All About DATING and COURTSHIP(INTRODUCTION & CHAPTER ONE)
Countless millions of shattered families began with wrong dating habits. These habits made proper courtship impossible. And the results have been tragic. The almost universal effects of modern dating demonstrate widespread ignorance, even on the most basic points of right dating. Almost no one understands the real purpose of dating or of the courtship that can ensue. The next step, achieving a happy marriage, then also becomes impossible. There is a right way to date! What is it? And there are right and wrong people to date. How can you know the difference? It is time to unlearn the wrong principles, acquired from society—and to learn and apply God's true principles, leading to happy marriages and families! Presenting God's perspective, this book reveals those principles.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
* Chapter One – DATING TODAY
* Chapter Two – A FATAL MIXTURE
* Chapter Three – LUST AND INFATUATION—THE WRONG FOUNDATION
* Chapter Four – ESTABLISHING THE RIGHT FOUNDATION
* Chapter Five – TRUE LOVE—AND HOW IT RELATES TO DATING
* Chapter Six – THE PURPOSE OF DATING
* Chapter Seven – THE ART OF DATING
* Chapter Eight – ADVANCING TO COURTSHIP
* Conclusion – NOW THAT YOU ARE ENGAGED
The world is ignorant of almost every right value that produces the right results all people seek. While everyone wants to be happy—and assumes that following the established norm is the right way to achieve happiness—most remain miserable and never know why. This is especially true in the world of modern dating.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.
Just what is dating? A sampling of opinions reveals a variety of definitions, with seemingly no two alike. 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).
What about courtship? Most know little or nothing of this lost art, and many no longer know—let alone use—the term. Those few who do, know virtually nothing about the principles of courtship—or its true purpose. As a result, if two people are “dating,” this could mean they have dated only twice, yet have become interested in pursuing marriage. Even if both were serious, and technically courting from this point (this is often the case today after just two dates), most would still refer to this as dating.
In fact, there is no common understanding of just what dating and courtship are, or the plain difference between the two—and there is a big difference!
Also, because it sounds too “official” and “old-fashioned,” teenagers today rarely even use the term “dating.” The idea of a date—when a man formally asks a woman, for instance, if she would accept an engagement for dinner—is nearly non-existent. Many simply slip or tumble into dating situations, seemingly not caring how this happens, or even what happens. Instead, they seem more concerned with “going with the flow.” Yet, you should care! Too much is at stake not to. There are many important principles behind dating that one must consider in order to successfully date—and be able to eventually move on to the more serious courtship and pursuit of marriage. You must have a means of knowing if or when you have found that special person. There are specific processes involved in proper dating that will help lead you down the right path.
When was the last time you either heard or used the word “courting”? Again, this term is very rarely used in society today, and most do not have any idea what it really means. Webster's states that courting is “to engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage.” Most would reply, “But isn't that dating?” The answer is no. Courting is a separate but important and intricate part of the process pointing toward and leading to marriage. Therefore, you must also come to understand and apply the right way to court.
And then there are those who may want to date, court and marry for the second time. Of course, some lose a spouse to death. Many others, having already established a pattern of marital failure, hope to do better “the second time around.” But no one is telling them how to do better. Wounded, and perhaps feeling burned, many stumble into a “rebound” relationship, often choosing the exact same kind of person they just left behind! These people need guidance as well, and this book offers it.
There are many manuals available, written from the human perspective, on how to date, court and find a mate. And there seems to be no end of sociologists, psychologists, marriage counselors and others considered to be experts, who are only too willing to offer what are no more than the opinions of people. This book does not merely present my perspective—my view—of the subject. That would be of no more worth than so many others.
Consider the intensifying debate about the status and legal recognition of same-sex couples. The United States and other Western countries are caught in the middle of a conflict—an outright war—over whether homosexual partners should be granted marriage licenses. In America, civil unions have already been permitted for some time in certain states. As the battle lines continue to form, the U.S. President and his allies are pursuing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. Frustrated that “the courts are defining marriage” for the whole country, he stated that “marriage should be defined by the people.”
But is this true? Is it really “the people” who have devised the institution of marriage? Should “the people” decide who and what constitutes a marriage? If so, then is it also human beings who should define the traditional means of selecting a mate pursuant to this goal?
The answer to all these questions is an emphatic “NO!”
Let's be clear. While religionists and theologians assume that this is God's world, it is not! Let me repeat, this is not God's world—it does not reflect His Way. Its customs, beliefs, values, philosophies, traditions and practices are not of God. But God is calling—and working with—a small number of people, whom He is training for a very special purpose. Who and how one chooses to date, which can lead to courtship and marriage, is inseparable from this purpose.
This book is far more than another manual containing dating “tips” or “helpful hints.” What you will read here reveals what God has to say on the matter. What people may say or do—and the “will of the people”—is irrelevant and usually just plain wrong! It is God's perspective—His view—that offers the way to everything good in life.
God intends that every human being enjoy a happy marriage. This is directly tied to whom and how one dates—and courts—prior to marriage!
In order to fully grasp the many principles that apply to dating, courtship, engagement and marriage, much foundation must first be laid. Be patient with the need to establish the right framework. It is essential to appreciating—to truly comprehending—all that follows. The reader makes a big mistake by skipping over or skimming through any early portions of this book in search of “specifics” describing what should happen on a date. If this is your interest—if you are merely looking for “keys,” “tips” or “good ideas”—this book is not for you. While it does contain, later in the book, a great many specific points for application, these latter chapters simply cannot be properly applied without first understanding the vital backdrop of the preceding chapters.
A word to parents and teens: Parents, this book can be absolutely invaluable to you in training and preparing your children throughout the years preceding the eligible age of marriage—if you use it! Teenagers, this book will also guide you—and will protect you from endless, and usually unseen, traps and pitfalls. Read it. Study it. Adhere to it. You will be enormously glad you did!
All About DATING and COURTSHIP is truly different, and applying its contents could change your life forever!
Chapter One –
Why do you need to learn more about dating and courting? Is this not something people just pick up from others and “learn as they go”? Is there a right and wrong way of dating or, like learning to walk or ride a bike, can people just naturally figure it out as they experience it?
The cold, hard facts are that today's standards of dating, courting and engagement are wrong—all wrong!
But how can I say this? All you need do is look at the astonishing array of ill effects to realize that the dating and courtship practiced today are far off-track. But, before we address this, the principle of cause and effect must be explained.
The Cause-and-Effect Principle
Most people live their entire existence completely unaware of why things either “go right” or “go wrong.” They seem unable to grasp that what they do, or do not do, has a direct effect on their lives. Most do not recognize that for every cause there is an effect—or, conversely, for every effect there is a cause. Nor do they know that this is a law. Scientists recognize this in physics, but society is unaware that the same is true in life—that the law of cause and effect is no less immutable than any law of science.
Let's reason together, considering a few basic points. How does the law of cause and effect work in one's life? Some simple examples:
If you routinely eat too much, what happens? You will become sick or overweight—or both! There is no mystery to this.
If you drink too much alcohol, you will become intoxicated. This could lead to a long list of bad effects: A next-day headache, being arrested, or even an auto accident resulting in injury or death to yourself or others. Again, there is no mystery here.
If you break society's laws, the effect is that you might go to jail or prison. This will hurt your family, your career opportunities and your entire future. Once again, no mystery to this.
In this fashion, the law of cause and effect directly impacts your life—and the life of everyone on earth. The ways that this happens are endless.
Let's go further. If industry pollutes the environment, the result is contaminated air or water, or even the much-debated problem of global warming. If countries go to war, the results—the effects—are economic upheaval, disease, famine and general misery for all involved. If parents neglect the proper rearing of their children, or if children do not obey their parents, the effects could be poor performance in school, drug addiction, criminal conduct or worse.
Of course, none of this is hard to understand.
God's way of life—including the principles of right dating, courtship and engagement—is also based on the law of cause and effect. The Bible contains hundreds of laws and principles, each carrying the power of cause and effect for those who keep—or break—them!
Whether one identifies and knows all the laws and principles of the Bible is not relevant to whether breaking them will bring certain punishment. Just as speeding can result in a ticket, whether the driver knew the speed limit or not, so those who break the laws of God reap penalties, whether they know they are violating specific laws or not.
Look at the world around you. It is littered with broken families, unhappy marriages, single-parent homes, STDs, astonishing ignorance and widespread misery. Have you ever asked why? WHY has mankind never been able to solve these and other great problems? Why do they only grow worse with the passing of time? Because the laws and principles of God are being routinely broken by earth's billions of human inhabitants.
The Being who wrote the Bible states that His great Law, the Ten Commandments, is “holy, just, good and spiritual” (Rom. 7:12, 14). Again, consider the basic understanding of cause and effect. When God's laws and principles are obeyed, they bring countless blessings, benefits and good things into the lives of those who obey them. But mankind has routinely rejected—and even lampooned—the instruction book that reveals the cause of all its problems, evils and ills.
So how does the law of cause and effect apply to dating and courtship? Where do these practices lead? The answer is simple. Dating, and the courtship that may ensue, are the precursors to relationships—and ultimately marriages. The effect—successful or failed marriages—is what results from either right or wrong forms of dating and courtship.
The cause-and-effect principle goes both ways. For every cause, there is a resulting effect, and for every effect, there is a traceable cause! So, let's look at the effects of modern dating. We could ask: Are they good?
To determine whether the dating practiced today is correct, we should first examine its fruits. In other words, we must analyze the effects of dating today. If the effects are bad or rotten, then we should be able to admit that something is wrong, possibly very wrong, with the cause—the ways that people in society practice dating, courtship and even engagement.
Therefore, it is essential to examine the overall state of the marriage institution. If dating and courtship are being done properly, we should expect the general condition of marriage throughout society today to be healthy.
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.
All of this would have been unthinkable just 50 years ago. Virtually everyone back then planned and expected to “grow up, get married and have children.” And marriage was for life! Entire communities—and nations—functioned on this premise!
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. The two would spend a lifetime together enjoying much happiness and joy. This God-plane relationship would include expanding the family to children who would experience more productive and abundant lives, because their home and family would provide a strong, positive environment, capable of nurturing them to adulthood and into their own successful marriages with children. Parents would teach children all they need to know, and the process would continue through successive generations.
Does this sound like a fairytale—a children's bedtime story? Today it does! This is because modern society is shot full of wrong education, misinformation, hollow opinions, pop psychology, ignorance, bad advice—or no advice—all of which virtually prevents young people from having any hope for true happiness in marriage.
The following are revealing statistics, trends and facts derived from census data, and what sociologists, psychologists, marriage planners/counselors and others report. While shocking, this is only the briefest thumbnail—a very tiny sampling—of all that could have been included. Take the time to consider the enormous implications of these statistics. Make them personal, and imagine the individual lives behind them:
• 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 more than quadrupled, going from 4.3 million to 18.3 million.
• The National Institute for Healthcare Research says that divorce now ranks as the number one factor linked with suicide in major U.S. cities, ranking above all other physical, financial, and psychological factors.
• More than 50% of people in their 20s, interviewed in a Gallup survey, agreed to the statement, “One sees so few good or happy marriages today that one questions it as a way of life.” Among single young adults, more than half stated that one of their biggest concerns about marriage is “the possibility that it will end in divorce.” Incredible!
About half of all marriages fail! How can this be? Try to imagine the pain, suffering and frustration that so many experience. Is there a reason for all of this? Is it merely because many people just cannot get along? Most have no idea—no realization—that if they follow the correct way—God's way—they could avoid all this misery and unhappiness!
But divorce is not the only sad and shocking effect of wrong dating and courtship. Improper dating and courtship practices carry the side effect of leading the large and growing ranks of wounded, jaded, cynical people to decide to just live together—or, more accurately, share a bed together—instead of committing to marriage.
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. Just since 1986, the number of women choosing to cohabitate has more than doubled, going from 13 percent to 28 percent. The figures for men are only slightly lower.
All of this describes a world in revolt against the institution of marriage!
The Young Victims
Cohabitation is not the only bad side effect resulting from divorce. It is important to stop and look at the children—the most painful fruits—of these failed marriages. Again, you will be shocked by the far-reaching implications of the telling statistics below, describing the United States, and reflecting the disintegrating fabric of what is considered the most powerful nation in the world:
• 75% of children of divorced couples also end up going through divorce.
• The school dropout rate among children from divorced families is twice that of children from intact families.
• Among teenage and adult females, parental divorce is linked to daughters' lower self-esteem, earlier sexual activity, greater delinquency, and difficulty establishing fulfilling, lasting adult heterosexual relationships. Yet, their parents' divorce usually occurred years before any difficulties were observed.
• 50% of children today will spend at least part of their childhood in single-parent homes.
• In 2000, 33% of babies were born to unmarried women, compared to only 3.8% in 1940. (More than 1/3 of children never experience a married home!)
• The high divorce rate directly affects one million children every year.
• In a recent survey, 62% of men agreed that “while it may not be ideal, it's okay for an adult woman to have a child on her own if she has not found the right man to marry.”
• Studies show that children from broken families are twice as likely to have emotional and physical health problems. Again, these are also more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, with this leading to difficulties in friendships.
Many children today are victims of their parents' ignorance of the correct way to date and court. If their parents had only taken the time to study God's principles on the subject, these children would not suffer in the way that they do—both during childhood and later in their own unhappy marriages.
Will your children, or future children, be statistics? Will they suffer in uncounted ways? Will you wait until you experience all the wrong effects of improperly dating, courting and preparing for marriage before addressing the gaping wounds you and your children will experience? Or will you deal with the cause now—before it is too late?
Other Shocking Statistics
Let's return to the subject of unmarried couples who live together. Over half of all first marriages today are preceded by cohabitation, compared to virtually none early in the twentieth century, just 100 years ago.
Young adults now so often postpone marriage until their late 20s to early 30s. While most men and women are choosing to establish themselves in jobs and careers before marriage (which can be good), they also most often spend a long period unmarried but sexually active. This newer phenomenon has been described as “sex without strings, relationships without rings.”
Yet, looking at destroyed marriages, wounded children and broken families does not paint the full picture of the effects of wrong dating habits today. Sadly, dating today directly leads—almost universally—to premarital sex. “Leads to” is probably not even the right term, because “dates” today often involve sex on the first date! Actually, more often than not, sex is the expected norm as part of the first date, and most of the “dates” that follow. Millions do this.
So many, blinded by pure lust, are committing fornication as a veritable way of life! Surrounded by illicit sex on every side, and often guided solely by their hormones—and what the dating partner almost certainly expects—rather than by what is right, couples routinely commit every kind of sexual sin imaginable. And many do this without the slightest pang of conscience giving them pause. Within minutes, often induced by a variety of drugs, alcohol and an unwholesome environment, young people unconsciously reject the possibility of a healthy, fulfilling, God-ordained and designed wonderful relationship of husband and wife. Instead, they choose to dive into mindless, instant gratification, giving little or no consideration for the devastating long-term effects they will surely experience.
One shocking previous statistic brings this trend to the forefront: One-third of all children in the United States today are born out of wedlock! Think what this means! One out of every three children now begins life without a proper family and lacking the environment that the Almighty Creator designed and intended.
The Downward Spiral
Breaking this down, we can begin to understand the compounding trouble afflicting most families today. What happens to all those in our generation who have lost even the most basic knowledge of how to have a happy, abundant marriage? What will happen another generation from now? What will happen to today's children's children?
While statistics reveal that teenagers from intact families are less likely to be sexually active, adolescents from broken families are twice as likely to have children out of wedlock. Also, as mentioned, 75 percent of children who have suffered through their parents' divorce will experience it themselves. In other words, the choices people make now regarding dating and courtship may well lead to divorce, which, in turn, could destroy the marriages of their children, and their children's children, in an endless and worsening cycle. The effects of dating habits yesterday have caused horrible conditions in countless lives today, and the trend can only grow worse for greater numbers tomorrow!
Relationship destruction spreads like an infection, like a cancer, making it easier for others to follow bad examples and take the easy way out themselves. The tragic end result is that divorce and ruined lives breed more divorce and more ruined lives. On the present path, this worsening trend would continue until the marriage institution and the entire concept of traditional families are irreversibly destroyed—except that God will soon intervene in the affairs of mankind and cut short the downward spiral before such extinction is permitted to happen!
Failed Marriages—So Unnecessary
Vast numbers of marriages have needlessly failed. This has been because couples were not taught in advance how to carefully select someone who could be a real companion—and a truly compatible partner—for life. Divorce resulted simply because there never should have been a marriage in the first place. Of course, many other marriages fail because couples who could have otherwise succeeded simply did not know how to make their marriage work—a very different problem, and one largely outside the parameters of this book. But no marriage can reach its full and wonderful potential, and could possibly even fail altogether, if singles either do not know what to look for in a prospective mate, or even that they should be thoroughly examining those whom they are dating seriously.
When most people carefully look at the effects we have discussed, they will admit that they are real—and that something is terribly wrong! Tragically, these same people often remain unwilling to believe that all these bad effects could have resulted from wrong causes! Will you examine these causes? Will you come to understand and accept the principles of proper dating, courtship and engagement?
Before these things can be discussed—and we will do this in great detail in later chapters—we must carefully lay the all-important foundation, so crucial to truly comprehend all that you will only then be prepared to learn.