A Pathway to Marriage: Principles in Courtship: Chapter 8

Frequently Asked Questions (with answers!)

Q: Many of the things written about in this book are not direct biblical commands. Why should I listen to what is here?

A: The is a difference between commands and convictions. The two should not be confused. God has given us moral commands that must be obeyed. Concerning this book, the most significant are sexual purity until marriage and honoring your father and mother. The rest of this book is a framework of convictions – wise ways of living that can change from place to place and person to person – that are helpful in keeping the commands of the Lord. These principles of conviction are meant to set you up for success. They are a larger framework built around the commands to help you walk in holiness but must not be seen as commands themselves. There are countless stories of people meeting and marrying. Some look like this book, but some do not. However, those that involve sexual sin and rebellion against parents, are marriage stories of struggle, guilt, and often divorce.

The convictional principles outlined in this book are mostly controversial because they are so very different from what our society looks like today. Christians are quick to point out how sinful the world is around us, how broken-down marriage and family has become, but they only want to slightly adjust their way of living from this sinful world. To walk in the ways of the Lord, ways of holiness, our lives will be lived in a radically different way from this world. It should not be a surprise that biblical commands and convictions take you in a very direction from this world.

Q: American culture tends to be very isolated and individualistic. Where should I go to meet a qualified potential spouse?

A: Remember that if it is God’s will for you to marry, you will meet that person in the midst of doing God’s will. Focus on the most important question of, “What would God have me to do with my life and time?” Let’s start with the fellowship of the local church. It’s definitely God’s will that you be integrally involved with a healthy local church. This does not mean anonymously sneaking in and out of Sunday morning services, and bemoaning that, “No one really speaks to me.” To build relationships in a church setting you should get involved on many levels. Get involved with a church that is both biblically faithful, but also generationally diverse. Don’t feel obligated to stay in a church that doesn’t have any younger people. They probably all left for a good reason, and you may be hanging around out of a sense of obligation or some other negative motive. Find a faithful and vibrant church and serve the Lord there. Go on mission trips. Serve the children. Volunteer at local charities. Use the gifts given to you by the Holy Spirit. In the midst of this you will meet all kinds of people and providential doors will open. 

Am I saying go to church to meet people? Partially, yes, because church is God’s designed community for people who love His name. If you want to meet a person who loves Jesus—go to a strong vibrant Bible-teaching church!

Q: As a father, how do I disciple the young man my daughter is courting? 

A: I would encourage you to systematically go through the six aspects of marital preparedness probing to see where the young man needs strengthening. No matter what, you need to spend constant time on the issue of spiritual maturity. Read a few basic Christian books together. By this I mean, you assign a chapter(s) for him to read and set a time to meet and discuss what you have read. You are leading, he is learning. There are plenty of books that fit the bill here, but a few I would recommend: Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald Whitney, The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges, Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (selected portions), Holiness by R.C. Sproul, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, and A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert H. Stein. As you find weaknesses, hone in on those and spend time discussing or reading on the subject. For instance, if the young man is coming from a broken home himself you should read a few basic books related to marriage itself. 

If he is weak in financial understanding or financial discipline, you should spend some time in books by Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard, or others like this. In summary, become a student of the young man, and help him where he needs help. If you need help ask your pastor for guidance. You are for him, not against him. But, if he does not respond to your discipleship, or worse, rebels against it, this is cause for great concern and perhaps cause to end the courtship.

Q: How am I supposed to know that a person is “the right one” to marry?

A: I think the answer to this question is different for guys than girls. For guys, this question begins during the pre-courtship stage of observation. A guy should not approach a girl to court her until he is reasonably certain that he would pursue marriage if courtship went well. If courtship reveals major negative surprises, then the guy is not wrong to break off the courtship, but courtship should not be entered into lightly. The young woman, however, is responding to the overtures of the young man and should take time to consider her choices. However, a young woman should never feel pressured to continue in a courtship that does not bring her increasing joy and friendship. If she feels that the relationship needs to end, she should tell her father as much and then break off the relationship. When two people are right for each other the relationship will bring an increasing joy to both partners, and the family at large. 

Q: I am a single parent mom with a son(s), what should I do to compensate for the lack of a father in the home?

A: This is a very important question that I believe has a two-part answer. The first answer is that manhood is shaped first through following God, not a person. The Bible is sufficient to guide a young man in all the steps necessary to become the godly and strong man that he ought to be. Remember Psalm 119:9. Build up your son in God’s word and its truths. Keep your son in a good church. Supply him with good Christian books to read. In all this do not take on an attitude of fear and nagging. Present the way of the Lord as the way of blessing that it is. Encourage, love, and always build up your son, telling him what you believe he will become, by God’s grace. The opposite is a constant demeanor of threatening your son about what he could become (negatively) if he doesn’t follow more rules. Pray for God to do His work of grace in your son’s heart more than you pray for him to simply, “Stay out of trouble.” 

Second, get really involved with a vibrant church and seek out the director of men’s ministry (or pastor if it is a smaller church). Tell him about your situation and work out a plan to get your son in face-to-face contact with other godly men as often as possible. Make sure he has a sponsor that will take him on men’s retreats, and other less formal opportunities as they arise. Entrust your son to the Lord, He is faithful and will answer your prayers. 

Q: I have met a wonderful girl, and we are ready to marry other than we do not have the funds to put on a “big” wedding. Should we postpone marrying so that we can save up to make this day more special?

A: I hear variations on this question all the time. There are two basic answers. (1) You may not really be ready to marry. If the issue is really that the husband-to-be does not have a steady job, or solid prospects of a job, then you have a long-term financial problem and are not ready to marry. (2) However, if the husband-to-be has steady employment and the issue is instead pressure to spend an exorbitant amount of money (or take on debt) in order to throw a party you can’t afford, then you should go ahead and marry—having a small and simple wedding. Learn to celebrate simplicity. You do not have to be rich to get married and have a special day of worship and celebration with friends and family.

No matter what your income status, you can still overspend on your wedding. Overspending on your wedding is like overspending on Christmas presents—it doesn’t make Christmas any better, it just inflates your pride. Our society is enamored with “celebrity weddings,” but you are not a celebrity and most celebrity weddings soon end in divorce. Learn to enjoy the person you love, and the friends you have, within the means that God has provided. When you commit to this path you will be amazed at how God provides, and how friends come together to celebrate your marriage, not a free dinner.  

To put things in perspective, find a senior citizen couple that your respect and get them to tell you about their wedding and honeymoon. It’s often hard to believe what you hear. Remember that a wedding is a time of worship, thanksgiving, and celebration, not a show.

I’m sure this book has brought up other questions that I have not addressed here. Please write them down and send them to victor@redeemerVA.org. Within the next few weeks we’ll have a Q&A session related to this book after church. Together we’ll take the time needed to hash out confusion and pray for the Christ-honoring meeting and marrying of our young people. 

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Vic

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