Since Miles & I started "courting" (as opposed to dating), I've gotten lots of questions about what courtship is exactly. Defining courtship is inherently problematic because every person (whether they decide to court or not) has a different opinion or definition about courtship, and to be honest, there isn't even a conclusive and widely accepted definition among courters. One sweet lady asked me to define courtship for her because the only thing she knew about courting was from the Duggar family (check out the cheesy, but not all too far off video). Besides the Duggar family, most people think about Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Both of these courtship-endorsing entities are significantly conservative and to many seem outlandish and old-fashioned.
For us, courtship is above all else intentional. When Miles first came to me to tell me how he felt about me, he didn't say "I've really enjoyed spending time with you this summer and would love to hang out and spend more time together." Thank goodness, because, really, what does that even mean?! That hypothetical statement reveals nothing about his intentions, and would have deeply hurt me and left me playing he-likes-me-he-likes-me-not games with myself. Instead of being vague, he protected both of our hearts by saying "I've really enjoyed spending time with you this summer, and after prayer and council, believe you are the perfect woman for me. I want you to be my wife." BOOM. You can't really get more clear than that, people. We had discussed when we would get married, how many kids we wanted, our testimonies and our views on tons of theological issues all before we went on our first real date.
I realize to the majority of people this sounds super crazy. And honestly, it kinda is. But, you know what else is super crazy? The Gospel. The whole reason Miles chose to court me rather than date me was because of the Gospel and how it was modeled through courtship.
Jesus didn't come to earth to get to know us and "date" us, then decide if he would die for our sins in love. Instead, when the fullness of time had come, Jesus wholeheartedly came down to earth to pursue the church, love her, and sacrificially die for her. In the same way, in courtship a man pursues the Lord, gets to know a godly woman in community, then sacrificially pursues her for marriage with love. There's no guesswork, no "getting to know each other" to determine if they're "the one," no waiting for a post-date call - really, in that manner, courtship is quite fantastic.
Many people dream about modeling the Gospel in marriage, but completely forsake the Gospel in the stages leading up to marriage, relying instead on social constructs with often heart-breaking consequences.
I'm not saying courtship is for everyone. I haven't always been a hard-core courter at heart. Both Miles and I had dated multiple people before meeting each other and beginning our courtship. I think there is a godly way to date, but I think courtship eliminates so much of the awkwardness and heartache that often accompanies dating.
Regardless of whether you date or court, seek to demonstrate the Gospel in word and deed while seeking a spouse. Both dating and courtship look differently for everyone. Prayerfully consider which is best for you and don't compromise.
Courtship isn't defined by ankle length jean skirts and Sketchers, but instead the sacrificial pursuit laid out by the Gospel.