An ESSENCE editor who has decided to pursue a “Christian courtship,” complete with no kissing before marriage, speaks with a couple who inspires her and many others to love God first.
By now, most of us are familiar with Christian courtships, thanks to the Duggars (from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting) and their unique way of handling romantic relationships—no kissing, no holding hands and no dates without a chaperone, to name a few. Christian courtships are conservative Christian alternatives to dating with specific rules that allow couples to put God first in their relationship from the start. For some the rules might seem quite extreme. I get that. While I completely respected their way of life, at first I didn’t believe this was the lifestyle for me. Little did I know, God would soon change my heart. After months and months of soul searching and growing in my spiritual walk, I made a big decision—my next relationship will be a Christian courtship. A relationship where Jesus Christ is at the center and my future beau and I share a true purpose centered on faith. After my revelation, I searched high and low for other couples that had made the same decision looking for inspiration on my journey.
I found so many beautiful, young couples that aimed to please God first in their romantic relationships. Among them, were newly engaged vloggers Sheretta Noel and Brandon Taylor. Their YouTube series “Worth the Wait” taught me how to better shape my idea of Christian courtship and what it looks like when it’s a success. They allowed God to write their love story and aim to share their love as an inspiration to other women on this journey with me. I sat down with them to talk about how it all began and how far they’ve come together. Read on for inspiration.
How did you two meet?
We met while studying at Cornell University, but it was a very rushed first introduction. Over the next two years, we crossed paths, but exchanged very few words. During Brandon’s last semester of college we started chatting more frequently and soon simple conversations turned into extensive discussions about our belief in God, family life and goals. These in-depth conversations led Brandon to take interest in moving our friendship to the next level and the rest is God's story.
Define what a “Christ-centered relationship” means to you?
A Christ-centered courtship is when a man and woman prayerfully and purposefully seek to determine if marriage is in God’s plan for them. They are rooted in purpose, spiritual growth and a desire to be with whom God has chosen for you. The couple is not “trying each other out” but rather courting their brother/sister in Christ to lead to 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.
Why did you decide that a Christ-centered courtship was your best option?
We believe that God is the author of romance and deeply cares about the matters of the heart. We learned to trust in His desires before our own and understand He knows us best. We have had our share of painful relationship experiences in the past where Christ was not at the center and we were led by selfish desires. It took time, patience and surrender, but God showed us the hole in our hearts could only be filled by Him alone.
What boundaries did you bring into your relationship to help keep it focused on Christ?
From the beginning, we were both committed to saving all sexual activities for marriage. (Including kissing.) In addition, we made a commitment to avoid entertaining certain subjects that may cause us to struggle with sexual thoughts. We made our spirituality our lifeline. We committed to sharing our individual walks with each other. This includes having weekly devotions together and daily prayer amongst other things. Also, we learned how to vocalize our emotions rather than physically expressing them. As our spiritual lives grow the intimacy in our relationship heightens.
How would those interested in learning more about a Christ-based relationship get started?
The first step we recommend is surrendering your love life to Christ. Pray and ask God to take hold of your romantic desires and lead you where He wants you to go. Next, we encourage you to study what the Bible has to say about relationships, marriage, marital roles and intimacy to understand what godly love looks like. This is the blueprint of what a Christ-centered relationship should look like.
For more advice from Brandon and Sheretta and to learn more about their love story, visit their YouTube channel, Worth the Wait.