To That Girl who just broke off her Courtship

Charles_Green07

[The following post is purely fictional. No reference to any specific living person should be implied.]

Ok, so you broke it off with what’s-his-name. That guy that, a few days or weeks ago you plastered all over your Facebook wall and spent dizzying hours telling your girlfriends about. We all understand why you did it. The guy turned out to be a jerk. From so far away we can’t tell exactly what kind of jerk, and you have very properly not cared to share that all over your Facebook page, but a jerk of some sort. There are so many types of jerks, but  he was one of them.

Perhaps he was too prideful. It certainly is a common trait amongst young men. I believe the term is ‘sophomoric’. They are young and full of energy, just starting out, and want to take the world by the horns. The temptation is for them  to think that they are the best thing since sliced bread. Braver than Daniel, a better exegete than William Einwechter[1], (and better looking than that other guy you were kind of hoping would want to court you.)

And, let’s not forget, you were looking for a ‘Godly’ man. You were looking for a general, not a private. Perhaps the young man felt rather uncomfortable sharing with you all of his doubts and fears and failings. Perhaps he was a bit too eager to share all of his hopes and dreams and confidences and boasts and goals…

romeo-and-juliet-1884.jpg!BlogOr maybe he was a different kind of jerk. Perhaps he was too, ummm, well, perhaps nice Christian girls don’t talk about what he was too  much of.  How can we talk about this? Perhaps he managed to show you that he was a bit too eager for the marriage bed? Can I say that? Or perhaps he made a mistake and admitted, or revealed, that he was not the pristine pure virgin that you thought  he was? Either physically or in his thought life?

That is a shame. I mean, I suppose you aren’t allowed to admit it, or talk about it, but you were probably looking forward to a young man that was eager for your marriage bed, no? [2] One that would eagerly do his best to ‘be fruitful and multiply’?[3] And now, of course, your having rejected him, he will struggle even more.[4] Wow, what a shame.

Maybe the problem was he just wasn’t enough of a spiritual leader.[5]

It  is a kind of difficult thing for a young man to develop, you must admit. Most of our churches kind of insist that it is really only the man who, after long years of leading his family in daily worship, and then shows himself able to handle the occasional fill in preaching, or Bible class, will be admitted to the ranks of spiritual leader, deacon, elder, that kind of thing.[6]

I imagine that he was almost certainly lazy.[7] It has been my experience that pretty much every young man is like that! Give them an inch of spare time and they will occupy it with an hour of Xbox, or facebook, or the latest G.A. Henty novel (that last one you might almost consider appropriate). Certainly few of our young men are eager to clean their rooms (did you ever even get to see his room? That was a tactical mistake on his part, unless he let his mother and/or sisters help him clean it up. For about a week.) Most of them are eager for some sort of paying job, but they might not have been so astute with what they did with the money they earned, and certainly they felt they earned their ‘down time’ when they got home after a long day’s work.

404px-Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_The_Elopement_-_1893Well, I don’t know which of these character flaws your young man had. Or perhaps it was even something else. But I do know I feel sorry for you, I really do. It must have been hard. We all know what you were looking forward to. We saw all of your eager, excited Facebook posts. We saw his, too, the ones where he posted a picture of you two together, and then Facebooked on each event he took ‘his girl’ to. It must have been very hard to break it off.

You have been trained to want to be a wife.[7b] To serve as a helpmeet for some man. The idea was exciting at first, but perhaps the older you got, the scarier it became as the reality of it really set in. And, of course, once you found out what this young man was like, it got scarier, to the point where you broke off your courtship. But, still, you were looking forward to it, no? The idea of being a wife?

And having your own  house.[8] We are sure you were looking forward to that! Choosing your own dishes, furniture, getting to arrange everything just the way you wanted. And having it all nice and clean, and a dinner all on the table, when your dream husband came home? Too bad this boy wasn’t him.

And having children, no?[9] I’m sure you were worried about pregnancy and childbirth, but I’m certain you were looking forward to having children, breastfeeding, showing off your latest newborn to all the women in church.

I have a thought for you. It may or may not be something you’ve thought about, but I would like to encourage you to think about it for a minute. Two thoughts, really.

First of all, I would ask you to consider whether you are all so perfect yourself. He probably didn’t notice, being sooo busy being attracted to you, but maybe you, too, had one or two little flaws. When you have those arguments (OK, ‘discussions’) with your mother, are you sure you are always the one who is right? That she never is actually pointing out an actual flaw in your character?[10]

maid-with-garland-1843.jpg!xlMediumNo, well, probably not. But if not that makes my next point all that much stronger. Have you considered that, just maybe, God didn’t want you to marry the perfect man? That perhaps a man who was less  Godly than you thought he should be, more tempted by fornication, more prone to laziness, and all of those things that, we all agree, were legitimate problems in that boy who was courting you, that perhaps it was a man like that, perhaps even that man, who God wanted you to marry?

Have you meditated on what God meant when he said that it was not good for man to be alone? [11] That perhaps all of those problems that you saw in your young man were, actually, while fully the result of sin, still issues that were part of why God designed you for him?[12] That perhaps your very perfection would be ways in which you would be helpful to your new husband?[13] That by sharing his bed you might help him with his tendency toward fornication? [14] That by being, and reminding him of, his new responsibilities you might help counteract some of his laziness? [15]

Indeed,  have you considered that when God said it was not good for man to be alone, when He said that He had created ‘male and female’ in His image, when He said that Christ’s death on the cross and His resulting marriage to the church He had bought and paid for was a reason for men to get married[16]… have you considered that all of these things might imply that man is made better by marriage? Sanctified by marriage?

Do you remember that I Peter 3 says that a believing wife might manage to bring to Christ her unbelieving husband by her chaste conduct and obedience?[17] Do you remember that Paul says that the unbelieving husband and his children are both sanctified by their believing wife? [18]

Have you considered that, like Esther, you might even have been put on Earth, put in the courtship you were in, for ‘Such a time as this’?[19] Or, in this situation, for ‘such a man as this’? If Esther was able to serve God as one of the women in the harem of a pagan king, are you really sure that it would have been impossible for you to serve God in the marriage that you just refused?

portrait-of-a-man-in-church-1900If you dare, look around you. See how many other girls are sitting there in the pews with you. Unmarried girls. Older girls.[20] Are you very, very sure that God wanted you to join their ranks? Instead of the ranks of, well, pretty much every Godly woman in Scripture? Eve, Rebecca, Rachel (and Leah!), Rahab… even Tamar, the one who had two unGodly husbands, so unGodly God killed both of them, even she ended up in the very line of Christ.[21]

It might, it just might, not be too late. The appropriate amount of tears and contrition might do the trick. Or maybe you could send Daddy over. Or maybe just answer the phone the next time he calls the way he’s been doing, several times a day and say, “Hey, I’m sorry, I was a jerk.”. Maybe. Just maybe. Think about it.

Your Brother in Christ,

Vaughn Ohlman

 

Note: Due to some odd, old fashioned, theological beliefs I have, I don’t really think it is my job to give young girls advice on the internet. I know everyone is doing it, nowadays, but still. So this letter is really written as a father, to fathers. Fathers of daughters. Hoping that what we write here will give them pause for reflection, and perhaps help them as they encourage their own daughters.

As well, this post is a call to reflection. It is meant to remind us that our goal should be to get our young people married, not to protect ourselves (and them) from a ‘less than perfect’ match. No one should take this post as some kind of call for every girl to be given in marriage to the first guy who asks. But at the same time it must remembered that maybe she should be given to that first guy who asked.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=William_O._Einwechter

[2] Song of Solomon, Proverbs 5, I Corinthians 7:2-5

[3] Genesis 2

[4] I Corinthians 7:9

[5] Ephesians 5

[6] I Timothy 3, Titus 1

[7] Proverbs 19:15 etc.

[7b] Proverbs 18:22

[8] Proverbs 31

[9] Psalm 127, 128

[10] Romans 3:23

[11] Genesis 2

[12] I Corinthians 7:9

[13] I Peter 3

[14] I Corinthians 7:2

[15] I Timothy 5

[16] Ephesians 5

[17] I Peter 3

[18] I Corinthians 7:12-14

[19] Esther 4:14

[20] http://truelovedoesntwait.com/the-path-to-marriage/readiness/the-marriage-crisis-courtship-and-a-generation-of-frustrated-godly-youth/

[21] Gen 38

Written by: Vaughn Ohlman
Approved by: Jeff Woodward

 

14 comments

  1. laura says:

    Interesting post to remember. This is good for the “feminist” mind-set or for the “lazy man” who does not study scripture regularly.

    Even eve and all the other israelites encountered “still birth” miscarriage and all sorts of trials. Until Christ is king in a womans’ life nothing will go just right. Religion can’t cover it up for sure.

  2. L says:

    What a heaping load of guilt and fear in this post. I wonder if you, the author, think this sort of thing applies in reverse? Maybe young men should be marrying “ungodly” girls who struggle with things like being flirtatious or who, *gasp*, may have made a mistake and had sex already. After all, if they have someone of their own to sleep with, they will struggle less, right?

    Are you aware that studies have shown that a woman’s cold feet before a wedding strongly predict whether or not they will eventually get divorced? Your culture’s mindset is bizarre to me, so little grace and so little room for growth and so much pressure to get it right, right now.

    • Von says:

      L,
      We generally disapprove of ‘anonymous’ posters, so I would strongly encourage you to change your ‘name’ to something real.

      However your comment raises interesting points. First of all, yes, in general, these things work both directions. Indeed I Corinthians 7:9 makes no distinction of persons.

      I am very little interested in ‘studies’ except for those that study the word of God. However as we are not discussing the issue of ‘cold feet’ I fail to see the relevance. Were these marriages those that had been arranged via parents? Or those of the unGodly methods of dating and courtship? Are you aware that couples who spend a long time in ‘engagement’ and live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate? Or that societies which practice arranged marriages between Christians have an almost zero divorce rate?

      Sorry our mindset is bizarre. We often find that trying to follow Scripture seems like foolishness to those outside the faith. And often to those inside, too.

  3. Pat says:

    I’m going to be honest – I find this bizarre and not Biblical at all. For a start, why would it be so bad if you weren’t married? I notice your list of Godly women doesn’t include Lydia, Mary and Martha, Deborah or Dorcas. But then, your Bible doesn’t include 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 either, apparently.

    I do agree that neither a girl nor a guy is ever going to find someone perfect to marry, but I don’t see that grabbing the first person who comes along is either Biblical or wise! Maybe that’s not the point you were trying to make in this post, but if it’s not then I’m not sure what point you are trying to make.

  4. Ross Clark says:

    @Pat – Deborah was the wife of Lappidoth; whether she was the mother of anyone, the text does not say, although she calls herself a ‘mother in Israel’.

    • Pat says:

      Apologies, I should have checked that before posting and I didn’t because I was in a hurry. I don’t think it invalidates the point I was making (unless I’m wrong about all the other examples too, which I don’t think I am!)

      I would take the ‘Mother in Israel’ title to be more about her status in the nation – in the same way that we might perhaps say of someone in the church that she is a mother to the younger women, or something like that. Whether Deborah had biological children or not, as you say the Bible doesn’t tell us.

      • Ross Clark says:

        Yeah … the New Testament does have more examples of positive singleness than I first realised, and tradition includes St John in this list as well. Not unimportant if you are single; especially important if you don’t want to be single and for whatever reason a marriage isn’t happening.

  5. Pat says:

    Of course, a lot of people in the NT, we just don’t know whether they were single or not, particularly the men. Out of the apostles, for example, Peter had a mother in law (so I think we can safely infer a wife!) and Paul was either single or a widower – I can’t think of any passage where we’re told about any other apostle. I like the phrase ‘positive singleness’ by the way! I think one of the things we can take from these examples is that singleness is no barrier to serving God – which at all times and in all stages of our lives is where our focus should be.

  6. Von says:

    Sorry, I was out for the weekend… busy on this issue in a personal sense, actually. So some general rather than specific replies:
    1) No, there is no such thing in Scripture as ‘positive singleness’ (altho one understands why the modern world liked the term). Singleness is seen, in Scripture, universally as a curse. ‘God sets the solitary in families’.
    2) There are extremely rare examples of unmarried people doing God’s will in that state: the virgins in revelation, for example, or Paul in I Cor 7. These are, however, always seen as non-normative. Even while Paul says ‘it is good for a man not to touch a woman’ he follows it up in the very next verse with ‘nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife…”
    3) There are precisely zero examples of people in Scripture where, having reached maturing, we know that they never married, and God commends/exemplifies them for that. The contrary, on the other hand, is normative: Psalm 127/128 for example.
    4) So, in conclusion, being unmarried can be, and is, a huge barrier to serving God. Paul specifically outlines a couple of these ways in I Corinthian seven, and I Timothy 5.
    (5) And I really can’t understand how someone could speak of Deborah as having the ‘status’ of mother in Israel without being, like, a ‘mother’ in Israel. Even in the United States, with its dramatically anti-child mentality that wouldn’t fly, but how much less so in ancient times!! When barrenness was a huge reproach!!)

    • Pat says:

      1) Scripturally, where does it ever say singleness is a curse? Barrenness is at times referred to as a curse, but I do not know of any verse which says singleness is. One of the reasons it is not, for me, a curse is because God has set me in a family – the church family!

      2 and 3) If by singleness being non-normative, you mean that most people will marry (this makes marriage the normal state in the same way that right-handedness is!) then I agree entirely. I do not think that is what you mean however.

      Your assumption that all Godly people in the Bible were married I take issue with. I note you have not explained how any of the examples of whom I spoke (apart from Deborah, where Ross corrected me) were not single. What about the four virgin daughters of Phillip the evangelist? (If they were married, something was seriously wrong with that relationship!)

      Your explaination of 1 Corinthians 7 I find both odd and unconvincing. I believe (as I think you also do) in Sola Scriptura, so that we do not need anything else to explain the Bible. For your explanation of this passage to be correct I must accept that there was some temporary situation in that time and place (even though Paul does not say that) which means that Paul was speaking only for that time and place. Where is your Biblical evidence for this?

      4) I can accept that in certain situations being unmarried could be a barrier to serving God (though I admit I can think of not a single Biblical example showing this). But to say positively that it is, when you consider (I’m going to go back to it) these verses: “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” – Well, all I can say is, do you think Scripture would ever contradict itself?

      5) I’m not going to make a fuss about this one – I would accept that the balance of probability is that Deborah had children.

  7. Von says:

    Some specific replies now…
    Pat: I’m not surprised you find this post bizarre if you don’t understand why, Biblically, it is such a bad thing not to marry. While you’re in I Corinthians 7 (and my Bible does include the whole chapter, by the way) I suggest you check out verses 2-5 and 8-9, as well as 36.
    Even during the time of special distress that Paul was writing to, one where even married people would have to be as those who had no spouses, Paul still mentioned that ‘every’ man should have his own wife and ‘every’ woman her own husband.
    I I Tim 5 and Titus 2, again, we find that the normative state for women is marriage, bearing children, loving their husbands, etc., and that the contrary leads to the word being blasphemed, and some going aside after Satan. Our post here might make more sense read in that context.

  8. Von says:

    Ross: Not sure where you get this ‘list of positive singles’ in the NT. To be clear:
    1) The NT lists zero men as known to be single (let alone for that state to be seen as positive).
    2) NT scholars universally state that Christ had no Earthly wife. However as the entire Scriptures are about His marriage to the bride God the Father picked for him from before the foundation of the Earth, this is hardly an example of ‘positive singleness’.
    3) Paul, at the time of I Cor 7, seemed clearly not to be having sex, and able to be content in celibacy. However we do not know if that was because he was a widower, or his wife had left him because of his Christianity, etc. As we was a Pharisee it is almost inconceivable he had never married: that was a requirement for their sect.
    4) Going by ‘tradition’ is a weak reed. ‘Tradition’ would tell us that the apostles all stopped having sex with their wives once they get chosen, too.

  9. Von says:

    Pat
    1) Where in Scripture does it ever speak of Singleness? Answer, in only one verse:
    Psa 68:6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
    In this text the implication is obvious that being ‘solitary’ is a bad thing.
    While there are unmarried, widowers, widows, etc… the appelation ‘single’ (ie ‘solitary’) is a bad thing.
    2-3) I do firstly mean ‘what pretty much everyone did’, yes. But I also mean it in the positive sense: ‘what pretty much everyone did, and that was a good thing for them to do’. As God says, “It is not good for man to be alone” and “I will the younger women marry” and “Children are an heritage from the LORD.”
    If you would like to list an example of someone, from Scripture, that never married, and was blessed for remaining in that unmarried state, feel free. I’m not exactly sure what particular list you are talking about.
    4) Scripture does not contradict itself, we are agreed there. But there is a difference between specific context and overall context. This is one reason why we use the word ‘normative’. See my post ‘Jesus, Paul, and Real Men’ for more explanation there.
    It is perfectly possible for it to be true that: “It is good for person A to be unmarred at time B” while it is also true that “In general it is bad to be unmarried.” Those are not contradictory.

  10. Von says:

    Ok, I re-read this a couple of times and think now I know what ‘list’ you are talking about. So, to clarify:
    1) I know of exactly one woman in Scripture (I stand ready to be corrected) who never married, never had children and was, in one sense, blessed for this. That would be the daughter of Jepthah. However even she mourned her virgin condition.
    2) On the other hand we know of literally dozens (by name) or hundreds (unnamed) of women who married, had children, and were blessed in that. We know of several blessings of and for marriage (children, etc.) and I know of no blessings given to those committed to remaining unmarried.
    3) There are women whose life-long marital state is not listed. Given that the overwhelming majority of women in Bible times (indeed in most of history) were married, at least at some point, this proves nothing.
    What do we know of the marital status of Lydia, for example? Nothing. The word used to refer to her, gune, is almost always used to mean ‘wife’… but what of that? (Sarcasm alert). She had a household, and was baptized with them, but whether she was a widow, or her husband was absent (perhaps on a trip to buy more purple) we aren’t told. Knowing that society, however, it would be a foolish person who bet against that husband existing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers