In the Christian context this is a time in the developing relationship between a man and woman as they increasingly discover the character of the other person and seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry, as they want to honour Him and desire the best for each other. Love for God should be paramount above all else, including our selfish, warped human desires (Mt 10:37, 22:37). The couple is

Courting is to be done in the way approved by God

not 'trying each other out' but rather courting their brother/sister in Christ with the prospect of a godly marriage. If the courtship does not lead to marriage, the couple is able to walk away from the relationship without any emotional baggage, having been spiritually edified and respectful of one another as followers of Christ. Genuine love and respect for the other person is prepared to wait for sexual intimacy until after the wedding as premarital sex defiles our bodies and is a sin against God (Rom 12:10; 1 Cor 6:9,18; 2 Tim 2:22). Hence, commitment and purity should govern the relationship, as they both voluntarily put themselves in accountability to mature and discerning people who can help guide them through this significant time. Having established boundaries and not being in compromising situations assists vulnerable lovers so there will not be even a hint of sexual immorality which is improper for Christians (Eph 5:3). A believer should commit their future and possible marriage to God, and invite Him to be actively involved as they develop their character and relationship with God and not marry an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14,15).

Courtship differs from dating which is a casual pairing off with a member of the opposite sex in a social setting, often resulting in multiple changes of partners as the focus is on the individual’s wants not the highest good of the other. Courtship waits for God’s best instead of throwing oneself randomly and intimately at anyone in sight. If during the courtship one or both parties realise that marriage to the other is not God’s will and the relationship ends, it is not a failure – rather it is successful because God’s guidance was sought and direction acted on. While the terminating of the courtship will be painful, continue to trust in God’s amazing love and accept the grace He gives to deal with the disappointment and unfulfilled hopes.  

See also: boundaries, caress, chastity, dating, friendship, petting, premarital sex, romance.