It's one of those words with which most people are familiar, but have vastly differing opinions of what it means. It summons visions of men women with small tokens of affection and asking their hand in marriage on bended knee.For social scientists, studies of courtship usually look at the process of "mate selection." (Social scientists, among whom I number myself from time to time, will never be accused of being romantics.) For the purpose of this article the , prior to the early 20th century, courtship involved one man and one woman spending intentional time together to get to know each other with the expressed purpose of evaluating the other as a potential husband or wife.
Dating and courting (they aren't the same thing) is one of the times when Southerners really do use their manners.
One of the most obvious changes was that it multiplied the number of partners (from serious to casual) an individual was likely to have before marriage.
So one important point to understand right up front (and about which many inside and outside the church are confused) is that we have not moved a dating system into our courtship system.
Have you ever known a girl who went out with a guy who was a complete dolt but who could help her get ahead socially?
(And not to pick on women, it just as easily happens in reverse.) Those decisions are based more on economic theory of the 19th and 20th centuries than on any sort of biblical notion of desire for the opposite sex.