The Word of God according to Genesis is a revelation about the creation of God, and its focus is about what it was in the beginning or the origins of things. In Genesis 1, we hear the melodious music of how the heavens and the earth were framed by the LORD. When it came to man, man can only in awesome wonder sing, “All that I am I owe to thee, thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me…” (Psalms 139).
As we look at Genesis 2:22, the LORD gave us a first glimpse of how Adam and Eve met. It was not a careless or chance meetup, nor was it an unintelligent or miscalculated move that ended with the meetup. In truth, it had its beginning with the LORD. It is the LORD’s will, ways and thoughts that took a personal interest to consider, and took possession and ownership of the man’s and woman’s needs and relationships in life (Gen. 2:18-25). Therefore, it was by God’s appointment, very objective and purpose driven, and it was the LORD who made the woman, and brought her to the man. It was a match made in heaven and realised in the person of Adam and Eve coming together through the creation and for the institution of marriage.
However, Genesis 2 :22 does not tell us a rich account of their life in courtship, nor is there a clear word about whether they have dated or courted. It is in Genesis 4:1 that we find that their relationship has reached the point that is reserved for man and woman as spoken of in Genesis 2:24. It is in the bond of marriage that they enjoyed the highest form of intimacy , and we are told that Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bore Cain.
Having said the above, the idea of betrothal or espousal (engagement for marriage) seemed to be a practice of the OT day. In most biblical examples, parental involvement, care, concern and love are expressed for the good of their children. We have examples in Eve when the LORD created her, brought her, and gave her to Adam. Along the line, we have Isaac with Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, and Joseph and Mary. Through these biblical examples, betrothal is taken as a commitment to marry (though sometimes it may change according to the Lord’s will) and often it was with parental blessings in the Lord.
This is where young people who are called to be Christ’s disciples must learn to walk with Christ and in the light of His word. They must wait with prayers upon the LORD to lead and to provide. They must not run before the LORD, and they must consult and communicate their innermost desires with their parents for spiritual instruction and directions in the paths of righteousness for God’s glory.
It is here also that parents must also see the design and calling God has given us in relation to our children’s desires for a helpmeet in life. Parents must urge and encourage their children with biblical perspectives, taking great efforts to impress and to imprint upon them the importance of acting according to the Christian faith, and to look for a helpmeet from within the household of faith.
While the Bible does not speak expressly on the matter of dating or courtship, we find many biblical principles on dating and courtship by way of implication throughout the Bible. Some passages for consideration are: 1 Corinthians 6 & 7, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-10, Romans 13:8-10, John 14:15.
Also, as parents and young people, we sometimes ask:
How must our young people get to the point of engagement and be married?
Is dating or courtship biblical – a stepping stone or a stumbling block? What should be the Christian view on dating and courtship?
What are the duties and responsibilities of young people who are dating or courting?
Let us begin by looking objectively at dating, courtship and marriage and liken it to the life of a man. It begins with the LORD who is the Giver of Life, and he has a small beginning. For he is to grow and to develop into maturity, be spiritually strong, be spiritually rational, and be spiritually sensible – there is the need to nurture and nourish him with much care to ensure a healthy and strong growth from strength to strength through time. So it is with dating, courtship and marriage.
It is with the above understanding that we may relate dating and courtship to the development of a covenantal married life and the family. Therefore, taking away the vain teachings and sensual expressions of the world on dating and courtship, we may talk about the antithetical Christian approach to dating and courtship so that our covenantal young people may learn, embrace, and practice it in their dating or courtship life.
Dating is said to be the coming together of a young man and a young woman for the purpose of exploring the possibility of courtship. It is like the first step in a flight of steps leading to marriage and the family. And the young are those whose age range from as early as sixteen years to their late thirties. One example would be Josiah who is said to be young at sixteen years (2 Chron. 34:3) and Joseph at seventeen and thirty years (Gen. 37:2, 41:12).
Having said the above, it does not mean that young people are encouraged or can rush into a date as soon as they reach the age of sixteen years. At this age, it is more important for them to grow in their faith and to serve the Lord, so that they can be shaped and formed as a vessel that is fitted for God’s glory, and be made ready in later years for dating, courtship and marriage in the Lord. However, if young people should be dating, they must take it as from the hands of God to know how dating must be characterised:
Devotion towards God, a Delight in the eyes of God, and a demonstration of God’s grace and mercy (Rom. 12:1).
All activities and actions in dating must be in grace with obedience to biblical principles, reflecting the relationship between Christ and His church. (1 Cor. 10:31).
Transforming the heart, souls, and mind of the young (Rom. 12:2).
Into the newness of life in Christ (Rom. 6:4).
Nurturing and nourishing.
Godliness or a godly living in Christ’s likeness towards His church. (1 Tim. 4:8).
Now, as we take a step away from dating, we may see that the life in courtship takes a different form as it comes close to a confirmation in marriage, and the establishment of a Christian home. This is where the young Christian couple must act to:
Seek God’s approval and blessings according to the promise of His Word. Seek parental approval, instructions, directions, and blessings.
Hold fast to the Word of God to lay foundations in their home.
Talk about marriage plans, the husband and wife relationships, sex in marriage, children and the bringing up of children, etc.
It is with the above-mentioned that young people who are in courtship need to add grace upon grace to the beauty of courtship, season it with divine loving kindnesses and tender mercies, and as they draw close to take on the realisation of Genesis 2:24 in their life, they must begin to practice good housekeeping behaviours and attitudes towards courtship, marriage and the family. They must now act to:
C- Communicate about the many spiritual needs and support in courtship, marriage and the family; Commit to be equally yoked together as one in the Lord, and consider one another as we are all sinners saved by the grace of God (Heb. 13:16, Eph. 4:32).
O- set in Orderliness the things according to God’s Word from courtship to marriage life (so that sex does not come before marriage) and they must watch and pray against the attacks of temptations or youthful lusts (Matt.26:41, Luke 21:36). That is because God is a God of order and the life of courtship is to follow the order of God’s design.
U- talk about the exercise of Unity of the Christian faith in courtship, in the worship of God, family and family worship, and many other aspects of the life in courtship and thereafter.
R- Relate the courtship to the LORD, and allow Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, to Regulate the courtship through unto marriage (Ps. 119:105).
T– spend much Time together in courtship to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).
I- Instruct and Interest one another with the love relationship between
Christ and the church (Songs of Solomon) to draw Inspiration to express love in spirit and in truth for one another.
N- Nurture the spirit of Gal. 2:20, “…I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:’’ so that there can be the exercise of humility, patience, endurance, faith, love and hope, and a readiness to sacrifice for the spiritual well-being of each other nd the good of the relationship.
G- finally, God-centeredness must take centre stage and have the pre-eminence over all things in courtship, marriage, and the family.
In conclusion, whether we take reference from the old testament practice of betrothal, or take on the practice of dating and courtship before marriage, we must know that the chief end of man in life and in death is to glorify the LORD our God. It would cover every aspect of our life and that would include the life of dating and courtship that is given to us by the LORD our God.
So, biblical principles must be applied without reservation to ourselves, so that grace, gratitude, and thankfulness may go up to the LORD our God, as a sweet smelling savour of life unto life through Christ who is the one Mediator between God and men.
Written by: Samuel Wee | Issue 46