For this is the will of God, even your sanctification that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour. For God has not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness – 1Thessalonians 4: 3 - 4, 7
Biblical courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman who have agreed to get married to each other under the approval, guidance and blessing of parents and/or spiritual leaders. Christian courtship involves two people (a man and a woman) that have agreed to walk together, in the direction of marriage (Amos 3:3). A typical example of courtship in the Bible was the relationship between Joseph and Mary – the earthly parents of Jesus (Matthew 1:18).
The primary goal of courtship is marriage. The will of God as revealed in His Word in our opening Scripture is for every one of us to live holy – abstaining from everything that defiles us. The courtship period is supposed to be a time of planning, praying and preparing for the marriage.
Unfortunately, some people’s marriages have been destroyed due to the way the courtship was handled by the parties involved. Staying pure in a courtship is a price worth paying in laying a solid foundation for a successful marriage. In courting, there are basic biblical principles that should guide the relationship, and this, we will be looking at as the Lord helps us. In staying pure in courtship, the following points are worth considering.
Let God Lead You
Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God – 1Corinthians 10:31 (NLT).
God isn’t supposed to be a second or third party in your relationship, but first. This understanding will save you lots of pitfalls in your relationship. Your courtship and marriage eventually must be to bring glory to God. This is the surety and guarantee for a successful marriage. Let Him take the lead from the proposal to the marriage, and you will have no cause for regrets because when God guides, He guards. When you relate with the consciousness of His Presence leading all the way, sin will keep a distance. His fear becomes the basis on which you relate to each other.
Agree on the Purpose of your Relationship
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it – Habakkuk 2:2.
The need to define the relationship from the onset is paramount to maintaining purity throughout the courtship. The purpose of every courtship is marriage. If you are not ready to marry someone, you do not need to be in a relationship or courtship with him or her. You do not venture into a relationship without knowing where it is headed. The goal and vision must be clearly spelled out- which is marriage. Each partner’s stand and expectations should be clearly made known in order to guide the relationship onward. This will help in checking unwanted excesses during the relationship.
Declare your Intention to Others
Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all – Matthew 5:15 (NIV).
A relationship is like a candle, which when lighted, is meant to be positioned where it can provide light to its optimum capacity. A courtship that is headed for a crash is that which is kept secret. The safety of the parties involved in the relationship is in disclosing it to very important personalities in their lives. These persons include your parents, pastors, close confidants and any other persons you feel worthy of being aware of the relationship. When you make the relationship known to important people in your lives, it helps you stay accountable; therefore, maintaining purity.
Be Accountable to Others
Without direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances – Proverbs 11:14 (MSG).
Accountability in a relationship is a safety net in times of crisis. Closely related to the above point, you have to deliberately submit to godly, trusted and well respected elderly Couple or Believers, who will help check, guide, pray and counsel you during the courtship. Accountability requires giving regular updates to the one to whom you are accountable and receiving counsel before taking any major decision. With accountability, the chances of misbehaving in a relationship are very slim.
Give No Place To The Devil
Neither give place to the devil – Ephesians 4:27.
In keeping one’s self pure in courtship, there are basic ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ which if observed by God’s grace, will save us lots of troubles. As the saying goes, ‘Give the devil an inch, he goes a mile; give him a foothold, he turns it into a stronghold’. Give no place to the devil by meeting in secluded places. Give no place to the devil by meeting at odd (night) hours of the day. Give no place to the devil by dressing provocatively when meeting. Give no place to the devil by keeping secrets from each other. Set proper boundaries and watch out for the little foxes that can spoil the vine of your relationship. Things like kissing, caressing, and smooching are sin in themselves. Also, give no place to the devil by the use of filthy language or text messaging that arouse sexual passion that lead to premarital sex. The list goes on and on. So, do not tempt the devil to tempt you.
Have an Agenda for Every Meeting/Communication
Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? Luke 14:28 (MSG).
Your time is better spent if you set clear targets for all your meetings and communications. Meetings should be scheduled based on the need at hand – prayer, planning, reporting an assignment, Bible study, etc. Where goals are not set, ample time is wasted during communication, and the temptation to stray is very high. In order to maintain focus and achieve your long term goal (marriage), the need to set short term goals for every communication and meeting is inevitable.
Be Like-minded and Grow Together
If there be therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercy, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind – Philippians 2:2.
Courtship is like two individuals in the same ship sailing towards the same destination. In order to ensure the purity of the relationship, there is a need to work together with the same purpose (Amos 3:3). Growing together entails listening to the same messages; reading the same books; attending the same marriage counseling sessions; having the same accountability partners, and so forth. This helps to occupy both partners with the same knowledge, develop the same beliefs and ideologies; leaving no room for sexual misconduct or any form of misbehavior.
In conclusion, staying pure in courtship is a deliberate decision you have to make even before stepping into a relationship. It is the will of God that you conduct yourselves in holiness in courtship. The world may approve of sex before marriage, but God abhors it. Remember, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4), and “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Purity pays – “Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat its fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured” (Proverbs 27:18).
And if you have not conducted yourself in purity in your courtship and relationship, you can start again. Begin by confessing the sin and impurity to God and ask Him to forgive you, talk about it with your fiance or fiancee, then ask for help from your spiritual leader or a christian counselor to be guided properly. This is very important, let them counsel and pray with you as it is easy to go back and commit such sins again if not properly dealt with.