Greetings MOL Family!
In today’s study on the Christian Home, we are going to begin with a very interesting article from the Reader’s Digest. We will not look at all of it, but we will read a few thoughts that you may find interesting…
One Author’s Perspective
The name of the article is “Modern Courtship – The Great Illusion”:
“The trouble with American marriage is American courtship. American parents permit and even encourage their children to select their mates in just about the worst of all possible ways.”
Then the author contrasts what is done in large areas of the world, other than the United States, and says:
“Perhaps the East has been correct in thinking that finding the right mate is too difficult and important a job to trust to the young. Adolescent dating is far from an unmitigated joy. Young people often find themselves going steady even though bored to death with each other.
“There comes a time when they want to break up, and for some this is a painful form of self-assertion for which they lack the courage or tact. Sometimes when the break does come it is a tragedy for one or both, and a tragedy which, since they started so early, may be repeated several times.
“Parents seem to think of the young love affair as a glorious and care-free experience, but often there is nothing carefree about it at all. Courtship calls ideally for a good hard realistic look at the other person. Mere glamour, charm, and physical attractiveness are a poor basis for a marriage which, if all goes well, may last fifty years or more.
“It is a good idea to see a perspective mate in as many situations as possible, particularly difficult and unglamorous ones, and to study family and friends which often tell more about a person than he reveals himself. This advice may sound callous, but it produces far better results than any romantic illusion that the mate created by fate can be recognized in one explosive glance.”
I thought you might be interested in those observations. Thank the Lord we are on a different road. We are on the upper road. We are on the King’s highway.
Counsel vs. Permission
Let’s refresh our minds with this wonderful statement:
Let every step toward a marriage alliance be characterized by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest purpose to please and honor God. – Adventist Home, pg. 49
As I was meditating on this expression “every step,” there came to my mind a statement dealing with counsel in general. I looked it up and will share the sentence with you:
Meekness and lowliness of heart will lead men to desire counsel at every step. – Testimonies to Ministers, pg. 501
If we have the right attitude, we will desire counsel at every step. At the last step? Yes. The one before the last? Yes. Which one won’t we desire counsel at? None. It’s a wonderful advance when we get to the place where we can tolerate counsel, when we can take it without being irritated or getting depressed. But here we have something more wonderful than that – desiring it. Oh, what a wonderful ideal that is set before us. To reach this ideal fully would require a perfect individual, wouldn’t it? Yes, but we can all move in this direction and pray in this direction.
Let me point out what counsel is, as we’re going to be studying counsel today, as it relates to these steps. First let me point out what it is not. Counsel is not permission. Sometimes students come and say they want to counsel, and set before me a certain question or proposition. Sometimes I ask them what it is they want – counsel or permission. More than once I have told folks I would give them permission to do things I wouldn’t advise them to do at all.
Getting counsel is not getting permission. Getting permission is securing the decision of another person whose decision affects what you can do or not do. Getting counsel is getting advice to help you make up your mind what your decision is going to be. It’s a tremendous difference. If we could understand that, it would relax us a bit about this matter of counsel.
There are people who are so anxious to do a certain thing, and so afraid that somebody will change their minds, that it’s very difficult for them to get counsel. And if we are in that state of mind, we had just as well save our time and money, and the other fellow’s too. But remember this, and I repeat it to emphasize it: Getting counsel is not getting permission; getting counsel is getting advice. Let me go a step further. Good counsel is not “Well, I think you should do this,” or “I think you shouldn’t do that.” That’s not the highest form of counsel. Good counsel is helping you find out whether you have thought of all the factors or not.
Good counsel is helping you check through the column of figures and being sure that all the figures are in the column before you add it up. Good counsel is suggesting Bible verses or statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that might bear upon your problem. All of these things belong to good counsel.
Good counsel is not saying, “I think I would do this”, or, “I think I would do something else.” That kind of counsel, if you want to call it that, can be bought for a dime a dozen – and that’s about what it’s worth. Good counsel is to help you find your answer – to help you find God’s answer. I think we are impressed with the repeated urging of the Spirit of Prophecy to seek counsel in this matter of courtship and marriage. But there is a kind of counsel that we want to avoid. Let’s notice a statement about counsel:
Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. – Proverbs 19:27
Cease means stop. At a red light or a green light? A red light. Stop listening to what? Instruction or counsel or advice that causes you to err from the words of knowledge.
One of the saddest things in the popular churches, and it can even creep into the remnant church, is people seeking advice on what to do about what is written in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Out in the popular churches, a person is reading his Bible and comes to the fourth commandment. He finds the seventh day is the Sabbath. He may hear the “Voice of Prophecy” or “Faith for Today”, or get a book from a colporteur. He comes face to face with God’s law which says that the seventh day is the Sabbath. He goes to his preachers for counsel. Nine times out of ten, do you know what kind of advice he gets? The kind this verse is talking about – advice that causes them to err from the words of knowledge.
Oh, what a solemn responsibility and a fearful responsibility it is for men in holy office, claiming to be shepherds of the flock, to sit and say, “Well, I wouldn’t be worried about that. After all, everybody except a few strange people keep Sunday. Everybody keeps Sunday, and the Christian church has kept Sunday for many centuries. And Christ rose on that day.” And so on.
Is it a fact that nearly everybody keeps Sunday? Is it a fact that most of the Christian churches have done that way for centuries? Is it a fact that Christ rose on that day? Yes, all of those are facts. But the sum total of the advice given is “Don’t worry about what the fourth commandment says, and what these few Seventh-day Adventist do. Don’t let that trouble you. God is bigger than that.” Do you see what I mean, friends? God says to cease listening to that kind of counsel.
Some young person gets stirred up because of something they read in Messages to Young People or Adventist Home or Ministry of Healing or Fundamentals of Christian Education, or Testimonies for the Church, or some other inspired book. A young person gets stirred up over something about literature, amusement, recreation, fiction, drama, something about courtship and marriage, or something about other standards. This young person goes for advice, and exactly the situation that I have just described is re-enacted over something that the messenger of God has written with an inspired pen. God tells you and me to do what with that sort of thing? Cease to hear it.
No man is a good counselor unless he believes the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy with all his heart, and leads you to exalt these inspired writings – not to twist or change or modify them, but just believe them. A hundred thousand men who bring in merely the wisdom of this world, it doesn’t mean a thing in contrast with one verse of Scripture or one paragraph from the Spirit of Prophecy. It is the glorious privilege of the child of God to know that there is certainty in what Jesus says. And yet, there is room for human counsel, not to take the place of the inspired writings, but to help us to become acquainted with them, to help us to see certain references that we may have overlooked, or certain principles that we may not have thought of.
In the Multitude of Counsellors
Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out. – Proverbs 20:5
How do you get water out of a well? You let down the bucket and then pull. There are other places to get water; there are springs that are spouting up, artisan wells that are gushing forth. But the illustration that Solomon is using here is that of a deep well, and good counsel is often way down there in those hidden depths. To get it, you must let down the bucket and draw it out.
Some of the most valuable counsel that you can ever get (on the question of association and courtship and marriage) you will have to go after. It won’t be spurting at you like a fire hose. It won’t be gushing forth. To change the figure, it won’t be waiting for you and grab you when you’re not looking. No. You will have to seek for it. You will have to search for it. You will have to draw it out.
As you may have already studied, in Messages to Young People, you’ll find that we are to counsel first with God. We also must counsel with God-fearing parents and with leaders in the church. Men of experience. You will find a reference on counsel with God in Adventist Home, pages 70-71. You will find three statements on those two pages. You will find a reference on counsel with God-fearing parents in Adventist Home, pages 73 and 75. You will find three statements on those two pages. You will find a reference on counselors other than God and God-fearing parents in Adventist Home, pages 72 and 81. You will find three statements on those two pages. You will find an additional reference on counsel from men of experience in the church in Messages to Young People, page 445.
We have already noticed that meekness and lowliness of heart will lead men to desire counsel at every step. In these series of classes, I am giving you seven steps. I would not be dogmatic about that. Your experience might be eight or six or some other number; but for an outline, this will be helpful. We have already seen the first step. It is faithfulness to duty in the parental home. The last step obviously would be marriage itself. The step before marriage is the step of engagement, and the step before engagement is the step of courtship. The second step is counsel. The third step is the question: Do I need a companion now?
Why do I put that question in there? Suppose I were a good mechanic and some young man should come to me and say, “Brother, I wish you would go to town with me. I’ve been looking at different cars, and I wish you would look them over with me.” I ask him, “Are you going to buy a car?” He answers, “Well, I don’t know that I am right now, but I like to look around at them.” I ask him, “Do you have the money to get a car?” “No,” he says. “Do you need a car right now?” “Well, I could use one to run around in.” The important thing for a young man in that situation to decide today is not whether he is going to get a Ford or a Plymouth or a Chevrolet or Volkswagen. No. The first thing is to decide whether or not it’s time to get a car.
We can only claim Philippians 4:19 when we need something. This is a very important step in the sequence. Do I need a companion now? Has God’s time come for me to seek the companion? When do you think this counsel should be? After two hearts are entwined, when to interfere with that would be to cut cords? God has a better plan than that. Yes, He has. Broken hearts are not pretty things. I have seen a lot of them in my years in the ministry. Most of them don’t need to be at all.
Your only safety and happiness are in making Christ your constant Counsellor. Let us seek for Truth, while He may be found.
Did you know that we have more online classes available (and posted daily)?
- Country Living
- Courtship & Marriage
- The Christian Home
- Child Guidance
- Army of Youth
- The School of Health
- Other Present Truth Studies
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.