This was my answer to a thread on the Rebelution forum. Enjoy, and give me your feedback please!
• What is dating?
Dating is formally announcing that you and a member of the opposite sex are interested in one another in a romantic way and it may or may not end in marriage. It has several other connotative definitions, but that's the essential part.
• What is courtship?
Courtship is also formally announcing that you have romantic interests for one another, but with the expectation of marriage. It has to be handled very carefully.
• How do you go about them?
Dating is pretty much the guy asking the girl if he can consider her his girlfriend, and then he takes her places where he normally pays (which may not be true anymore, but that's the original intent) and they get to know one another better. Often this can be in a group setting.
Courting involves a more official process in which the couple approached both sets of parents together, explaining their intent to court one another and see if it will end in marriage. It is much more formal, involving official dates of asking, etc.
Has anybody seen these types of relationships close up?
Yes. My cousin and her husband courted for about a year before their marriage. It was a very formal kind of courtship, in which my new cousin C asked my uncle and aunt for their permission to court my cousin with the intent of marrying her at the end, and they had a celebration dinner of her courtship.
Personally, I think that was a little over the top, but that's what's involved in courtship.
My friends L and A (I haven't asked them if it's OK to put them online, so I'll just put initials.) are in a Christian dating relationship.Their relationship also involves their parents in that both parents are aware and accept the relationship, but there wasn't much else involved. The thing I like about L and A's relationship is that if they break apart, both could go to the other's wedding and be OK with it. I think that's one of the major problems with 'serious' relationships, you tie yourself in emotionally.
Have you seen them conducted in a Godly way or in an ungodly way?
I have seen ungodly dating relationships that ended in heartbreak and hate.
I have seen ungodly Courtships that ended in divorce, because they got married then realized it hadn't worked.
I have also seen wonderful, powerful married couples come out of both relationships.
And I just want to say that I see problems in both kinds of relationships and think that we as Rebelutionaries, should not try to figure out which we should adhere to, but rather create a new kind of relationship that takes the good from both. Dateship maybe? I strongly dislike the idea that courtship is the only 'Christian' way, and think it is very possible to date Christian, and possible to Court un-Christian. But Dateship would be a relationship style soley for us, only for Christians, where we are focused on partnering with the other person, 'iron sharpening iron" (proverbs 27:17), to return to our first love (Rev 2:4)
Who's with me?