Etonko Youth Week 2018: Day One – ‘Dating And Courtship’ | Speaker: Min. I. P. Morah

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Day one of Etonko Youth Week 2018: ‘Dating And Courtship

DATING AND COURTSHIP

PREAMBLE
Permit me to bore you with the following shocking statistics, trends and facts derived from census data, and what sociologists, psychologists, marriage planners/counselors and others report:
• 50% of married women and 66% of married men in the U.S. commit adultery (combined, these statistics indicate that five out of six marriages—over 80%—involve at least one adulterous partner).
• Divorces per 1,000 marriages: 1969—140; 1990—380 (up 171%); 1996—451 (up 222% since 1969).
• Compared to first marriages, remarriages are 50% more likely to end in divorce during the first five years, and tend to be unstable, break up more often, and more quickly (Statistics Canada).
• Divorced status in America is the fastest growing marital category. Between 1970 and 1996, the number of divorcees was going from 4.3 million to 18.3 million.
• Consider just these statistics from Britain: In 1972, there were 480,000 couples who chose to marry. By 2001, less than three decades later, only 286,000 weddings took place, even though the population had grown by seven percent.
• In 2005, the number of UK marriages fell to 244,710, a stunning decrease of ten percent compared to 2004 — this drops in just one year. Just since 1986, the number of women choosing to cohabitate has more than doubled, going from 13 to 28 percent. The figures for men are only slightly lower. (Correspondingly, in America, the number of unmarried couples cohabiting increased tenfold from 1960 to 2005.)
All of this describes a world in revolt against the institution of marriage! Greater numbers of people are questioning the institution of marriage every day. Many are concerned with the direction of current trends. Some ponder whether marriage can even survive. Still others get married on their own terms or only on a “trial basis.” Millions simply live together, unmarried—and ever-greater numbers now cohabitate in “same-sex” partnerships.
About 90% of our youth population even those seated before me have lost their virginity before marriage.
If dating and courtship were practiced correctly today, they would form the foundation of a beautiful relationship between a husband and wife as God ordained it. This lesson is rarely taught from our pulpit. Yet it has consistently unleashed havoc on our youth population.

Conceptual clarification
There are a number of inconsistencies in the definitions of dating and courtship. A sampling of opinions reveals a variety of definitions, with seemingly no two alike.
 Some see dating as a synonym to courtship
 Others see dating as a situation where people of opposite sex hangout, socialize and even have carnal experience together with no intention of marrying (sinful) ; while courtship is where people hangout with the purpose of marrying at the end.

Dating
In the simplest form, a date is merely a set time agreed upon by two people to engage in an activity. The most commonly recognized definition is “an appointment for a specified time; especially a social engagement between two persons of opposite sex” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
Dating May occur when two people take part in an activity, such as seeing a movie, having dinner, cooking a meal together or going out to games together. They may talk on the phone and exchange text messages, e-mails, flowers and letters. This does not take place unsupervised, and no physical contact is required.

Courtship
Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other. This is usually under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage.(Proverbs3:5–7;Romans 12:9–10).

The Difference between Dating and Courtship

Intended Outcome
 Dating couples may not have any specific expectations for their relationship but those courting have the intention to become engaged and get married.
 Dating tries to answer the question, how can I find the one who will make me happy? Courtship strives to answer the question, How can I honor God and discern His direction regarding my life partner?
Exclusivity
Dating has less commitment, and one can date many people at a time, but deciding to court a person is a serious commitment that is considered a pre-engagement. The couple is exclusive and monogamous. They do not go on dates with anyone else but this may not be the case in dating.

Parental Opinion
May not be needed in dating, as most of it is secretive but courtship usually requires the permission of both people’s parents.

Accountability to Authorities
In a dating relationship, there is little if any accountability for the couple and little or no interaction with family members and often pursues an exclusive relationship that is independent of others’ influence or counsel. A couple participating in courtship seeks the accountability of their parents or other mentors. As they establish guidelines for their relationship, they can more easily recognize that God also holds them responsible to honor one another. Receiving God’s grace and the support of others strengthens them to maintain their commitment to purity.

Exposure to Temptation
In a dating relationship, self-gratification is normally the basis of the relationship. Instead of focusing on God’s pleasure, the couple is often looking for personal pleasure. This oblivious self-centeredness can lead only to dissatisfaction, promoting an attitude of lust (taking what I want) rather than the Scriptural attitude of love (giving unselfishly to others).Consequently, dating opens the door to many temptations. If defrauding (stirring up desires that cannot be righteously satisfied) occurs, the couple can foolishly and tragically give away both emotional and physical affections that should have been reserved for a life partner. Thus, in a dating relationship, frequently intimacy precedes commitment.
A courting couple can evade numerous temptations by the choice to be held accountable to God-given authorities. The dangers of defrauding can be avoided more successfully, and an honest, open friendship can be nurtured and protected. Thus, in courtship, commitment precedes intimacy.

Focus on God’s Kingdom
Since one of the most important decisions we will make is the decision of marriage, we should make every effort to know and do God’s will in this area. A dating relationship is usually based only on what the dating couple presently knows about each other. In contrast, a Biblical courtship is based on what God knows about each partner and on His plans for their futures.
Jesus gave this instruction with a promise: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). When a person makes a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ the foundation of all decisions—as he or she seeks God’s kingdom—God will provide all that is needed, including the marriage partner prepared by God just for that person. (See Proverbs 18:22, 19:14.)

Discussion
Can a Christian youth go into dating and courtship?
The answer is yes.
Dating, followed by courtship, is supposed to lead to a happy marriage. But marriage cannot be happy if it is not built on the right foundation. Most couples have no idea that the foundation of a successful marriage begins long before the wedding day. In addition, a direct by-product of the wrong foundation is that most people have no idea how to select the right mate.
Dating and courtship are stages of marriage, and any youth who is having the intention to marry must experience them. This statement is made with the assumption that we understand the true meaning of dating from Gods point of view. A Christian youth is one who will ask him/herself in every engagement: what will Christ do given the same circumstance? In other words, how will Christ date or court a fellow Christian sister?

Right dating/courtship
 In dating many young people are brought together to do some activities and discover the skills, abilities, attitudes and character of one another without any physical emotional contact.
 The group may be large.
 It is a forum of social interaction.
 A person is allowed to have as many dates as possible to have wide variety of choices.
 When two people of opposite sexes must be together alone it must be in the open, not in an enclosure.
 There must be no emotional attachment at this stage
 Courtship is when a person is beginning to narrow to one person that close attention is to be given.
 It requires much activity together but under supervision of parents or mentor.
 It is here that the couple decides whether they can go into marriage or not.
 Remember no emotional commitment is attached else termination of process will bring about hurt feelings.
 Whether dating or courting parents’ permission is needed.

This means that dating is not what the world see it as period of fun, get to know other people, have a girlfriend or boyfriend, have sex, pleasure, find companionship, defeat loneliness, etc. Some of these reasons are fine, but obviously some are not! (EPH.5:3; ROM.6:13; 1 COR.6:18; 2 COR. 12:21)
Recognize how society has developed over the past century. Both the “dating scene” and dating practices have changed dramatically! A brief look at recent history shows that times and morals have undergone a drastic change.
In those days if a young man wanted to date a young woman, he would first ask her father for permission, and at some point ask if he could “court” her. Of course, the prevalent attitude then was that “sex is shameful,” making fornication and its tragic results much less frequent.
At that time, happier, committed marriages were much more common than today. This is because people generally had much more character than those of the modern age. And this was true even though most people then also did not know how to select the right mate.
As the century turned, a new picture slowly emerged. Even yet, young people still understood clearly-defined limits. At this point in history, a couple might have shared a short kiss, but only after their interest was serious or they had become engaged. This is in sharp contrast to the widespread idea of “no limits” followed by couples today, where “fooling around”—“making out, necking” or “heavy petting”—and sexual relations are the norm, long before couples are inclined to consider, let alone entertain, the thought of lifelong commitment.
Society continued changing even more rapidly as the century developed. Many new books, magazines and other publications discussing and describing sex became available, and people began to throw off the restraints of prudery. By the 1950s, a “new morality” had arrived, and with it came the jump from the ditch of prudery to the opposite ditch of permissiveness.
Dating is now a practice that almost immediately involves sexual intimacy. Many today disdain—or, again, have not even heard of—the concept of courting. Teenage morality has dropped to its lowest point in history—with no apparent end in sight to the worsening trend.
Of course, society today flaunts sex in everything. The effects are so far-reaching that a return to modesty would almost instantly collapse the economy. Advertising would change overnight, as would the clothing industry. Thousands of Internet companies would declare bankruptcy, as would advertising agencies, now completely unequipped to offer a different way. The music industry would fold as we know it, and the change in movies and television would make the whole entertainment industry almost unrecognizable.
Why Christians get involved in worldly dating and courting.
i. No government legislation against it. (Society does not disapprove of it). Government or society/culture is not a standard for what is right or wrong but God. Where there are disagreements we listen to God. Act 5: 29
ii. Bible does not say anything about dating or courtship. This is untrue, because in Exo. 22:16 any man who seduces a virgin and have sexual relationship with her before marriage was required to pay the father of the girl and in addition marry her if the father approves (EPH.5:3; ROM.6:13; 1 COR.6:18; 2 COR. 12:21).
iii. It enables couples to know whether they are compatible. You do not need to live in sin before you know whether you are compatible.
iv. Many people are doing it. A practice is not right or wrong because of the number of people involved in it. God often opposes the majority. Exo. 23:2; Matt. 7:13-14.
v. It is better to stick to one partner. Fornication is still a sin whether committed with one or many people.

Effects of wrong dating
i. Spiritual dead
ii. Delays marriage.
iii. Women are the most affected.
iv. Leads to unwanted pregnancies/abortion/diseases
v. Children born outside marriage suffer severely.
Way forward/conclusion
The church should organize workshops/counseling section to sanitize members on proper way of marrying and suggest marriage.

Brother Ita, Peter Morah (Minister)
Servant at Church of Christ,
21 Atimbo Village,
Akpabuyo

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