Double-edged 真理報雙語版

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A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

Dating vs. Courtship

Iris

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look at what dating is. People seem to have different purposes when entering into a relationship – some may be dating because they’re exploring “the field”, while others are seriously looking for a life-long partner. In his book, Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris argues that the notion of dating has become too ambiguous, which raises the potential of relationships ending in broken hearts. Instead, the American author and pastor makes a case for courtship in his book.

Courtship is a purposeful relationship between a man and a woman to see whether God wants the two to be married. It’s a time where two people spend time together to see if they are compatible and seek God’s will for them. For example, a courtship may begin when a man asks a woman to consider prayerfully entering into a relationship with him. The motivation comes out of a desire to put God at the centre of one’s love life and begins with an evaluation of one’s criteria for a spouse and seeing whether that lines up with God’s criteria. In order to find a godly spouse and pursue a God-centered relationship, the first essential, non-negotiable element is for both individuals to be Christians. When a believer is unequally yoked with a non-believer, their different values are in conflict. Thus, that relationship is not a courtship, since the two cannot seek God’s will together.

Courtship is different from dating because it is well-defined and has a clear purpose. However, courtships do not always result in engagement and marriage. When a courtship is called off because both parties realize they are not meant for one another, they have discovered God’s will. So it is still a success. Although some may be disappointed with the decision, the purpose of the relationship has been achieved. Since the result of the relationship is unknown at the beginning of the courtship, the couple must be careful in their conduct and behaviour so they can look back without regrets.

Guidelines must be set up to protect the self and honour and respect the other. When Joshua entered into a courtship with Shannon (who later became his wife), the two made very specific guidelines to protect themselves. This included refraining from physical interactions (caressing, cuddling, even kissing), guarded conversation and meditation (not talking about their future physical relationship), and not spending undue amounts of time together at late hours. Not only did this keep the relationship pure by consciously avoiding temptations, it also helped the relationship blossom naturally out of deepening respect, friendship, and commitment to one another. Therefore, courtship is a slow, enjoyable process of two people deepening in their relationship. It is not a rush to get married, but a time to learn valuable lessons which the two can bring into their marriage.

Harris goes on in Boy Meets Girl to describe the process of courtship in detail as well as the emotional and spiritual preparation for marriage. It’s a fun, enjoyable book to read with many colourful stories, some from the author’s firsthand experience.

I want to emphasize how much God loves us individually. We are perfect and whole in God and do not need “another half” to complete us because Jesus is the only one who can give us that completeness. God has a plan for each one of us before we were born, so He will tell us at the appropriate time which one of His children He will entrust to you as a life partner, if we are called to be married. As for those who are in a relationship with a special someone – may I encourage you to make that relationship Christ-centred and pleasing to Him, since God has the power to give and the right to take away. Love involves a lot of hard work, but let us all fix our eyes on Jesus and learn from the Master of Love!

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Welcome

"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email tm.double.edged@gmail.com

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