The Solemn, Sacred, Holy Covenant of Marriage PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families

The Solemn, Sacred, Holy Covenant of Marriage
by Candy Summers

[Please note: After ministering to all our beloved families for the past fifteen years, we feel that we have truly become a family. As family members, we are sincerely concerned, not only for our own children, but for all of your children as well. Therefore, it is our hope and prayer that this article helps you avoid some of the mistakes we and many others have made. To those of you who are struggling with uncertainty, may this help you embrace God’s truth and design for covenantal marriage.]

Profoundly Troubling

 Many of us began homeschooling over fifteen years ago and are now on the threshold of ushering in the next generation, but what lies ahead? For in spite of our dedicated start, the way the vast majority of our homeschooled children are headed is profoundly troubling. Even more troubling is how much the enemy’s lies have permeated our thinking on parental authority and covenantal marriage and the unwillingness of most parents to maintain the course set by God when faced with rebellion.
 Throughout the past few years, we have been deeply dismayed and concerned by all the homeschooled children who are in rebellion, especially those who are dating, and marrying nonbelievers or sorely immature Christians. Some are off to college pursuing what they want; others have left home because they no longer want to remain under their parents’ authority; while others are at home rebelling with their parents’ apparent approval.
 None of these children are products of dysfunctional families. All have come from devout Christian parents who love the Lord and have raised up their children in the admonition of His Word. So what is happening here?
 In order to effectively fulfill our purpose as parents, we understand what is at stake, the enemy, the pitfalls of negligence, and above all, the order and beauty of God’s design for marriage. Being created in the image of God, like Adam and Eve, we were endowed by our Creator with tremendous capabilities and were indeed commanded to have dominion over all the earth. However, instead of worshipping the Creator and establishing a godly dominion and consequently order, blessings, and life, the first man, and subsequently the majority of men since, decided to worship themselves (human reasoning) instead. This brought about autonomous dominion and consequently its ensuing fruits—chaos, decay, and death. So the age-old conflict remains as to who will have dominion.
  Adam and Eve had the perfect Father and the perfect home. God actually walked with them and talked with them. He loved them more than we can possibly imagine or emulate. He gave them everything they needed and nurtured them more perfectly than any of us could nurture our own. Everything was holy and perfect, yet they chose to rebel against their Heavenly Father’s authority over them.
 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field … And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said’ … ‘You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it … you will be like God’” (Gen. 3:1,4,5). (Free from restraint. Free to do what you want. Free to be lord and master of yourself.)
 God indeed warns us about the scheming of the enemy to destroy us. “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:11,12). “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you” (Gen. 4:7). “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
 Hence, is it any wonder that Satan works so hard to gain control of our children before they embark upon fulfilling their responsibility to raise up future generations? For it is this same crafty lion who schemes to devour our children before they can reproduce more potential enemies to the forces of wickedness.
 In the beginning, we determined a course based on God’s Word—to teach God’s Word to our sons and daughters, when we sit in our homes, when we walk along the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. We began to run a race for God’s namesake. Regardless of the persecution, ridicule, and threats that were hurled at us, we refused to alter our course, but instead ran with more determination and diligence. Sadly, however, as the angel of light seduced us into thinking we could now release our children into the world of darkness, we fell prey to the world’s seduction, relinquishing our protection and authority to the enemy.
 Living in a country such as ours where we aren’t being persecuted and put to death for our faith lulls us into a stupor of complacency. We forget that there is a battle raging over which kingdom will possess our children in the end. However, the battle is fierce, as the King’s enemy continually schemes to keep the royal lineage from increasing by offering us the world. What do our children profit if they gain the world but lose their souls? Great scholarships, great colleges, great degrees, great jobs, great salaries, great friends—vanity, all vanity.
 We certainly cannot rest on the laurels of past years because if we don’t finish the race according to God’s Word, the fate of our endeavors is doomed. Do not be deceived! The angel of light continues to seize every opportunity to steal the hearts of the heirs to the King’s Kingdom.
 It is not good enough to follow God’s plumb line for most of the way. We must tenaciously lay hold of it and never let go—diligently following it to the end. When? Not until we take our last breath at the finish line.
 Why is it that when we get closer to fulfilling all we have labored for, we let down our guard and allow the King’s princes and princesses to leave the royal Kingdom and step into the enemy’s kingdom unguarded?
 Many of us trusted in our children’s maturity, believing that our training was enough to keep them from sinning and falling headlong into the ways of the world. How incredibly foolish of us to trust in our children’s flesh when we ourselves know that although the Spirit may be willing, the flesh is weak and in constant opposition to the Spirit. Especially in matters of the heart, at this age of emotional and hormonal upheaval, pushing our children into the world at this vulnerable time is like sending a chocoholic to a chocolate factory to work but telling him that he can’t eat any. “Yes, you can go to youth group; Yes, you can go to work; Yes, you can go out with all your friends; Yes, you can go to college; Just don’t fall in lust with anyone out there.”
 Do we recall what went on when we were in youth groups, at work, and in college? Do we not want our children to avoid these same situations and relationships at all costs? What makes us believe that it is okay to place our children in an even more immoral world than what we grew up in when we were their age? Oh, the foolishness of thinking that our children are mature enough to resist the greatest warrior of the world. May God forgive us and may our testimony turn others from this folly. Remember! Remember! Remember! Throughout time, God’s people rebelled over and over again.
 When we asked parents whose children are in rebellion what they would do differently, they unequivocally agree that they would not send their kids to youth group, would not allow them to go off to the service or college, and would not allow them to work during the high school years. Whether the environment was considered to be Christian or not made absolutely no difference because, sadly, even most Christians have been so indoctrinated in the world’s thinking that they, too, encouraged their children to cast off their parents’ “control” to pursue their own desires.
 Farfetched? Contrary to what we expect the Body to be, we’ve heard more complaints about how pastors, youth directors, and Christian college faculty and students have undermined the parents. Sadly it’s where most parents felt safe in allowing their children to go by themselves. The fact is that the Body should be helping one another by strengthening that parental bond: teaching, exhorting, and encouraging our children in God’s Word.
 Learning from our own experience, from many others’ same experience, and from what we have frequently observed (even in homeschooling circles), when males and females get together, there are always flirtatious overtures going on and immediate infatuations that occur. Many young men and women work hard at securing our children’s hearts but carefully hide their intentions from those parents whom they know would object.
 Regardless of age, there are certain rules of conduct that must be consistently followed to safeguard our children and ourselves from temptation. Even in marriage, a general rule of significant importance is not to be alone with a person of the opposite gender—at work, at home, in a vehicle—anywhere. Satan schemes to destroy anything that is good and godly, so we must not place ourselves in any compromising situations. God even warns us to avoid even the appearance of evil.
 As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children safeguard their hearts and protect them from others’ scheming. We can only do that if we are present. The importance of the family unit applies at all ages but especially when our children’s hearts are so vulnerable. Therefore, it is wise to continue to do things together as a family with other families, ever aware of the spiritual battle that rages against our children.

Is Independence Biblical?

 Then of course there are those parents who do not even have a clear understanding of the God-ordained authority our Lord has given to parents over their children regardless of age, and they have therefore adopted the world’s cultural standard instead of adhering to God. They believe that when children reach the magical age of 18 or 21, they suddenly become independent, or worse still, they believe their children and everyone else’s need to be independent for their own good.
 Beliefs have consequences because they shape our actions. For Christians, all beliefs need to be evaluated and judged according to scripture, which must be our standard for all our choices. For God explicitly tells us, “Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6).
 So where in the Bible does it say that children become independent at age 18 or 21? When asked this question, one young man who was telling a father that he and this father’s daughter were no longer children and that their decision to marry had nothing to do with him and his wife quoted, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness,” but he failed to quote the rest of 1 Timothy 4:12, which goes on to say, “but set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” It continues in verses 15 and 16, “Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that everyone may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching, persevere in them; for as you do this you will insure salvation for both yourself and those who hear you.” Paul also exhorts Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness … godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:7,8).
 To exhort this defiant young man who talked to this father, Paul goes on to say in 1 Timothy 1:5-7, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”
 To answer our previous question, nowhere in the Bible does it say that children become independent at age 18 or 21. Our next question then is: Are Christians supposed to be independent at any time in their lives? Obviously, many parents and young people who espouse independence as being good and necessary do not realize that independence means “complete exemption from control; self directed. Independent is not dependent; not relying on others; free; easy; self-commanding; bold; unconstrained; subject to no spiritual authority.” Rather synonymous with rebellion, isn’t it?
 It is the world, not God, that says that our children have the right to be free from restraint; the right to choose whatever they want; the right to choose pornography; the right to choose a boyfriend or girlfriend; the right to be homosexual; the right to choose birth control; the right to choose their own mate; the right to kill their own baby; the right to divorce and choose again; and finally the right to kill themselves in old age. There are no absolutes; man is god.

All Sin Is Rebellion Against God

 However, according to scripture, all sin is rebellion against the Lord. It is choosing to do what we desire, and it comes down to who has control and lordship of our lives. The carnal man desires to serve himself, glorify himself, and justify himself. Remember that it all began in the Garden of Eden when the crafty serpent tempted Eve to question God’s Word and His authority over her by saying, “Indeed has God said?” A question so subtle and seemingly harmless, yet once our mind considers his lies, we risk the inevitable consequences. Paul even warns us, “I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray … even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:3,14).
 And it is this angel of light that always appeals to the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the lust for the power to control our own lives. For God warns us in 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world, nor the things of this world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
 Satan schemes against God’s children, taking every opportunity to tempt us to question God’s lordship over our lives. The heart is wicked about all else and desires to be independent at all ages, but we should not give license to it at any age just because the world says so.

Genuine Prerequisites for Blessing a Marriage

 So often when we ask parents about their future son-in-law or daughter-in-law, sadly the most common response is that they seem nice enough. Good grief! Bill Clinton seemed nice enough. Nice means nothing! Remember! That man is going to be lord and master of your daughter; that daughter is going to bear your grandchildren; and together, they are going to train up the next generation. Nice is not one of the spiritual prerequisites for such a great responsibility.
 Is God Lord of their lives? Do they have faith in God’s sovereignty, or do they try to work things out in their flesh? Do they understand the holiness of marriage and its purpose? Do they have a clear understanding of the biblical principles of God-ordained authority—God over the father, father over the mother, and both parents over the children? Do they honor their parents and both of you? Do they guard their hearts so they do not awaken love before its time? Are they Christlike? Are they ready to raise children in the admonition of the Lord? These are genuine prerequisites for blessing a union before God.

Choose to Love Instead of Falling in Lust

 Well, what are we going to do? They fell in love. God says in 1 Cor. 13:4-8 that, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag or is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” No one falls into love; they choose to love and work at it. Although the world has written a million songs on falling in love, it is still a lie from the pit of hell. It may sound good, but what it really means is falling in lust.
 Lust, on the other hand, means “to desire eagerly; to long to possess or enjoy.” Carnal means “fleshly lust,” and the Bible says that the carnal man is in enmity against God. Romans 6:12 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.” It is significant to note that Satan always appeals to the lust of the flesh, but God says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).
 It should also be made clear to our children that they cannot base a relationship on how that person makes them feel either. Our felicity comes from our relationship with our Father in heaven and should not depend on others or circumstances.

Marriage: A Product of Chance?

 Marriage is not a mere product of chance, but a carefully designed institution ordained by God to perpetuate God’s plan for mankind. If we stand back and just let nature take its course, aren’t we really saying that this has nothing to do with God, and furthermore reducing it to an evolutionary ritual? We say Jesus is the answer, but in actual practice, we fail to apply this belief. But if we truly believe that God’s knowledge is infinite and that He is sovereign over all things, is it then possible that God doesn’t leave our children’s marriage partner to chance, but in His infinite wisdom and perfect design has already chosen the perfect helpmeet for each of our children? The fundamental question, then, that we must each ask ourselves is if we truly believe God is sovereign. Any time we remove God from a decision, it is destined to failure.

Let Us Not Dishonor God’s Word

 Then there are also those parents who do concern themselves with their children’s decisions, but faced with rebellion, silently resign themselves to their children’s foolishness and sin because they don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with their children. What about their relationship with God? “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:23a). Personally, our conviction is to fear God more than many.
 If we condone one child’s rebellion, how can we expect our other children to be obedient to us, and ultimately to God? How will they be able to respect marriage as the holy, sacred covenant it is meant to be? Furthermore, what kind of witness is this to others?
 God’s people are to be God’s living epistles—His voice to all people. Our actions speak volumes, so what are we saying? Do we reveal our belief in a living God, or do we not only reject His Word but also suppress the truth? We must be obedient to God’s Word so that the Word of God will not be dishonored.
 So these parents save their relationship with their children but lose them to ungodly mates or immature mates who will be virtually ineffective in training up future generations for God’s Kingdom. Will these same parents go along with an adulterous affair, a divorce, and subsequent remarriage? Where will they draw the line and based on what? For once we stray from God’s standard, it is then left up to the whims of the flesh, which doesn’t even have a logical foundation.
 What in years to come will these same children think of their parents, if they come to realize the travesty of their decision? Will they feel comfortable turning to these parents for godly advice? How could they! Again, how many of us today wish we had parents who had stood by God’s plumb line regardless of the cost to them personally? As Christian parents, we often have to make some tough decisions, but we must be consistent in following God’s plumb line. For God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
 For it would be an abomination to disregard the seriousness of the solemn, sacred, holy covenant of marriage before God, to bless a relationship which is neither honorable nor godly. We certainly should not bless something God cannot bless. How can defiant children even expect a blessing while raising their fist to their parents and ultimately to God who placed those parents over them?
 God says, “Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother” (Deut. 27:16). “There is a generation of man who curses his father and does not bless his mother. There is a generation who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness. There is a generation—oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance. There is a generation of man whose teeth are like swords, and his jaw teeth like knives … The eye that mocks a father, and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it” (Prov. 30:11-14,17). “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:17). “If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him” (Lev. 20:9).
 “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:28-32).
 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

The Consequences of Compromise

 A friend of ours pointed out a perfect example of the consequences of going along with one child’s rebellion from Fiddler on the Roof. She told us that the first daughter had committed herself to a young man before going to her father for his approval and blessing. The father was shocked at their defiance but blessed the marriage anyway. Then he continued to compromise with each succeeding child until finally the last daughter ran off with someone outside the faith and didn’t even ask the father for a blessing.
 We must not minimize the seriousness of a child pursuing someone else’s child while disregarding either set of parents because according to God’s Word, they are indeed breaking God’s law: “You shall not covet” that which does not belong to you. (Young men are to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage); “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Each of our actions are acts of worship, either worshipping our Lord or ourselves); “Honor thy father and thy mother”; and finally, “You shall not steal” (anything that is not yours—and children are given by God to their parents).
 If we accept a relationship outside the confines of God’s law, then we are showing our children that rebellion is acceptable, when it most certainly is not. This may seem harsh because “you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:5-11). For whom the Lord loves He chastises—for whom the father loves—oh so deeply loves—he disciplines.

Hearts Established in Holiness

 The world will be shocked. “Well, you want your child to be happy, don’t you?” Of course, we want our children to be happy. No one wants that more for a child than his own parents who have loved and nurtured him all these years. Exactly, that is the point! We want them to be truly happy; a happiness that is deep and everlasting. However, our foremost desire is for our children to be holy, so they can live happily for the eternity to come. Only in holiness, living as Christ calls us to live, can we be truly happy. The world gives a counterfeit happiness that is never satisfied. Only God can give the joy, contentment, and peace that is everlasting. Our desire is that our children be right before God and that their hearts be established in holiness.
 Listen to these words from A.W. Tozer: “No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be. For those who take this whole thing seriously, I have a suggestion: Go to God and have an understanding. Tell Him that it is your desire to be holy at any cost, and then ask Him never to give you more happiness than holiness. When your holiness becomes tarnished, let your joy become dim. Ask Him to make you holy, whether you are happy or not. Be assured that in the end you will be as happy as you are holy.” (Taken from Timberdoodle’s catalog)

Honor God

 Family will tell us that our child has been such a good kid, so we should just love him enough to give him what he wants. Is it love that allows loved ones to sin—to make ungodly decisions that will destroy the rest of their lives, just because they choose to?
 We cannot allow ourselves to be blinded to sin because of our children’s former exemplary walk or because of our great affection for them. If we indulge our children in the gratification of their selfish desires instead of fulfilling our responsibility to restrain and rebuke their sins, then we would be honoring that which is displeasing to God, and ultimately honoring our children more than the Lord of our lives.
 Furthermore, we understand the solemn responsibility to live righteously before God regardless of our personal interests. Eli and David’s sins serve as a warning of what can happen when affection for our children blinds us to our solemn responsibility to honor God and His Word at all times.
 As for Eli, “I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them” (1 Sam. 3:13). David, who because of his own sin and great love for his son, failed to rebuke his son Absalom and bring him to justice, which caused great calamity to David and his family and for God’s kingdom as well.
 Before us clearly lie two paths—one of obedience leading to blessings and a rich inheritance, the other of disobedience leading to curses and disinheritance. Since sin separates us from God, we cannot possibly bless our children’s sins and watch them reap the agonizing consequences later in life. Because of our deep, deep love for our precious children, we must choose to rebuke their sins and plead with them to choose life and live.
 Marriage is not the cure for rebellion. Marriage just further multiples the rebellion in grandchildren and is often further multiplied in multiple marriages. “Whew, we finally got them married off; now we can rest easy” is nothing but a fairytale that will soon turn into a nightmare. We cannot be concerned about saving face or saving our relationship—we must instead be concerned in saving our children’s souls and saving their relationship with the Lord.
 Is it not our responsibility to direct and guide our children in all areas of their lives? We tell them they cannot have too much candy because it will give them cavities, but we remain silent on the most important decision they will ever make? Are not most of us reaping the consequences of our parents’ lack of direct influence in this area of our lives? We frequently counsel homeschooling couples that are struggling miserably in their marriages. Therefore, let us break this generational cycle of sin and grab hold of God’s Word and the blessings it brings and grab hold of our children before it is too late. For if our vision is to raise godly generations, then we had better be doing everything we can to secure God’s choice for our children instead of covering our eyes and hoping for the best. Think of how many divorces could be eliminated if parents fulfilled their God-given responsibility that parents took seriously throughout time until the early 20th century.
 For it is a generational vision that reveals the seriousness of securing God’s choice of mates for our children who will in turn produce future godly generations. It is this vision that helps us understand the significance in obedience and disobedience and the long-term consequences of the blessings and curses they bring. We are always telling our children that for good or for evil, every decision we make is for an eternity. In our hands lies the power to build a heavenly fortress upon the Rock or a living hell on shifting sand. Forevermore, each and every decision we make sets in motion everything to come, which will affect every future generation.

In Contempt of God’s Law

 Again, do not be deceived into believing that “the church” (Christians) has your child’s best interest at heart because most everyone has been so thoroughly indoctrinated with false teaching and a corrupt, worldly perspective (and also may be in so much rebellion themselves) that they encourage children to cast off their parents’ authority so they may embrace their own desires and dreams—in the name of the Lord, of course. This somehow makes the rebellion okay. Sadly, even some of our own homeschooling families are encouraging other homeschooling families’ children to rebel.
 Contrary to secular thought, parental authority was not invented by man just so he could “control” every aspect of his children’s lives. It is God-ordained authority, not man-imposed control, that brings security, love, protection, and blessings upon our children. Anyone who interferes or supersedes a parent’s authority puts himself in contempt of God’s law.

God-Ordained Authority of Parents

 As always we must turn to God’s Word, so let us now seek God and know His Word. God says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Deut. 5:16). It is with utmost significance that we note that God does not specify “children” here, even though we are His children and are often referred to as children. At 44 and 52 years of age, we still try to honor our parents in all things.
 “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov. 1:8). “My son, if you will receive my sayings” (Prov. 2:1). “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you” (Prov. 3:1,2). “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding” (Prov. 4:1). “Do not abandon my instruction” (Prov. 4:2). “Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 4:5). “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, and the years of your life will be many” (Prov. 4:10). “My son, give attention to my words” (Prov. 4:20). “Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life” (Prov. 4:21,22). “My son, give attention to my wisdom” (Prov. 5:1). “Now then, my sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 5:7). “My son, observe the commandments of your father, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother. Bind them continually on your heart (Prov. 6:20,21). “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live” (Prov. 7:1,2).
 “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother” (Prov. 10:1). “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke (Prov. 13:1). “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent” (Prov. 15:5). “The glory of sons is their fathers” (Prov. 17:6). “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Prov. 19:27). “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way” (Prov. 23:19). “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Prov. 23:22). “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you” (Prov. 23:24,25). “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways” (Prov. 23:26). “The eye that mocks a father, and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it” (Prov. 30:17).
 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3). “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Col. 3:20).

Trust, Submission, and the Blessings They Bring

 What if children are convinced that someone is right for them, but their parents are convinced that they are not God’s choice? Think about it! God is not going to tell children one thing and their parents another. Who did God entrust to whom, and to whom did He give the authority? I may not always agree with Jon, but I must submit to him because God commanded me to do so. God placed him in authority over me, and with submission comes the miraculous protection and blessings that God ordained. As I submit I come under my lord and master’s protective covering and am blessed by God.
 It works the same way for children when they submit to their parents. If I cannot trust Jon, how can I trust God? I put my trust in God’s Word and that is what empowers me to trust Jon. How can children trust in God whom they cannot see if they can’t trust their earthly parents who they can see? If they trust God, they will trust their parents. How can they submit to God if they cannot submit to the authority God placed over them?
 Even our Lord Jesus Christ, as a man, honored His Father and submitted to His will—even unto death. For Jesus says, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Again in John 5:30, “I can do nothing on My own initiative…. I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Finally in Luke 22:42, “Father, if Thou are willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but Thine be done.”

We Must Approach Marriage from a Biblical Perspective

 Unfortunately, books, songs, and movies have greatly influenced (and to even a greater degree than most of us realize) completely formed our perspective on love and marriage. However, God is not silent on this subject, and as a matter of fact, the voice of the Living God is quite clear concerning the covenantal institution He Himself ordained. As always, the enemy has worked hard at suppressing this truth, burying it under an avalanche of sugarcoated verbiage that appeals to the lust of our eyes, and ears, and heart. However, as Christians, we must approach marriage from a biblical perspective.
 Although we have attempted to reveal God’s master plan for marriage, in this short space we cannot adequately cover all God has to say about marriage. In order to have a complete understanding, we encourage you to take the time to thoroughly study this with your family by looking up “marriage,” “bride,” and “bridegroom” in an exhaustive concordance and secure God’s truth on establishing godly homes so that you do not suffer the consequences of disobedience.

What is Marriage?

 Marriage truly is a beautiful, holy, solemn, sacred covenant with God symbolizing God’s loving relationship as Bridegroom to us, His body—the Bride. Man and woman become one before God, that no man should put asunder. What a marvelous, miraculous relationship we can share with one another and with Him. How wonderful it is to have a marriage ordained and blessed by God. This is what we desire for our own children, and yes, what God desires. According to God’s magnificent, orderly plan for marriage and according to God’s Word, it is our responsibility to guide, direct, and make certain that our children establish their homes upon Jesus Christ the Bridegroom—upon faith in God’s promises and obedience to God’s Word. Our desire must be for our children to marry God’s choice for them because He knows all, sees all, and desires His perfect will to be done. The choice must be God’s! We can trust Him to provide the best; He always does. We must wait until He reveals His will to us.
 God revealed His perfect, holy plan in the very beginning when He (Eve’s Father) gave Eve (His daughter) to Adam. “And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22). God always provides.
 Then our forefather Abraham continued to set the example for us to follow in Genesis 24. “Now Abraham was old … and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way” (Gen. 24:1). Yet he still had one more responsibility to fulfill, one more step of faith to take before finishing his course. “Abraham said to his oldest servant, his most trusted servant who had charge of all he owned (symbolic of God our Father, Father to all our children, with we being the servant), ‘Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth (this was a most solemn task), that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you shall go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.’ And the servant said to him, ‘Suppose the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?’ Then Abraham said to him, ‘Beware lest you take my son back there!’” (Gen. 24:2-6). For the choice must be God’s!!
 Listen to Abraham’s great faith in God’s faithfulness. “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me, and who swore to me saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there” (Gen. 24:7).
 God assures His children that “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6). When we trust in God, He always provides.
 And the servant prayed in faith, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham…. Now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’; may she be the one whom Thou has appointed for Thy servant Isaac; and by this I shall know that Thou hast shown lovingkindness to my master” (Gen. 24:12-14).
 First, God confirmed His choice in answer to His servant’s prayer through the outward circumstances, then God confirmed His choice based on His biblical principles, and finally confirmed His choice by giving His servant total assurance that this girl was His will. In verse 19, Rebekah said what the servant prayed. In verse 24, the servant found out she was from Abraham’s family. In verse 27, the servant was assured: “And he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the Lord has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.”
 It is also confirmed in the other father. “Then Laban … said, ‘The matter comes from the Lord … let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken’” (Gen. 24:50,51). “Then they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ And she said, ‘I will go’” (Gen. 24:58). Faith in God’s best is a choice. We can choose God’s best or refuse.
 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Isaac’s faith in God is clearly seen in his willingness to embrace God’s choice. Isaac had trusted God to provide God’s best for him and patiently waited until God brought her to him. “For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him shall not be disappointed’” (Rom. 10:11).
 “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen. 24:67).
 Isaac’s most outstanding godly character is his surrender to God’s will. When Isaac was a man he faithfully followed his father to be sacrificed even if it meant his death. He was humble, gentle, trusting, submissive, and obedient. “A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:4).
 Isaac exemplified Christ. “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5). Jesus was obedient unto death. “Abba! Father! All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1,2).
 Fixing our eyes on Jesus throughout our lives—looking to Him for everything—being obedient no matter what the sacrifice is truly the key to the kingdom of heaven, but also the key to true happiness. The joy of the Lord of our life is our strength (Neh. 8:10). “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
 A ram was provided and sacrificed in Isaac’s place just as Jesus was sacrificed in our place, but let us remember that nothing less than obedience to God’s Word will be rewarded. “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice … For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king” (1 Sam. 15:22,23). Obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings judgment.
 Because Abraham obeyed God, “Because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you … And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:16-18) and because Isaac obeyed his father, he was also greatly blessed.
 Let us now go to Jacob and Esau. “Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take himself a wife from there (his family), and when he blessed him, he charged him saying, ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,’ and Jacob (now a man) had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan-aram” (Gen. 28:6,7). But “Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael and married” (Gen. 28:8,9). Esau married Hittite women, and “they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah” (Gen. 26:35).
 Not only did Jacob as a man submit and obey his parents, but also he submitted to Rachel’s father as well and served him 14 years for her to become his wife.
 Ruth, after her husband died, was obedient to her mother-in-law. “All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5). God blessed her with Boaz.
 Saul gave his daughter to be David’s wife. Esther was obedient to Mordecai. Samson “told his father and mother, ‘I saw a woman in Timnah … now therefore, get her for me as a wife’” (Judg. 14:2). Even Jesus was obedient to His Father, taking the church as His bride. He was a man in his thirties who submitted to His Father unto death: “not My will but My Father’s.”
 “If a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow … and her father says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand…. But if her father should forbid her on the day he hears of it, none of her vows or her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her because her father had forbidden her” (Num. 30:3-5).
 “And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord … but one who is married is concerned about … how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she should be of full age, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better” (1 Cor. 7:34-38).
 Even the wedding ceremony is based on God’s Word when the pastor asks, “Who gives this bride?” and also when he asks, “If there is anyone who sees any reason these two shall not be united in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
 Taken from “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony” found in The Book of Common Prayer, which was used both in the churches of England in the churches in America: “First the Banns of all that are to be married together must be published in the Church three several Sundays … the Curate saying after the accustomed manner, I publish the Banns of Marriage between M. of ¬¬¬_______ and N. of _______. If any of you know cause or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.”
 The Catholic Church still requires the banns of marriage to be published at principle masses at which time the intended marriage is publicly proclaimed with the purpose that if anyone knows any reason why these two should not be united in holy matrimony, they have a moral obligation to let the priest know.
 Now let us carefully listen to the words of the wedding ceremony, considering the holiness of the marriage covenant and God’s purpose therein:
 “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocence, signifying unto us the mystical union that is between Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honorable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
 First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
 Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continence might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
 Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.
 I require and charge you both, as you will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why you may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, you do not confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.
 To the man: Wilt thou have this Woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as you both shall live?
 To the woman: Wilt thou have this Man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as you both shall live?
 Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man?
 Then shall they give their troth to each other in this manner.
 The Minister, receiving the Woman at her father’s hands, shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as follows.
 I, M. take thee N. to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
 Then shall they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her right hand taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise say after the Minister,
 I, N. take thee M. to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.
 With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
 O eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant between them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge) and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, bless these thy servants, and sow the seed of eternal life in their hearts; that whatsoever in thy holy Word they shall profitably learn, they may in deed fulfill the same. Look, O Lord, mercifully upon them from heaven, and bless them. And as thou didst send thy blessing upon Abraham and Sarah, to their great comfort, so vouchsafe to send thy blessing upon these thy servants; that they obeying thy will, and always being in safety under thy protection, may abide in thy love unto their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen…. That they may see their children Christianly and virtuously brought up, to thy praise and honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen…. O Lord, bless them both, and grant them to inherit thy everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Is God Sovereign?

 Sovereign means supreme in power, possessing supreme dominion; superior to all others; a supreme Lord who possesses the highest authority. We must all ask ourselves, “Is God sovereign? Is He Lord over all our lives or not?” He isn’t sovereign when we use Him only when it serves our desires or purposes. Either we believe He is sovereign over all or He isn’t sovereign at all. It cannot be both ways.
 All sin begins by questioning God’s authority over the areas of our lives where our desires are not being met to our specifications. Instead of taking those thoughts to God’s throne, we reason in our foolish minds until we convince ourselves that God is not really sovereign. Our thoughts digress from there into one of these patterns: Like Abraham and Sarah, “God isn’t powerful enough to work His will in my life unless I help Him”; or we throw a temper tantrum and dictate to Him that He is not going to make me happy unless He does it my way; or like Adam and Eve, “He has no jurisdiction in this area of my life. I can do what I want” and then try to work things out ourselves in our flesh.
 Let us back up. What is our purpose in life? God says He created us to glorify Him and to be Christlike. Our purpose is not to be happy, but to be holy, which brings happiness. By whose standard are we going to make our decisions? Who is going to have lordship over our lives? Are we going to go along, or are we going to stand firm regardless of the cost? Are we going to love our children and our brothers and sisters enough to save their souls by holding them accountable and encouraging them to turn back to the One and Only Lord?
 Let us encourage one another to take seriously that of finishing the race by seeing that our children marry godly mates. Pray for God to reveal His choice. Trust in God to provide His best. Wait trustingly. Have faith in His faithfulness that you will receive full assurance from God that you will know His will.