Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Questions from a Reader, Answers from Me

From an anonymous reader:

"I hesitate to post this, because you seem to have fears that someone might post something ugly or nasty on your blog due to the approval delay, but I will post anyway.

I have a question that has been bugging me since your daughter got "engaged". My question is: Why would you want your daugher to go to marriage counseling if you knew that God was all in it? I mean, if you can only know a person for 2 whatever weeks, and then KNOW that God wants you to marry this person, why bother with the counsel?

have been following your blog for some time now, and find this very interesting subject. What if the counselor finds these two won't work out, or need more time, would you take the advice of the counselor? Would you take the advice to wait for a year? Or whatever he/she was to say to these young people? Would you pull the stops and cancel the "marriage?"

I am not a good writer, like you, but my question is why bother with the counselor? If God be for us, who can be against us? Why use man as a mediator?

I am for counseling, dont get me wrong. I truly think that it is wisdom and a good thing. But, the way this method seems to have some flaws that I do not understand, nor the intellectual faculities for.

I have several small children, and this is an issue that my wife and I have struggled with. "

Yes, sorry about the delay in posting comments. I do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, spam gets through. Secondly, I have had people post inappropriate things. So, since it is my blog, I control what gets put on it because I'm the one who bears responsibility for it.

Your question is a good one. Candace and Michael are going through counseling for several reasons. I think pre-marital counseling is not just for the purpose of finding out if you are meant for each other. It can help you build a good foundation, thinking through how you will handle issues before they arise. Candace and Michael have spent their whole lives getting our perspective on life and it's nice for them to have a chance to hear from someone else who we greatly respect and honor. We already know from hearing our pastor teach on Sunday mornings that he has a lot of wisdom and great things to say, so it's easy to trust him to give sound advice to our children. I think Candace and Michael greatly honor their parents and they are old enough to have had some time to judge whether or not they think their parents have had wisdom in their teaching or not, but even still, I think it's nice for them to hear it from someone else. And if he has differing views, it's still good for them to have a chance to think through what they believe. In fact, our pastor has asked Candace to review the book (in writing) that he has asked them to read. And both Candace and Michael have already read enough to see that they have differing views from the author. The times in my life when I have learned the most, is when I have questioned something I have heard that didn't set right with me and explored it for myself.

We did not recommend counseling in order to obtain a stamp of approval but if our pastor had serious reservations and recommended doing something other than following through with our plans, it is something we would take seriously and devote a lot of prayer to. I can’t say ahead of time whether we would agree with his advice or not. We would have to know what his advice was and how he arrived at it. We try to follow God, not man. But it is something we would weigh heavily. And no matter what we do, Candace and Michael are adults and are free to make that decision themselves. We do not have the power to cancel this marriage. All Ford and I have to do is decide whether we give our blessing or not. Candace and Michael would have to decide to proceed without it or not.

You are correct. There is no flawless way to go through this process. I have told the girls that there is no guarantee when it comes to marriage. There is no way to enter into that covenant without risk. There is incredible risk. We can only throw ourselves on the mercy of God and always try to trust Him no matter what happens. No human being deserves unconditional trust. A spouse will always have the power to hurt you. That risk doesn’t even end after twenty years of marriage. It’s always there. You have to take the risk and be vulnerable. It’s just the way it is because we live in a fallen world and people always have a choice to do what's right or not.

However, I do believe strongly that there are ways to reduce the risk of disaster. It is obvious that the modern method is NOT working. So, we've been willing to rethink the whole process and consider alternatives. Sometimes it's as simple as "considering the ancient paths".

We have made some mistakes and, I hope learned from them. We also have had some successes. By successes, I mean not just Candace and Michael, but other situations that have come about when the outcome has been realizing that the matches are not right without any damage or hurt on either side. I especially rejoice when the young men leave the process without any ill feelings toward us - and better yet, when they remain as one of our family friends. We have had two experiences like this recently.

Your questions do not offend me at all. On the contrary, I enjoy them and would love to have more conversations about this issue, especially with people with whom I go to church I'm real glad you are thinking about all of this and questioning what you see and hear. I wish everyone would. So many people just float along on the stream without thinking about what they are doing. As a parent, you are on the same journey as we are and I'm sure you want what is best for your kids. Since we are only human, none of us are perfect. But I serve a perfect God who does have answers and promises to give me wisdom if I will only ask and believe. My fault has been in barging ahead without taking the time to ask. Don't make that same mistake. Ask away.


Granny said...

Great discussion :-)

Henry Cate said...

My wife and I went through a couple months of pre-marriage counseling. I figured it skipped us past much of the first year or two of troubles.