Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why This Definition of Courtship is hurting the Church

I think the strength of community you find in a church is a good indicator of how healthy it is. I am blessed to be part of a very strong community in my church that places priorities in all the right places: God and living the gospel.

Lately in my church there has been a subtle theme of singles and dating. Maybe it's nothing new and I'm only beginning to realize this now, since my church places the call to marriage as a very God-glorifying one (which it is, no contest there). In most churches you will find that the process young people go from singleness to marriage is called courtship.

The danger lies in what I would describe an almost unhealthy view of what courtship is, or played out. Let me explain...

a) What I think some (or maybe most) Christians think Courtship is: Christian dating with the goal of marriage. 

b) What I think Courtship should be: Christian dating with the intention of discovering if the two of you are right for marriage. 

The difference? In almost every instance when I hear about a Christian couple breaking up, the courtship is seen as a failure by the standard set forth in idea a).

If you go in with the mindset of "oh hey, I really like this person, let's see if there's a future here" then it really takes a lot of unwarranted pressure off. And by unwarranted pressure, I mean when "Will you go out with me?" becomes almost synonymous with "Will you marry me?" 

By following idea b), it means that if a courtship ends it can still be counted as a success because the goal was not marriage but discovering if you are right for marriage. Now you know that there is someone out there that is better suited for them (and you). I write this because I believe that marriage is designed for life, so it should be a firm decision of total trust and affirmation. I base that off scripture; What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.   

We can help singles in the church by not placing unwarranted pressures on them. Often times I read articles that advise young couples to seek mentoring through older couples, but that mentorship should be extended to singles as well. 

I worked a job as a street canvasser (the fun guy, not the in-your-face-guilt-you-until-you-save-a-life guy), and one of my favourite people to stop were couples. I would say to them, "I make a fun third wheel. Not awkward at all... Let's be friends!" When we remove the divide between singles and marrieds in our churches, it really does enhance your community.

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