Thursday, April 13, 2006

Marrying and Giving in Marriage

Cindy at Dominion Family wrote a short post about Courtship which I've been watching. So far, there are only four comments. I'm watching because I've been hoping for a substantial discussion. I'd love to hear ideas and thoughts from those who are interested in promoting happy, successful and holy marriages.
I've mourned the fact that the Bible does not lay out the how-to's in this area. I've thought of different examples of marriages in the Bible and I just can't find a pattern.
There's Abraham who sends for a wife for his son via way of his servant, back to his own land and Rebecca who goes with him to accept a groom sight unseen. How would that fly in our modern age? Abraham would be considered a controlling and intrusive father and Rebecca a silly girl who acted very unwisely.
What about Ruth? Her mother-in-law tells her what to do to obtain her husband. Does Ruth just sit and wait and trust God to bring the right man knocking at the door? No, she is the one who instigates things. Imagine your daughter spending the night lying at the feet of an older man and then secretly sneaking out before morning light. Imagine how that would be viewed in the homeschooling/courtship circles!
Then there's Abigail who went against her husband's wishes, called him a worthless fool, and saw the Lord take his life. Then she immediately becomes one of David's many wives (we won't touch that one). This flies in the face of almost all Christian teaching on marriage.
There are others but I already know this post is going to be a long one.
In our day when the divorce rate, even among believers, is astronomical, I can't help but question the issue of my children's marriages. I've whined and complained that I don't have many to go to for advice and helpful hints. I've read just about every book on the topic. I know many things that I do not want but then there's this whole vague area where there is so much I'm not sure about.
I have one daughter who is planning to marry in February. She is marrying a young man from a family we have been good friends with and been in church with for ten years. They kept their feelings from each other for two years and prayed about it separately. When it all came to the light, they were betrothed and they will have waited 3 1/2 years by the time they marry. This has not been easy but it is working. They have spent most of their time with us (and all of their time chaperoned) and have submitted to every restraint. We have flown by the seat of our pants, sometimes backing up and starting again. Our confusion and lack of surety about how to do all this has been hard on everyone.
Even after going through all of this, how much advice could I really offer to anyone? How many circumstances would be similar enough to mine for our situation to be applicable?? How much of what we have done has not been the best but God has had grace on us anyway??
I have another daughter who longs to find the right husband and have children of her own and frankly, I think she's ready and I think she'll make a great wife and mother. How to guide her along is the question. Just tell her to sit and wait patiently?? Get out there and be more proactive?? Should we "interfere" more or less or not at all?? Are there any black and white answers??
We do know some things. We don't want to have our children become emotionally or physically involved with a person who will not be their spouse. If at all possible, we want to protect both sides from experiencing the devastation of giving yourself and then having to withdraw or from just giving of themselves too soon. We want to handle the suitors that do come along with love and respect and we hope that even if they are not the right one, that we will have made new friends (or kept old ones). We want the process to be fun and not awkward. (Is that possible?) We want our children to be content in the meantime, casting all of their cares on Him. We want them to enjoy life right now and not sit around, do nothing, and only dream about their future.
I know there is at least one answer that will not fail. Pray. Trust in God's grace. Lift these situations up to the throne room and look to Him who sees it all. I keep being reminded that His grace is enough. That is the one answer I know I am safe to count on.


My Boaz's Ruth said...

I don't know if this helps or not. I didn't date growing up. Not so much that there was a prohibition except for two things. 1. Don't date someone you wouldn't marry and 2. It was not encouraged that you have a "boyfriend" -- I decided I wanted to go to senior prom so invited a friend. He was nice, but we were definitely just friends.

There simply wasn't anyone interested in me (Or at least, if they were interested, God blinded my eyes so I wouldn't notice). I was looking, hoping sometimes when I found single Christian young men -- but they never asked me out and I always knew it wasn't quite right so I didn't pursue -- and there is a very old-fashioned part of me that didn't want to have to be the one to pursue either. Just hoped, cried, prayed, and prayed some more. Wondering if I was in the right spot, knowing I would not go out of my way "Husband hunting" because if he was the right man, God could bring him to me.

Finally, when I was 29, (when I had nearly decided that even if my only desire had been to be "mother" since I was a child God had other plans), we met. And I found out that he was 5 years younger than me -- God had had me wait to give time for the man I was to marry to grow up and become the husband he wanted him to be for me. And the wait was infinitely worth it! (Although we have yet to have children, I'm not giving up on my dream there either yet)

Janet said...

Came here from Cindy's blog. I think you have a very healthy view on courtship and dating. Balanced! My oldest daughter is only 13 so we are just entering this phase.

I think that if a daughter finds herself in her mid to late twenties, proves to be a wise young woman and is still not married then it would be appropriate to be a little more proactive (with her parents guidence).


Dominion Family said...

I do like to hear stories of how courtship has actually worked out in individuals lives. That is the most helpful thing for my. My boys have really struggled in this area since whether or not they get to know a girl depends entirely on her dad and each dad has a different set of rules, plus sometimes they want to get to know a girl and they aren't sure how to do that pre-courtship.

The BadgerMum said...

Cindy, your situation is just like my husband's was - he was a thousand miles away from home so his folks couldn't just invite my family over for dinner or a fun Sunday afternoon.

I honestly can't think of way for your sons to handle that sitation. Could they just attempt general conversation with the girls they're interested in? Say "hello" and be extra polite to her parents whenever he sees them? Do they go to church together where there would be regular opportunities for conversation? Do your sons live in an apartment or some place where they could invite several people, including the girls over for a cookout?

If they can do these things and begin to feel that a girl is, to use an Austenism, receiving their attentions, then they should definitely talk to the father, to let him know what's going on.

Our biggest problem is that we're all essentially pioneers in this. I hope that by the time our grandchildren reach this age, there will be a more settled range of what's acceptable amongst Reformed folks.


sk: ) said...

You wrote: "I have another daughter who longs to find the right husband .... How to guide her along is the question."
------->>I wrote something about waiting for marriage last year. It might be appropriate to this discussion.

I'm almost 30 years old, and although I planned my entire wedding, to the napkins and mints, when I was 7, the Lord has kept me from marriage so far. I have many male friends, married and unmarried. I think such pure friendships are a natural part of life. I mix with boys and men of all ages in group/church settings.

My caution: Don't isolate the young people. A lot of flirting goes on right under the chaperone's nose. Instead, fellowship as a family with other families. Have people in your home. Get to know many families, not just those that have "eligible" young people.

As for pre-courtship friendships, I don't think one-on-one is the only way to get to know someone. I like to observe how a man interacts not with me, but with babies and children (very important), teens and young adults, girls and women (Does his eye wander and lust?), other adults, and the elderly. This reveals more of his true character than I could learn in hours of guarded conversation with him.

Finally, please be careful about judging people who have waited past their mid-twenties to marry. It's not all due to overprotection and isolation (as I hope you'll see from this way-too-long post). The Lord has clearly directed *me* to be at home, helping my mother who had a heart attack several years ago, and assisting another single lady in her work.

Anonymous said...

I hope it's all right that I leave a comment here. I've been "lurking" for a while and loved the "courtship" story of your daughter.

A few weeks ago, during a birthday celebration, my almost 16 daughter told her grandparents (my parents) that she didn't plan on going to college. She wanted to stay home till she was married. My mother, who has not worked outside the home in the 46 years that my parents have been married, asked my daughter if she was at least going to have a job.

My daughter said that she may, but it would probably be a local job, not a career situation. My mother said "well, How Do You Expect to Meet Anyone?" It was the way she said it. As a Christian of over 30 years, I was surprised at my mother's reaction to this. Surely she knows that God is in control.

Instead of applauding her granddaughter's desire to continue to serve her family and follow God's will for her life, she wants to apply the World's Methods to finding a mate. Sad!

Thanks for letting me share.