Volume 7, Issue 5: Childer
The Bible teaches a son leaves his parents in order to take a wife, and daughters
are given in marriage. Wise parents do not wait until the time arrives for
their children to marry to begin thinking about this. The differences in their
children, according to sex, should be evident to parents from birth, and consequently
their preparation of their children should differ accordingly.
Genesis teaches, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined
to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 3:24). When Paul applies this
passage, his treatment of it shows that it is a paradigm for all marriages (Eph.
5:17-33). When a son leaves to court a woman, he is fulfilling God's creation
design for the formation of marriages. He is not abandoning his parents; he is
leaving them, with honor, according to God's Word. His parents do not resent it
if they have been submissive to the Word and have been preparing him to do so.
If sons leave, and daughters are given, then each must be trained and equipped
accordingly. Daughters should be prepared for courtship and marriage through
long-established trust in their parents' selflessness, wisdom, and good will.
Sons should of course trust their parents too, but the preparation they undergo
is considerably different from that experienced by their sisters.
A son must be trained to leave. Obviously, when he has left, he must stand alone,
and when he has taken a wife, he must be equipped to stand as a source of strength
for his wife. Preparation for this does not begin when a young man first notices
a young woman. His training for courtship begins when he is little.
Strength is necessary because he is not approaching a young girl willing to
be impressed by him. He is approaching her sceptical father.
So he must be strong for the process of courtship, but a godly masculine strength
cannot be instilled at the last moment. When he is knocked down when he is little,
a kindly father must show him how to get up again without tears. Moreover, godly
parents will allow him to get into situations where he will probably get knocked
down. If a boy is mollycoddled, his search for a wife will tend to be a search
for a maternal substitutesomeone to assume the important duties of pampering
him and running his life. One of the more frequent causes of such mollycoddling
occurs when a mother is bringing up her son without adequate direction from the
son's father. Good intentions do not prevent this problem from happening. If he
falls out of the tree, he might break his leg. But if he, banned from trees,
must spend all his time reading edifying literature, he will be a pantywaist.
And it would have been better for his future marital happiness if he had broken
his leg in two places.
A suitor must also be self-controlled. This quality does not arrive by Federal
Express at the last minute. Parents inculcate character over years. When they
look at a two-year-old running around their living room, they must be able to
see twenty-years down the road and discipline in line with that vision. When
a healthy young man considers a woman he believes to be attractive, he must restrain
himself. But the way parents teach a grown son to control his sexual and romantic
impulses is by shaping before he has any. His adult impulses are disciplined
through a godly handling of his infantile impulses.
A son who is to court a woman must have a deep respect for familial authoritynot
just his own family, but all familiesand he must proceed with this understanding
of household government clearly in mind. The position held by the father of the
woman who interests him must not chafe him. He should rejoice in the fact that
he currently has no authority over the woman he wants.
Such a respect originates with a respect for the teaching of Scripture. Household
governments are to be respected because God requires it, not because all household
governments are managed well. Not all fathers of eligible Christian women are
godly and respectable men. This means a son must be taught what it means to salute
the uniform, and he is to do it with a whole heart.
If a son has a high view of family authority when he is thinking about his
authority in his upcoming marriage, but a low view of it when he considers any
other household authority that gets in his way, then he is simply a tyrant looking
for subjects. Authority is understood by sons who delight to exercise godly authority
and who delight equally in submitting to godly authority.
And this, like so much else, begins in the cradle.