Should Christians Date? Part I: The Difference Between Courting And Dating

    The process by which unmarried persons of the opposite sex get to know each other has evolved over the years. Modern dating seems to have replaced the courting process that was standard in decades past.

    Many Believers think that Christians should be courting and NOT dating. Others don’t see anything wrong with modern dating as long as there are constraints. Before you formulate your opinion about dating versus courting, let’s take a minute to review the differences between the two:

    What is dating?

    Wikipedia describes dating as a ritual “consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.”

    When I read this definition, this is what sticks out to me:

    • Social encounter
    • Possible intimate relationship

    What is courtship?

    Wikipedia describes courting as a ritual that “precedes (a couples’) engagement and marriage or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement.”

    When I read this definition, this is what sticks out to me:

    • Mutual agreement
    • Purposeful (determining if an engagement/marriage is eminent)

    It seems that modern dating has become more of a sport or hobby and less of a purposeful activity. Unmarried people are engaging in kissing, foreplay, and even sex outside of marriage. The enemy has done a great job at infiltrating the courting process and people now think this behavior is okay!

    Of course, we know that sex outside of marriage is NOT God’s will. But what about dating with limitations? Is that okay?

    Many Christians assert that we are set apart as God’s people and shouldn’t conform to the ways of the world–including dating. These Christians believe that our “courting” process shouldn’t resemble the “dating” process the world uses.

    However, other Christians think that that some social outings and limited physical contact is okay. These Christians believe that dating should be permitted as long as the two people demonstrate restraint in their interactions with one another.

    What do you think? Check back soon for the second article in this series: Should Christians Date? Part II to read what the Bible says about courting versus dating.

    Aysha Ives
    Aysha Ives loves God with her whole heart and has a desire to help hurting people. With a Masters Degree in Psychology, she combines her education and experience with her love for God to help people live whole and fulfilled lives. Aysha is an Author, Mental Health Provider, Youth Church Teacher, and the mother of one gifted little boy whom she absolutely adores. Aysha is honored to be able to share her love of God with Project Inspired readers. Aysha is also the author of God Cares About Your Stuff: How To Believe For Tomorrow When Things Look Utterly, Completely, And Totally Impossible Today, released February 2013- Available at Amazon.


    1. That actually helped me a lot. Thank you. People do think that Christians can’t date because it’s wrong to God. But, to be honest, I’m flat out lost when it comes to dating when you’re a teenager. Can we date? Should we wait to date? Does that mean you can’t get coffee with your guy friend and work on homework in the coffee shop? I’m not even sure.

      • If you or your guy friend have romantic intentions towards each other, no. That kind of thing could encourage the whole dating behavior and such. I hang out with my guy friends in coffee shops but only if I know I don’t have any sort of feelings for them. Or I hang out with them in a group. It is kind of hard because most of my friends are guys though.

    2. I’m still young, so I haven’t had a boyfriend or anything yet, but I know enough to know that I don’t just want to date around and what not, I want to be able to have a relationship. I’m only 13, so I still have a few years. In a relationship, I think its ok to hug, kiss (to an extent), and hold hands, but that’s about as far as Ill go with physical contact before I’m married. When people date just for the heck of it, that bugs me. That’s not really Gods picture of love. It maybe ok to go on maybe a date before you actually enter a relationship to see if you’re compatible,, but that’s about it.

      • Yeah, I find it kind of difficult… because it may seem easy when you don’t have a boyfriend. But when you fall in love with a guy, it’s not so easy anymore to decide what you want to do and what you don´t want to.

      • I have kissed my best friend on occasion as a greeting. I don’t think that was at all wrong or had any motive that was at all impure. Of course, she was a girl. I can’t think of what verse it is, but it says something About how we should treat them, with brotherly love. So think, “Would I do that to my sister in Christ?” If no, I wouldn’t. When I find that verse I’ll post it. 🙂 So, I would hug my friend, rarely ever kiss my friend, and hold my friends hand. I’m sure you think of plenty of things you wouldn’t do to your friend. I think it seems much healthier to get to know someone as a friend in Christ.

    3. I view my body like, say, a cake, that I want to present to my husband on my wedding night. Every time I touch a boy (with romantic feelings/thoughts), I am giving him a taste of that “cake”, even if it’s only a small one. Holding hands, hugging, kissing, and (of course) intimate relations involves a boy romanticly touching my body (thus my “cake”).

      Call it corny and “over the top” if you will, but I think it’s reasonable. I want to save EVERY BIT of myself for the One Man that I will spend the rest of my life with. Just remember- once you give it away, you can’t get it back.

      • I don’t think it’s too over-the-top. For myself, as long as I save that one thing for marriage (and things that are suggestive, like heavy making out, etc.) if I’m serious about the guy (which the guy I’m with I’m pretty sure is the one) then I am okay with doing those small things. But if someone wants to abstain, I’m cheering you on 🙂

    4. Oh, well, in that case, I much prefer courting! 😛 Didn’t know you could be that specific about the wording. The only thing I would be unsure about if it’s really wrong to kiss outside of marriage. I get that when kissing goes far enough to reach make-out territory, that’s not right, but like I think a “regular” kiss (so to speak) is okay if you’re serious about each other, right?

    5. Thank you for writing this! I’ve been researching courting for a while now, and it is what I want to do. Dating when you are young and not ready for marriage can lead to heart ache and impurity. But waiting for the one God brings you will lead to a life of happiness.

    6. I think dating is okay. I know a lot of Christians who date. What my fiance and I did was kind of a cross between courting and dating. We had known each other forever before we ever entered into a relationship, and were together about six months before we got engaged (My grandma saw it coming. She bought us a wedding present when we had been going out for TWO MONTHS).
      We’re okay with kissing (No WAY would I want to wait until our wedding to kiss him! In fact, we kissed on our first official “date”), but we’re waiting until marriage for sex.

    7. I’m 16 and i honestly don’t think i’m ready for dating. Even if i wanted to(which i do), i still don’t feel it’s time. I’m waiting until I’m an adult who has discovered who she is. Where physical intimacy is concerned, i won’t do kissing until my future boyfriend becomes my fiance. Foreplay and Sex will come after marriage when i know in my heart, God has made this man for me. I want my husband to not only be my lover but also my best friend and partner in spiritual battle.

    8. Im 19 and never had a boyfriend and i dont really want one untill im a few years older, i love being on my own and just have fun on my own with God, im not even interested in a relationship and ive never been a girl who falls quickly for a guy, if i would meet a guy he has to work hard for it, i dont like to settle for less when i can have the best, so i just wait for God, i think its important to know that you have to be on your own for awhile before getting married so that you will shape a character:)

    9. My youth leader says “Date with the mindset of courting.” He also says “Don’t date unless you feel you would be okay with getting married in 2 years.” I am almost 16, and I wouldn’t be opposed to getting married once I’m 18 as long as I knew it was the right guy. So if I absolutely knew it was the right guy, I wouldn’t say no, but I’m probably going to wait until college to date and find the right guy 🙂

    10. I think dating itself is way too raunchy. I want to be courted by a man and nothing else. My Father says that dating is practicing for divorce… Who wants that? Courtship is getting to know each other with the purpose of getting married behind it. I myself will never date. But, if other Christians do it, I don’t think it’s a good idea, yet it’s not really a bad thing. I’ve decided to protect myself, and not date at all, but court when I’m ready to get married.

    11. I think that it’s okay if Christians date. You just have to be sure when you enter a relationship, that both of you are clear about your boundaries and aware of them when dating. I don’t see anything wrong with courting. God might point out that that’s the way that a couple should go, and if so, go for it! I just don’t think that that’s the way for me.

    12. I honestly think dating is fine as long as you are being appropriate and modest as a girl and dating at a certain age thats also appropriate and also that both of the people dating are Christians. I don’t think it is necessary to “court”.

    13. Courting vs. dating…I gave up a year ago. What we do is kind of a cross between the two. Right now we can’t go to one another’s houses so it’s all social outings, but both families tag along…which definitely has its upsides and downsides. One upside being, we’re getting to know each other’s families. One downside being, with 7 younger kids around, it’s kinda hard to get to spend time with him myself.

    14. Gahhh if there wasn’t the ridiculous angels/regular members segregation, there are so many dating articles I would submit! There’s a verse in Song of Solomon that says not to arouse or awaken love until it so desires. That’s what I base my thoughts of dating/courtship upon. Courtship is what couples used successfully for centuries to build solid marriages. Courtship is based upon a mutual agreement between two mature persons and their parents to look into marriage in a Christlike manner. Dating, on the other hand, is a modern idea that involves people (especially young people) casually jumping from relationship to relationship–basically, it’s preparation for divorce. Dating is all about what’s in it for the person; courtship is about selflessly giving of yourself for another. So that’s where I stand.
      And don’t even get me started on jr. high/high school dating =]

      *Gets off soapbox*

      • Haha, “*gets off soapbox*”, that’s clever! But yes, I agree with you. I always did feel something wrong with modern dating, but I couldn’t explain it, and we’re taught to think it’s okay (I saw an episode of a sitcom where the parents thought their daughter in the 6th grade was ready to date–but the dad was being protective by spying on her at the same time…my mom and stepdad were like “6th grade? That’s bull.”. I agree with them, 11-12 years old is not mature at all–I’ve been there, it’s very easy to be infatuated with someone at that age–real or not…). Iive always thought of looking for a person with the intent of finding a husband, so dropping the dating thing won’t be hard for me–I’ll stick to courtship.

      • Pray about it. I would just like to say this: every time you kiss a boy, you’re giving away a piece of your heart to him. You might break up with the person, the person who has a piece of your heart. Someday you might get married to another person. But that person doesn’t have your whole heart. Someone else took a piece of it already. Other guys may have even taken more pieces of that heart. What will be left for that husband?

      • That’s a really tricky question…The fact is that my future husband is out there somewhere, and so is yours. Whenever I do anything with a boy, I think, “Would I do this if my husband were standing here?” If the answer is no, I don’t do it. If you were married, would you kiss another man? I know I wouldn’t. If you really think about it, we’re already “married”–even though we haven’t met the guy yet. So that’s where I stand. I always think of the joy I’ll experience, when the first man I’ve ever kissed is my husband on our wedding day =)

        • Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12

          Notice that he says ALL the days of her life, not just after you get married, the heart of your husband is safley trusting you.

    15. There are these two books called I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris and Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh. I’d highly recommend them. They both helped me open my eyes to the truth about dating.
      Love isn’t just feelings, either. It’s a choice. It’s a commitment.

      • In my opinion, dating is fine when your parents give you the OK to do it and when you set up boundaries. I’ve decided to save my first kiss for my wedding day. I told my friends about this – some have been encouraging, others discouraging – and I even found that one of my guy friends is doing the same. It’s such a blessing.

    16. My rule for dating goes like this:
      Does it HURT or GROW your walk with GOD?
      God should always come first in the relationship. If the guy doesnt share your values dont even try to date him because you CANT change him, only god can. Pray for him, be friends with him (only friends!) but thats all you can do. However, if he is christian and shares your values and understands that se.x is for marriage and that only and respects you as a young woman then I think its okay.

    17. Everyone has a different definition on Dating and Courting! To me it’s not so much what you “call it” but rather if your pleasing the Lord through your relationship (whether you call it dating or courting) Just because some people may use the word dating inside of courting don’t think that they are doing something wrong by dating instead of courting. Instead get to know their heart. Are they dating just to feel loved by a guy or are they dating to find a future mate! And I know many of you wanted to know if Kissing outside of marriage is a sin. Now the Bible isn’t pacifically clear on this issue, however it does say that we are suppose refrain from sex until marriage. You see the more steps we take physically the more we are tempted to go all the way! It takes self control. Start out SLOW! Get to know the person first even before you start holding hands. And think of it this way would it bug you if your husband kissed someone other than you. I’m going to wait to kiss a guy until i know for sure he is the guy I’m going to marry. I like the ladies advise to pray about it! Just pray about it, God will show you were you need to draw the line. What are your convictions! And no matter what anyone else says always back it up with scripture. Maybe you should do a personal Bible study on this topic!

    18. I date. Personally, I think that if you and your boyfriend set limits, know what they are, and have a relationship based on faith and God, there’s no issue. Yeah, I’ve had a few messed up relationships because I DIDN’T have it based on faith, and in one of them, I didn’t set limits so much. He pushed me the farthest I would go, which, I’m going to say now, wasn’t sex but it was what I’ll never do again until I’m married. But honestly, I think that dating is okay. You just have to know your limits, have an agreement, and have a relationship based off of God.

    19. Thank you for posting this! I think our generation needs to hear the difference between courting and dating. Also, has anyone read the books “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or “Boy Meets Girl”? They’re really encouraging and convicting. I definitely recommend them!!!

    20. About the kissing question: I once heard that purity is like a cliff. It’s not about how close you can get to the edge before falling off, it’s about staying away from the edge as much as possible to avoid the risk. Whatever boundaries you create are the edge of the cliff. The farther you go, the more likely it is that you will do something you will regret later.

    21. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve always been in favor of courting, though everyone else I know isn’t. Especially my family, regrettably. I’m 16, and my grandmother has been pushing me to date for a long time, even to the point of screaming at me about it. My dad hasn’t been pushing it (obviously, as he is my dad, haha) and mom hasn’t much either, but they think dating in general is far better than any sort of courting. Ergo, since they wouldn’t be behind me on it, it’d be harder for me, I think, since parents usually have a bigger part in the courting process than the dating one.
      Also, I’ve had a bunch of people ask me out before, and they get confused when I say that I think they’re very nice, but that I take relationships seriously. How might I explain to someone in a common way that I’m for courting & not dating? The idea of courting at all seems laughable to many my age, sadly. . .

    22. wow I love this! well said. I agree with many of the posts below. I believe in saving everything, even the first kiss for marriage. Not only do I think it is necessary as God’s children for us to seek after purity, but I also look at it this way… picture your future husband, he’s out there somewhere RIGHT NOW. Personally, I hate the fact that he could RIGHT NOW be dating someone outside of God’s will and doing who knows what with them. My future husband could be making out with some random girl right now. I mean when you get married are you really going to say, “I’m soooo happy that I have all this bagage from dating,” or “Thank the Lord he got to practice kissing all those girls before he got to me.”? . . . I’m a college student and even though the pressures to date are hard to fight, I know that God has the perfect man out there for me and all I have to do is wait on Him to bring him to me 🙂

    23. Girls!!! Im soooo troubled! 🙁 So im waiting with dating my crush (he likes me too)until 16, so I can mature and grow closer to God first… im 14 now… Ive liked him a looonnng time and hes really close to God.. I know him very well and hes a really good guy… He knows my boundaries and I trust that he would never break them! I really really like him!!!! But when we finally do go out… Is it ok to kiss? I mean not like dig in but like as a friendly gesture? How much physical contact is too much? Girls i REALLY need HELP!!!!!! Please comment and pray for me to end up doing the right thing for God! PLZ HELP!!!!

      • Well I say wait for the kissing. Be still, take things slow. since you both like each other y’all are gonna be very tempted, but wait to get into a relationship and once you’re in that relationship wait for the kiss. You should read the previous comments they are really helpful. I am 19 years old (well will b in 1 day lol) and i got quite some things from the posts. i wish i would of been smarter about dating and limits and just relationships in general, but anyways i say just take it slow and if you are not sure about something, as small as it may be, the best thing is not to go for it.

      • It’s okay to kiss! On the first date I’d suggest on the cheek though. Never do anything that would make you uncomfortable. Or better yet, don’t do anything you wouldn’t want God to see! Hope this helps:)

    24. I am 14 years old.I have never dated anyone in my entire life.Yea,I have had crushes , but that didn`t get to me.The Lord is my MAN , why would i be looking for a boy.

      Everytime u got out with someone , u give them a piece of ur heart.I say wait awhlile and be strong .Wait untill u know who u r and wut u want in a husband.

      Can u imagine , God is prepearing ur future husband right now,JUST FOR U. So save ur self.
      Would u rather marry a guy who dated 5 other girls before u ,or one who saved himself for U ?!?!?! i hope this helps 🙂

    25. I made the courtship choice about six months ago and I am currently writing an essay on it. To those interested in courtship I highly recommend the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josuha Harris. I also will save my first kiss for my wedding day. I could go on and on about how much I love the idea of courtship! I must admit though some of my Christian friends make fun of it and think its stupid but to me it is very important. Thank you for this article Aysha!

    26. I think there should be a mix between the two. I think that people in the world have taken dating to far. I don’t think saying you “date” nessisarily means you’re looking for a possible intimate relatonship or that “dating” is bad. I think it depends on you definition of dating. My definition of dating would be speanding time with someone(but with appropriate activity choices!!) to get to know them better as a person and as a possible future spouse. Dating should NOT be getting to know a person just for possible sexual relations. Courting however, I think might put a little to serious if your just getting to know someone. So I think it(dating/courting) should be a mix of the two.

    27. i have decided im ok with dating because of a couple in my church. laura beth and brett. they waited and saved their first kiss till marriage. they didnt date in high school. they both knew that they werent strong enough to save there first kiss at that age.. so i have seen that there is a way to date in a christian way.. so im not sure if ill date or not but i dont see an issue with it once your out of high school and are mature enough to control yourself.
      ps they were on the show true life on the episode “im a newly wed” check it out although they do discuss sex so if your to young i would go watch it.

    28. I think it’s okay to hold hands, hug and kiss, but if the kissing turns into leading on then there should be a red light flashing. It should just be like a friendly kiss that just says “i care about you” or “I love you”. As long as it stays in a range that even little kids can watch.

    29. My parents have a rule about dating that makes me feel safe: i can go on a date, but they have to come, too. i am not angry about that rule at all. i would not want whoever i was dating to try anything.

    30. I’ve always liked the idea of courting and I’m still waiting for a guy who does also. I’d like for him to be serious about a relationship and think about long term rather than immediate satisfaction. My friends, both Christian and non, think that it’s too old fashioned and that it doesn’t exist now a days. Even my mom said it is okay to date for fun and I agree with her. But if a guy and I decided to make our relationship ‘offical’ I don’t want it to end a week or two later! I know I’m still a few years from thinking of marriage, but I would like a relationship that could lead to that. How would I explain that to a guy?

    31. So I’m wondering, how do you know when you are ‘courting’ someone, or they’re courting you? When you’re going out, there’s so many terms for it. It can start with will you go out with me, and then you’re dating. Courting seems desirable, but it also seems hard to know whether it’s happening or not. Of course, I ultimately want to leave it all up to God, but I think learning a little more about it would help. After dating for the first time my freshman year, I think that I sort of found that I didn’t like it, or at least how it culturally works.

    32. I agree that dating is fine as long as you and your boyfriend have set personal limitations and are walking with God and NOT let worldly desires get in the way of that..however I find nothing wrong with courtship either! In fact, I LOVE that idea better than dating! I wouldn’t mind either one, (but preferably I choose courting.) I hope I’ll meet a guy who is absolutely in love with the LORD and is striving to do his best on his walk with Him and give Him glory! We should pray that our future husbands will be like that!(:

    33. I’m still trying to decide on if I’m going to court or date. The thing holding me back is the fact that many people I may be interested in may want to date. I guess It’s a little confusing. But I guess God will bring along the right person for me who will accept me for me, if I date or not. I personally believe that dating with restrictions is okay, but there should be certain restrictions. But I’m still leading to courting being the right thing.

    34. I believe that dating is definitely okay. It’s normal and can be kept “pure”. I was talking to a guy recently who’s parents believed in courting. Well, that’s wasn’t going to work with me so we’re just friends. But his parents are so strict on the topic of girls, he barely has limitations when he’s alone. I think it’s very Amish if I may use that word, and it’s crazy for the year we live in.

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