Does a young man have to have a sign from God before pursuing a woman for marriage?
Recently I was asked this question. I was surprised that I had to give it some thought before answering. Is it imperative to have this answered? As women, not necessarily. But I am honestly intolerant with not having a conviction or an opinion on any given issue. :) If this isn't important to you, you can just skip this and wait for the next post by Nay. :)
I believe there are three stages involved in courtship. One: friendship. Two: courtship. Three: engagement.
But if God would tell a man “This is it! Marry her!” then why even have a courtship stage? Why not engagement? The real hang-up is the idea that God would tell a young man to pursue a specific young woman. Marriage is a serious issue and if God has a will concerning who we marry, wouldn't He let the guy know? If God told a young man to marry a certain girl, than why go through a stage “to get to know” someone if you already know you're meant for one another? It really wouldn't matter if you thought you were compatible or not because it's God's will.
But here's the thing – in most cases, for most people, God doesn't tell a young man to go and marry a certain girl. Not like that anyway. As in many real-life scenarios, God doesn't come down from heaven and audibly reveal anything – not what flavor of ice-cream we should get, not what job opportunity we should pursue, and not which “one” we should marry. Obviously there are exceptions. There are times He makes His will clear in the tiniest of details. There have been times where He has pointed in a very specific direction for me to take. At other times He didn't tell me to move forward or to wait. To take Path A or Path B. It seemed totally optional to do either one. Sometimes He parts the Red sea, and sometimes He wants us to actually step out into the Jordan before He makes things clear. In something as life changing as marriage I know He has a will. And I know He WILL make it clear eventually. In some relationship situations He made it super clear to both families and both young people right away. In other situations it took an 8 month courtship. God moves differently for different people. That's the novelty of courtship. There's no fixed formula. It adapts to each circumstance.
What we do know about courtship is this:
Friendship comes first. More than likely, you really cannot entirely know whether or not you'd marry someone just by being friends. Depending on the person and how long you've known them, friendship might reveal more or less of a person. I know I couple who didn't know each other well until they had courted a while. One couple grew up together and felt they knew each other through and through even before courtship. Another couple felt like entire strangers even up until engagement. Becoming friends is a really good way to know who you wouldn't marry, without any attachments or hurt feelings or broken relationships.
Courtship is second. No-one in their right mind would start courting unless they planned on marrying the person. It is like dating in the fact that you are in a relationship bigger than mere friendship, and you are getting to know the other person better. Some people choose to think of courtship as a “safe way to date”. It is a relationship where you're more than friends. And you are a “couple”.
But here's the two main differences in my definition of courtship –
1. It's a family-oriented relationship. The father's permission is normally required. Chaperons are involved. Rules are initiated by the families...etc.
2. There's a purpose beyond thrill, fun and excitement. The intention is honorable and looks beyond the present moment. Marriage is the ideal outcome. There's also commitment. You court one person, not one on Monday and someone else on Saturday. Courtship Defended Part 1
I used to assume a young man wouldn't pursue a young woman unless God told him to. Obviously I would hope a young man wouldn't nonchalantly just start a courtship without giving it much thought and prayer. I would personally want my man to actually like me for who I am, and believe that I would make a good spouse, and desire that I be his specific helpmeet, before ever pursuing to court me!
So courtship is simply a safe-gaurd to (depending on the couple) more or less investigate compatibility, but also to take precautionary measures to make sure the parents approve and that this is indeed God's will.
I think it is safe to conclude that in most circumstances God is not going to one day stop men in their tracks and say “Here she is.” God might not actually drop the decision in their lap. They actually might have to pursue His will.