Presentation on theme: "In Uncharted Waters Navigational Principles for the Path to Marriage."— Presentation transcript:
In Uncharted Waters Navigational Principles for the Path to Marriage
The Big Picture “God blessed [the man and woman]; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it…’” Genesis 1:28a
The Big Picture Man’s primeval duty is dominion. Dominion is achieved through families. Families are the foundation of society. Marriages are the foundations of families.
The Big Picture Jesus and the apostles defend marriage and family. Paul uses marriage as a picture of Christ & the Church. God’s plan of redemption was carried out through the family of Israel. God’s law was given to the fathers of Israel (Deut. 6). The gospel is perpetuated and preserved through families whose stability is founded on strong marriages (Ps. 78).
The Big Picture So, if… Dominion is a BIG DEAL, and Families are a BIG DEAL and Marriage is BIG DEAL, then… Shouldn’t the way marriages form be a BIG DEAL?!?!
Dating Appeared in modern form in the early 20th century. Looking for satisfaction in a present, temporal relationship, not a lasting marriage; emotion-based. Fosters both physical and emotional promiscuity. Hardens one to breakups (divorce training). Cheapens love, treats it like a game, degrades courtesy (hookups, Facebook/texting breakups). Promotes immaturity, distorts the respective roles and worth of men and women. Disregards the honoring of parents, focuses on the wants of individuals, little regard to long-term effects.
As a result of dating… Young people are completely consumed with the senseless drama stirred up by temporal relationships. The divorce rate is at 50%. Average age of virginity loss is 15-17. Median number of “partners” prior to marriage is 5 for women, 8 for men. Marriage, love, commitment, and relationships have cheapened, and the biblical vision behind them has been obscured. Youth culture is defined by individualism and rebellion.
Instead, we need relationships that… Are grounded in Scripture, not man’s wisdom. Are covenant-based. Are not prone to break. Are strategic. Make marriage the primary goal. Honor parents and God. Preserve purity. Reverence God’s purpose for marriage. Require that young people be mature and discerning, and act in accordance with God’s design for them as men and women.
Claims Biblically based, “God’s way,” etc. Preserves “emotional purity.” Honors parents. Does not lead to a series of broken relationships. Focuses on character and spirituality rather than romantic love. Betrothal proponents always claim it is spiritually superior to courtship.
Courtship A process of evaluation Approval from both sets of parents. Interaction supervised; physical contact managed. Young man develops close relationship with the girl’s father as well; families fellowship often. Focus on knowing one another, not simply falling in love May not end in marriage. If it does, may be followed by engagement.
Courtship Founded on purity and parental honor. Reflects Victorian/Medieval imagery of courting as a guide for actual methodology. Yearning for a bygone era. Gentlemanliness. Young man seen as trying to “win the heart” of his lady. Romanticized.
Betrothal Claimed to be strictly biblical. Heartbreak, multiple relationships eliminated. Step 1 is a commitment to marriage. Betrothal is considered as binding as marriage. Only then does emotional connection begin. Father brings young man to his daughter, often before she has any interest. Held accountable to “fall in love.” Marriage only serves to initiate physical union.
Betrothal Taken from OT Law and biblical relationships, esp. Isaac & Rebekah and Joseph & Mary. Emphasizes fathers authority over daughter. Absolutely no physical contact or even unsupervised time prior to marriage.
Areas of Contention/Difference 1.The degree and form of parental involvement 2.How to choose whom to court/betroth 3.The timing of romantic emotions 4.The timing of forms of physical contact Taken from “Approaches to Courtship/Betrothal” by David Crank
Problems with Courtship Highly subjective; everyone’s got their way. Models are quite complicated. Relationships can fit in a box. Raises expectations, misleading imagrey Families conflict over competing models. Young man courts the father as much (or more) than the young lady. Devastation if it does not end in marriage.
Problems with Betrothal We must be made immune to failure or trial. Extremely unrealistic and impractical. Ignores fundamental human behavior. Distorts Scripture to find support. Very low success rate. Claims Jewish betrothal was God’s design for preserving emotional purity.
Biblical Romance Samson (a Hebrew) - “So he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” - Judges 14:2 Shechem (a Canaanite) - “So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, ‘Get me this young girl for a wife.” - Genesis 34:4
Biblical Romance Adam and Eve - matched by God. Isaac and Rebekah - so unusual the servant didn’t even think it would work; required divine intervention; quite informal betrothal/wedding Jacob and Rachael - He kissed her on sight! Jacob and Leah - Betrothed, never fell in love. Joseph and Potiphera - Godly man married to pagan woman. Moses and Zipporah - She was given to him by her father, no description of romance.
Biblical Romance Othniel and Achsah - Won his wife by conquest in answer to her father’s challenge. Boaz and Ruth - met, fell in love, matched themselves, and she proposed to him! David and Michal - fell in love, then told her father; politically influenced. David and Abigail - God killed her husband, David admired her virtuous character, sent her a proposal through his servants; all of this happened in very short order with no formality.
Biblical Romance Solomon and his bride - intense passion all the way. Hosea and Gomer - He was commanded by God to marry a prostitute. Mary and Joseph - betrothed, but no record of the nature of their prior relationship. Jesus and the Church - passionate, sacrificial love for her for an eternity prior to their betrothal.
Biblical Betrothal Jewish betrothal much like the pagan world. Socially/politically/economically motivated (bride-price), not by emotional purity. God does not prescribe, but gives principles for how to live in its context. Treated much the same as slavery and polygamy. Not universally practiced.
General Problems Devotion to men, terms, systems; God-in-a-box Few advocates have actually practiced it. Hampers preparation for dealing with marital emotions Focus on finding perfect spouse, not personal maturity. Dads tend to misuse their authority. Boys become intimidated by girls and their dads, as well as the expectations placed on them.
General Problems High expectations for success. Parents not wanting to “let go”; “clanning” Late marriages, especially for girls. Glorification of singleness. Feeds piousness and creates division Ultimately motivated by a fear of dating
Conclusions so far Dating, courtship, and betrothal are NOT supported by Scripture Courtship can lead to many of the same problems as dating, especially due to its complicated nature, raised expectations, and misconstruing of paternal involvement.. Betrothal has been completely contrived. Dating may not always produce sound marriages but courtship & betrothal are struggling to just produce marriages! THE SCRIPTURES ACTUALLY PROVIDE NO SYSTEMATIC MEANS OF FINDING AND DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH A POTENTIAL SPOUSE!
So then, what are we to do? Even though the Scripture does not contain a systematic method, it does present many key principles that should guide our thinking in this area. We can also find examples in real-life scenarios and draw from common sense. Following these simple principles will lead us to the desired result, essentially eliminating the need for any type of dating/courtship/betrothal scheme. We need to break free from feeling beholden to follow a man-made system.
Mission: Marriage The only goal is to find a marriage partner. Naturally eliminates many challenges. Chances of broken relationships minimized without complicated safeguards. Demands greater maturity and discernment.
Be Ready Before You Start Why be seeking a relationship at 15? You can’t get married! Intend to be ready early, but don’t define ready as “having your fields prepared.” Past generations found great benefit to building a life together.
Seeking God’s Will Be previously accustomed to seeking and finding God’s will. Don’t expect God to “speak” to you, and certainly don’t try “putting out fleece.” God often reveals His will in unexpected ways. Assume that it is God’s will that you get married (Genesis 1:28, 2:28). Let seeking God’s will make you active, not passive.
There may not be “just one” We have become dangerously obsessive about finding our “soul mate.” Many men of the past had multiple wives (due to death in childbirth or disease, not divorce) and had loving relationships with all of them. God made woman in general to be a suitable helpmeet to man in general. Focus on being a mature, godly person worthy of marriage, not on finding the perfect spouse; they won’t be perfect after you marry them anyway!
Don’t Expect Perfection Rough edges are an opportunity for growth. Fathers especially must not demand perfection. Dads with excessively high expectations are literally scaring many homeschooled young men away from courtship and away from homeschooled girls (public school girls without involved dads become a lot more attractive). This pattern will undermine patriarchy in the next generation.
Focus on Dominion God did not make man to take dominion alone; only with the partnership of his helpmeet. Young men should plan their vision and know what kind of woman will help them fulfill it. Inspiration is one of the first keys of successful leadership.
Headship Women are always under headship, passing from their fathers to their husbands (see Numbers 30 illustration). A young man must respect the headship of the young lady’s father. A father must also come to terms with the fact that it is not he who is potentially marrying the young man (see Laban and Rebekah). Fathers have a responsibility to guide and protect their daughters; but if they have raised them well, they should have reasonable confidence in their decision.
Flee from Youthful Lusts Dating makes us flee to lust. On the other hand, courtship, and especially betrothal, can make us fear our emotions. They often devise a rigid sliding scale of emotional/physical attachment not found in Scripture nor always consistent with prudence. Neither extreme is a good thing; we need to find balance, use discretion, seek God’s guidance in Scripture and prayer.
Emotions for Guys Being right the first time is not always possible. Don’t seek a wife until you are ready. If your goal is marriage, you won’t deeply invest in casual relationships, or leave behind a string of heartbroken girls. Be very cautious with the tender emotions of young ladies. When you know you’re right, then make a commitment and stand by it.
Emotions for Girls Peter called women the “weaker” vessel. They are much more affected by their emotions and find it harder to protect themselves from them, especially romantic fantasies. Fathers must protect their daughters from emotionally harmful influences. Young men must behave as gentlemen toward girls and not lead them on when they have no intention of marrying (or are not ready to). If men stepped up, girls would be set free.
Emotions in General Parents and young people have to learn to break from the “dating culture” and not stir up rumors and suspicions. Nevertheless, romantic emotions are not sinful, wicked, or intrinsically harmful when expressed prior to marriage or even a marriage commitment. “Don’t marry the one you love, love the one you marry, ” is not found in Scripture. Affection is a necessary element not only to a successful marriage, but even to the desire for a marriage to take place at all. If you didn’t love someone, why would you want to marry them?
Physical Affection True, this is an area where we must use caution, because of the power of physical affection, but… There is only one act that is forbidden before marriage in the Scripture, so… For the rest, each of should use a combination of Scriptural wisdom and good sense appropriate to the situation. To suggest that a third-party author could write a list of dos and don’ts complete with a timetable that applies to everyone is absurd.
Broken Relationships? With sinful humans involved, nothing is foolproof. While we have been given great wisdom for navigating these waters, we need to be prepared for mistakes. We should meet this trial as we would any other. Broken relationships should not drive us to defeat, paranoia, or the idea of “retroactive marriage.” They instead afford an opportunity that God probably knew we needed in order to grow in a vital area (as we would hopefully think about any other trial).
Simplicity From www.theartofmanliess.com, 4/30/09,www.theartofmanliess.com “7 Lessons in Manliness from the Greatest Generation” Lesson #7: Don’t Make Life so Complicated! If there’s a common thread in these lessons, it’s having a common sense and a level-headed approach to life. In our day, when men are obsessing about finding… their holy grail of a woman… the Greatest Generation’s uncomplicated approach to life is refreshing… they didn’t obsess about their relationships, they just found a gal they loved and married her… They didn’t think about how to get things done, they just got em’ done… Instead of spending your time navel gazing your life away, just get up and go!
Git ‘er done! When you’re ready to marry, seek & find! When you know you’ve found the right one, why wait? When you get married, get multiplying!
Lessons from my own “courtship” Honor God, and honor each other; the rest pretty much takes care of itself. There is no box. God’s will does not always fit our preconceived notions. Flexibility is better than rigid guidelines. The danger of high expectations and fairytale imagery. Past relationships are not always a bad thing. Planning your wedding is one of the best pre-marital experiences a couple can have. What would I have done differently?
The conclusion when all has been heard is this: There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid. The words of Agur, son of Jakeh, Proverbs 30:18- 19