Friday, January 25, 2008

In the beginning

I'll not dwell on Adam and Eve themselves, but rather this comment made by God at their wedding:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

I find this verse interesting because it implies that the man does not leave home until he marries his wife. It is safe to assume that if the man has not left home yet, neither has the woman. This cannot be classified as "cultural" because God said this at the very beginning of time, to the very first people, before they had time to establish any kind of "culture".

So let's think about this. Should men and women leave home before they marry, just because now they are adults? If they leave, what should they be doing? If they stay, what should their role in the family be, and what should they be doing? And there is something very important about the leave and cleave idea that every parent must remember.

In our western society, children are considered legal adults when they turn 18. At that point, parents cannot legally force their children to stay home. So if the children are going to stay home it will have to be a voluntary act on their part. In either case, the children should, by then, be ready to function as adults. As adults, however, they should function differently depending on whether they are men or women. Since this series is about courtship, we are going to assume that the women are planning on getting married. We will save exhortations to single women for another post.

God has designed men to be the providers and protectors and women to be the guardians of the home. For a more in-depth study of this, I highly recommend the book Different by Design by John MacArthur. (I just did a google search for this and discovered several books by that title. It is important that you remember the author's name.) In preparing for marriage, men should be practicing his provider-protector role, and women should be practicing their guardian-of-the-home role.

Men will not usually have their life's vocation settled at age 18, but they should at least be working toward financial independence when they will no longer be dependent on their parents for anything financially. This is obviously necessary if he is going to be the sole provider for a wife and family. A man should not even consider marriage or courtship until he is financially independent.

Women preparing for marriage should be focusing on all that goes into making the home a refuge for her family. She should be practicing love and obedience for her future husband by loving and obeying her father. She should be practicing love for her future children by loving and helping to care for her younger siblings. (If she has no younger siblings, she should consider babysitting; helping young mothers in her church and neighbourhood; working with younger cousins, nieces, or nephews; etc.) She should be practicing for her role as keeper at home by learning all that goes into homemaking--things like cooking/baking, sewing, cleaning, gardening, budgeting household expenses, teaching (in preparation for homeschooling), using time wisely, and a myriad of other things. She should also work on making home a peaceful place, a true refuge from the storm of the world outside.

A man preparing for marriage will need some kind of employment. Usually he will need to work for someone else first, even if he plans to eventually own his own business. Unless his family has a business, he will of necessity "leave" home to work. In preparing for financial independence, he will begin paying room and board if he stays at home with his parents. He should get his own car and pay for his own insurance, repairs, gas, etc. He should be buying his own clothes and other necessities. He should also be saving something. Of course, he will also be giving regular freewill offerings to his church.

A woman preparing for marriage will find it easiest to practice her skills by staying home and functioning as part of the family unit.

And now a word for parents--and this will be hard for many parents, especially mothers, to take. Let your adult children be adults. Treat your adult sons as men of the house. Treat your adult daughters as women in their own right. If there are underage children in the home, they should be taught to honour and respect their adult siblings just the same as any other adult. They should give the same "Yes sir" (or whatever terminology your family uses) to adult siblings as they are expected to give to any other adult.

Mothers should not be telling their sons what to do anymore, leaving that to her husband. Sons will, of course, continue to honour and respect their mothers, but mothers need to step back from her role as "authority figure" and let her son be man enough to make his own choices and decisions. If a mother senses a problem, she should alert her husband. If she has no husband, or her husband is not godly, she should enlist the help of her pastor or other trusted man in her church.

Mothers and adult daughters seem to either have really fantastic relationships where everything runs as smoothly as well-oiled machinery, or they have stormy relationships with a constant tension between them. The daughter wants to be treated as an adult, the mother wants to be the boss. I think the best thing to do is divide the labour so that each has equal "authority" (for lack of a better word) over different areas. For instance, one might be in charge of all the laundry while the other prepares all the meals. One might decide what, when and how to set up and plant the garden while the other takes over all the major cleaning. This doesn't mean they can't help each other with their different jobs, but mothers should let their adult daughters make final decisions on some things.

This is all part of the leave and cleave idea I mentioned earlier. Parents must so train their children and themselves so that when the children become adults, the parents are ready to let go of them and let them live their own lives without expecting the children to follow their unsolicited advice. Even when children do ask advice, parents must remember that the children have the right as adults to reject that advice.

This is more than enough for one post, and I've only talked about "physical" things. I haven't even mentioned spiritual maturity. Maybe I'll get into that when we talk about Samson and Ruth.


Joseph said...

this is all very helpful and interesting. I knew that I would have be the person who has to pay for the family to live. I knew some but some of that I didn't know or didn't think of.

zorg said...

hehe, the guys get to work to pay the bills. we girls get to stay home and look after annoying, smelly, bad, slobbery, snotty, screaming, whiny, fussy, why questioning, sweet, lovable, adorable, charming, cute and delightful babies. Sounds good, I cant wait.