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Earlier this week, Focus on the Family had a great broadcast with Ravi Zacharias called "I, Isaac, Take You, Rebekah" (Part 1 and Part 2). Ravi shared his convictions on how young adults should prepare for and make decisions regarding marriage. I consider it “must-listening” for those on the road to marriage. If you have time, I recommend you listen to both half-hour broadcasts in their entirety. If you don’t have time, here are a few of the best excerpts.
“Chances are, if you marry somebody in violation with your parents' will, I suggest you are playing a dangerous game with God. I just say this very plainly to you, young people: Be immensely careful when you make the pledge of your life to somebody if your parents are not in sympathy with it, particularly so if your parents are men and women who love God.”
“And that's why — please hear me — when you come to that pivotal moment of decision, my suggestion to you is seek the advice of somebody you love and respect and don't try to do it on your own just because you have the romantic feelings. Get the wisdom of your minister, the wisdom of your parents, the wisdom of friends and realize that romance has to be transcended by a strong will and a degree of commitment to you.”
“And I want to go so far as to say there is never a reason to be unkind. There may be reasons to disagree. There may be reasons to struggle; after all, two wills are merging into one. There are constant compromises and surrenders, but there is never a reason to be unkind.... Young people, this is the moment in your life — please hear me — when he who is wooing you will be at his kindest. And if you do not see that kindness in that person, watch out. For that partnership will be nourished and nurtured on the basis of a love that is not arrogant, but a love that is kind.”
“Marriage means handing over yourself, your body, your future, your keeping to the one whom you dearly love, although this person may, in many ways, remain a stranger. This tremendous act of faith is something that can unlock in each lover powers of compassion, generosity, joy, passion, fidelity and hope that no one guessed was even there. That is why the confidence of young lovers is not foolish or arrogant, but an expression of a basic fact in human experience that the greatest of human gifts are set to work only when people are prepared to risk everything … and first you risk it before God.”
Ravi Zacharias offers wise advice to those preparing for and seeking marriage. Again, I'd encourage you to take the time to listen to these broadcasts in their entirety (Part 1 and Part 2). Do you agree or disagree with Ravi's advice?
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--“Chances are, if you marry somebody in violation with your parents' will, I suggest you are playing a dangerous game with God. I just say this very plainly to you, young people: Be immensely careful when you make the pledge of your life to somebody if your parents are not in sympathy with it, particularly so if your parents are men and women who love God.”
What about those parents are ones who say, "I don't feel comfortable about your marrying him/her because he/she is such and such race?" And what if they seem to love God on all other aspects. Are you still "playing a dangerous game with God?"
--Great question, MikeTime! I'd love to hear the response to that.
--But overall, most of his presentation was very good with good, and true, Biblical principles.
My main concern is that most of them will fall on deaf ears. Most people KNOW intelletucally that sex outside of the Biblical guidelines are wrong and yet, illicit sex, pornography, etc. is rampant. We talk about having the willpower and commitment to stay in a marraige "no matter what" but we are apparently failing miserably at it with our divorce rate and Christians are really no different in that department.
I just wish there was more he could tangibly suggest to combat these rather than just say in essence, "Don't do it".
--" when he who is wooing you will be at his kindest."
I don't think that is necessarily true. Certainly if a guy (or girl) isn't good to you while you are dating that is a HUGE red flag. But "kind" doesn't seem like the right word. My husband is and always has been incredibly kind to me (one of the things that I found very attractive to him). But if I had to pick when he was "kindest" so far in our relationship, I wouldn't think of when we were dating,
--MikeTime: Many might not like this response, but I would say if a person has racist parents, it would probably be better to not marry a person outside of his or her race. This is not to say that this dictates the character of God (I personally believe He doesn't account for race in most contexts), however, I would say that if they went ahead with that marriage, they're not only committing to a life with that person, but also possibly committing to a life of strife with their family. I would argue that it would be better to not marry that person, than to marry them and later that person have to "divorce" their parents. (I would argue that my use of the term divorce here is different than leaving and cleaving, btw).
--"However, I would say that if they went ahead with that marriage, they're not only committing to a life with that person, but also possibly committing to a life of strife with their family."
I would argue that if someone is willing to marry someone outside of their race and has racist parents, there is already a lot of strife in that family.
--Along that same vein (of my previous question) what if one parent is for the marriage, but the other isn't? Is it only "half dangerous"? Which parent takes priority? The father, the mother? The Believer? What if it's the Believer parent who is comfortable but the non-Believer is not? And what about vice versa?
I just would like some clarification to how important parental approval should be in this process.
--Just my experience with in-laws who were initially against my husband dating me (long story--short version is he mentioned something regarding something physically I am unable to change about myself, they freaked out, and urged him not to pursue. He probably should have made no mention of it, and it took some time for them to realize it was a non-issue). My husband is not close to his parents, they are not the type of parents we can go to for support or advice...kind of the reverse in fact. So it really depends on the relationship with parents.
You bring up good questions. Ravi’s advice to marry someone of whom your parents approve is not a biblical mandate as much as a principle of wisdom. Like many such principles in the book of Proverbs, there are certainly exceptions.
On the issue of interracial marriage, the Bible does not have a particular command. As a Christian man, you have freedom under God to marry whichever Christian woman you choose, regardless of race. If your parents disapprove, it then becomes an issue of considering the implications for your family moving forward. Even if your parents are wrong (which they would be here), it might still be wise to comply for the sake of peace and harmony in your family. But by no means should you feel compelled to make either decision. It really comes down to considering the consequences and making a good decision.
Ravi’s point is to encourage young people to not make big decisions like whom to marry in a vacuum, but rather seek the counsel of wise, godly people you respect. Hopefully, your parents fall into this category, but if they don’t, be sure to seek the advice of others as you make your decision. It is wise for young people to acknowledge their own capacity to make poor decisions, regularly seek wise advice, and recognize that even wise counsel from parents and others can be wrong.
While a parent may lead us astray, God’s Word (properly understood) never will. Don’t forget to prayerfully seek the Scriptures on what God may be leading you to do as well.
Hope this helps.
For more on this topic, here are some other Boundless resources along these lines:
The inbox Q on this podcast: www.boundless.org/.../my-moms-a-racist-episode-104
“Mixed Matches” by Denise Morris: www.boundless.org/.../mixed-matches-part-1
--I think there needs to be a bit more consideration about the parents. Parents are as biased & fallible as the rest of us & often do not look at their children's lives objectively. My girlfriend parents (specifically mother) do not like her dating me, & do not like the idea of her marrying me. Its not because of who I am, they have never gotten to know me. All of our mutual godly friends think we work great together & marriage is a no brainer. Her parents don't like the age difference (I am 12 years her senior) & just think she needs to focus on career. They are not un-godly parents, but are probably a bit more nominal in their faith. And I come from a single parent, dysfunctional family. I do not trust my mother in regards to discernment at all. She does like my gf, but my mom also just wants me married. I know generally, especially for godly families, this is good advice, but I think it needs to be tempered with the reality that a lot of us do not come from ideal family situations.
--I am in the same problem that MikeTime asked. My parents go to church and all but are hesitant for me to marry my girl friend because she is such and such a race.
I think there can be a difference between honoring your parents and choosing to look to them for wise counsel. Some parents are not able to give solid, godly advice. But we are called to honor our parents whether they are wellsprings of wisdom or not. It sounds really difficult but some people might have to kindly and calmly listen to their parent's objections and then kindly and calmly disagree. It's very sad but not unheard of for families to be torn apart by a child's choice of spouse. "Family at all costs" well, maybe not if your family is adamantly telling you to do something contrary to God's Word.
Maybe listen carefully to the parent's objections. Are they are about character or habits? "He doesn't treat you right" "She seems awfully self-centered" or are they superficial? "But if you pop out kids now your career will be over!" "Never marry a ______. They'll always/never ______."
But I can see how in the long run, what a blessing it would be to have the support of both sets of parents (if they're around) especially when things get tough later on. And it's good to imagine how the kind of relationship you will have with your disapproving parents might affect your children. If something happened to you and your spouse and your children were orphaned, would any of your relatives be willing to raise them in the fear of the Lord?
So far my parents really like my boyfriend, but at first they were so silent on the issue every time I tried to talk about him, I thought they disapproved. Maybe because last time (my first boyfriend) they were so enthusiastic about the two of us and he turned out to have major issues, kind of deceived everybody, so maybe this time they are being more cautious with their affirmation. I should get to the bottom of that sometime soon. His parents seem to like me, but they are not Christians, and only see worldly reasons to get married. :/
I agree with Ria, I think there's a difference between honoring one's parents, yet still disagreeing because their reasoning is not based on biblical or wise practical counsel, and looking significantly to them for counsel because you know they will give sound biblical advice and wise counsel on this. I would say it it has a lot to do with the reasons why they object or don't object. If it's based on the character and spirituality of the other person, clear biblical reasoning, or even just basic advice regarding difficulties that may come because of differences, such as interracial relationships, that's one thing. If it's based in ungodly reasoning due to selfish perspectives, that's another. While I firmly believe in carefully considering the perspective and advice of one's parents, I also know that not all parents root that advice in the Scriptures. Thankfully mine do, but I know that's not with everyone. So I would say first of all, seeking the Lord should be the top priority, and then the counsel of others, including parents, should be next, but also understanding that ultimately the Bible and the Holy Spirit are our main guides for all decisions in life. And if parents go against those, we go against parents, howbeit respectfully.
" If something happened to you and your spouse and your children were orphaned, would any of your relatives be willing to raise them in the fear of the Lord?"
That is where making up a will comes into play, so you know who would be raising your kids if anything happened.
Wow! This blew my mind! I actually wrote some things like this in a novel i am writing. Cant wait to finish it now! This article has given me some major inspiration! Thanks so much for the good post, man!
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