Saturday, October 31, 2009

Purposeful Procession towards marriage

I admit that I have several thoughts in regards to what should take place before a man and woman enter into a marriage. It seems that in my day that dating is the acceptable means of obtaining a mate, if indeed that is even the desire. In most cases, dating is preferable to marriage because it seems that many are happy to have the physical and emotional relationship that should only be reserved for marriage in dating without the covenant of marriage and the obligations that are intrinsic to it. However, having gone that way myself as someone who was not a believer, I am interested in how to guide my boys into marriage and how to prepare them as well as preparing my daughters and deal with possible suitors for them. So my aim here is to lay out thoughts and presuppositions and then see if they are biblical or not.

Before I begin, I want this to be clear: my aim is not to condemn people who are doing something different. If you feel intimidated or easily offended, then you may not want to read further. My aim is to simply lay out either what the Scripture says regarding this issue as the bull's eye, if you will. It is where we aim......the glory of God. If we don't have a target we can simply hit anything and then sort of move the bull's eye over where our arrow has struck and say, "it's ok". That is not what these posts will be about. I simply want to map out as clearly as I can what my role as a father is, my wife's role, and the boys and girls under our authorities roles are. So please keep this in mind, in the even that you might want to ask, "Well what if such and such?" and your question is pointed towards something that deviates from the specifics. I will try and deal with things that may arise from a failure to hit the mark.

With this said, I want for anyone to understand something, if my children turn out bad then that is simply on me. Let's put aside the notion that I am the authority and can do no wrong. We must keep in mind the issue of total depravity that works in men. My ego is not at stake here. The glory of God is, for our chief end is to glorify Him. Therefore, if my children turn out to honor Him and follow Him then it is all due to His grace and mercy. That doesn't mean it has nothing to do with our teaching, it just simply points to who is the potter and that is God.

Now, first I start with the sovereignty of God. I know that no man and woman come together apart from the eternal decree and providence of God. this is true whether they are believers or not. In marriage they are no less "one flesh" because of believing or not believing, and ultimately we can say they were brought together by Him. However, let's be clear: we are not to use the Providence of God to somehow justify our wrong actions. In other words, I don't say, "Well God brought me and my wife together and if i hadn't dated her the way we did then we would't be together and so we are thankful for God's providence" as though we simply throw our disobedience upon the providence of God and that makes everything ok. Of course God's providence is at work. Nothing happens that is not a part of that, but we are talking about using His providence as an excuse for our disobedience. I do not advocate that.

As believers we are called to, "do all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). This includes preparing for marriage and what type of mate one should be seeking and even how that process should be accomplished. So, while we have some idea of at least a framework of how marriage is spoken of in Scripture, we are very ignorant in how to prepare and lead the young men and women in our own homes in the process of joining themselves to a mate for life. I will attempt to use a phrase that will try and shy away from courting, though I believe this to be a more historic definition that I will seek to use. The phrase I will be using is "a purposeful procession towards marriage". This way much of what we will say will be bound up in the phrase itself. It is not dating, going out with whomever and attaching emotional feeling and touching and such out from under parental authority and it is not a myriad of courting opinions, but simply it is the process of being prepared for marriage and the logical and biblical progression from preparation to selection to marriage.

To begin with I have a few questions of my own to ask and hopefully in my study, by God's grace, I shall find the answers to these along the way. Here they are:

  1. How do we prepare boys and girls minds to think biblically about marriage and the "purposeful procession toward marriage"? (orthodoxy-sound doctrine)

  2. How do we prepare them practically? (orthopraxy-things pertaining to sound doctrine)

  3. What is the role of the father in working with his son in preparing him for marriage and selecting a wife?

  4. What is the role of the father in working with his daughter in preparing her for marriage and dealing with possible suitors?

  5. What is the role of the mother in each?

  6. Are arranged marriages biblical?

  7. Is a son going out on his own to find a wife biblical?

  8. Is a daughter going out on her own to find a husband biblical?

  9. What should a yound man possess and know before making any interest in a young woman known? Likewise, a young woman?

  10. Is a youjnd man's relationship with his mother an indication of how he will treat his wife? Likewise, a young woman with her father. Both with their parents and other siblings.

  11. Is the young man's/woman's view of God, his doctrine and practice important? this may seem to be a given, but sadly doesn't always take precidence.

  12. What is the testimony he/she bears both with his mouth and actions?

  13. Do particular struggles that a young man or woman are currently having hinder them from being ready for marriage?

  14. What is the young man's vision? Likewise the young woman?

  15. Should a possible suitor be left alone with my daughter? Likewise, should my son be alone with a young woman of interest?

  16. Are chaperones necessary if a young man and woman should go some place together? Are older siblings suitable chaperones?

  17. How much time should be given to courting (limited interaction in company)? How much time should be given to engagement (the time of pledging to marry till the wedding day)?

  18. Should a young man already have means of providing before making his interest know to a young woman?

  19. Should a young man ask permission of her father before making his interest known?

  20. Should physical contact be encouraged at all? during courtship? during engagement?

  21. If the young lady doesn't have a father around, should the young man ask permission of the mother? If no parents are around, then what?

  22. What should a young man desire in a wife? Likewise, a young woman in a husband?

  23. Should they both know and understand their roles biblically?

  24. Should they both have positive views of children and welcome them?

These are not all the questions by all means and i certainly may ask many more and hopefully answer them with God's wisdom which comes from His Word. Hopefully though, me being able to write these down I will be able to gain a more solid understanding both of my role as a father in this aspect and also a vision of where I want my children to be at when the time is right to leave the home and exactly how to get them there.

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