The Spirit Filled Marriage 12: Dating
- Independent dating
- Undiscerning dating
- Immoral dating
- Shallow dating
The history of dating is a pendulum swing from total dependence to total independence. In ancient times marriages were arranged. An arranged marriage could have been arranged while the bride and groom were still in their infancy by the parents, or by a person appointed to choose a suitable spouse. Potential spouses did not necessarily have the opportunity to meet until the wedding day. There are still many today who implement this practice usually allowing the son or daughter to meet the prospective mate and veto to reject or accept the arranged marriage.
Dating is a recent phenomenon that arose at the beginning of the 20th century. Prior to dating there was what is called courting. Courting was the practice of a suitor visiting the home of a girl, upon her invitation and with her father’s permission, the suitor would spend time with the family, and would have opportunity to get to know the girl in conversation in the parlour. There would be other family members in the house, so there would be accountability but also a measure of privacy. The father would often be present and he would get to meet the young man and question him and see him relate to others in the family. The goal was often to get to know the character of a person and to see if they were a suitable marriage partner. The traditional practice of the young man asking for the girls hand in marriage was also part of this.
Dating was a very different thing altogether. Dating was the process of removing the girl from her home and the watchful eye of her family and instead of spending time talking and getting to know ones character the focus became about taking the girl dancing, to the theatre and entertaining her, wining and dining her. Removing her from the home and including alcohol soon led to dating with sexual encounters before marriage becoming the norm.
The next development after dating which came in the 60s was the hook up culture where a person would engage in sexual relationships with no intention of marriage. With the rise of Feminism which encouraged the women to have the same promiscuous attitude to sex as men, as well as the wide spread use of the birth control pill which enabled sexual encounters without the risk of pregnancy, mixed in with the eras view on free love, most traditional values and practices went out the window and we today have inherited a situation where Christians are just like the world in their dating practices. Dating today is an independent, sexualized human right governed by personal preference and not biblical principles. So, today as we continue looking at the issue of singleness we must speak to this matter of dating. There is no biblical model for dating, but there are biblical principles that can be applied to the issue of dating. Dating was not a practice the bible addressed because of ancient cultural practices, however, the bible does put forward timeless principles that all Christians in all cultures and times can use to guide them. I make this point as we begin because you will come across those who say that we need to go back to courting or follow only one particular way of dating, as if this were the teaching of the Bible. I am not going to defend the practice of courtship versus dating but instead am going to suggest certain principles that should be applied to relationships today.