Greetings MOL Family!
Welcome back to our study on the Christian home. It is a wonderful thing to have divine guidance! In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall do what? Direct thy paths…
A Time To Love
It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. – Jeremiah 10:23
The way of man is not in himself.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go. I will guide thee with Mine eye. – Psalm 32:8
We have been studying these steps. Every step toward a marriage alliance is to be characterized by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest desire to please God.
In our last lesson, we were studying counsel, particularly the question: Do I need, at this time, a companion? Will marriage best advance the work of God? Today, I want to study step number three, counsel regarding the question: Am I prepared? Am I ready?
I might need something and might not be ready for it. Again, I might be prepared, as far as could be measured, but I might not have a need. So, each of these steps is to be considered. And remember that, in counseling, we are counseling first of all with God, then with God-fearing parents (or those who take their place in our lives), and also with people of experience in the church, brothers and sisters who are older and more mature, who can help us with advice.
This series of seven steps is an outline to study. We are not trying to give the idea that everybody who has ever been married according to God’s plan has gone over these seven steps in exactly this order and no other order. This is not what we are trying to teach. But, in teaching a class, we need an outline. If we have an outline and indicate some steps, there will be a certain number, and this is the number of steps we are studying. I think you can see that there is a logical relationship here.
We are studying number three, and we will notice the wise man’s words:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
I am glad there is a season for the spring flowers to come out. I am glad that some of these spring flowers eventually become fruit. I love to see the peach orchard or apple orchard in bloom and smell the fragrance. But I also love to go into the peach orchard in August or the apple orchard in October and see the luscious fruit hanging from the bows.
Our verse says there is a time for everything, there is a season for everything. So it is in this question of marriage. There is a time for it, and the time is not blossom time, beautiful as blossoms are. The time is not when the fruit has reached its full size. It may still be green. Marriage is for those who have reached the maturity that we think of as being “ripe.”
What Does It Mean To Be Ready?
Notice in the list of things that Solomon gives in verses 1-8. In the 8th verse, the first four words are “a time to love.” There is a time to love.
I am going to give you seven points on what it means to be ready, prepared. The first has to do with age:
Early marriages are not to be encouraged. A relation so important as marriage and so far-reaching in its results should not be entered upon hastily, without sufficient preparation, and before the mental and physical powers are well developed. – Messages to Young People, pg. 438
On page 452 is one of the clearest statements on this point of age. You notice it uses the figure of speech that we’ve been using, the matter of ripe and unripe fruit. Speaking of premature marriage:
Boys and girls enter upon the marriage relation with unripe love, immature judgment,…
Attachments formed in childhood have often resulted in very wretched unions, or in disgraceful separations. Early connections, if formed without the consent of parents, have seldom proved happy. The young affections should be restrained until the period arrives when sufficient age and experience will make it honorable and safe to unfetter them.
Those who will not be restrained will be in danger of dragging out an unhappy existence. A youth not out of his teens is a poor judge of the fitness of a person as young as himself to be his companion for life. – Ibid., pg. 452
Authorities recognize and statistics show that teenage marriages are not likely to succeed. The reason is obvious – there is immaturity in most cases. While this page is quite explicit and specific, I’m sure we would not want to get the idea that there is something magical about the day when one is no longer a teenager, and that they have passed the point where there is no question about their maturity. Maturity is a relative matter. A person 40 years old is usually more mature than one at 30; and one 50 years old is still more mature. But I think that this statement is clear to all of us.
“A youth not out of his teens is a poor judge of the fitness of a person as young as himself to be his companion for life.” The one who wrote this, the prophet of God, was married in her teens. James White was older; he was not a teenager. He was an ordained minister of experience. Her case was undoubtedly unusual.
She had been called to be the Lord’s messenger in prophetic visions. She needed to travel. She needed a lawful protector. The Lord undoubtedly arranged this. I say this to point out that the prophet is not attempting to give us a mathematical rule of which there is no exception. The Spirit of Prophecy is seeking to give us some guidelines. While I am listing age here in these seven points, if all the other points are rightly considered, the question of age can take care of itself.
We will notice now the question of health.
“The parties may not have worldly wealth, but they should have the far greater blessing of health.” – Adventist Home, pg. 81
Again we are dealing with a relative matter. Very few people today have perfect health. But if we have serious physical handicaps, either permanent or temporary, these should be considered when we come to answer the question, “Am I prepared?”
The third point is the completion of education. Again, this is a relative term, because, in one sense, our education is never completed. As long as life lasts, we are to be both learners and teachers. Nevertheless, there is a period in childhood and youth which is especially devoted to getting an education in formal schooling. Concerning this period, we have quite a bit of instruction in the inspired writings.
While at school students should not allow their minds to become confused by thoughts of courtship. They are there to gain a fitness to work for God, and this thought is ever to be uppermost…
In our schools in Battle Creek, Heilsburg, and Cooranbong, I have borne a straight testimony concerning these matters. There were those who thought the restraint too severe; but we told them plainly what could be and what could not be,…
Again and again I stood before the students in the Avondale school with messages from the Lord regarding the deleterious influence of free and easy association between young men and young women. I told them that if they did not keep themselves to themselves, and endeavor to make the most of their time, the school would not benefit them, and those who were paying their expenses would be disappointed. I told them that if they were determined to have their own will and their own way, it would be better for them to return to their homes and to the guardianship of their parents. This they could do at any time, if they decided not to stand under the yoke of obedience. – Counsels to Teachers, pgs. 100-102
I’ve seldom needed to say anything like this to any young person, but I have once or twice. I have said to some young person who obviously was interested in association with the opposite sex, “If this is really what you want, I’ll be glad to give you the names and addresses of a number of institutions where you can do this with perfect freedom. Most educational institutions today feel that it is rather old fashioned to carry out these standards. But, I don’t mind being old fashioned on a number of things. In most educational institutions today, young people can be quite free to engage either in courtship or in associations leading to courtship. This was not true in our educational institutions in certain periods.
Concerning this, I read this. Writing to a young man, the prophet said:
I do not wish to have you disappointed in regard to Battle Creek. The rules are strict there. No courting is allowed. The school would be worth nothing to students were they to become entangled in love affairs as you have been. Our college would soon be demoralized. – Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pg. 109
The whole page is interesting, and the next page. Speaking of certain rebellious young people, it says:
Especially do they rebel against the rules that will not allow young gentlemen to pay their attentions to young ladies. Full well is known the evil of such a course in this degenerate age…. The infatuation on the part of both young men and women in thus placing the affections upon each other during school days shows a lack of good judgment. – Ibid., pg. 110
One of the great satisfactions that I have is to be connected with an educational institution where the young people are there for business, to the purpose that has called them there.
I know that many of you appreciate the privilege of being in an institution where there is not a lot of what is called socializing to take the mind away from study, from Christian development, and from missionary endeavor and other worthwhile things. On the point of the mistake of trying to mix schooling and courtship, I will point out a very practical reason for it.
Marriage is, of course, a partnership – a lifelong partnership. It is a good thing if two people are going into a business partnership for both of them to understand what business they are going into. I might be interested in going into partnership with somebody in the chicken business. If he is interested in running a series of gas stations, I might not be interested. Yet, all the while, young people are getting married, or engaging in courtship preparatory to it, when neither one of them has settled what it is they’re going to do in life. I realize it’s possible for people 16 years old to think they have settled what they are going to do in life. But that’s a horse of another color.
I remember an experience that I had several years ago. A married couple came for some counsel. They were on the verge of breaking up their home. They were having a serious set of problems. They had been married 15 or 20 years. Now they were going to break up. In talking to them, I discovered part of the problem…
They had been married while they were in college. The young woman thought she was marrying a minister. He was taking the ministerial course. She wanted to marry a minister. Well, she married this young man, and after he finished college, he got a job as a minister, but it soon turned out that he wasn’t suited for that (at least the brethren didn’t think so), and he went into other lines of work. He was in good work, more suited to his talents, but the wife could never swallow that; she was always disappointed. And this was one of the root causes of their problem.
You can see another practical reason for postponing marriage and thoughts of marriage until education has been completed and the lifework entered upon. If a girl is going to marry a carpenter, she needs to marry a good carpenter. She needs to marry one who has demonstrated that he is a good carpenter. So with a minister or nurse or bookkeeper or farmer or whatever. And, of course, the other way around – the young woman.
I point this out because some in this class are married and some are single, and some of the people who you counsel with, in days to come, may be married people. If young people have been married while they were in school, or if they’ve carried on their courtship while in school, in many cases they will have the tendency to water down this instruction that I have just read from the Spirit of Prophecy. They will have a tendency to feel, “Well, we did it, and we’re having a good, successful experience.”
I call attention to this fact, that there are thousands of people in the Seventh-day Adventist Church who grew up keeping Sunday. Did God bless them when they kept Sunday? If that was the best they knew, He blessed them. But wouldn’t you think it strange if a Seventh-day Adventist would say to somebody, “Well, I used to get a great blessing keeping Sunday, don’t worry whether you keep Sunday or whether you keep the Sabbath.”
We are responsible for the light we have. And if God in His mercy has given us a suitable companion, even if we didn’t follow all this instruction when we did not know about it, let us never use His mercy to make us presumptuous or careless in the counsel we give to others. Let us rejoice as we learn better what the instruction is.
Now the fourth point I mention in what it means to be ready is mature judgment.
The good of society, as well as the highest interest of the students, demands that they shall not attempt to select a life partner while their own character is yet undeveloped, their judgment immature, and while they are at the same time deprived of parental care and guidance. – Messages to Young People, pg. 442
This is a good example of the principle that the Spirit of Prophecy is good common sense. Is selecting a companion something that needs good judgment? So, mature judgment is an important point.
We will notice another reference. This is a repetition of what we read a few moments ago from Messages to Young People, but please notice it now in its bearing on mature judgment.
A youth not out of his teens is a poor judge of the fitness of a person as young as himself to be his companion for life. After their judgment has become more matured, they view themselves bound for life to each other and perhaps not at all calculated to make each other happy. – Adventist Home, pg. 79
The emphasis is on the value of mature judgment. Number five is an experience in practical life.
“Upon no account should the marriage relation be entered upon until the parties have a knowledge of the duties of a practical domestic life.” – Adventist Home, pg. 87
This includes knowing how to use more than a can opener.
It should be a law that young people should not get married unless they know how to care for the children that are brought into their family. They must know how to take care of this house that God has given them. – Ibid., pg. 88
So, there‘s quite a bit in this matter of an experience in practical life – in knowing how to take care of our bodies, knowing how to take care of the home. I’d like to have you study this chapter on “Domestic Training”. Please give some careful study to it.
Number six is capital or its equivalent. I mean a bank account and property or the equivalent. Study the last page of this chapter, pages 92 and 93, and you will get some strong points on this matter.
A young man who asks a young woman to be his companion ought to have demonstrated that he is able to earn money and able to keep it. Both are important. You can’t keep it unless you can earn it. But some people can earn it all the time and never keep any.
Number seven is that the character should be established.
Therefore marriage should be put from your mind until you overcome the defects in your character, for you would not make a happy wife. – Ibid., pg. 90
Here again, we are dealing with a relative matter. We are not to think that we must wait till perfection is reached. But on the other hand, if the character is immature, if the spiritual experience is not steady, this is a call for delay, because marriage calls for a settled, firm, Christian experience.
So I give these seven points in what it means to be ready. The first two deal with the physical, three and four with the mental, number five and six with the practical, and number seven with the spiritual.
Join us next week, as we continue looking at steps necessary in developing a Christian Home. Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then –
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- Country Living
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- The Christian Home
- Child Guidance
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- The School of Health
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.