Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
In the March 15 issue of the Standard Bearer, “Grace Life” elaborated upon these seven theses of covenant marrying:
1.The father of the Christian home must earnestly endeavor to know who his children are to marry.
2.Father’s knowledge of God is crucial for the father’s superintending the marriage of his children.
3.The godly father will seek to know God’s will for a mate for his children through his knowledge of families.
4.Mates will be pursued in the church.
5.The church will be actively involved in the marrying of the children of the church.
6.There are things covenant men must know and be first if they will know God’s will for marriage.
7.Godly men will reflect Christ in their preparation for marriage and pursuit of a maid.
For explanations of these theses I refer the reader to the last Standard Bearer. For the rest, read on!
8.A godly woman will be as Christ’s Church in receiving a man who comes as Christ.
Explanation: A virtuous woman—who can find her (Prov. 31:10)? As rare as faith, these days, I fear. But where there is grace there is virtuosity, though it be only a small beginning…in women.
All her life the godly girl and then woman, guided by her parents, cultivates in herself and in her life this virtue. It is a constant cultivation. It is a difficult cultivation. For virtue does not naturally grow, and thrive. Vices do, as so many weeds, thorns, and thistles. Pleading God’s mercy, relying on God’s mercy, God’s women, godly women will make virtue their beauty. This goal of this kind of beauty, because of their love for God, and their love to show His loveliness, will be their prayer life. To be virtuously beautiful will be why they read the Bible. Their growth, their education, their use of their talents, their relationships are all to bear witness to the truth of the sanctified body, the Holy Spirit enlightened mind, the time that is our gift for Christ’s service, friendships in the Lord. And all of the godliness, the faith, the grace, the joy, the cheerfulness, the kindness, the purity, the righteousness, the winsomeness, the longsuffering these women beauties show is thus to show off the beautiful Savior, the fairest among ten thousand, our Lord Jesus.
This relentless, this sacrificial, this all-consuming pursuit and cultivation of virtue is necessary for, and the privilege of, any member of the body of Christ. It is also vital for the woman’s attracting no Casanova, but one who is as Christ. And it is for her preparation to picture the church in her marriage—adorned and bedecked with the ornaments and jewels of the Savior-Husband’s own beauty (Ezek. 16:8ff.; Eph. 5).
Especially meekness and patience and quietness will mark this woman as she waits on God, to know and to do His will concerning marriage. These virtues will, indeed, be her adornment, even as a young maid (I Pet. 3:1-4). They will serve her well in her submission to her lord husband. They will distinguish her present single life from wilting Esmeralda’s secret life of desperation and from loud and aggressive hot-lips Hoolahan, and as a blessed, virtuous, and peaceful life of communion with her precious Lord!
So the beauty the virtuous woman seeks in all is Spirit deep. The rare virtuous woman actively pursues virtue. She humbly and meekly waits for a virtuous man, if the Lord would have her have one, all the while going on in her life, growing spiritually in her life, useful in her life, loving the Man, and the God who is her life.
Having said that, we all acknowledge that there is a beauty of the skin. About that, the godly woman will be content with the way and the form the Lord has made her. Whatever endowments she has, she will not flaunt them. And she will be modest. Whoever you are, ladies, whether you think you are among the haves, or among the have-nots, or among the halves—please don’t be dying to dye, tanning for Dan, piercing for praise, or dressing for the death of a young man! But then also this must be said: don’t dress in burlap sacks (to be modest, so beautiful, is not to be a prude, so weird), eat so that you look like a potato, or chew tobacco. Men, after all, are attracted to and will marry a soul that they truly will love, and a body (and white teeth) that they truly like.
What needs to be remembered is this: priority! Growing in the knowledge of God is the priority. Remember we are in the world, yet not of it. Be spiritually sensible, and not carnally sensual, nor making otherwise good men bug-eyed and delirious.
The godly woman, if approached by a man, receives that man, and that man only, who comes through her godly father to her. For she knows her father is her head until she be given in marriage, and she is wise to discern also that if any man does not honor her father in seeking her hand, he will surely not honor her in marriage.
She will discern other things, as well, of course. Does this man have the stigmata, the distinguishing marks of a dying-unto-self-living-unto-God disciple of Christ? Or are all his scars just from playing hockey? Is this man serious? Is he ready? Does he know me, and has he decided among some that I am the one, or is he playing the field here? What does it mean that this man just rode up on a Harley? She will see. In light of the Word of God, and by faith, she will have wisdom.
If father speaks to her of a godly man who is desirous of her hand, and tells her that he approves of this, and would encourage this, the godly woman must follow her heart, yes or no (for she must willingly enter the marriage state!), but must make sure, prayerfully, and by rigorous self-denial, that her heart is following her head, truly submissive to the godly reasoning of her father, and trusting, more even than her own judgment, the wisdom of her appointed father head. Here, no wild dreams may enter, nor images of magazine models distort one’s discerning between godliness and holly-woodiness. Her Christ-like man may have no form that she should desire him only for that (though there must be some physical attraction—guy to girl, and girl to guy!). And her man’s strength may only be that he is a humble servant of the Lord. Will she be so appreciative, so receptive, of that kind of fellow?
May the beautiful covenant woman, in her trust, and her humble and glad receptivity, and in the harmony of her spirit with the Spirit of the Lord within, be as Christ’s graced church, hearkening to Him when He calls, when a certain man calls, Christ’s way, according to the will of the Father’s fathers, saying…be mine!
9.Having been led to one another covenantally, in the context of family and church, and hitherto trusting the guiding hand of God, a man and woman can know for sure very simply if they are meant to be married.
Explanation: Right. There is a man who has been graced with godliness. God has caused him to mature, and to know he must needs be married. He knows a godly, marriageable woman, and she knows him. They both are eager to know and to do God’s will and father’s will for marriage. The man has been sent by his own father, and goes, willingly, to the father of this woman, to ask if he may proceed to confirm if it is God’s will that he marry this father’s daughter. The woman has consented to the man’s overtures. Now then, there is one thing left for the two….
And it is not to get to know each other! Right now, at this point, they do not date, or grope, or smell and be smelled, or go to Cygnus on Friday or to Florida on spring break to get to know each other. They are not, when they come together (with the express purpose of pursuing marriage with each other!) asking questions about one’s beliefs, where he worships, and what she thinks of Christian education…as if they are not familiar with each other’s views on these things. Nor are they discussing favorite meals, hobbies, and whatnot, as if this were the way of knowing God’s will for a mate.
This kind of “getting to know” each other is exactly what “dating” is all about. This is understandable, this mad goal of Dating. For the two who “date” often do not know each other from Adam (or even, for that matter, whether the one or the other is still in Adam or not!). As well, though they be Christian, daters have thought there were no principles in the Bible to follow in order to know, specifically, whom to marry, and that is why they are dating! And besides, it is the mangy feature of Dating that the daters’ parents either do not know, or do not approve, or do not lead the daters; instinct, cologne, and the discernment of the youth are the dubious matchmakers.
So Dating is a “getting to know,” a “trial and error” sort of thing, there having been only a slim (sometimes very slim!) and unprincipled narrowing of the field before the Dating begins….
But the godly, covenanting man and maid couple already know each other before they come together in any kind of relationship other than friendship in the Lord. They must already know of each other that they are confessedly and decidedly godly, and that each is ready for marriage if God so wills. Fathers will have seen to this, and in the family relationship and church setting, and in Bible studies, and social functions the persons themselves will have attained this knowledge of each other. And they will know, as well, that there is an attraction for each other that is compelling them to investigate the possibility of marriage to each other.
And more: if they have been led to the point where they are together, and that, in the way described above, the two can be confident that they are meant, by God, for each other in marriage!
The reason is this: they have, with godly intentions, and by seeking to uphold the principles of covenant set forth in God’s Word, followed God’s way of covenant marrying. They can believe, therefore, that Father has led them neither to doubt, nor on a wild goose chase, but has truly led them to marry!
So now, there is confidence! It is the confidence of faith, the confidence of faith in God’s Word! So this couple, when they have been so led, do not now say: “We’ll see if this works out.” Nor do they grope. Nor are they now second-guessing the leading of God hitherto. They believe. And their way, from henceforward, is not fingernail biting, line after line drawing, parent troubling, three years and counting Dating…but peace!
There is, to be sure, this one thing that remains. There needs be confirmation of faith. The man and maid who have followed the course laid out by biblical principles for marrying will now together, and having begun the biblical way of marrying, confirm what they have been led to believe of God’s will for them in marrying.
Just how is this “confirmation process” to proceed? “Grace Life” will offer an answer to that question next time, God willing.