Biblical courtship…is dating Scriptural?

group of young peopleWe are living in a broken world, a world almost void of YHVH’s principles. Did you know that YHVH gave us instructions on life in his Word? He is very practical, and if we were to search, we would find answers to all the problems we are facing today: broken marriages, unwanted children, poverty, too many to mention. To correct these problems would, however, require some changes on our part…

In everything we do, there are two choices: the worldly way and YHVH’s way. We tend to do what we have always done, without questioning how it should be done according to YHVH’s way. Dating is a good example. It is not strange to see two young people out on a “date.” No-one thinks it unusual, not even if they afterwards go to a secluded place…it has become an acceptable practice, but is this practice acceptable to YHVH?

You may think this article is about arranged marriages, well its not. The point of this article is to show you that we have to protect our children by not allowing them to date, as in going out with successive partners and forming intimate relationships with each of them before finding the right “one” and settling down. Marriage is too precious for that and even more importantly, they are too precious for that.

We want to show you YHVH’s way and we have something special to share with you. This is especially for the young people, but everybody will enjoy. We will be sharing with you the story of two young adults Jay and Britney, who chose the biblical way of courtship over the worldly way of dating. They are happily married now and have two beautiful little children. However, before we share their love story with you, let us have a look at dating from a historical point of view and then how it was done in biblical times.

The history of dating

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on dating.

The definition of dating

“Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several meanings, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.” 1

Here is some history, we will not go into much detail here. We all know what dating entails, however if you would like to learn more about the history of dating, you will find the link under references .

“According to one view, clandestine meetings between men and women, generally outside of marriage or before marriage, were the precursors to today’s dating.”1

Before the 1700, marriages were mostly arranged, but then things started to change, at least in some cultures.

“From about 1700, according to professor David Christian of Macquarie University in Australia in a course entitled Big History, a worldwide movement perhaps described as the “empowerment of the individual” took hold, leading to the emancipation of women and the equality of individuals. Men and women became more equal politically, financially, and socially in many nations. Women won the right to vote and own property and receive equal treatment by the law, and these changes had profound impacts on the relationships between men and women. Parental influence declined. In many societies, individuals could decide––on their own––whether they should marry, who they should marry, and when they should marry.

A few centuries ago, dating was sometimes described as a “courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, under the watchful eye of a chaperone,”[8] but increasingly, in many Western countries, it became a self-initiated activity with two young people going out as a couple in public together. Still, dating varies considerably by nation, custom, religious upbringing, technology, and social class, and important exceptions with regards to individual freedoms remain as many countries today still practice arranged marriages, request dowries, and forbid same-sex pairings.

Although in many countries, movies, meals, meeting in coffeehouses and other places is now popular, as are advice books suggesting various strategies for men and women [9] in other parts of the world, such as in South Asia and many parts of the Middle East, being alone in public as a couple with another person is not only frowned upon but can even lead to either person being socially ostracized.

In the twentieth century, dating was sometimes seen as a precursor to marriage but it could also be considered as an end-in-itself, that is, an informal social activity akin to friendship. It generally happened in that portion of a person’s life before the age of marriage,[10] but as marriage became less permanent with the advent of divorce, dating could happen at other times in peoples lives as well.

People became more mobile.[11] Rapidly developing technology played a huge role: new communication technology such as the telephone,[12] Internet[13] and text messaging[14] enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact. Cars extended the range of dating as well as enabled back-seat sexual exploration.

In the mid twentieth century, the advent of birth control as well as safer procedures for a b ,ortion changed the equation considerably, and there was less pressure to marry as a means for satisfying sexual urges. New types of relationships formed; it was possible for people to live together without marrying and without having to deal with children. Information about human sexuality grew, and with it an acceptance of all types of sexual orientations is becoming more common. Today, the institution of dating continues to evolve at a rapid rate with new possibilities and choices opening up.”1

From the above quote we see how immorality increased to the point it is now at, and we know it will further decline, because people are drifting further and further away from YHVH’s truth.

Our young people are very smart and very knowledgeable. They have internet and can access information very fast. This makes it possible for them to make “informed” choices, in their eyes. However, we know that you can’t trust or believe everything you read on the internet, but what is their filter? How do they discern truth from error?

They are under enormous pressure and it is our responsibility as parents to provide them with a strong Scriptural foundation to make it possible for them to navigate through all this and still make the right choices. Without a foundation grounded in the Bible, they are lost in this world of technology, peer pressure and immorality. They end up being confused and just do what their peers do or whatever they have read somewhere.

So, what is the Biblical way?

Biblical courtship

Most young people get into and out of one relationship after another, without realizing the physical or spiritual implications of this. I don’t think they or we realize just how much YHVH values marriage. The Bible opens and closes with a “marriage scene.” In Genesis, marriage was instituted by YHVH, Himself and He called it good (Gen 2:18-24.) In Rev19:7-9, the marriage between the Lamb (Y’shua) and his bride (us) is described. YHVH often refers to Israel using marriage imagery, a good example is in the book of Ezekiel, but we will get to it later. Y’shua is called our groom, we are His bride …(2 Cor 11:2).

You may wonder why all these quotes about marriage when we are taking about dating. We need to understand the importance and process of marriage, in order to understand why dating is not scriptural. Marriage is holy, because it was instituted by YHVH, therefor the courtship that precedes it, should also be holy in order to preserve the holiness of marriage. We shall furthermore show you that marriage is a covenant, a blood covenant, not to be taken lightly. We shall go into more detail further along in this study. We shall first look at how it was done in Biblical times.

Isaac and Rebecca’s courtship and marriage

Here is Isaac and Rebeccas love story.

Genesis 24:2–4
2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh, 3 and I will make you swear by YHVH, the Elohim of heaven and the Elohim of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”

Genesis 24:8
8 “But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.”

Who chose the bride for Isaac? Eliezer prayed to YHVH…

Genesis 24:12–14
12 He said, “O YHVH, the Elohim of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. 13 “Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”

Genesis 24:15–19
15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. 16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19 Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.”

Eliezer gave her a gold ring and two bracelets, he was thinking that this may the one.

Genesis 24:22
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold,

However, he made sure she was from the right family…

Genesis 24:23
23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?”

Her answer assured him that she was indeed the one and he praised YHVH.

Genesis 24:24–26
24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 Again she said to him, “We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.” 26 Then the man bowed low and worshiped YHVH.

Genesis 24:28–30
28 Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring. 30 When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, “This is what the man said to me,” he went to the man; and behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring.

Eliezer was offered hospitality by Laban, but he wanted to conduct his business first. Laban was representing Rebecca’s father who is not mentioned, he might not have been alive anymore.

Genesis 24:31
31 And he said, “Come in, blessed of YHVH! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?”

Genesis 24:33
33 But when food was set before him to eat, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my business.” And he said, “Speak on.”

Eliezar continued and relayed the detailed account to Laban, concluding by asking Laban’s answer.

Genesis 24:49
49 “So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.”

Genesis 24:50–51
50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The matter comes from YHVH; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 “Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as YHVH has spoken.”

More gifts were given to Rebecca and her mother and brother.

Genesis 24:53
53 The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.

Laban wanted Rebecca to stay ten more days before leaving, but Eliezer asked not to be delayed. Rebecca was asked what she wanted to do.

Genesis 24:55–59
55 But her brother and her mother said, “Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.” 56 He said to them, “Do not delay me, since YHVH has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.” 58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.” 59 Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men.

Genesis 24:60–61
60 They blessed Rebekah and said to her, “May you, our sister, Become thousands of ten thousands, And may your descendants possess The gate of those who hate them.” 61 Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.

Isaac and Rebecca meet for the first time…

Genesis 24:63–65
63 Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. 64 Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. 65 She said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master.” Then she took her veil and covered herself.

Genesis 24:66–67
66 The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Is this not an amazing love story? YHVH chose a bride for Isaac!

There are a few things that stand out from this passage:

  • Firstly, Abraham, gave his trusted servant Eliezer the task of choosing a wife for Isaac
  • the bride was to be chosen from Abraham’s people, not from the Caananites
  • Eliezer, being a godly man, asked YHVH for guidance in this choice
  • The brother of the bride and the representative or the groom father , came to an agreement
  • The bride-to-be had free choice in the matter
  • The bride-to-be and groom would come together and then become one flesh (Gen 2:24)

We find another courtship example in Genesis 25 and 26.

After Jacob received the blessing from Isaac, Esau wanted to kill him. Jacob was sent to Haran by his mother to live with his uncle Laban for a while. Laban had two daughters Rachel and Leah. Jacob liked Rachel and made an agreement with Laban to work for him for seven years in order to marry her. He was deceived and was given Leah instead. We know the rest of the story. The similarities are striking. Jacob chose a bride from his own people. An agreement was reached between him and Laban, the father of the bride-to-be. After the terms of the agreement were met, Jacob was able to marry Rachel (however he was tricked into marrying Leah instead). Another agreement was reached and he married Rachel 7 days later.

We are not going to search for every example in Scripture. These two, especially the example of Isaac and Rebecca, give us a good idea how courtship took place.

Before we continue with courtship in the time of Y’shua, we would like to point something very important out to you about marriage.

Marriage, a covenant


This agreement was made between the groom-to-be and the father of the bride-to-be, or whoever was in a position of authority over her.

It is important to remember that the marriage agreement was always made prior to the actual marriage taking place.

(There is an exception: when a girl, not engaged to a man, is seized by a man and he lies with her, the man must pay the bride price to her father and marry her -Deut 22:28-29.)

This agreement is a covenant, we find proof of this statement in Malachi:

Malachi 2:14
14 “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because YHVH has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

The Hebrew word “berit” is translated as covenant:

1382 בְּרִית (berîṯ): n.fem.; ≡ Str 1285; TWOT 282a—

1. LN 34.42–34.49 covenant, treaty, compact, i.e., an agreement between two parties (Ge 6:18; 14:13), note: the exact relationships of the two parties will vary according to context;

2. LN 34.42–34.49 pledge, a binding oath of promise (2Ki 11:4);

3. LN 34.66–34.78 marriage (Pr 2:17);

4. LN 34.43 unit: כָּרַת בְּרִית (kā·rǎṯ berîṯ) make an agreement, formally, cut a covenant (Ge 26:28), note: see also domain LN 42.7–42.28; 5. LN 33.35–33.68 unit: סֵפֶר בְּרִית (sē·p̄ěr berîṯ) 2

This agreement, that is reached is a binding oath between the two parties. We find further proof in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 2:17
17 That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her Elohim;

The partner of her youth refers to her husband (cf. “the wife of your youth,” 5:18), and the covenant which she ignored is her marriage vows. Forgetting her commitment to her husband, she became promiscuous. 3

In Ezekiel, YHVH talks about Israel as if it’s a woman and he enters into a covenant with her and she became His…That is another confirmation that marriage is a covenant.

Ezekiel 16:8
8 “Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares YHVH Elohim.

This covenant, a blood covenant, is ratified when the marriage is consummated. The blood that is shed is the blood of the covenant and the sheet on which it was shed was kept as proof of the bride’s purity. This blood is shed when the hymen is broken and this happens only once, the first time. If there was no blood, the young woman was accused of harlotry. The groom had a legal right to divorce her, and she was to be stoned.

Considering the above, do you think purity was important?

From this we can deduce, that intercourse that takes place without this covenant is harlotry or fornication. You may call it what you like, but it is unacceptable in YHVH”s eyes. Not once does He praise harlotry or fornication…However, He is merciful and will forgive it if it is repented of…Y’shua said to the woman who committed adultery “Go and sin no more…

After this brief detour, let us get back to courtship…

Ancient Hebrew marriage practice

We see a pattern similar to what we have seen in the narrative of Isaac and Rebecca when we look at the ancient Hebrew marriage practice. This is how it was done in the time of Y’shua. The bride was chosen; and if she agreed to the marriage, she then became betrothed to the man. This betrothal is as binding as the marriage, it can only be broken with a letter of divorce.

The Betrothal

Among the ancient Hebrews the betrothal was a spoken covenant. Ezekiel pictures GOD as marrying Jerusalem, and the following words are used of her: “I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the LORD GOD, and thou becamest mine” (Ezekiel 16:8).

After the exile, the betrothal included signing a written document of marriage. The ceremony of betrothal. The Jewish betrothal in CHRIST’s time was conducted thus: The families of the bride and groom met, with some others present to serve as witnesses. The young man would give the young woman either a gold ring, or some article of value, or simply a document in which he promised to marry her. Then he would say to her: “See by this ring [or this token] thou art set apart for me, according to the law of Moses and of Israel.” Difference between betrothal and marriage. The betrothal was not the same as the wedding. At least a whole year elapsed between the betrothal and the actual wedding. These two events must not be confused. The Law said, “What man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her?” (Deuteronomy 20:7). Two events are differentiated here: betrothing a wife, and taking a wife, i.e., in actual marriage. 4

During this period of betrothal, the man goes to prepare a place for them and the bride prepares her wedding garments and herself. They do not have any physical relations, but are considered “married.” After this period, the groom comes for his bride.

Coming for the Bride

Sometimes the bride’s relations would conduct her from her father’s house to the house of her fiancée, where her new home was to be. But more often, as was the case of the Ten Virgins in CHRIST’s parable, the bridegroom himself went in person to bring her to his home for the wedding festivities to take place there. Before leaving the house that had been her home, she would receive the blessing of her relatives. Thus Rebekah’s relatives sent her away with a typical Oriental marriage blessing, “Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Genesis 24:60). The bride left her father’s house adorned and perfumed, and with a crown on her head. Ezekiel’s description of the bride is very appropriate) “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head” (Ezekiel 16:11, 12). 4

After this, the marriage is consummated and they had a feast, usually for seven days.

This is beautiful isn’t it, and it is also a picture of our relationship with Y’shua, our Groom. This is not our focus, so we will not elaborate on this, maybe in a future article…

Now for the promised love story.

Jay & Britney’s Love Story

by [Britney Williams](

Jay and I met on September 20, 2009. I had met his mom, Bev, three days before. She was bringing her little ones to our house for a home school day with the horses. It was too wet for them to come, so Mom e-mailed everyone to let them know we were canceling. Bev didn’t get that e-mail; she came anyway. It was a miracle we even met her that day.

She and my mom continued e-mailing and Bev invited our family to their house for the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24,25). That’s when I met Jay. It was definitely not love at first sight, no goose bumps, no fireworks. He seemed like a nice guy, but we didn’t have anything in common. We talked, but really didn’t hit it off.

There were some major differences between us, the main two being that our families believed very differently, and we didn’t eat the natural foods like they did. The first of those differences was taken care of within a week. The Father had changed my family’s hearts and opened their eyes to keeping His law. After that happened, I started taking notice of Jay.

We got to know one another by spending time with each other’s families and playing board games. We never spent time alone, and didn’t send private e-mails for several months. I played an on-line version of our favorite board game, every night at nine o’clock, with Jay and his little sister. We rarely talked about anything serious, just goofed off.

When our families got together, we usually studied some in the Scriptures. During those times I could really see what kind of man Jay was, how he had a heart after Yahweh and His Word. I really respected Jay as a man.

I always felt like I could be myself with Jay. I never needed to dress, act, or talk a certain way. I was at peace with him.

Around the first of March, 2010, I started realizing I was in love with Jay. I really started seeking the Father, wanting to know if this was His will or not. Little did I know, that on March 21, Yahweh was going to tell Jay that he was going to marry me! The Father never told me Himself that Jay was definitely the one, but He never said He wasn’t either!

Around that time we started writing e-mails, and they kept getting longer and longer. We talked about some silly stuff, like our inside jokes, but we also talked about important things, like the Scriptures and parenting. I found out a lot more about him that way.

Jay started changing after the Father told him he was going to marry me, he started working much harder, and taking life a little more seriously. He didn’t really “love” me in the romantic, emotional way, until late April. That’s when things really started progressing. We got closer and closer, just as friends, still spending all our time together with our families.

On the Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15-21), Jay’s dad decided it was time to approach my dad about Jay and I entering into courtship. My parents told me that night, I was ecstatic! I wasn’t sure what this meant though, did it mean he knew I was the one? Or did he just want to court for a while to make sure? I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

The next evening, we went to Jay’s house. He came out the door, wrapped his arms around me, and told me he loved me! I was so surprised, but I knew then that he was sure about our future together. All that night he kept calling me his “future wife.”

Two days later, Jay and his parents came to wedding_smallmy house to discuss the parameters of our courtship. While they were inside talking, Jay and I were outside discussing exactly what to call our relationship. After praying, we decided we were engaged and would get married in the fall! We went inside the house to tell everyone, and his mother asked if he had formally proposed to me. He said he hadn’t. So he pulled me aside there in my parents living room, surrounded by our families, and got down on one knee. He took my hands and said, “Britney, I love you with all of my heart. You have my heart. Will you marry me?” Of course, I said “Yes!” So our rather unconventional, “official” courtship lasted only two days.

Our engagement was five months long, it was such a wonderful time. Getting to know Jay and his family better, planning a wedding, and working made for a busy but exciting summer! It was a time of growth in our relationship, but we did have a few bumps along the way. We learned some of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to deal with conflicts. I think that time has contributed so much to the smoothness of our relationship now, since we learned to relate to one another during those months.

We were married on October 24, 2010, in an open field with the fall colors in full array. It was the happiest day of my life. It turned out more wonderful than I could have ever imagined, I just relaxed and enjoyed the day. I married the man of my dreams, without a doubt the one that Yahweh intended for me to spend the rest of my life with. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Yahweh blessed our relationship from beginning to end, aligning our lives with His calendar and His timetable. We continued to keep our focus on Him, and He most definitely directed our paths. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

From this beautiful love story, we see that it is still possible to be done in YHVH’s way. We hope the beauty and purity of this would inspire many young people to follow YHVH’s way instead of the worlds. He is glorified when we do. For those young people who made mistakes by following the worldly way, do not be discouraged, give your life to YHVH, He will forgive you and make something beautiful of your life.

We get a beautiful illustration of YHVH’s great mercy, when we read the account of the woman caught in adultery.

John 8:3–11
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]


  2. Swanson, J. (1997).Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  3. Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Eds.)The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 910). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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4 responses to “Biblical courtship…is dating Scriptural?”

  1. Elvira Cooper

    As a widow now, and also having un-attached lady friends, who are also not wanting to grow old alone, I wonder about the “Christian ” dating websites

    1. Schalk Klee

      Thank you for your comment Elvira. What exactly is your concern with the “Christian” dating websites? Could you please elaborate a bit more? Much appreciated.

      I believe if it is done in a modest way in order to help people to meet other people, it would be ok. I don’t know exactly how it is done or presented, therefor my question to you to elaborate more.


  2. krystal

    YHVH has brought me to the study of courtship and marriage the ancient Hebrew ways. thank you for your findings. but I keep stumbling on two questions, 1.what happens if the bride did not have her blood during consummation but is truly a virgin, she possibly lost that while riding a horse or other scenario. 2. how does the father of the groom know when to send his son to get his bride and she not be on her period? I’m hoping you can shed some light for my questions. thank you

    1. Hi Krystal,

      You are asking very good questions, but I don’t have an answer for you. I you find an answer, please share.

      Shalom Elsa

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