a little to do with it as well. Anyway, let me delve into this subject of “We Can Be Friends,” where we’ll discuss the importance and benefits of having a foundational friendship before entering a courtship.

“Dating” is as All-American as potato salad, cornbread, and apple pie to some but is it the Godly way to go? More times than not my answer is NO! Over the past hundred years and more recently in my generation the slow, deliberate process of “courtship” has evolved into our whirlwind “dating” relationships. Instead of the focus being on getting to know the other person, it is on romantic attraction and “what feels right”. Often a man and a woman are swept up in a fast, exciting relationship that leads to marriage – only to find, after the fact that they have very little in common. Just as often very young couples, still in their early teens, are caught too soon in a passionate relationship that can only end in distress.

But there is another way to go. It has been viewed as “old-fashioned” but it’s the method of courtship, with the goal to keep God first in the relationship. Everything about courtship is God-centered, not self-centered. Friendship is developed and strengthened between a man and a woman before they head into a romantic relationship, which helps build a strong, happy marriage later on, whether or not it is to that particular man or woman. In dating, marriages are often too soon and easily dissolved, leaving in their wake heartache, emotional scarring, and financial difficulties.

In today’s society, chastity is viewed as exasperating, pointless, and “un-cool”. But there are hundreds of resources that prove this theory wrong. Ephesians 5:3 plainly states that “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity.” This sort of warning is repeated frequently throughout the Bible. But biblical references, though the most important, are not the only promoters of chastity before marriage.

I’m a firm believer that people who live morally clean lives before marriage are less prone to infidelity afterwards. I believe that if we were to survey teens and married couples who had sex before marriage, they would tell us that it can be emotionally, physically and spiritually damaging; especially if they have not been freed from the soul ties created by having sex with previous partners. Aside from the possibilities of pregnancy, AIDs, and other harmful STDs, it builds false emotional ties that are made only to be broken, leaving in their wake ugly scars.

In courtship, you are held accountable not only to yourself and the person you’re involved with, but also to your family, friends, and special advisors. One of the main points in a courtship is to guard each other’s purity by avoiding questionable situations, attitudes, or thoughts.

Another pro to courtship is the low likelihood of a whirlwind, romantic relationship that focuses only on physical attraction and not the person themselves. Friendship is developed first, so that you’re sure that you are willing to spend your life with this person, and physical attraction comes later. During my courtship I read a series of books by Joshua Harris of which I would like to provide some pivotal points he expresses on the benefits of courtship. Joshua Harris says in his second book on courtship, Boy Meets Girl, courtship should be a time of being “more than friends, less than lovers.”

In courtship our goals should be to grow and guard. We want to grow closer so we can truly know each other’s characters, but we also want to guard each other’s hearts because the outcome of our relationship is still unknown.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Community is a driving force behind most courtships. Family, friends, church members, other married couples, and special advisors are encouraged to offer advice at any time they think necessary. If romantic attraction becomes too strong too soon, you are encouraged to make a conscious decision to back away a little bit and wait until the time is right to pursue such things.

But why is courtship better than dating? Dating has become a very self-centered pastime, driven by lust and greed. Courtship is centered not on any person, but on God. During a courtship, you are “dating for the glory of God”, as Joshua Harris says. Instead of dating the other person for their physical appearance or their suave charms, you are dating them to establish a solid relationship and decide whether or not marriage is God’s will for you. In Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris divides the process of courtship into three neat steps: friendship, fellowship, and romance. He encourages us first to “deepen your friendship” before going forward in the relationship, ensuring that this person is someone you’re willing to spend a lifetime with. “Don’t rush or try to force your way into each other’s lives,” he says. “The pace should be unhurried.” The next important step is that of fellowship, growing closer together spiritually.

As your relationship unfolds, you want to make sure it has a spiritual foundation. For your relationship to be strong, love for God must be the common passion of your hearts…you can read Christian books together, talk about sermons after a service, and discuss how you’re going to apply what you learn…biblical fellowship means increasing your love and passion for God, not your emotional dependence on each other.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Last of all in a courtship comes romance, after you are sure that the person you’re courting is someone you’d be happy with in marriage. But even then, the relationship is God-centered.

If God is confirming the wisdom and rightness of the relationship, romantic feelings should be seen as a good thing and a gift from God. Our goal is not to stifle our feelings of affection and love, but to submit them to God and to grow in and guard them.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Although it is not always the case, courtship is often a better way to go than dating. Dating can be and is often successful, but there are few boundaries and it can also be extremely dangerous. Even people in happy marriages admit to doing things in dating relationships that are a cause of deep regret. In a courtship, there are clear standards set by both people, and you are held accountable to not one but many for your actions. Because the pace is easy and not rushed, a strong friendship is developed before romance, a friendship which often endures even if an engagement is not reached. But most importantly, it is God-centered, not self-centered. There is less chance of a traumatic breakup, because God is still held first in your life.

If you’re beginning to look at each other as your main source of comfort, encouragement, and courage, something is wrong. Remind each other to find your soul’s satisfaction in God alone.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Why is courtship better than dating? Because it is the Godly way to go and you’re worth the wait.

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.


16 thoughts on “We CAN be friends…

  1. Great post sis! As a teen I read all 3 of Joshua’s books! Great reference and I beleive in all of these points. As a single woman, these are all guidelines i would follow and endorse when the time comes.

  2. Sis!!!! You are speaking to my soul! I’ve already been thinking along this path and this just confirmed it. Everyone is in SUCH a rush…I’m so fed up with dating. I’ve been getting so discouraged lately. Why is it that Christians don’t understand that we cannot date how the world dates? Courtship is where it’s at and I am going to buy that book that you mentioned in the post. This is a topic that is so crucial for Christians to understand. It will definitely save a lot of heartache and unnecessary suffering! Thanks so much for posting. I will definitely forward to my friends!

  3. wow@!! this is needed. its a truth that we must face and it keeps the invigorating freshness in the marriage. This is awesome. i love it!

  4. This is a very timely message! I appreciate how you have broken it down to a point wherein even the simplest of persons can understand. Keep going and keep growing!!!

  5. Great post and very well written! I like how you broke down courtship and defined each part. A friend and I were just discussing “dating” a few weeks ago. What we realized is that people in general have different views (most of them are worldly) on what dating is and how it should be handled. For me, courtship is definitely the way to go to establish healthy relationships.

  6. I love it!!!! having personally experienced rushing into relationships & having the friendship element void probably was the worse & most damaging part and a true learned lesson. Especially in the church where now we have those who “prophesy” spouses thus cause people to rush head first without even getting to know if that man likes to read or does that woman know how to cook? lol again…. love it & I will be checking this author out. KUDOS

  7. “Everything about courtship is God-centered, not self-centered” <<<—- great statement. Many RUSH into based on what they've RUSHED out of && cause more damage entering something new than they did exiting the past tragedy. You're so right, when you're in ruin or simply not 'whole' you run the risk of always TAKING in all of your relationships. This is awesome!

  8. I really enjoyed reading this blog! My hubby and I were friends first and he is STILL my best friend after 10 years of marriage!

  9. I really enjoyed this post. I have already decided that courtship will be the way to go when my time comes! It has that level of protection that dating does not usually have. I’ve learned (the hard way) that being accountable is best for BOTH parties on a regular basis. Thank you for posting this!

  10. Awesome piece sis! This is exactly for ♍ƺ as I was about to start dating..I am going to wait and follow exactly what U̶̲̥̅̊’ve said. Thanks!

  11. Beautiful. This speaks to me so much, I’ve been in one relationship, that was over 5 years ago. I always thought I was being picky by not dating, but now I understand I really wanted courtship!

    My mind is always thinking, “Can I be with this person when they have moments of discouragement, weakness, or frustration?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not searching for the worse in my future husband, but I want to know him in his entirety (for better, for worse, in sickness, in health). I need to know that (as two flawed human beings) that God in Him and Myself is enough to maintain the commitment we would make to each other.

    My friends (and even my family) teased me about being a virgin and not dating for years, BUT now those are the very things they praise me for! They’ve seen what God has produced in me and through me!

    Thank God for this blog! It serves as confirmation and encouragement for the journey! As You would say “I’m staying in my lane, and letting God Use Me!”

    Thanks Again! Looking to read more from you! God bless!

  12. I would say that this is good advice for our culture. But biblically speaking, you can get married first and have friendship develop later. Look at Isaac and Rebecca! They met and got married. My husband and I were knit together by God in much the same way. My dad got to know my husband first and blessed our relationship. God put a deep love in our hearts within three days of getting to know eachother. That love still remains to this day. God gave us many confirmations within our three month engagement. We’ve been married three years now! So, if it’s Gods will, it’s possible to meet and get married within a short period of time. However, to each his or her own in regards to the length of relationship. All love stories are different. The main thing is to know that the person you marry IS without a shadow of doubt the one God has for you! That way, when hard times come, there is no way you’ll ever leave your spouse.

  13. Pingback: 10 Great Posts on Christian Singleness, Love and Marriage | Where He Makes All Things Beautiful

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