Is Courtship Arranged Marriage?

Awhile back I blogged about a wonderful evening with a young couple who are in a courtship and are actually engaged to be married in May.  Shortly after that post I was asked if courtship is the same as arranged marriage.  I actually laughed out loud at that question!   This post is to clarify courtship and this young couples story.

First, my definition of courtship is NOT arranged marriage.  I suppose someone is society somewhere might consider the 2 the same but I do not.  Basically, I see courtship as a dating process with the end in mind.  Meaning when someone is ready for marriage (spiritually, financially, emotionally, etc.) then they seek to find someone who could be a potential spouse.  Courtship can look differently to different couples.

Honestly, the rules or boundaries of the relationship that the couple puts in place is not as important as their hearts.  The couple I mentioned in the earlier post have set the boundaries for their relationship until they are married.  They set those boundaries together as a way to honor and respect each other.  They spent a lot of time building their relationship and getting to know one another in a very deep and meaningful way without getting physical.  I realize this is completely contrary to what our society thinks is normal.

How is this different than traditional dating?  Well, typically, individuals don’t enter into a courtship without the end in mind; without marriage in mind.  I can tell you that before I became a Christian I am 100% sure that the guys that I dated DID NOT have the end in mind and marriage was not on their radar… nor was it on mine.  In our society marriage comes much later, if at all.  As a Christian, I value marriage immensely.  It isn’t just a piece of paper or a legal document.  Courtship is not perfect and hearts can get broken but I would venture to say that there is much more heartache in traditional dating then in courtship.

Below is an brief explanation of this couple’s love story in their own words.  I find it refreshing and encouraging that there are young people willing to pursue God’s desire for their life rather then their own.

Our story is a fairytale of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love in our lives! The way in which Steve and I ended up together, engaged, and about to embark on happily ever after is not possible of ourselves – we serve a wonderful God!
Steve and I first met in 1996 when my family started attending Warner Avenue Baptist Church (WABC) in Huntington Beach, California. I was 4 years old, and Steve was 12 – he likes to joke that he first saw me in diapers while he was shopping in the nursery. 🙂 In actuality, we just continued on with our lives as normal, didn’t really interact at all due to the age gap between us. It wasn’t till 7 years later that we would become friends and start spending more time together.
In 2003(?) Steve’s father passed away from cancer. Their family had not been attending church for about a year prior to his death due to the cancer treatment scheduling and doctor’s visits. About a year later WABC organized a church group to help the Steve family get some house projects and clean-up done while their mom took a much-needed vacation. My mother became head organizer of this group effort, and subsequently our family started spending much more time with Steve and especially his family. It was during this time and afterwards that I became best friends with his younger sister, Sarah, and our families really started connecting. Steve’s sisters were always telling me how awesome of a guy he was, how he would make a great husband someday, but I was always like, why are you telling me this? That’s nice for someone, but not me! He was like a big brother to me – I thought he was awesome and really liked him as a person but couldn’t see us ever getting together. Apparently he felt similarly: we had a wonderful friendship but he didn’t ever see it going anywhere.
Fast forward to the year 2007 when my family relocated to Colorado. After we moved, Steve and I had literally no communication at all. Our family visited CA a couple of times, but I only spoke with him briefly those times and never thought of him as a possible romantic interest. Steve in the meantime had been pursuing a few other relationships and didn’t think he would ever date me. God had other plans, however.
In May of 2014 I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Piano Performance from Colorado Christian University. Right around the same time GoFormz, the computer company Steve had co-founded several years earlier, really started booming in the industry. All the years I thought that there was nothing happening between us, he had been secretly admiring and hoping for a chance to pursue a relationship with me. Everything lined up perfectly that summer, and Steve called my dad in early July to ask for his permission to date me. Our first conversation as a couple was on July 5th, and he came to visit me a few weeks later. The first few weeks were wonderful though somewhat difficult as we navigated the beginnings of a long-distance relationship, and we fell in love after just about a month. There was still plenty to work through and learn about each other, but as time progressed the security we felt with each other as our possible mate for life grew by leaps and bounds.
After a couple months into the relationship, I told Steve that if he ever asked me to marry him I would say yes. He had already felt quite confident that I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, and we knew without a doubt where our relationship was heading. In October on one of his visits out here to CO, we went ring shopping together and found the perfect forever-ring. The following month, on November 27th, he proposed to me at sunset on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Palos Verdes, California. Of course I said “YES”!!!!
Throughout our whole journey, God has been clearly present and guiding us in our deepening attraction to each other with Him at the center. Both of us sought to keep pursuing Christ first as the glue to our relationship. Our goals and vision for marriage, family, and ministry lined up perfectly – and we even put the toilet paper roll on the same way! 🙂 We feel confident that the Lord brought us together for a purpose and are excited to see what the future holds!

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