This post enters territory which is addressed in principle in Scripture rather than in specific.  The principles are rich and deep and extensive enough for us to make profound conclusions.  The principles of Scripture drive specific actions.  Here are a few definitions that I thought might represent the two subjects at hand:

  • Dating = Marriage-like relationship MINUS the commitment of marriage OR a semi-committed relationship in which the waters are being tested and probed for marriage!
    • Characteristics:  Relatively or completely closed about marriage, non-committal, selfish, undefined, undirected, no goals, temptation-rich environment, unlimited timeframe (because there is no definitive goal)
  • Courtship = Pre-marital relationship which is meant to provide an environment in which marriage can be seriously investigated from the beginning
    • Characteristics:  Open about marriage, committed, unselfish, clearly defined, directed, specific goal in view, Christ-centered, in submission to God’s standards, limits the temptations because goals and direction are maintained, limited timeframe

I hope to show from Scripture how I came to those definitions. Moving away from terminology (dating vs. courtship), I wanted to discover the Bible’s teaching on what the engines are that should drive a pre-marital relationship.  Here is what I discovered:

DOCTRINE should define the shape of the pre-marital relationship:

  • Considering it is a relationship between a male and female, it should be moulded by an understanding of biblical manhood and womanhood (see introduction).
  • Considering it involves two people who were and may again be single, it should be moulded by a biblical understanding of singleness (see part 2 and part 3).
  • Considering it is pre-marital, it should start resembling the characteristics of marriage. (see part 5 and part 6)
  • Considering it is a relationship between two sinners, it should be moulded by the Gospel and the doctrines of indwelling sin, demonic powers and the world.  (see part 5)