As we continue on with our study on Courtship & Marriage (and as was mentioned in an earlier class), it is important not to forget that if God is leading people together, there will be heavenly love experienced by each individual. The truth of the matter is, in human association, when love is thrown out, when love-making is engaged in prematurely, it tends to bring about just the opposite result after marriage. The more lovemaking there is before marriage, the less likely there is to be experienced the happy and heavenly love after marriage.
And on the other hand, those young people who keep themselves under control, both with their affections and with their passions, who engage in courtship in a spiritual way with emphasis on finding out what God’s will is in the matter, praying together, studying together – studying some of these very things we are reading in these classes together – and then alone with God, when they are finally joined in marriage, friends, they will have some of the happiest experiences of love that this world knows.
I know that this is so. I have had the privilege of seeing young people study these principles and enter into marriages based upon a study of these principles. And I know, friends, I could cite you one experience after the other, where young people who have followed these principles have happy homes.
Dear parents, I challenge you. If you didn’t follow these principles in your courtship, learn these principles now. Learn how you would have done it, if you had known then what you know now. Do you see what I mean? Train your children in these principles. When light comes to us, then we are responsible. And you, young people that are not yet married, make up your minds that you will have nothing less than the ideal. I have spoken of the precious results when these things are followed. Let me mention an example or two, of why it is so important that counseling and thorough evaluating be done before courtship is entered into.
–When Counsel Is Needed–
Several years ago a young woman in another state entered into courtship with a young man. This young man had recently come to that community. He had accepted this message, been baptized. This young woman and the young man were married. They had a child or two… And one day there was a knock at the door. It was the FBI. This man was an escaped convict. Several years before he had escaped from a penitentiary and had come into this community where he wasn’t known. He had accepted this message, been baptized, but nobody knew of his criminal record. He courted this girl, married her, and now when the FBI caught up with him and his criminal record, he was taken back to the penitentiary to serve his sentence and she was left there with the two children.
Do you see what I mean, dear friends? What did that young woman need before she ever had the first date with that young man? She needed a father or a brother or someone acting in that capacity, to investigate the past record of that man, and find out whether or not he was a worthy character. Do you see?
“Ah,” somebody says, “Everybody isn’t an escaped convict.” True, friends, but the better a man is, the more he will appreciate having his record examined. Why shouldn’t a young man who is worthy, appreciate the care of the father of the girl, or her brother, or the pastor, or whoever is acting for her, in examining his record? Why shouldn’t he be willing to have his credentials examined, his record? All these things are so important, dear friends. And remember, the time to look into these things is before courtship ever starts.
Let me give you another experience that I was personally acquainted with. This woman became acquainted with this man and married him. It turned out he was an alcoholic. I had the privilege, if you want to call it that (It was a privilege.), of trying to help place some of the children of this union. It happens all the time. Girls getting infatuated with some man who is an alcoholic, or a slave to tobacco, or has some other record of a habit that is going to bring sorrow to the marriage relation.
When is the time to look into all that? After they fall in love? Why, no, friends, before that ever starts. This illustrates the great importance of thorough counsel, careful examination, before courtship is entered into. I want you to read a few thoughts here on the matter of engagement. Sometimes people having become engaged recognize that they have made a mistake and they wonder what to do about it. Well, we have been given counsel on this and we will just read this here. Adventist Home, page 48. (There are two quotations in this little section, one is from Volume 5, and the other from Fundamentals of Christian Education, but they are both included here in Adventist Home pages 48 and 49.)
What is the counsel here? Are there times when an engagement should be broken? Yes.
If you have made a promise contrary to the Scriptures, by all means retract it without delay. – Adventist Home, pg. 48
You see, here we pass over the great divide. We have already read statements that even when a mistake has been made in choosing the life partner, people who are married should do what? Make the best of it. But this is not true in the matter of engagement. Until the marriage has been entered into, there is still opportunity to reconsider. But of course, it is better that all those reconsiderations should be done before the engagement.
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
I want you to notice that expression “simplicity.” Every step is to be characterized by simplicity and a sincere purpose to honor God. This applies to the period of courtship, the engagement, and now I want to look for a few minutes at the matter of the wedding itself; because we are in an age, my dear friends, when thousands upon thousands of dollars are being worse than squandered in extravagant, lavish display at weddings.
Puritan plainness and simplicity should mark the dwellings and apparel of all who believe the solemn truths for this time. All means needlessly expended in dress or in the adorning of our houses is a waste of our Lord’s money. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5, pg. 189
“Well,” somebody says, “This is talking about just ordinary living and ordinary dressing. What about the wedding?” All right. What about the wedding?
I have a little book here. I am going to read you something interesting from it and then I am going to let you read something from the volumes. This is a little book called Testimonies for the Physicians and Helpers of the Sanitarium. It was printed on the press at Battle Creek. It contains some special testimonies for the workers in the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
On page 77 of this little book I am going to read you something about Dr. Kellog’s wedding. You know, as I read this, I thought, “Wasn’t it something to have a prophet in Israel that dared to reprove the greatest leaders in the denomination?” Here it is, in print: “Sr. Lamson’s” Testimony for the Physicians and Helpers of the Sanitarium, page 77. (She was the matron of the sanitarium.)
Sr. Lamson’s advice and influence has had a tendency to weaken the barriers which separate the people of God from the world. The display of fashionable dress on the occasion of Dr. Kellogg’s marriage was a telling discourse in favor of departing from principle. Many lectures upon reform could not counteract the evil influence which was thus exerted. We have had to meet it everywhere. This display was made by Sr. Lamson’s advice. Such an exhibition at a health reform institute was in keeping with many digressions afterward. – Testimony for the Physicians and Helpers of the Sanitarium, pg. 77
Here the prophet of God, based upon the visions the Lord had given her, rebuked the medical director of our large sanitarium, for the display at his wedding, and rebuked the matron of that institution for instigating this display at the wedding. If you would like to find in the current volumes of the Spirit of Prophecy, similar instruction, it was written at the same time about the same matter, but without Dr. Kellogg’s or Sister Lamson’s name in it, you will find it in Volume 4, pages 503, 515, and 572. I am going to read some of this. Remember, this was written soon after Dr. Kellogg’s wedding, in which there was this worldly display and extravagance:
We are living in the last days, when the mania upon the subject of marriage constitutes one of the signs of the near coming of Christ. God is not consulted in these matters. Religion, duty, and principle are sacrificed to carry out the promptings of the unconsecrated heart. There should be no great display and rejoicing over the union of the parties. There is not one marriage in one hundred that results happily, that bears the sanction of God, and places the parties in a position better to glorify Him. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 4, pgs. 503, 504
Then on page 515:
There have been marriage relations formed in Battle Creek with which God has had nothing to do. … Christ has warned us that this state of things would exist prior to His second appearing. … The minds of the people were bewitched upon the subject of marriage. When there is so much uncertainty, so great danger, there is no reason why we should make great parade or display, even if the parties were perfectly suited to each other; but that remains to be tested.
When those who profess to be reformers, those in humble life, ape the customs and fashions of the worldly wealthy, it is a reproach to our faith. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 4, pg. 515
What does “ape” mean (here used as a verb)? Imitate. Yes. Ah, friends, how many people, especially in this matter of having a wedding, try to keep up with the Joneses. I know a man, a professional photographer, whose business is to sell the beautiful photographs which he produces at weddings to brides and their parents, whoever is putting up the money, and his goal is to sell at least a thousand dollars worth of photographs at each wedding that he takes care of.
Well, somebody says, “My, I am so glad ours didn’t cost that much.” I want to tell you something, friends, no matter how much you spend, you can find somebody that has spent more. And that makes you simple and economical by comparison. Do you see what I mean? That’s right.
When those who profess to be reformers, those in humble life, ape the customs and fashions of the worldly wealthy, it is a reproach to our faith. There are some to whom God gave the word of warning; but did that stop them? No; they did not fear God, for the bewitching power of Satan was upon them. And some in Battle Creek have influenced these poor infatuated ones to follow their own judgment, and by doing this they have crippled their usefulness and incurred the displeasure of God. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 4, pg. 515
So, the fact that in our great centers some of these things are done should not have any influence upon us at all. These references should have more influence upon us than the example of worldlings.
Do you remember in the ancient sanctuary, when Moses had built the tabernacle, there was an anointing service, an inaugural ceremony? All the vessels of the sanctuary were anointed. The rooms were anointed, and Aaron was anointed, the high priest. Every Christian home, dear friends, is to be a sanctuary. Every Christian home is to be a place where God meets with and lives with His people. When we look at it that way, we shall look upon the wedding as an anointing service, a time when together we seek the Lord that He will anoint the bridegroom and the bride for their mission in setting up a Christian home.
You remember in that ancient sanctuary, when Moses had carried out, with Aaron and his sons, every detail of the service, the presence of God was manifested in that building, which had been built with human hands, and God took up His residence with humanity? Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing, my dear young friends, if at your wedding, the service could be such in simplicity, in dignity, in spiritual influence that the presence of God could come into your hearts and into the new home established from the moment of its inception? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing, dear friends?
When we get that concept, all this worldly dress that goes on at weddings will be clear out, it won’t even be thought of – all the worldly music, the worldly display, the extravagance, the spending of money.
Now, friends, don’t misunderstand me. I am not foolish enough to think that I am going to change the customs of this world. Oh, no. I am not foolish enough to think that I am going to change what thousands of people are doing and will do. No, no. I realize what we are studying is a voice crying in the wilderness, but it says:
Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. – Isaiah 40:3
And I tell you this: If Hollywood has inspired the courtship and the marriage, Hollywood may well set the pattern for the wedding. If the place young people learn to do their lovemaking is from the TV screen, they may well go right on and have the kind of clothes that go with the TV inspired wedding.
But if we have gotten our inspiration from the heavenly Sanctuary, if the marriage that we are entering into has its pattern in Jesus coming from heaven to seek the church as His holy bride, then, my dear friends, the wedding itself will breathe that spirit of holy love, of simplicity, economy, unselfishness. And instead of the audience (Don’t miss this point!) having their eyes on the bride and the bride’s maids with all their finery, in the wedding we are describing, the audience will have their eyes on Jesus, and be uniting in prayer that God will anoint both the bridegroom and the bride with His Holy Spirit.
Ah, yes, how different it all can be. And so I suggest that in connection with our lesson, that you study particularly this chapter in Adventist Home entitled “Solemn Promises.” It is in the section “From the Marriage Altar,” and begins on page 99. On page 101 you will find described a wedding held in Sister White’s home in Australia. She says:
On this occasion there were no light jests or foolish sayings: everything was solemn and sacred in connection with this marriage. Everything was of an elevating character and deeply impressive. – Adventist Home, pg. 101
And then at the bottom of page 101 and 102 you will find the remarks that Sister White made at the wedding of her granddaughter back in 1905. God used them in a wonderful way through the years, both in North America and in the mission field. Here are the words that Sister White spoke at their wedding. You will enjoy this wonderful chapter, “Solemn Promises,” beginning on page 99.
Now, friends, does that mean a wedding is not a happy occasion? Far from it, friends. I don’t know of anything happier in human experience than these two ceremonies: the baptismal ceremony, and the wedding ceremony. Isn’t it a thrilling moment when souls are buried with their Lord in baptism? That is the marriage of the soul with Christ. And it is a beautiful moment when the bridegroom and the bride stand and are joined together in holy matrimony.
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.