Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
If modern American dating is so bad, as yours truly has contended, what then is the alternative? How, just how, ought our covenant men and maids go about getting married?
In the June issue of the Standard Bearer I mentioned that we must think theologically (and therefore biblically) in our approach to this. And, I suggested, when we do that, think theologically that is, we will be thinking along the lines of what could be called “the Family principle” when it comes to the marrying of the covenant seed.
Clearly revealed in Holy Writ is the truth that God is a family God. He is Father dwelling with Son in the love-communion of the Holy Spirit. This God has ordained a people to be taken into His own family life and love. For this the Son is sent. Through His blood a sinful people is given the right to be taken into the divine family. By His Spirit, Father and Son make the heart of this people His home. The chosen ones become sons, and daughters, who are at the same time all together a bride. The friends of God’s love now are relation, enjoying all the blessings of dwelling with God under one roof.
Now God has so made us, His people, to be bright lights, shining the truth of His own family. Each of us is saved by grace to be an image bearer of God. Families are saved together to image or reflect God’s family. This is the clear teaching and implication of passages such as Ephesians 5:22-33, and Ephesians 6:1-4. Fathers are as God in the home, representing Him. Covenant sons and daughters are as the Son of God in human flesh, delighting in the love of their father and seeking to do his will, even as the Lord Jesus delights in the love of His Father and seeks to do His will.
The revelation of the First-Family, the triune God Himself, is and ought to be seen as well in the extension of our families. God “extends” His family from heaven to earth in the salvation of His people. He does this in a certain way, and for certain purposes. We extend our families, and it is a picture of the divine salvation being carried on. We beget children, and nurture them. This mirrors Holy Spirit work to save our young through a spiritual begetting and holy nurture. So when our families are extended and the children pursue marriage, something is and ought to be revealed of Christ pursuing His bride, and the bride waiting for the Christ, and of the holy wooing, the virtuous marrying, the blessed coupling in the Spirit….
A most important way in which things divine are reflected in the marrying of the covenant seed is in the involvement of the father of covenant homes.
Fatherhood in our homes reflects, as we have said, the truth and presence of God the Father. He is as God in the home. He is the head of the home in the place of God. He is ruler, under the sovereign God and on behalf of God, of his domain and the wife and family given to him. He is lover, to show by his rule, his wisdom, his righteousness, his power, his provision, the God who cares, who leads, who establishes and blesses with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
In the marrying of the covenant seed, fathers in the home are and ought to be as God the Father Himself with regard to the marriage of His own Son in human flesh to the church His bride. The earthly father, therefore, is the leader of the godly way of man with woman. And the godly way of man with woman will, therefore, be the way of the father, presided over by him, revealing his own virtues, and in complete accord with his will. In fact, beloved, the fundamental of the fundamental “family principle” in the marrying of our children is what could be called “the Father principle.” Father, according to Scripture, is the cornerstone of the family foundation of the godly way of men with maids.
We are talking sacred, loving presence, and superintending involvement. Earthly fathers are to be “involved” in the way of the marrying of their children in such a significant way as to reveal, without a doubt, the involvement of God the Father in the marriage of His Son. How is God the Father involved in that marriage? Completely. Always. With delight. At great sacrifice. With this goal: the glory of His own name. How ought earthly fathers be involved in the way of the marrying of the covenant children? Same way as God. Now, of course, earthly fathers, not being God, cannot be as completely involved as God, for we have other work to do, other things to think about, and God, though He has other work to do and other things to think about, can be completely involved in everything at once! Nor are we to try to be omnipresent when our children are marrying. Nor do we shed atoning blood. Nor is our delight divine. But nevertheless, fathers are as God the Father, and must be, though very human, but equipped with grace and the Holy Spirit, completely, always, at great sacrifice, with delight, and for the glory of God’s great name involved in the way of the extension of the covenant homes in the marrying of the seed.
This is the Holy Scriptures. Godly fathers in the Bible are always very much and very sacredly involved in the way of men with maids. According to Scripture, when there is a way of a good man with a holy maid three is good company, two is very often hellish. According to Scripture, the first party of the good way of a man with a maid is father. The other two (the man and the maid) join his party. Father, according to Scripture, is the Parent-Friend guide for the son. He is the hedge, the Wall of Protection for the daughter. He is the security for godly and blessed acquaintances, friendships, and the godly way for covenant sons and daughters. He is more, far more, than the one who hands sonny the keys to the Chevy and tells him to be back by midnight or thereabouts. He is more, far more, than one who learns about slick Willy (or even nice, Christian Willy) only after daughter Sally has consented to Willy’s wooing. He is the hands-on overseer, and the Most Desired (human) Help along the way of his men and maids. In fact, if we continue remembering the analogy of God the Father and the marrying of His Son, and our fatherhood and the marrying of our children, then we can only conclude that in the marrying of our children, in the extension of father’s covenant family, father’s will is determinative. If father says yes, the way of a man with maid is good and may proceed. If he says no, there is no way. The focus is on father. All eyes look to father. The will which counts is not first of all the will of the child of the father, but father’s will. As the Father chooses a Bride and a way for His Son to procure the Bride, so covenant fathers’ godly desires must be done in the marrying of their children….
Don’t Leave Me Now
You must know, dear readers, that I know we live in a fallen world. Fathers on earth are sinful. Fathers by nature are prone to be tyrannical. Sometimes father’s will for a mate for his son or daughter is not just weird, but wrong. Sometimes there are no fathers in a covenant family. Sometimes fathers are a thousand miles away. Sometimes there are unbelieving fathers. You may be keenly aware of that. I know that. We are just talking principles here. We are just aiming at setting forth the normal way of fathers’ involvement in the marrying of the covenant seed. Practical things, details, exceptions, your situation, and mine, must wait and be discussed only in light of principles.
And another thing, when setting forth this “father principle,” no one is denying that the fathers have an awesome responsibility to act as the representatives of God they are. The father must be a holy man, a holy husband, and a holy father with regard to all aspects of the raising of his children. And he must, as well, strive to be as holy as God in considering the way of marrying for his children, and as loving as God in winning over the will of the children so that they, like the Son of God’s love, come to marry not to do their own will and to delight to do father’s will. To the degree that father is not holy, and to the degree that he brings misery upon the family because of his slothfulness, unrighteousness, and profanity, to that degree he will, if he is still so inclined to get involved in the marrying of his children, make the way of a man with a maid a truly miserable thing. Discussion of responsibilities of fathers, men, and maids—that too must wait until another article.
So don’t leave me now….
Further to ground us in the “father principle” of the marrying of the covenant seed, consider with me this example in Scripture. It is the example of the first marriage on earth. That is the marriage of Adam and Eve recorded in the book of Genesis. The Lord Jesus called the disciples and calls us to go back to the very first marriage when sorting through all the societal and religious opinions about divorce (Matt. 19). So we can profit, I think, in our understanding of the way of a man with a maid by going back not merely to the roaring 1920s or to the gay 1890s (when strange things began to develop concerning the way of men with maids!), but to the beginning, and to the Word of God.
To be sure, things were different back then. No one of us gets a bride from his rib. No one of us has no choice in the matter as Adam had no choice. Then there was no sin. Now there is only the small beginning of righteousness. But Genesis two being Scripture, though it be “old” Scripture, is part of the “whatsoever things” which were “written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
A main principle, an abiding Christ-truth, that we learn from the first marriage on earth is … Father! The Father of Adam was God. Now here was a Father really involved in the way of His man with his maid. He left Adam no option. He did surgery. He made two one flesh. Father’s will was done. It was a Father’s will that His first human son, Adam, have just the right mate, and just one. It was Father who did not create a hundred women and let Adam pick by himself, date one, then another, break a heart here, then finally find one there. It was Father who, when Adam was ready to marry, did not tell Adam to date Eve until he was finished with his schooling and then with his internship, and then finally, after three years and four thousand malteds pop the question. It was Father who made it so that the way of Adam and Eve would be for family, right away, and not for some strange isolationist-two’s company-but three’s-a-crowd-youth-subculture funny business of “going steady” but going nowhere fast….
Adam was satisfied with that. He never had misgivings because he did not date around before he met Eve. He never regretted never falling in love. He did not feel left out and tyrannized that Father did not consider what Adam had read in Glamour magazine about what a wife ought to be. He was, in fact, elated when God brought Eve to him, so elated that he praised the union: “this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…!”
The eternal Son, glad to marry only according to Father’s will.
Adam, exulting in Father’s one mother of all living, Eve.
So holy sons and daughters in our covenant homes: glad!
That’s what marrying is doing.
That is the way of a godly man with a godly maid.
Revelation of the gospel of the family way, the father way of a man with a maid.
Let us be glad!