Our young people minister locally, all over the country, and, quite often, in other parts of the world. They do this with other young people and outside the structure and protection of their parents. We have only been able to do this without moral issues and failures because we ask them to have a “courtship spirit.”
WHAT IS A COMMITMENT TO COURTSHIP?
IT IS A COMMITMENT TO DO THE WILL OF GOD IN REGARD TO THE OPPOSITE GENDER.
Courtship, as we use the term, simply refers to a right relationship with the opposite gender. It is not a biblical term, but it is used by Christians to refer to a proper biblical relationship with members of the opposite gender. Sometimes, it has a narrower meaning and refers to the process which precedes engagement and marriage, in which emotional and physical intimacy is guarded as the man and the woman seek to discover whether marriage is God’s will (see I Corinthians 7:1-16). Another way to describe this process is “dating with a purpose.”
IT IS A COMMITMENT TO FIVE BIBLICAL TRUTHS.
Courtship is based on biblical truths. Without an understanding and commitment to these truths, courtship is a shallow, and often temporary, exercise. These truths are:
1. The exclusiveness of the marriage relationship (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:6)
2. That God has a plan for every believer, including marriage (Ephesians 2:10)
3. The sovereignty of God to carry out His purposes (Romans 8:31-39)
4. The role of authorities in our lives to help discern the will of God (Romans 13:1-7, Ephesians 6:1-3)
5. Our need to live by faith and our tendency to say no to God (Romans 12:1-2)
IT IS A COMMITMENT THAT MAKES THREE IMMEDIATE ENEMIES.
Our own flesh (Galatians 5:17), the world (I John 2:15-17), and Satan (I Peter 5:8) are all opposed to God, His will, and His glory. Like any commitment that is made to honor and glorify God in our lives, a commitment to courtship becomes a major target of God’s enemies.
It is a commitment not to entangle oneself with members of the opposite gender. Instead, it is a commitment to let the Lord entangle us—as He would, when He would, if He would.
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” – II Timothy 2:4
“And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit; but the one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” – I Corinthians 7:34-35
Singleness is not presented as just an acceptable alternative to marriage for a Christian. Rather, it is presented as the preferable of the two. Prior to marriage, our ability to serve the Lord and accomplish much for Him is a function of our freedom from emotional and physical entanglements. A commitment to courtship opens doors of service for Christ that are closed to those who never make one (Luke 9:23-24).
WHAT THEN, IS A COURTSHIP SPIRIT?
Such a spirit is found among believers who have made these commitments to pursue God’s best in regard to the opposite gender. There is freedom, when such a spirit prevails, to minister and fellowship together as boys and girls, men and women. It allows us to send our young people to serve and minister together with others who possess such a spirit. Without it, many parents would not and should not be willing to let their sons and daughters participate in events outside the family structure.
It only takes one uncommitted person to change the spirit of a group. However, we know that such a courtship spirit is required for purity and power and fruitfulness.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23
WHAT ARE THE EVIDENCES OF HAVING A COURTSHIP SPIRIT?
THE FOCUS IS ON DEEPENING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST.
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” – Colossians 2:2-3
Courtship is a wonderful way to please the Lord Jesus Christ. We have learned that it is not possible for us to have two emotional focuses (see Matthew 6:24). When we are preoccupied with our delight in another person, we must necessarily stop thinking about and seeking the Lord with our whole heart. Our mind is occupied. Our emotions are occupied. Our will is choosing to focus on that person.
But when we have a courtship spirit, our interest in other people is the Lord’s interest in them through us. Our time with them is at His direction, and our responses to them are according to His will (John 5:30).
THE CHALLENGE IS TO STAND BY GOD’S ENABLING GRACE.
A spirit of pride or condemnation of others who have not made such commitments will expose a person who is trying to keep a courtship commitment in their own strength. The Christian life is not hard. It is impossible! Only as we learn to live WITH Christ—rather than FOR Christ—can we keep the commitments we make to God.
A humble approach and a genuine acceptance of weaker and immature brothers and sisters will always accompany a powerful courtship spirit.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:3
THE LESSONS BEING LEARNED ARE VALUABLE TO EVERY BELIEVER.
The real lessons of courtship are not how to find your life partner or how to keep yourself pure and useful. The real lessons concern living the Christian life victoriously. Some of these lessons are:
1. Learning the power of contentment (I Timothy 6:6).
2. Learning the secrets of life from death to self (John 12:24-25), freedom through slavery to Christ (John 8:31-36, Romans 6:16), and spiritual power through personal weakness and brokenness (II Corinthians 12:7-10).
3. Learning to pray with kingdom authority (John 15:16).
4. Learning to adjust to the indwelling Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
5. Learning the power of submission to God-ordained authority (Romans 13:1-7).
Those believers who possess a courtship spirit will be learning these lessons. Their efforts and progress will be evident to all, because a commitment to courtship allows God to expose the limits of our faith in Him and our love for Him (James 1:2-4).
THE FRUIT IS PERSONAL, RELATIONAL, AND GENERATIONAL.
A courtship spirit produces lasting fruit in the life of a person who possesses it. The personal sacrifices required by such a commitment help produce Christ-like character, biblical wisdom, and spiritual power. When a believer does his or her best in the pursuit of God’s best for his or her life, God promises that lasting fruit will be the result (I Corinthians 3:10-14). Such commitments to God’s design result in strong marriages and can influence many generations of descendants to follow God’s ways.
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” – II Chronicles 16:9
HAVE YOU MADE A COMMITMENT TO GOD’S BEST FOR YOUR LIFE IN THIS AREA?
“I know that God has a plan for my life regarding marriage. I know that He will use my parents to protect me from deception in this area and to help me discover God’s will and timing. Therefore, I purpose to guard my heart and follow the cautions and instructions of my parents regarding members of the opposite gender.”