Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


The Basics of Courtship

So, courtship: what is it and how do you do it? I always thought Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account of her courtship with Almanzo was particularly charming, but since I don’t plan on teaching a one-room schoolhouse anytime soon, and I don’t foresee my future husband owning a horse and buggy, I might be out of luck in that department. Still, while every courtship will look different, there are a few principles that should remain the same throughout. It is especially important to keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish through courtship: “The purpose of courtship is to determine a couple’s readiness for marriage and to discern the will of God for a covenant marriage that will benefit the world. While the actual manifestation of a courtship relationship will vary because no two couples are alike, one of the primary motivations behind courtship (as opposed to dating) is the protection of the emotions of those involved until the time when it is clearly God’s will to proceed into marriage[1].”

Why do I need to be concerned with courtship if I don’t have any prospects for the near future?
Courtship is a way of life. Before courtship, you should already be purposefully avoiding a dating mentality. Close friendships with the opposite sex is always a dangerous prospect. I was never a fan of the common advice for girls to “treat other guys like brothers” or guys to “treat other girls like sisters.” Such a relationship would be much too familiar for me. However, the light bulb came on when one wise woman commented, “I tell my children to treat the opposite sex like they are married.” Think about how married people interact with each other, and then remember that the majority of your single friends will eventually be married. Your familiarity and flirtations with them now are just as reprehensible as they would be if the person was married. So strive to spend your single years preparing for marriage and serving God—not scoping out the prospects or trying to get to know any particularly promising selections better.

Does the girl have any say in who she courts?
Of course she does! The guy initiates the relationship as the beginning of his leadership in the home. He goes through his parents and then asks permission of the girl’s parents, though, demonstrating his willingness to remain under authority. Proverbs 1:8-9 reiterates the importance of this principle: "My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck." He is working through the chain of authority in a way that God will bless. After all these people seek God’s will on the relationship, the girl still has the final decision—made seeking God and her parent’s counsel, of course. A man may seem to have all the perfect qualities, and yet still not be who God wants for her.

So, how do I know whom to court or marry?
What He Must Be by Voddie Baucham is absolutely essential reading material for any man or woman—single or married! Begin seeking the Lord now for qualities that are essential in a partner and start making a list of questions for the young man. This is not a compilation of random desireables…6’4”…dark…handsome…John Piper has an excellent list of questions that truly matter--many of which I may never have thought of--to get you started. Similarly, the young man can begin keeping a list of qualities he desires in a wife. Don’t forget to pray for your future spouse! This is an amazing step towards keeping everything in perspective and remembering that God is ultimately in charge. When you are truly seeking God and working with your parents, God will direct. "When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things (Proverbs 2:10-12)."

What does the actual courting process look like?
You still must take care to guard your heart while courting. Both of you should be getting to know each other for the purpose of marriage, but there is still the chance that the courtship may not progress to marriage. While every couple is different, most choose to spend much of their time getting to know each other in the setting of their family. Physical interaction is limited, and all this is done to allow the couple to unify as one spiritually—the most important facet of a relationship—before unifying emotionally and physically.

Is courting the same as engagement?
Although everyone has different names for the stages of a relationship, engagement can and should be distinguished from courtship. It shows the couple’s public commitment to each other to actively pursue a covenant marriage for the glory of God. This is the time that the couple can draw to each other emotionally—but the physical still waits for marriage.

If courtship is a foreign concept to you, these small guidelines may seem overwhelming. If, on the other hand, you are committed to courtship, you may notice key differences between how you plan to court and how I have described the process. Ultimately, however, the principles of every courtship remain the same—proceeding through a God-given authority to begin a pure relationship for the purpose of marriage.
I can’t wait for you all to read the next installment in this series—a personal testimony of a Godly courtship from a dear friend of mine!

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."


  1. I agree absolutely! Your post was very well thought out. It gives a good summary of courtship, but is general enough to allow each individual to be led by God and their own family guidelines. We are reading Voddie Baucham's book as a family and are greatly enjoying it. I am so thankful there are so many godly people who have thought through the process in a biblical, God honoring manner. It gives us young people a good foundation on which to build our convictions around issues like courtship.

  2. Another great post! I was encouraged and overwhelmed by the list John Piper had made up. But its great list of things to ponder and think about!

  3. I'm so glad you felt that way, Charae--that is exactly what I was striving for: a firm exposition of the vision of courtship, but not a list of rules. And isn't that list amazing, Rebecca? Many of those I never would have thought of--like "where will you buy your clothes". But these can be important things to discuss before marriage!

  4. Great post Mikaela! I love the second point you made and that is exactly how I have always viewed guy/girl relationships... as if they were already married. Great post :)
    Love and Blessings, <3


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