Thoughts On Betrothal (15 Years
by Matthew Chapman
Judging by the amount of email response we have received, the volume of visitors to Jonathan Lindvall’s web site to read the article, and the now shocking (to me) results of doing an Internet search on Google.com using our names and the word “betrothal,” it seems that the story of how my wife, Maranatha, and I were betrothed and married has circulated pretty substantially among many of the Lord’s people and particularly among those who homeschool their children. It was featured in Home School Digest some years ago, and a number of other publications have since asked permission to publish or post it in their various media. When we wedded in the way in which we did, we never thought it would become a testimony that folks from literally all over the world would one day read about. We are still shocked when people we are being introduced to or folks in grocery stores or other public places stop and ask us, “Are you the ones who got married at the surprise wedding feast?” Maranatha and I find this quite humbling and amazing.
I’m sure there are many of you reading this that have not read or heard of this story that I am referring to of how Maranatha and I were betrothed and married. Since it is not the point of this article to recount it in detail, allow me to describe it “in a nutshell.” When the time came for us to marry, upon seeking the Lord, we discerned the Holy Spirit’s leading for us to do so in what was, for us, a most unusual way. We sensed that He put it in our hearts to live out, as best we could, the ultimate reality of what our less-than-perfect “shadow” of earthly betrothal and marriage merely reflected—the Lord Jesus, the true Bridegroom, receiving His bride, who will have made herself ready for Him, and them being joined together for eternity.
To demonstrate this, we thought it right to become “betrothed,” (cf. 2 Cor. 11:2) which we understood from Scriptures, such as the ones about Joseph and Mary, to be something more binding than American engagement and yet less than full marriage. So with Maranatha’s father’s full participation and blessing, we went to a Justice of the Peace and were legally married in the eyes of man’s law, and yet, I would knowingly have to continue to wait indefinitely for Maranatha to “make herself ready” before we would be authorized to consummate the wedding. (cf. Rev. 19:7-9) Thus, later, when her father determined she was ready, he would notify me of when I could go get her and take her to the wedding feast that he would prepare. But until then, we would “not know the day or the hour.” (cf. Matt. 22:1-14, 24:36; Mark 13:32, Rev. 19:7-9) Our betrothal was a wonderful time for us—getting to know one another and our hearts bonding more deeply, (cf. John 17:3) and for Maranatha giving herself to the necessary preparations for her life as well as making her wedding dress of “fine linen, bright and clean.” (cf. Rev. 19:7-8) and for me to “go and prepare a place for [her]” so that at the appointed time I would “come again and receive [her] to myself, so that where I am, there [she] may be also.” (cf. John 14:1-3)
Five months later, as the time drew near, Maranatha was given a three-week window of time in which, on one of those days, between 3pm and midnight, I would come to take her to the wedding feast. So each day during this time, from 3pm to midnight, she had to be ready for my coming—suitcases packed, dressed for the wedding, and literally ready to walk out the door. When her father gave me the word, I, accompanied by “attendants of the bridegroom,” (Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:19-20, Luke 5:34-35) went and entered “with a shout” (cf. 1 Thes. 4:16-17; I barged through the door and shouted, “Maranatha! Maranatha!” which in Hebrew means, “Lord, come! Lord, come!”) and off we went to the wedding feast and into a wonderful life together. [Editor’s Note: The complete details of this fascinating story are shared in depth in Home School Digest (V9N2). To order, see pages 94-96.]
Most people begin with some knowledge of the truth in an area and then move into the experience of it. Amazingly, however, we came at it the other way around. We had a very rich experience in our betrothal and marriage and then subsequently came into more of a deeper understanding of it. It wasn’t until after we were married that we began to realize that, by God’s grace, we had, as it were, stumbled into discovering some of His ways for the process of moving from singleness to marriage. By this, I’m not referring to the specific procedure we did (legal JP wedding, waiting period, surprise wedding feast, etc.), but rather a number of elements that went into providing us with such a good foundation and launch into marriage.
We all have trials and hardships in this life of one sort or another, but I am very blessed to be able to say that my marriage is not one of them. From day one our marriage has only become richer, our love has only deepened, and our desire to be together has only increased. To this day, we have never gone to bed at odds with one another. Our life together, which now includes the blessing of children, is a wonderful adventurous journey in the Lord as we daily seek Him in faith and endeavor to do His will. This is not the case because we are exceptional people or come from some perfect Godly pedigree. In fact, for those of you who have read our story, the reason it is so noticeably silent in certain areas is due to the weaknesses and imperfections of our own lives and backgrounds. So why is our marriage so good? I think Paul the apostle and John the Baptizer said it best:
“What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 4:27)
I believe that Maranatha and I are blessed in our marriage because of the grace and mercy of God in all that was given, imparted, provided, and otherwise deposited in us before we were married. As we now celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary and the recent birth of our sixth child, I would like to share some thoughts and perspectives I now have, as a husband and father, in reflecting back on some of these aspects/elements of our betrothal and the resulting ways in which we have benefited and been blessed even up to the present time. My prayer is that this would be an encouragement to parents who are seeking to honor the Lord in how they walk with their children up to and through this blessed time, as well as to those of you young adults who are looking toward marriage.
It Takes Great Faith For Parents To Marry Off Their Children
I know I have just stated the obvious, but allow me to expound. The older I get, the more deeply I appreciate Maranatha’s father, Stan, giving his daughter to me in marriage, and the more I wonder at his faith in doing so. It certainly takes faith for the ones marrying too, but I think it is more so for the parents. Now that I have four daughters, I can hardly imagine giving any of them to some young man in marriage. In fact, surely that is the Lord’s voice I hear telling me that they will remain single—forever! Yes! I’ll “do better,” as Paul said, (1 Cor. 7:37-38) and keep them all single! No, no, that’s just my protectiveness. Oh, but perhaps, this vision I keep having is surely from the Lord!?! I can see that I will be perfectly able to single out the young men my daughters will marry because all I have to do is look for these signs from God: The young men they are to marry will be perfectly sanctified. They will possess no weaknesses. They will have the entire Bible memorized in English, as well as the original Hebrew and Greek, and will have all the very same understandings as I do about their meaning. They will exercise profoundly mature wisdom and perfect discretion in every circumstance. They will also be immune from the barrage of buckshot that they will encounter as they approach my home. And, lastly, they will buy the acreage that borders my place so as not to take any of my girls to some far-off place to live. Yes, surely these are the signs!
I’m being facetious, of course. But seriously, the longer I live, the more I thank the Lord for the witness of the Holy Spirit and the faith of a father who, at best, could only “see in part” in giving his daughter—an outstanding gift of immeasurable value—to one such as me. Long before I ever saw Maranatha as a possibility for a wife, Stan had spent years fathering me in the Lord. (1 Cor. 4:14-17, Phil. 2:19-22, 1 Tim. 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:2) Of all people, he knew virtually everything there was to know about Matthew Chapman—my past, my weaknesses, my struggles, and my lacks as a man. But thankfully, even though he could see me realistically in terms of “my feet being made of clay,” he was also able to see a young man who loves Jesus with all His heart and wants Him more than anything—even his precious daughter, Maranatha—and that it was God’s will for him to give her to me. Give her to me! I cannot fully convey my deep appreciation for his faith in acting upon what the Lord showed him was His will. I also subsequently observed his example of faith in the giving of his other two daughters in marriage, as well as standing with his son in taking a certain dear sister as his wife and, of course, I have seen countless others do so, too.
My point is this: Parents, and especially you fathers, one day it will be our turn. One day the Lord will bring the young men along to whom we are to give our daughters, and the young ladies whom we will stand with our sons in marrying. And each time these events come about, it will require faith in our doing it. Marriages are a dime a dozen in the world, but among God’s people, it is to be done “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39, et al.) We are aware that we are running a race during our time on this earth that has eternal consequences, rewards, and recompenses. (2 Cor. 5:9-10, Rev. 22:12) We are aware of how much a good marriage can assist our children in their races and how much a bad marriage can hinder them, not to mention the corresponding effects their marriages will have upon generations to come. Thus we take the marriages of our children—the “quiver full” of “arrows in the hand of a warrior” that we want to launch “in the way they should go”—very seriously.
Parents, we can and should pray for the future spouses of our children and trust the Lord to raise them up and bring them along at the proper time—but we must guard our hearts from developing expectations. It may be that our child’s future spouse was born at home in a midwife-assisted birth, homeschooled from day one, raised thoroughly in the fear and admonition of the Lord, never dated, and have kept themselves physically and emotionally pure for our son or daughter. If this is so, praise the Lord. But, what if the one whom the Lord brings is of a different background? Will we praise Him just the same and recognize His provision for our sons and daughters? What if the one God has didn’t come to the Lord until they were in their late teens or early 20’s and comes from a family of unbelievers? What if their parents were divorced and one parent raised them while the other one was absent? What if their parents are Christians who don’t hold to our particular convictions and standards? If the Lord took such a young adult, transformed their life, and designated them for one of our children—will they be good enough for us if they are good enough for Him? Or, will we hold their background over their heads and relate to them as “spoiled goods”?
I’m not talking here about lowering our standards for the maturity, Godliness, and character we feel before the Lord is essential for a young man or woman to possess before we would give our blessing to one of our children marrying that person. I’m talking about expectations regarding their background or, perhaps, their profession/trade, physical looks, etc. I know a brother who always assumed that he would give his daughter to a farmer because she was raised on a family farm and helped run their goat dairy. He was pleasantly surprised when the young man the Lord brought along was a city boy, and they now live and minister in Los Angeles. We have to be open to what the Lord has for us.
The Necessity Of The Parents’ Involvement
Before I came to believe that Maranatha was the one whom the Lord had for me to marry, I must confess that my idea of moving from singleness to marriage was the worldly ideal of dating that had merely been tweaked somewhat so as to make it “more Godly.” I tried my best to date in a God-honoring way, knowing that the Lord witnessed all of my words, thoughts, and actions, and yet, I couldn’t figure out why most of these relationships went sour and ended up not honoring the Lord. I finally reached a point where I gave the whole possibility of marriage over to the Lord and covenanted with Him to remain single unless He Himself initiated change in this area. I resolved to give myself wholly to serving the Lord like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7, and to not be moved by feelings of loneliness or the pretty faces of sweet sisters. This season of my life was greatly used of the Lord to purge me and teach me restraint on a whole new level. Many nights I cried on my way to bed, assuming that I would never know the companionship of a wife or the blessing of children, and yet, I would also find great delight in the Lord and encouragement in seeing the possibility of knowing Him in a way that only a relative few who remain single for Him have the opportunity to do. But, in time, the Lord Himself did initiate a blessed change in this area when He revealed His choice of Maranatha for me one day while I was delighting myself in Him. (Ps. 37:4)
I give this background to say that, after going through this, it was a tremendous blessing to then have Maranatha’s father help guide me/us through the process of becoming betrothed and married. I needed the parameters he gave me (at the threat of my life!) concerning physical contact and what I was allowed and not allowed to do with his daughter during our betrothal. I needed someone with the wisdom of having walked with the Lord for many more years than me to counsel me in the ways I needed to make preparations for marriage. Had I been left to myself (my parents were not able to be with me in this way), I would have done my very best before the Lord, but the quality of our foundation in marriage would have been far short of what it turned out to be due to the direct involvement of a Godly father in the Lord, who just happened to be my wife’s biological father as well.
And, for Maranatha especially, as for any daughter approaching marriage, she needed a father who was covering and protecting her through the whole process. I believe that it was right before God and wholly appropriate for him to be the “gatekeeper,” so to speak, that I had to pass through in order to have his daughter. If there was any risk of awkwardness, disappointment, and hurt feelings from being turned down, it fell squarely upon me, whereas she was shielded from ever being in such a position. Though Stan loved me as a son, he would gladly have allowed me to fall on the chopping block before he would ever have exposed his daughter to having her heart defrauded and wounded.
I also believe it is right for a young man—the one who is to one day be the head of the home and leader of the family—to be the one to take the risk, with his parents blessing, in approaching the father of the young woman and putting his heart out there in revealing to him what he believes is God’s will and leading. The father of the young woman can then pray with his wife and seek the Lord to reveal His will and leading as to whether or not anything is to proceed beyond that point, and this can all be done without the daughter’s knowledge. If they discern it is the Lord’s will, they can talk with their daughter and allow her to freely see if she also bears witness to the Lord’s will. But, if the parents do not discern the Lord’s will concerning the young man, the father can then communicate this to him, and his daughter was protected from ever having to be in a vulnerable position.
When it comes to the marriage of sons, we parents can walk with them through the process, but it is different. Parents, and specifically fathers, do not give away their sons, they give away their daughters. (1 Cor. 7:36-38) A son, on the other hand, is the one doing the acquiring. (Prov. 18:22) In terms of relating in marriage a son, as the man, is/will be directly under the headship of Christ, whereas the wife will be under the man’s headship. (1 Cor. 11:3) In fact, the Bible even makes it clear that “man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake,” (1 Cor. 11:7-9) —this is within the context of the man loving his bride like Jesus loves His. (Eph. 5:25) So, I see it as imperative for Godly parents to walk with their sons through the process of obtaining a wife in a praying, confirming, and advisory role. The young man must stand on his own two feet and, from the inception of even the possibility of a marriage relationship, be the one to initiate, risk, and submit to the young woman’s father’s way of handling the giving away of his daughter.
This brings up another point. I think it is worthy of mention that, when you get down to it, it is the father of the bride who “holds all the cards.” In other words, before the Lord, he is the one giving his daughter in marriage and it is he who gets to decide how he will allow his daughter to be acquired by a young man. His way may be courtship, his way may be betrothal, his way may be some combination of the two, or he may be slow on the uptake and not even have a way and will need to discover it as he goes. He may be reasonable in his approach or unreasonable, strict or one who makes unwise allowances, etc. But, whatever his way of procedure is, it is his to set forth to the young man. Some Biblical examples of this are Laban with Jacob (Gen. 29:1-20) and King Saul with David. (1 Sam. 18:20-29)
One direct benefit I see of this dynamic in my life is how deeply I cherish Maranatha. I spent a number of years waiting for her and had to follow her father’s wonderfully strict and costly game plan in order to take his daughter’s hand in marriage. It’s not that he was unreasonable, he just didn’t flippantly or cheaply hand over his daughter for nothing. We value things in proportion to their cost, and I paid quite a price, so to speak, for Maranatha. Consequently, my love for her, and my cherishing of her, is enormous, and has only grown in these 15 years. You see the same with Jacob and the relationship between the price he paid to have Rachel and the love he had for her.
I am so thankful for the blessing of getting to reap the fruit of having paid such a price. I have had numerous men come to me over the years and say, “I love my wife, but I can see that I don’t really cherish her. What can I do?” I never know what to say other than encourage/exhort them in anything I see in their particular situation and pray with them, asking the Lord to do a work in their heart. Cherishing Maranatha is something as natural for me as breathing. I never think about how I do it, I just do. And I think it has much to do with her worth to me, as evidenced by what I gladly chose to go through in order to have her.
Parents—Have A Plan!
Parents, don’t wait until that young man asks to talk with you in private about your daughter to figure out what you think about all of this. Likewise, don’t wait until your son is ready to marry before you recognize your need to help guide and prepare him. If you wait until this late hour to come up with a plan, you will be at an extreme disadvantage, and whatever ways you seek to lead and determine the process will likely be met with resistance and viewed as impositions upon the independent life you allowed your child to develop. So, wherever you are at in life, begin now to seek the Lord concerning how He would have you relate to helping your children move from singleness to marriage. Obviously, you cannot know the exact specifics of how each situation in the future will play out, but you can have a plan before God concerning what you believe are the essential elements. (Ps. 16:9)
There are a lot of good, thought-provoking materials out there on courtship and betrothal written from varying perspectives by some very Godly folks. Unfortunately, there are some not-so-good materials out there, too. Dads and Moms, ask the Lord for discernment and then sort through and find the ones you feel good about before Him. Read them together, talk about it, and pray and seek the Lord together for a basic plan of how you believe He would have you relate to the process with your daughters and your sons. Even though Maranatha and I have the background we do, we know that we by no means know it all, and so we have been doing this and it has been (and continues to be) an enjoyable endeavor that has made for many enjoyable times together in learning and sharing. The earlier in your family life you are at peace with this, the better you can aim your children in that direction and shape their perceptions of what is to come. But, if you have been passive and allowed a void that the world has filled, and then you pop up one day and tell your 19-year-old daughter that you’ve decided to go the courtship or betrothal route, you are likely going to have a rough ride.
As your basic convictions take shape (regarding things like no dating, waiting until you are of marrying age, appropriateness in male-female contact, parental involvement, etc.) look for ways to begin introducing and imparting these perspectives to your children, preferably from the time they are very little. Nowadays, there are a number of wonderful testimonies in print of the betrothals and courtships of various Christian couples. Read them together as a family. In my opinion, even if their specific arrangement was less than, more than, or different from how you might plan to do it, you can still share together the basic themes of purity and parents walking with their children through the process, and glean from the lives of our brethren who are seeking to honor the Lord in what they are doing. If there are some weak points in the story, these can be talked about in a peaceable way with a heart of learning and not faultfinding. This will go a long way toward preparing both you and your children for that day and shaping their perceptions of what is to come.
Parents who have a plan are able to present a real gift for the couple getting married. In our own situation, Maranatha clearly knew to trust and follow her father in however he led her through the process. As for me, I was led/allowed as a child to identify with the world’s basic way of dating, engagement, and marriage, which the Lord had to purge through and sanctify after I came to Him. I at least knew that the beginning place was to go to Maranatha’s father, Stan, first. And, since I didn’t have anyone in my family to help walk me through the process, Stan graciously did double-duty and walked me through, too. He, thankfully, had a basic plan, and he sought the Lord at every step for the specific applications. I cannot imagine a smoother transition into marriage than what I was given—praise the Lord!
There Is Not A Specific “One-Size-Fits-All” Procedure For Marriage
Back when Maranatha and I became married (July 22, 1988), homeschooling barely showed up on the radar screen, and the current broad-based discussion about courtship and betrothal was virtually unheard of—at least in our experience. In fact, at that time, we had never even heard of anyone going through a courtship or entering into a betrothal. Our wedding back then wasn’t, as some wrongly perceive it today, a statement about “doing it the right way,” nor were we implying a standard that others should follow regarding how it should be done. We simply did what we did in obedience to how we discerned the Lord to be leading us, and it met up with what was in our hearts concerning Him and His eternal purpose for Whom, and for which, we want to completely spend our lives. So, we offered the whole process to the Lord as our prayer and intercession.
There is no specific “one-size-fits-all” procedure for transitioning a man and a woman from singleness to marriage. Look at how the Lord specifically led Abraham to get a bride for his son, Isaac, in Genesis 24. Isaac stayed home while Abraham’s servant journeyed to where Abraham had commanded him and the Lord led the servant to Rebekah, who returned with him. Upon their first meeting, Isaac took her into his mother’s tent and consummated the marriage, and the Lord led and blessed throughout this whole process. But then, you look at Jacob and what he went through in obtaining Rachel as his wife and it was a whole different process, as was the case with David and Michal, (1 Sam. 18) as was the case with Boaz and Ruth, etc. This is not to say that there were not, perhaps, some consistent elements, but there is no way anyone can say that there is only one procedure and it is to be followed to the “t” every single time someone gets married.
I make this point because I have been amazed at the amount of letters I have received by people who are seeking “the right Biblical pattern.” One man wrote to me and congratulated Maranatha and me for having found and lived out “the most Scriptural pattern”—like it is some kind of contest. I wanted to pull my hair out and scream. I do not fault anyone for wanting to honor the Lord in what they do, and I know that is part of the motivation behind some of these inquiries. But, the sad reality that I most often see is that people have an aversion to seeking the Lord and finding from Him what they are to do. Instead, they want someone to hand them a package deal, a perfect-patterned procedure that they can do with a guarantee that you will consult them if there are any glitches. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with learning and being helped by one another, and I don’t mind helping those who are seeking the Lord in any way I can. But, to be a placebo for someone else seeking the Lord—that’s a whole different matter. “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)
I, obviously, don’t have a problem with betrothal—I did one. But, I would be shocked if the Lord led for any of our children to get married in exactly the same way as He did for Maranatha and I. The specifics of what we did was certainly not your norm, but it was orchestrated and blessed by God. Which begs the question: What is normal? I see aspects of moving toward marriage, as I have already said, that are clearly commanded by the Lord, but I do not see in the Scriptures an exact mandated procedure. Likewise, Jesus performed many healings, and even pointed to the Scriptures in Isaiah 35 that characterized this aspect of His coming, (Matt. 8:1-17, 11:2-6) but did He have a set procedure for, say, healing blind eyes? No. For some He laid his hands upon them and their sight was restored, for others He merely spoke a word, and for others He spit in the dirt and made mud and applied it to their eyes and told them to go wash it off and when they did they were healed. The outcome was the same—the blind could see; but how He brought them there varied. And, how did Jesus know which procedure to use in each circumstance? It’s very simple: He only did those things He saw and heard from the Father. (John 5:19-20, 12:49-50)
There is also the whole aspect of “according to your faith, so be it done unto you.” Some may have the faith to enter into an irrevocable betrothal at the front end of the process, some may not. My father-in-law did in our case, but this faith came because he/we had heard the Lord for our situation. (Rom. 10:17!) This was not the case when he subsequently gave his other two daughters in marriage to the Godly men of the Lord’s choosing. They went through more of a courtship-type process, which is what he had the faith for in those situations because this was how he understood the Lord to be leading him. The most important thing is for them to marry in God’s will.
It is like having babies. We strongly prefer home birth as opposed to hospital birth, and we have been blessed to have all of our babies at home. With each birth, the outcome was the same—a healthy child, praise the Lord—but each pregnancy and delivery varied in circumstances greatly. But then, who is to say that there may not come a time when a hospital birth is wholly appropriate? I knew a couple who had had several babies at home, but then another particular pregnancy came along where the father, who had no idea why, felt strongly from the Lord that they were to have the child at the hospital, so they proceeded in that direction in faith and obedience. During the delivery, some potentially life-threatening complications suddenly arose and had they not been right there in the hospital, both mother and child may well have died in transport. Praise God for this brother’s seeking heart and inclined ears to the Lord, and their obedience in faith.
So, we need to seek the Lord for a basic plan for our children as we look toward that day. But then, we must also seek Him for the specific outworking when the time comes. Who knows what will be the circumstances in which our children will marry? What if they marry children from a family of believers who have also thought long and hard on this and are like-minded with us? What if they marry a believing son or daughter of unbelieving parents who cannot/will not provide the degree of appropriate and Godly reciprocal involvement for their child as we will be providing for ours? By the time my youngest are grown, what if we are living in times of extreme difficulty and persecution? We plan on being very much a part of the process, providing safety and covering and guidance at every step, and holding them accountable for emotional and physical purity, etc. But, how can I predetermine an exact procedure? This is just one more of a million aspects of life that point us to the imperative of seeking the Lord.
Groom/Bride Preparedness Is Essential
Obviously, no one is by any means perfect when they get married, but they can and should be prepared. I believe this is an essential element for a healthy, strong, and intimate marriage in God, and will make for much smoother sailing with minimal turbulence. In our situation, it was right that I was established in my life to the degree that I could fully support a stay-at-home wife, and it was right that Maranatha had the essential skills and capacities as a young woman before walking into that role.
May I be so bold as to say to you young men who may be reading this: If you, on your own, cannot support a wife, you have no business getting married. And, for that matter, there is really no point in you seeking a wife until you can. Use your energy to get established in life. It doesn’t mean your life has to be set in concrete or that you cannot change occupations later, if the Lord so leads. It simply means that you possess the consistent ability to do whatever is necessary to provide for your own and the maturity to lead a family. Of necessity, this means that the young men will probably be older when they marry (I was 28) because developing such capacities takes time, even when you have a faithful father helping you get a good start. Fathers, this is where it is imperative that we help our sons not only to become men of God who operate under the headship of Christ, (1 Cor. 11:3) but men who have the basic maturity of heart, character, and skills to begin families of their own. In our day, especially, this is no small order, because our culture makes it particularly difficult for fathers to have their sons with them in their daily lives and work in order to train them in these ways in “real time.”
Many Christian homeschooling homes, on the other hand, seem to provide young women with a more natural context in which to come forth—that is, if the parents have an eye for this and their time is used wisely. This is not only true in daughters learning homemaking skills from their mothers, but in the Lord fashioning in them a gentle and quiet spirit. Daughters can also develop a truly submissive heart in how they relate to their parents, and particularly their father, for one day they will have another man with whom they must submissively relate to as their head.
I know that in my case, I cannot even begin to fully communicate the wonderful gift Maranatha’s father gave to me in his daughter on the day we married. All her life, he had called her to trust him and follow him, even when she didn’t understand or, perhaps, even agree with how he was leading her, and she did. A few nights before our wedding feast, when Maranatha was dressed and ready and waiting for me to come, the doorbell rang and it was her dad who showed up instead. He assured her the wedding feast was not that particular night, and asked her to change her clothes and join him for a special dinner. He took her to a nice restaurant where they had a wonderful evening talking and sharing and laughing and crying together. Then, at one point, he told her, “Sweetheart, all your life you have submitted to me, trusted me, and followed me, and you have done this well. But, when Matthew comes and takes you, all of that transfers over to him, even if that means he leads you in ways that vary from how I would do things.” And when I went to get her, she followed her dad’s final lead right into my headship of her. Wow! Did I walk into a good deal or what?! I’ll tell you what though, having a wife with a heart like that makes you all the more want to seek the Lord and lead her faithfully.
Parents, I would also charge you to consider this. The way many Christian homeschooling parents raise their daughters, they mature rather quickly and develop significant capacities by a relatively young age. By their middle-teens, many daughters (but by no means all) possess the maturity and skills to run their own home. My point is to encourage you to be open to the Lord and take to heart that some of your daughters may be ready to marry sooner than your preconceived ideas have allowed for. And why not, if they are truly ready? What is the purpose of holding out for a predetermined numeric age if they are legitimately prepared and the Lord has brought His choice of a young man along for her? Don’t be surprised if this is some of the fruit of your good parenting in bringing forth mature, well-equipped, Godly young daughters. However, I seldom think this will be the case for most young men—it takes them (us) a lot longer to get to where they need to be. I have also seen that, oftentimes, a difference in age—even a significant one—with the man being older, helps make for a better fit.
In conclusion, I hope that these thoughts have given you some food for thought and have, perhaps, confirmed some things you were already considering. Marriage is such a wonderful, holy relationship God has given for this life. (Heb. 13:4) It’s importance cannot be emphasized enough, except to qualify that we are to love only Jesus more than we do our beloved spouse. (Luke 14:26) May the Lord bless you as you seek Him for guidance and wisdom for your own marriage, as well as for those of your children.
Matthew Chapman has been preaching and writing for over 23 years. He and his wife, Maranatha, (who is also a regular contributor to An Encouraging Word) homeschool their six children on a small farm in Central Texas. Materials by Matthew and Maranatha can be obtained through Kindling Publications, P.O. Box 306, Hearne, Texas 77859-0306. KindlingPub@cs.com. ©2003 Matthew Chapman
Reprinted from Vol. 14 No. 2 of Home School Digest. This article does not appear in it's entirety. To receive the complete V10#3 issue ($5.00 pp.) go to http://www.homeschooldigest.com or e-mail, orders at wisgate.com
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