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Youth Messenger Online Edition


Your Courtship Questions Answered
Paul Chapman
1. What is an appropriate time to start courtship?

The appropriate time to start courtship is when you have serious intentions of marriage. Courtship is an opportunity to get to know each other better and see whether the person you think may be for you is a good choice of a marriage partner for life. Sometimes after courting it is evident to the two people that they are not suited to each other. This is why you should not feel pressured to marry the person with whom you begin your courtship. It is better to break off the courtship and remain single than to be unhappily married for life.

Not only should you have intentions to marry, you should also be at a point in your life where you are ready mentally, physically, and spiritually to get married. If you or the other person are not in a position to get married within a year or two, then you probably should wait to begin courtship.

2. Is there room for persistence in courtship? Is it appropriate?

Always remember that “no” means no. If the person you have set your heart on had told you he/she is not interested in pursuing a courtship, it is far better to accept their “no” than to persist in continuing the courtship. This shows them that you respect them as a person. It will also help you to at least be on friendly terms in the future—not that you are to hope that they will change their mind. It will just help you to deal with them as a brother or a sister in the future. It may be in God’s providence for you to be together with the person, but you need to let God sort that out in His time and way. Remember, Abraham suffered greatly for trying, in his own way, to bring about God’s plan for his life. It’s far better to learn the lesson of trust in God than to force a relationship into a place God never intended for you to go.

3. How should a guy propose to a girl? Should he give her a ring? Isn’t a watch the same thing as a ring?

Before discussing whether or not the young man should give his fiancée a ring, let us look at where the use of an engagement ring came from. In pagan cultures, the ring was given or accepted as a pledge to marry. The Visigoths codified its use in their marriage laws making the ring a part of their betrothal ceremony—a legally binding contract to marry even though nothing had been put in writing. Once engaged, the promise to marry could not be broken. The ring’s use served to show that the woman was committed to the man who gave her the ring and thus was no longer “available” for marriage to another.

Today, wearing a ring serves no legal purpose nor does it necessarily guarantee that the wearer is no longer “available.” Engagements can be broken, and rings removed. As Christians, our commitment to our fiancé or spouse is shown by our conduct. When we are committed, we behave in a way that demonstrates the promise we’ve made, and which does not encourage advances by the opposite sex. No ring is needed.

Another factor that should discourage the use of a ring is the cost. Typical engagement rings are not cheap. In 2017 the most popular engagement ring from one famous jeweler started at a price of $13,000 U.S. dollars. In Australia, the average amount of money people spend on an engagement ring is three months of an average salary. Considering that, the Bible exhorts us not to let our adorning be of wearing of “gold, or pearls or costly array” (1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3).

Unlike the ring, however, a watch is a useful gift. If someone wants to give an engagement gift to their fiancée, there is no harm in giving them a watch. But we should not make it the symbol of the commitment, neither assume if someone has a new watch that they are engaged. We need to follow the principles of Christian simplicity in choosing watches as well. Some watches have become more like jewelry than time-keeping devices. Keep in mind, when Jacob and his family renewed their covenant with God at Bethel (Genesis 35:1-4), they got rid of all their jewelry. For this reason, simplicity, practicality, modesty, and economy should be practiced in the purchase of a watch.

4. How long should you court before you get married?

That can depend on several factors: firstly, the age of each person; secondly, the distance they live from one another; and thirdly, their financial situation. A courtship period of six months to one year would not be uncommon. However, long, extended courtships are not advisable.

5. What happens if I don’t want to get married?

When we see the terrible consequences of broken marriages and dysfunctional families, this is not an uncommon desire to have. If you have come to that point, what you should always keep in mind is that it is perfectly okay to live a single life. Not everyone, however, can. The desire for companionship, for wanting a family of their own, gets the better of them. In such cases, “it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9), provided you are marrying in the Lord.

Nevertheless, whether you are single or married, God has a special place and plan where you can work for Him. He has a work for single people which those who are married cannot do. He also has a work for the married person which the single person cannot do. In God’s plan both are as important as each other. The main thing is to commit your all to God and let Him lead you in whatever work He has for you.

6. What will happen in heaven to people that marry twice on earth?

Jesus when upon this earth was asked a similar question. In response he said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). In heaven there will be no marrying or giving in marriage. We will all be as friends.