Dating courtship and betrothal

Parental authorization and guidance appears in all to varying degrees. A purpose of considering marriage is present or implied in all. A degree of readiness for marriage is stated or implied. Some stress investigation while others stress the cultivation of romance. There are numerous minor differences but only a few major ones.

The most obvious major difference is that between "courtship" and "betrothal", yet even here the root of the difference comes down to the same few key areas that differentiate one courtship teaching from another. While universally acknowledging the importance of a parental role, the role advocated varies widely. The more youth-led approaches are prone to treat parents as only one set of many counselors, who sometimes should be ignored in favor of other wiser, or more godly counselors. When parents are non-Christians, some argue that no parental approval should be required concerning either the person selected or the timing of marriage.

With the parent-led approaches, parental approval is usually sought whatever the spiritual condition of parents.

Getting Married: Dating? Courtship? Betrothal?

Parents are encouraged to talk to other parents of "prospects," and sometimes initially propose a courtship to their son or daughter. However, none teach that a courtship or betrothal should take place without the agreement of the young people involved. Also, to the extend parents are able and willing, they are expected to do some initial investigation of the "candidate" and his or her family prior to agreeing to a courtship.

Thereafter, they actively guide and supervise the courtship process, including ending the courtship when it seems advisable. The differences in choosing relate to the degree to which one seeks direction from the Lord, versus makes the decision solely on the basis of careful investigation and wisdom. For example, the Barths put much emphasis on seeking to hear from the Lord, but also validating guidance through careful investigation and not rushing to a decision.

On the other hand, Thompson does not believe God provides guidance in matters such as these, and so would have you solely rely on the teachings of Scripture and the application of Scriptural principles by wisdom. Those teaching more of a youth-directed approach speak mostly of finding candidates at Bible school, at church groups for college or singles, or at work or ministry activities.

All of the teachers are concerned about emotional purity as well as physical purity.

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The ideal is to avoid giving yourself emotionally to someone other than your future spouse. The differences concern when and under what conditions emotional involvement should be allowed or even encouraged. Thompson similarly would restrict emotional involvement until betrothal, but would risk unapproved emotional involvement occurring during the courtship process.

Though the intent is to guard hearts and hold back emotionally until after the decision is made, this does not always work. Other teachers would allow or even encourage a gradually growing emotional involvement during courtship. To avoid the risk of defrauding in a courtship relationship, they advise: All are concerned about temptation in this realm and being careful not to stoke passions before their time. Also early physical involvement risks clouding ones judgment. Some, such as Thompson and Lindvall, urge absolutely no physical contact before marriage.

Others seem to support the same but without so strong an insistence. Still others are more receptive to some physical shows of affection prior to marriage, while being careful not to encourage lust or temptation towards fornication. Harris urges couples to set their own boundaries wisely, considering that some may be more or less affected by different physical shows of affection. The Myers did something similar but decided to kiss for the first time at their engagement.

Dating, Courtship, & Scriptural Betrothal

Raunikar, in dealing with older and previously married couples, is less strict in his advice in this area, mentioning some possible kissing even prior to engagement. Jonathan Lindvall teaches an approach that he calls betrothal. He believes this is the Biblical pattern and a much better safeguard against defrauding than courtship - whether due to the young people or the parents breaking off the relationship.

Many reading the book lightly will doubtless judge the offered solution — that even older, more traditional idea of betrothal — as archaic and unworkable in modern society. I encourage you to plod on, as insight awaits the patient reader.

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The opening chapters focus on a dating relationship between the main character and a casual girlfriend. Talk of their mutual sexual interest dominate in the early going. The sexual theme remains prominent throughout the book and, again unfortunately, may bias many readers against the proposed solution of betrothal. Further, since this sexual interest is abiding it will immediately impact any possible relationship between the potential man and woman. The word "fiance" actually comes from the scriptural word betroth. The Oxford Universal Dictionary , page Plighting of faith; especially of troth on agreement of marriage.

To promise; especially in marriage. To take as one's betrothed. Yes, when a couple were betrothed, they were considered husband and wife, and they needed a bill of divorcement in order to depart from one another. For example, let's look at Joseph and Mary's situation, when Christ Jesus was yet in her belly. Scripture plainly says that Mary was Joseph's wife Matthew 1: But at the same time, she was betrothed to him: Mary was betrothed to Joseph In other words, a divorce was required to break off a betrothal, because she was his wife! Joseph thought that Mary had slept with another man, and that's why he was thinking of divorcing her, but an angel showed Joseph that she was conceived by the Holy Ghost Matthew 1: Lest anyone question whether a betrothed girl is a wife: Their marriage was not yet consummated.

However, the marriage was not yet consumated. Or do they stay at home with their parents? I would have to say they do not live together, but they stay with their respective parents during betrothal. The reason is because scripture says that the reason a man leaves his father and mother is to cleave to his wife and become one flesh Genesis 2: The term "one flesh," between a man and woman, means to have sex.

Therefore, it would seem that the betrothed couple would not leave their parents until they are ready to consummate their marriage by becoming one flesh with each other.


No sex between the couple was aloud during betrothal. It was customary among the Jews during betrothal to leave the husband and wife in the houses of their respective parents. When the bridegroom had made proper preparations i. The provisions in Deuteronomy This is why soldiers were allowed to go home and consummate the marriage. He is to be free at home for the purpose of giving cheer and gladness to his wife whom he has taken.

Some General Thoughts

How long betrothal lasted was between the husband's family and the wife's family. The betrothal period itself would last for different periods of time, depending upon what the families agreed upon. Sometimes it was short, sometimes it was long. Sometimes they would get married immediately, like David did to Abigail and Ahinoam 1 Samuel Sometimes it would last one month Deuteronomy For example, the agreement between Laban the father of Rachel and Jacob who wanted to marry Rachel was that they were to be betrothed for seven years , and Jacob had to work for him during this time.

But, after seven years, Laban broke his agreement with him and gave Jacob his firstborn daughter, Leah, instead. However, Laban said he would give him Rachel if he worked for him another seven years. So, Jacob worked another seven years for Rachel, and after another seven years, he married the girl of his dreams.