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From Courting to Dating - History and Ramifications

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History offers us valuable information to see where we've come from and where we're at in the path leading from being single to a marital relationship. Wisdom dictates that we discern the difficulties …

History offers us valuable information to see where we've come from and where we're at in the path leading from being single to a marital relationship. Wisdom dictates that we discern the difficulties and dangers associated with today's dating scenarios.


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  • 1. From Courting to Dating The history, ramifications, and discernment regarding courtship and dating.
  • 2. Introduction
    • Man can learn a lot from history.
      • Value comes when reflecting on the good/bad examples set before us and how we learn from them.
      • It gives us a barometer between our actions and the standard of God’s word.
      • It provides for us the opportunity to employ wisdom to our current walk in life (making better anything that is lacking).
  • 3. Introduction
    • Through the history of courtship – Christians can discern and employ a practice in the transition from being single into a biblically blessed marriage.
    • This lesson will focus on:
      • Historical path of courting and dating.
      • Note difficulties, concerns, and temptations when faced under certain circumstances.
    • Next lesson: Promoting (attitude) and practicing what will bring about fruit for a blessed marriage.
  • 4. History Of Courting and Dating
      • “ Any gal that got a bed, calico dress, coffee pot and skillet, knows how to cut out britches and can make a hunting shirt, knows how to take care of children can have my services till death do us part.”
    • - Batesville News, Arkansas, 1841?
  • 5. History Of Courting and Dating
    • Colonial times (up till the 1840s). Gen. 24
      • New towns, farming, movement out west, low life expectancy necessitated large families.
  • 6. History Of Courting and Dating “ A young lady residing in one of the small towns of Central New York, is desirous of opening a corre-spondence with some young man in the West, with a view to a matrimonial engagement . . . She is about 24 years of age, possesses a good moral character, is not what would be called handsome, has a good disposition, enjoys good health, is tolerably well-educated, and thoroughly versed in the mysteries of house-keeping.” Waterloo, Iowa, newspaper in 1860
  • 7. History Of Courting and Dating
    • Colonial times (up till the 1840s). Gen. 24
      • New towns, farming, movement out west, low life expectancy necessitated large families.
      • Children grew up knowing each other very well (church; other local activities): males courted in the parlor of the female home.
  • 8. History Of Courting and Dating “ Much of the customs of courtship during the Colonial times revolved around rational needs and not lust (Cate & Lloyd, 1992). A man was only able to marry when he could support a family with his income and possessions. Many believed that love developed only after a marriage progressed and not before. Nevertheless, this quickly changed during the 1800s when love started to become important. The love referred to, however, was not romantic love for romantic love was seen as childish. Instead, couples sought openness and sincerity in a mate (Cate & Lloyd, 1992).”
  • 9. History Of Courting and Dating
    • Colonial times (up till the 1840s). Gen. 24
      • New towns, farming, movement out west, low life expectancy necessitated large families.
      • Children grew up knowing each other very well (church; other local activities): males courted in the parlor of the female home.
      • Minimal parental interference, social norms dictated morally pure relationships prior to marriage (1770s aberration: out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate at 30%).
  • 10. History Of Courting and Dating
    • 1840s-1900.
      • Gender roles between men and women lead to formal roles regarding courtship (notice the separation of men/women even in church services).
  • 11. History Of Courting and Dating
      • “ The importance of romance spurned from the need of the woman to ensure her financial security since women relied almost entirely on their husbands economically. Women would even test their new suitors to see if their suitors would remain loyal to them, regardless of the circumstances. These tests included feigning illness, family disapproval, and possibly even breaking off the relationship (Cate & Lloyd, 1992).”
  • 12. History Of Courting and Dating
    • 1840s-1900.
      • Gender roles between men and women lead to formal roles regarding courtship (notice the separation of men/women even in church services).
      • Purity during this time were generally of utmost importance.
      • Romantic love began to be central in the courtship leading to marriage.
  • 13. History Of Courting and Dating
    • Early 1900s – Transition from courtship to dating.
      • Among the poor: many began living in city apartments or smaller homes without parlors leading the courtship from the home to public gatherings.
      • The rich liked the idea of “going out” and began following this “exciting” public courtship custom.
      • These “public” outings also lead to private getaways… and sexual encounters.
  • 14. History Of Courting and Dating
      • “ This experimentation (public dating, MD) developed out of a need of sexual fulfillment during marriage. One requirement was, though, that the woman only have sexual relations with the man she intended to marry (Cate & Lloyd, 1992).”
  • 15. History Of Courting and Dating
    • Today’s “dating”.
      • Dating, generally, transitioned from a philosophy of seeing if their partner would make for a good spouse. This was a “try and see” practice.
  • 16. History Of Courting and Dating
      • “ Today, adolescents consider dating to be a fun activity that is not so much delegated by authority figures. Young adolescents often “date” in the sense of becoming boyfriend and girlfriend and these relationships are usually short in duration (Feiring, 1996). These relationships are also frequently intense emotionally in that the couple will see and talk to each other daily.”
  • 17. History Of Courting and Dating
    • Today’s “dating”.
      • Dating, generally, transitioned from a philosophy of seeing if their partner would make for a good spouse. This was a “try and see” practice.
      • The dating scene has moved more into a fun activity, while some relationships evolve into a serious courtship.
  • 18. Difficulties, Concerns, Temptations
    • The purpose of looking at the history of courtship and dating. Cp. 1 Cor. 10:6
      • To see the philosophical shift from necessity to romance to fun activity.
      • More importantly, to see the moral implications behind the courtship practices during the various courtship eras.
      • To note current difficulties, concerns and temptations in today’s dating scene.
  • 19. Difficulties, Concerns, Temptations
    • Current difficulties with the dating scene:
      • Dating leads to intimacy without the commitment. Cp. Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39
      • Constant breaking of relationships not necessarily a healthy pattern for commitment.
      • Temptations for couples left alone. 2 Tim. 2:22
      • Double standard (kissing, intimacy): without the marriage covenant. Cp. Matt. 1:19
      • High teenage pregnancy & illicit sexual relations correlation with the method of courting that is practiced today.
  • 20. Conclusion
    • The modern concept of courting is foreign to history and especially the Bible.
    • It is time for Christians to learn from history and discern how dangerous (and potentially destructive) our modern practice of dating can be for our Christian children.
    • Tonight, we look at ways to promote a healthy practice of courtship to better equip our children for biblically blessed marriages.