Someone recently asked for a concise explanation of what I believed concerning courtship, and what should be used in place of it. Why don’t we start from the beginning of the Biblical “examples” provided?
Principle: Adam was “Asleep”
Because Adam and Eve were created and joined in the first marriage, their story lays the ground work of what is expected in future marriages. For this reason, Adam and Eve are selected as the earliest courtship story. Many courtship enthusiasts insist that the man should be “asleep” because Adam was sleeping while Eve was prepared. Genesis 2:21-23:
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
That is all great and good, but they should back up a little and remember the context. Genesis 2:18-20:
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
God said it was not good for the man to be alone, brought a bunch of animals to Adam, and none was found suitable. So Adam was put to sleep for a surgical operation and Eve was made.
The emphasis in this passage is that Adam knew why the animals of the field were not suitable mates for him. The woman was not formed apart from man, and certainly not from anything beneath or above him. To keep the man from becoming haughty, reproduction was given to the woman. Paul made it a point to show that each sex relies on the other (I Corinthians 11, especially verse 11).
Principle: Woman should be “Asleep”
The Song of Solomon is the next favorite passage, because it addresses the woman’s need to be “asleep.” Chapter 2, verse 7:
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
Michael Pearl said in Holy Sex that this was the woman attempting to fend off anyone who would wake her husband. I will agree that this seems to be the best understanding of the KJV (due to context), even though I disagreed with him about virtually everything else he said about the Song of Solomon.
The copy of the NASB that I currently have access to does not have all the section headings that my copy has. It seems that the NASB has changed this statement to originate from the husband, concerning the wife.
The ESV, NIV, NET, and a few others render it along the lines of “do not awake love until it pleases.” Very courtship friendly.
People are likely to believe this means different things based on the translation they read. Due to my weak understanding of Hebrew, I assume that the KJV and NASB are bad attempts to say what the other translations have said.
Principle: Let God Awaken You
It has been pointed out that the word for “findeth” in Proverbs 18:22 is a passive word:
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.
If this is the case, then the verse would be better translated “Whoever stumbles across a wife has come upon a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” The Hebrew word that is rendered both times as “findeth” is “Matsa.” If you perform a search for it, some interesting passages are presented for study. Here is Genesis 31:33,34:
And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents; but he found [matsa] them [his idols] not. Then went he out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent. Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found [matsa] them not.
My understanding of Hebrew stinks, but I do have to wonder why Laban would chase Jacob down with armed men and then passively hope to come across his family idols in an active search of every tent that Jacob owned.
Notes On Inconsistent Teachings
The examples that are chosen are very useful, but not always for the reasons that they were chosen. Ruth and Naomi did not have a “covering,” but operated with what they had access to. Jacob was not home to have his parents negotiate the marriage, and also arranged it himself.
To make the courtship game even more bizarre, some folks believe that Ruth should have gone back to her parents’ house, and Naomi should have also. Maybe they have not connected the dots to realize this disagreement with the events that transpired; maybe they have. They teach that the woman must always be under a covering, despite the example of Ruth and Naomi along with the words of Paul in I Corinthians 7:39:
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
This seems to indicate that the widow has free rein in choosing her next husband, so long as he is of the Christian faith as well. Oddly enough, some do not believe that the woman should be given this much liberty, and then press men toward military service which removes them from the home. How can these two points of view be reconciled?
When the courtship family agrees with Paul, why does a 22 year old widow have more “rights” concerning marriage than a 22 year old virgin? We have duplicity here also, which smells of legalism.
Due to the way that Scriptures are taken from context to make points that are not in the original passage, I have had to question a lot of Courtship “principles” (not all are listed here). Some do have merits, but I am not willing to commit to them completely without more study.
Until then, I am not inclined to restrict the possible options. So long as the couple intends to marry, and do not violate each other before the marriage, they can even “date.”