How can I use questions as tools to discern God's direction in courtship?
Each courtship will be unique, because people and situations are unique. However, in every courtship, both individuals and families should seek God’s direction through:
- Insights from the Word of God.
- Fervent prayer.
- The Godly counsel of others.
- Wise discernment of direction through circumstances.
One tool to use to gain discernment into your unique situation is to ask insightful questions. From the days of the Greek philosophers, the art of asking appropriate questions as a teaching strategy was regarded as a mark of a master teacher. Jesus is the ultimate example of a wonderful teacher. Reading the Gospels gives us insight into the methods and strategies He used to teach, and often He skillfully asked insightful questions.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s questions required His listeners to reason and make judgments in order to formulate answers. As they expressed those answers, frequently their false reasoning or even the wickedness of their hearts was exposed, and the truth was revealed. Ask the Lord for guidance as you ask insightful questions to discern His direction for a courtship.
Ask Questions Before Entering a Courtship Relationship
Following are examples of questions that have been helpful to others and should be considered by both the man and the woman in preparation for the decision to pursue courtship. Ask these questions of yourself and use them as discussion points in the process of the courtship.
General Questions About Marriage
- Am I committed to lifelong marriage?
- Have I ruled out the option of divorce? If, in spite of my objection, I become divorced, have I purposed never to remarry as long as my spouse is living?
- Am I determined to receive the blessing of both sets of parents by entering into marriage only if they offer their wholehearted support?
Questions About Beginning a Courtship
- What clear evidence is there that God is initiating this courtship?
- Do my spirit and God’s Spirit confirm that these indications are valid, or am I merely responding to the promptings of my mind, will, and emotions? “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).
- Has God given me a specific Scripture (rhema) about this decision? If so, has it been confirmed by two or three additional rhemas? This affirmation follows the principle of II Corinthians 13:1: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”
- Are there any reasons why I should not pursue courtship and marriage to this person? For example, if the man or woman is an unbeliever, marriage to that person would violate Scripture. (See I Corinthians 6:14.) Likewise, if either person has been married and divorced, and the previous partner is still living, it would not be God’s will for the divorced individual to marry anyone else. “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18). (See also Romans 7:1–3, I Corinthians 7, Malachi 2:11–16, Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 5:27–32, and Matthew 19:1–12.)
- Am I willing to develop better communication skills as we deepen our relationship?
- Am I willing to seek help from God and others in areas in which I am unprepared to be a Godly husband/wife?
Questions Related to the Man’s Role
When God leads a man to pursue courtship, there are questions that he should carefully consider. His answers will provide valuable insight as he seeks to judge his own heart and follow God’s will. “But let a man examine [test, approve] himself … . For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (I Corinthians 11:28, 31).
- Am I willing to make my role as husband and father my top priority, even above career advancement and financial gain?
- Am I willing to grow in leadership, especially in the area of spiritual leadership?
- Am I able and eager to be a provider for a wife and children?
- Am I willing to honor this woman with my thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions?
As God confirms His direction through the young man’s authorities (which should include his parents, and in some situations, Godly mentors such as his pastor), through rhemas from the Lord, and through prayer, only then should he contact the woman’s father to request permission to court his daughter.
If the woman and her parents are in agreement with the man and his parents that a courtship should be initiated, they should deepen their friendship by spending time together, especially in activities with his family and her family.
Ask Questions During a Courtship Relationship
Marriage partners are to function as a team whose goal is to serve God. As the couple’s relationship progresses, both of them should—as objectively as possible—answer insightful questions about the person he/she is courting to determine the compatibility of their lives and faith.
Questions Related to the Woman’s Role
To help the woman discern if it is the Lord’s will for her to enter into a marriage covenant with the man she is courting, the woman would be wise to ask herself the following questions, in addition to any other questions that the Lord or her parents prompt her to ask.
- Am I willing to become the lifelong helpmate of this man? Can I lovingly set aside my goals for the future and wholeheartedly support his God-given goals for our family?
- Is this man ready to care for a family’s spiritual needs, and can I follow his leadership in this area?
- Has this man carefully considered how he will provide for the basic needs of our family, such as food, clothing, shelter, and transportation?
- Am I willing to honor this man in my thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions?
General Questions to Discern Compatibility
True fulfillment in marriage does not come from the physical relationship, but from the spiritual intimacy that both share with God, Who created them. If this suitability is not an aspect of their relationship, the marriage will be seriously damaged.
Here are some examples of questions that should be asked to help discern compatibility in life and faith. Again, these questions can be asked of both the man and woman and be used as discussion points with the goal of developing a successful, long-term relationship.
- Do you both have a firm belief in God?
- Do you both have a personal faith in Jesus Christ?
- Do you both have a genuine, growing walk with God?
- Do you both accept the Bible as your final authority?
- Do you both understand your areas of jurisdiction?
- Do you both know how to function under the protection and direction of God-given authorities?
- Do you both have a regular time of prayer? Does God answer your prayers?
- Do you both have a daily time of reading the Bible?
- Have you agreed on standards for activities and music?
- Are you in agreement about areas of self-control in marriage?
- Do both of you love and desire to have children?
- Is there agreement about methods of child discipline?
- Will you have full agreement on major purchases?
- Is either of you aware of any hurts or fears that could be obstacles to experiencing a successful marriage?
- Do you both have good relationships with your parents and siblings?
- Do you both demonstrate Godly wisdom in making right decisions?
- Are you both wise and generous with your financial resources (sowers)?
- Do you both wholeheartedly seek to obey the commands of Christ?
- Do you both have a life message that brings glory to God?
This list is not exhaustive, and these questions should not be used as a sort of checklist to find “the perfect person” but to take a realistic look at who you both are and to discern if you are compatible for the lifelong commitment of marriage. Answers to these questions can provide critical insights into the character of both parties.
As strengths and weaknesses are revealed, the couple should discuss their answers and encourage one another in the Lord. This time will provide the couple with opportunities to humble themselves before the Lord and each other. (See James 4:6–10.) God can use these questions and answers as a channel of His blessing by drawing the couple to Himself and motivating them to ask for more grace. As the man and woman judge their own hearts, humble themselves, and seek the Lord, He will build them up and conform them to the image of Jesus Christ. (See Romans 8:29.)
Using insightful questions to gain wise discernment is a reflection of Christ’s instruction to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (See Matthew 10:16.) Choosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions of life, and the relationship should not be entered without seeking God’s guidance.
If one party realizes that marriage is not God’s will and the courtship is ended, it can still be regarded as a successful courtship. After all, God gave direction about the couple’s potential marriage, and that was the purpose of the courtship. Even if the courtship does not lead to marriage, both families can rejoice and thank the Lord for the protection that Biblical courtship provided for everyone involved.