Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Arranging a Marriage - Part One

I don't usually talk about myself or my family on my blog. For the most part, I prefer to muse aloud about various topics and to speak of those subjects in principle. The whole point, however, in trying to figure out what the Bible says and what God requires from us, is that I might conform my behavior, as well as my thoughts, to what is good and what is right. When it comes to my family, I don't do this alone. I am married and my husband is the leader, so I don't want it to sound like I come up with these bright ideas and then force him to implement them. Rather, we usually study together and much conversation takes place before and during changes in our lifestyle, and it is my husband who makes the final call. In the case of arranged marriage, my husband was also the initiator and I had to be convinced (it wasn't that difficult of a case for him to make, though) that changes needed to be made in how we approached obtaining husbands and wives for our children.

We have two married children, both are daughters. The first daughter participated in what we were calling courtship. The second daughter had her marriage arranged by her father. Both marriages are good. We didn't decide to use arrangement because we believe it is the only way for a marriage to succeed, but because we believe it offers the least chance for moral failure, broken hearts and abuse of young men. We also believe it most closely follows the way God the Father chose a bride for His Son. My conclusions about courtship can be found in my post "To Court or Not to Court."

The story about how we arranged a marriage for our second daughter will be divided into 2 parts, to make it easier to swallow. Part One will be my description of the courtship of our oldest daughter, so you can see the comparison and see how we changed things for our second daughter. What you are reading here is my recollection only, from my point of view as her mother. I don't pretend to speak for my husband or daughter in this narrative and I don't doubt that some aspects would be described differently by them. To help protect their identities, I will refer to my daughter and son-in-law as Mary and John.

During the first week of January, 2009, John contacted my husband to ask if he could pursue our daughter. I don't recall if that was the precise term he used, but it adequately expresses what was about to occur. My husband (I'll call him Dad) already knew this young man and his family. John's father was an elder at our church. At that point, Dad approved John as a husband for Mary and gave John permission to convince Mary that they should marry. Dad outlined the ground rules as follows:
1. No dating
2. Communication was to be by mail or email only
3. They were to focus their communications specifically on finding out where they stood on various issues that could result in them eliminating the other as a spouse. Find out as quickly as possible whether they want to marry. No subjects were off-limits.

The "no dating" rule was very easy to comply with, because they were living on opposite coasts. They were not happy about not being able to speak on the phone, but Dad felt they needed to avoid unnecessary emotional attachment in case it didn't work out. They failed pretty much completely to ask each other good questions. As it turns out, people who have never been married don't have really good ideas about what is important in marriage, they assume they know where the other person stands, or they are too embarrassed to ask.

Around May, Mary told us that she "just wasn't feeling it." She didn't feel they were connecting very well. On Memorial Day weekend, John flew out to our place for a surprise visit. When he walked into our house, there was a palpable energy. We could almost see the hearts fluttering out of Mary's chest. She was completely smitten by his presence and it was so hot in the room that I thought fireworks were about to erupt. He took her out to eat and proposed marriage. She accepted. He returned to the city of his employment and we set the wedding for the latter part of August. From the day of his proposal, Mary was so distracted and twitterpated that she was nearly useless in her household duties. We prefer short engagements for this reason (and others) and this engagement wasn't nearly short enough. During the engagement period they were permitted to continue emailing and Dad also permitted a weekly phone call and any phone calls necessary for the wedding preparations. If they had been living close together, I don't think we could have limited their romantic involvement with any measure of success.

One of the huge downfalls to this whole affair was that John's family let everyone in church know about the courtship as soon as it began. I couldn't talk to any of the women at church without someone asking me about the "couple" until I made it clear that they were not a couple and that it wasn't open for discussion. I'm glad they got married, because if Mary had rejected John,  it would have been a complete humiliation for him. It would have damaged his reputation with the other young ladies to the point that he probably wouldn't have been able to pursue any of them. I understand the excitement of the church. The prospect of two member families having their children marry was a dream-come-true for the young church. But it doesn't excuse the junior-high level silliness that proceeded from most of the women and some of the men. 

Over all, it was not a great experience and there were many potential disasters that, thankfully, didn't happen. Dad decided that it would be different next time, and it was.

I'll be posting the link to Part Two of the story right here after I write it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

What Does the Bible Primarily Teach?

I love the catechism. I love the wisdom of my forefathers in the faith who knew concepts can be better grasped when reduced to clear statements. I pity modern evangelicals who believe they are too pure to resort to such man-made documents and believe they only need read the Bible and all will be made clear. To them I ask, "What is God?" If they can answer that by using the Bible alone, I will agree that they have no use for the catechism or any of the accumulated wisdom of the elders.

I stumbled onto the catechism quite by accident. One day while attending an event at my local Christian radio station I was given the opportunity to choose a book for myself from a table. The station was giving the books away and listeners who attended the event were given first choice. Upon seeing the title "Training Hearts Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade, I was intrigued. Most of the other books were devotional in nature and did not appeal to me, so this title was my choice, sort of by default. The subtitle of the book is "Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism." At that time, I was under the impression that only the Roman church used a catechism, so I took the book prepared to be critical.

Let's just say that after reading the first question and answer, I was curious.  I had heard my pastor recite this question and answer during a sermon, but I had no idea it was from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. By the time I got to question number 4, my mind was, as they say, blown. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't read it yet. It's free on the internet, go read it.

Question number 3 (In modern  English) says this:

What does the Bible primarily teach?
Simple question, right? And the answer is not exactly amazing, except that it sums up what could be a dissertation into one sentence. Here is the answer:
The Bible primarily teaches what man must believe about God and what God requires of man.
After learning this answer, it changed the way I understood the Scripture. Now, while reading, I am continually asking myself if what I am reading is telling something about God, or is it telling me something that God is requiring of me? Life changing, really. 

I thought of this today when I read this quote from Vaughn Olhman at Let Them Marry
But the point of coming to Scripture is to be changed by it   (From the post "Why Aren't you Married?")

Monday, February 16, 2015

Identity Abuse? Are You Serious?

There is a young woman in Texas who has rebelled against her parents and left her family against their wishes. I'm not sure exactly what her plans were, other than what she says in the video, that she wants to travel, get an education and get a job. I will let her speak for herself here, then I will provide my opinion on this issue.

This video has, not surprisingly, resulted in a bunch of other rebellious home schooled adults to jump in and shout, "Me, too! Me, too!" and "Her parents just want to control her" and "This is identity abuse!". The young woman herself barely mentions her parents except to say they refuse to help her. They have denied this. I don't know who is telling the truth. My bias is with the parents, because the girl has shown herself to be a deceiver. She conspired with her grandparents to leave her parents' home, purposefully concealing her plans from her parents. Both of her parents have dedicated their lives to raising their children in a way the parents deemed to be proper and that is their right. They have wronged no one.

Also asserted in the video is that she has no medical records and no education records. While her grandparents may have convinced her that this is terrible, I have to say that those are not the sort of records that I have ever been asked to present. Not even when I joined the Army. As a parent of home educated adults, I also know that it is possible -- and not even difficult -- to apply for college admission without a certificate of graduation from high school. Colleges know that most home schoolers don't have them and permit alternative ways to demonstrate readiness for college, such as college entrance exams. 

As to the assertion by some, such as the proprietor of Home Schoolers Annonymous, that her parents have committed the unforgivable crime of  "identity abuse" I say, stop trying to turn every thing you don't like into some sort of crime. Parents have no duty to their children to make sure that the children will be able to comply with every totalitarian government requirement.

What really bothers me about his whole scenario is that I don't hear anyone saying how ridiculous and tyrannical it is that in the "land of the free" a person can't get government permission to drive a car on a public roadway unless the person has fully registered themselves and received the proper government identification number. How is that rationally related to driving? How is the Social Security Act of 1935 related to getting in a car and making it go in an orderly and safe manner?  When did we become such sheep that obtaining employment doing the most menial of tasks is prohibited without your papers?  What interests do colleges have in knowing a person's federal tax identification number? Hint: follow the money. Note also that such identification is NOT required to run for office or to the hold the office of President of the United States.

So this young woman wants to submit herself to the tyranny and get all the proper paperwork. She now needs to provide sufficient proof to a judge as to the circumstances of her birth. He won't accept her sworn affidavit or the affidavits of her grandparents? Their sworn statements would be sufficient in a court to send a man to the electric chair in Texas, but their combined testimonies can't be trusted when they say that they would like to register her birth as having happened on a certain date, at a certain place and to certain parents, who are citizens of the United States?

I have given birth at home several times. I have registered births in two states and in both states I filled out and signed the form. I promised that I was telling the truth and that was enough. In a few weeks, I would receive a copy of the birth certificate in the mail. (After paying the fee and requesting the copy. The copy doesn't come automatically on the basis of registering the birth.) No one ever came to my house to verify if a baby had, in fact, been born. Because we didn't hire a midwife, I believe I also had to provide an affidavit of a person who had seen me pregnant and then saw the baby after its birth and was aware of the date and location of the birth. This information could just as easily be provided the day after the birth as it could 18 years later. The information is no more trustworthy or less trustworthy just because a few years went by. We aren't asking if someone remembers seeing a bear cross the road, we are talking about if they remember the birth of a person who is alive and standing there right now! In one state, there was a box I could check on the form if I wanted the State to register the birth with the Social Security Administration for me. I did NOT check the box, and yet, a few weeks later, her Social Security Card arrived in the mail. She received the mark of the beast, whether she wanted to or not.  That's why we practice paedobaptism. (Not really, that was joke, folks.)

Wouldn't it be great if we had some sort of uprising where masses of people sued their states to able to exercise their right to drive a car without possessing a federal identification number? Since when did moving around on public roads become a privilege granted only when the proper obiesence has been paid? Instead of petitioning a judge to be permitted to register her birth, she should be petitioning to be able to drive without having to a show a document which proves nothing other than her parents filed some paperwork 18 years ago.

There is identity abuse going on this country. And it is being perpetuated by the government, not parents.

The Measles - I'm Not Frightened

At some point we need to wake up to the fact that our government, in order to remain relevant and to make sure we understand how desperately we need it, is continually manufacturing fear. Terrorists! Ebola! Vampires! and now Measles! 

Don't believe the hype. Don't get frightened. The chance of someone dying from measles in the United States is something like .2% And that would require that a person actually contract measles. Currently there have been about 100 cases in the current outbreak. So that is 100 out of 350,000,000 people, right? Last year there were between 600 and 700 cases nationwide.

One of the most interesting things about this scare compared to past scares is the the thing itself is not even all that scary. If you happen to be the one poor soul who encounters a murderous terrorist or contracts ebola, you are in deep doo-doo. But even if, regardless of the narrow odds, you DO contract measles, it is not likely to change your life at all.

Take positive actions to keep yourself healthy and resistant to all infectious diseases, not just measles, by eating real food, keeping sugar to a minimum and making sure you have sufficient vitamin D.  No need to let fear cause you to inject poisons into your body (or the bodies of your children) under the false belief that it will make you safe. Life isn't safe. But we can make it safer. Wellness isn't something you put into your body, it is something your body gives you as a reward for treating it as the Designer intended.