Preparing for marriage...

(Tim) Of course, Mary Lee and I love our own flesh and blood best, so our third daughter, Hannah, has the jump on our soon to be third son-in-law, Lucas Weeks. Still, there's a certain obligation we feel to this earnest young man as he and Hannah anticipate their special day. Feeling that obligation, some fraternal warnings are in order...

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Tim, you should be very happy. I not only laughed, but aloud, no less.

This graphic needs to be included in all CGS-endorsed marriage counseling materials. Quite helpful.

" our soon to be second son-in-law."

Don't you have three?

Lucas being the up-and-coming THIRD, that is.

Can't keep track of these guys, you know. Yup, he's the up-and-coming third. My mistake.

Should I be offended or should you, Ben?

By the way, that graphic has proved pretty close to true when marrying a Bayly woman. I think that every once in a while she gets a feeling of condescending graciousness and lets me win one. Probably so I don't just quit fighting. What would be the fun in life without a good fight now and then after all, right Baylys? :)

In all seriousness, though, my wife is a wonderful blessing and kindness of God to me. I pity the man who has a wife that doesn't fight him. I can't imagine where my sin would lead us if it went unchecked and unchallenged by Heather. I thank God for His kindness daily.

I want to publicly thank my father-in-law and mother-in-law as well for the time and hard work that they have invested in all three of their daughters. Lucas, Ben and I will benefit for the rest of our lives because of your faithfulness in raising your daughters. To mention nothing of our children and the riches that they will harvest from your faithfulness as well. I love you both very much. God is good.

(Sappy family moment over. Others may now continue reading as before.)

Hello,

congratulations, and I know she will keep the family tradition.

Suzi

You mean to tell me I can look forward to winning a few should the miraculous ever happen?

hehehe, just another reason. . .

Kamilla

Hey - how about adding a courtship period instead of a dating peroid? I am not sure if the chances of winning an argument go up in such a structure.

Er, actually, I meant betrothal but plum forgot. Sorry, James.

I second Archie's commendation, and quickly add that even many of us not marrying a Bayly have benefited from the beauty, strength, grace, and deference they have instilled in their daughters. A divine and enchanting blessing, to be sure.

"Preparation for marriage" - indeed, a most important practice, and my blessings to all those going through it. But, and without a tip of the hat to my present situation, why don't we talk at all about "preparation for singleness"?

Here is a police artist's rendition of two of the Bayly daughters based on these sappy blog comments.

(You pick which is Heather and which is Hannah.)

Ross asks, " ... why don't we talk at all about 'preparation for singleness'?"

I do not claim to know exactly what prompts your question, Ross. It does make me wonder if it rests on a premise which I have heard articulated by others who are single, who evidently plan to remain that way. To wit:

Singlenness has (or should have) a parity with the married state so far as what is a normal pattern for the lives of adults.

I think this premise is easily shown to be radically recent. It is utterly out of touch with the experience of humankind in any place on the earth and at any time in history. Marriage -- even in its debauched forms such as harems, polygamy -- is ubiquitous.

The Bible shows us why in Genesis 2, viz. that the marriage of one man to one woman is the default condition of human adults, the social institution upon which the raison d'etre of humanity itself rests. God's judgment is that the singleness of Adam, given reponsibility for the garden, is not good. But, when the wife is added to him, then and only then does God convey a mandate to transform the entire earth into what God began in the Garden.

The singleness we see today -- males and females alike conducting their lives as individuals isolated from any life-long social/sexual congress with one member of the opposite sex -- is manifestly other than the default condition of humanity as the Bible presents it, and it is manifestly other than what humankind of any sort has followed from the earliest records of humans in any place.

Until and unless modern singles can embrace what anthropology is validating about God's design as found in Genesis, no single today is going to be able to orient himself to his singleness in a way that is personally wholesome and spiritually productive.

The Bible says much, in many places, about single men and women : how they live chastely in a sexually polluted world (a discipline married people need as well), how to relate to the vast throng of humans who live in the default condition of humanity (marriage), how to understand the origin of their own singleness (variously sin, the curse, others' sin, sanctified spiritual expediency).

But, what the Bible says about living a holy and productive life as a single person CANNOT be apprehended, much less applied, if the beginning place is an idea which flatly contradicts what the Bible tells us about humans and singleness. Singleness is not just another ordinary life status on a par with marriage. I do not know if you think so or not; I hope you do not.

If singless is a hand of cards you are holding, it is grace to learn how to play that hand of cards. For many today -- especially for single men -- the right thing to do is to throw that hand into the discard stack and to marry. This is far more often true for single men today than single women, many of whom would happily marry if they could find a willing man.

If, for any credible reason, throwing in your hand is not an option, then it is grace to learn how to play those cards in a way that acknowledges God's design for the sexes (including single celibacy) and appropriates God's grace for living in this state. Here is where the Church can and should minister to singles in the sense you ask above.

And, I heartily concur that "prepartion for singleness" is a syllabus with sections aimed at married folk, to educate them in how to relate to singles.

But, What will never produce good fruits is an approach to singleness that initially posits that singleness -- in a male or a female -- is somehow "just as valid" as marriage.

Fr. Bill, this is not scriptural. You are in error. Paul tells us:

1 Cor 7:1 It is good for a man not to marry.

1 Cor 7:8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.

Kevin, you would do well to reexamine your proof texts in the context they were written.

To Fr Bill - I am not single by choice, and frankly I don't know many single Christians who are single by choice. What I meant by "preparation for being single", was, "if you want to be married, but you end up, for whatever reason, single instead, this is how you can keep fighting, keep functioning, and [very importantly] manage rejection - living in a Christian world full of couples and happy families".

To use your metaphor, I would happily have thrown my hand in years ago. Instead, I'm still at the table - pastoring younger single men who wonder how on earth they ended up where they've got to. I've been heard to refer to my situation as the Hotel California ("you can check out any time you like/but you can never leave")

;-)

"The Bible shows us why in Genesis 2, viz. that the marriage of one man to one woman is the default condition of human adults, the social institution upon which the raison d'etre of humanity itself rests. God's judgment is that the singleness of Adam, given reponsibility for the garden, is not good. But, when the wife is added to him, then and only then does God convey a mandate to transform the entire earth into what God began in the Garden."

What a great quote! Thank you for saying it so well, Fr. Bill!

I like what Doug Wilson says in the introduction of "For a Glory and a Covering." He refers to three categories of singles: The first are the group that are "gifted" for it (1 Cor. 7:7); and the second group are those who are dealing with "hard providence" (those who want to be married and aren't). He lists single parents as an example. I would also add abandoned spouses and young ladies who have prepared for marriage, but have found no suitors).

The third category, he says, "consists of lazy people who need to get off the dime." He says, "The problem here is a spurious discontent -being discontent with all the lack of potential spouses out there."

I tend to have more sympathy for the single women who are attempting to be content in their unmarried state, since it's the man who is the initiator. :-)

Am I reading this chart right? Engagement is six years long?

Stacy:

What a great quote! Thank you for saying it so well, Fr. Bill!>>>

I agree! It was beautifully said.

You know, in a way, I feel like Ms. James, only in the opposite direction. I am discovering "new" concepts in the Bible. A former "friend" was reminding me of what I used to say and how I used to think, and how much sense I used to make.

Oh, my! Spare me from me!

Anyway, I was thinking about Genesis 2 and how Eve was never a single woman. Adam spent less than a day as a single man. I had one of those "aha" moments that are so in vogue these days. :-)

God didn't just create a man and a woman. He created a husband and a wife.

Wow! What a revelation! It's more like a "duh," moment, than an "aha" moment.

We gotta' pray for guys like Ross and the guys he ministers to, though, that they will find wives. It's not that easy, but not impossible, either.

I know that if I were to take them to Mexico with me, they would have no problems at all finding nice Christian wives. :-)

To Ross -

You said - "Instead, I'm still at the table - pastoring younger single men who wonder how on earth they ended up where they've got to."

Stacy and I have traveled the nation speaking at various family camps and homeschool conventions. From our observations, there is a plethora of godly young women praying for husbands, but a dearth of godly young men.

It seems the young men you are ministering to have hope, but they just need help finding where to mine for the prize.

Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss this further.

Dear James, you are quite right as to your observation that, "From our observations, there is a plethora of godly young women praying for husbands, but a dearth of godly young men".

The reason for the imbalance lies, as far as I can tell, in the way that our evangelism works far better with adult women, single (or indeed married), than it does with adult men, single (or indeed married).

The men themselves don't so much need help to mine for the prize, as they need "a lot of work under the hood". Will be in contact directly on this.

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