You know its June when every Sunday’s scroll through your Facebook feed produces beautiful wedding photos from the day before! Glowing brides, proud parents, adorable flower girls, Pinterest-perfect receptions, its all there in Instagram loveliness.
When Julie Newmar sang “They say when you marry in June, you’re a bride all your life” back in 1954, everyone assumed it meant being a lifelong bride to the same groom. But, “as long as we both shall live” is now “as long as we both shall love” and even the lesser cynics among us refer to the “starter marriage” in everyday conversation.
Christian parents of teens and young adults wonder how their children will ever commit to marriages for a lifetime when it is so rare even within the church. In fact, I believe the body of Christ has lost much of our credibility to take a stand against homosexual arrangements because of our unwillingness to hold a truly God-honoring marriage to a high standard. It wasn’t that long ago when a young mom told me that her desire for me to mentor her was based on the fact that I “had been married to the same man for a really long time.” She knew that was hard to come by, even in her expressly conservative evangelical and Bible-teaching church. I cringed as she spoke.
But I am not talking simply about the willy-nilly approach that has been taken toward any unbibical divorce and remarriage in the church. (Long-time readers here know I differentiate between genuine biblical and unbiblical standards for this.) I am also talking about things like the unwillingness for church leaders to intercede for women who are being abused by husbands, refusal for churches to practice church discipline when there is obvious unbiblical divorce, and serial adulterers whose behaviors everyone is supposed to “forgive and forget.” It’s a mess out there. Is it any wonder parents often enter into this arena with either blinders on or swords drawn?
I recognize this is one of those topics that is really touchy but also really important. So today I am launching a discussion on preparing children, older youth, young adults, and parents for marriage. What should we consider is important along this path? What should be a conviction, what should be a preference? What should we teach our children? How much involvement should a parent have in the process? Are there non-optional standards for believers? Where is the Bible clear and where is there room for making individual choices? What can the body of Christ do differently to prepare people for marriage? What can it do to build up both individual marriages and the institution itself?
This will be a multi-part series so it will be easier to follow some of the topics and not be too overwhelming! And for now, I still have comment moderation enabled. As always, I look forward to the input of my readers. We have a variety of ages and a variety of experience in getting and being married and raising children so I think we can have great discussion! I am looking forward to it.
The Necessary Parent
When we attended Bill Gothard’s IBLP Basic Seminar back in the mid-80s, one of the topics he covered was dating. This was before he had moved into his courtship teachings and even before anyone we knew of had started discussing things like courtship and betrothal. In fact, courtship, to us, was how our grandparents and sometimes even our parents would refer to meeting, getting to know, and preparing to marry each other. In fact, they didn’t often refer to relationships with the opposite sex outside of the goal of being married one day.
Our grandparents on both sides had been in “til-death-to-us-part” marriages and each of our parents were close to celebrating golden wedding anniversaries. We made the same commitment and we knew that, as parents, we wanted to encourage our own children to do the same. But we also knew we had not always chosen wisely along the way and hoped to see our children avoid some of the bumps in the road we had encountered.
Isn’t it interesting that often parents will do this with children when it comes to making career or educational choices, involvement in extracurricular activities, and financial decisions but it is hands off when it comes to dating and marriage?
So we began listening to the many voices of instruction and took away one really important truth that, I believe, is central to the whole discussion of dating, courtship, marriage, and our children.
Parents need to be involved.
In The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home, a central theme I discussed is the importance of relationship building beginning before birth so that mentoring our children through the big decisions of life will be a natural, organic process. Too often we believe that once children reach a certain age, we are supposed to sit on the sidelines and watch them makes choices, for good or for bad, without giving them any input. This is folly. Scripture commands us to practice the one anothers of Scripture with our brothers and sisters in Christ, beginning with our precious children! As they become adults, we approach them just as we do other believers, admonishing, exhorting, bearing their burdens, forgiving, etc., all aspects of the dating, courting, and marriage years.
So I am beginning with the premise that parents are and should be involved and with that, will continue on to Part Two!