Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Does engagement serve as dating?

Engagement is really a period of betrothal. It is a declaration to society that a man and a woman have a serious intention to marry within a period of time. In formal engagements, the priest attends and prays "Je Penyot…– Our Father..." to bless this declaration and intention. It is a contract between a couple. However, if they prove incompatible, the priest will release them from this commitment. St. Mary's betrothal to St. Joseph (St. Luke, chapter 1) was an indication that their contract to marry was established but the consummation of the marriage did not occur. St. Joseph would have been justified in releasing the Virgin after having learned she was pregnant. However, Divine intervention stepped in at the right time. If a couple is not yet ready for marriage, for any reason, the priest might allow the couple to wear engagement bands signifying the genuine and serious intention of the couple in getting engaged in the near future. At this point no formal contract is yet established. During this period, they are not allowed to consider other relationships. 
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