Courtship and Longing

Courtship leading to marriage is a badly broken model.

In a fully developed parallel society of heart-led awareness, there would be no courtship. Marriages would be arranged by heart-led elders, the people who know the couple best. Granted, the arrangements might be based on a recognized existing attraction between the two, but the whole point is that such a society has a highly vested interest in making things work according to the biblical ideal of social stability. One marriage partner for life is a part of that ideal, so a good match is critical, as is a supportive community.

On the other hand, that same goal of social stability means teaching people how to shed the kind of self-worship and fantasizing that makes marriages so shaky. A biblical society is based on acknowledging the Fall and universal culpability. Biblical Law presumes the need to mitigate the Curse of the Fall. A part of that curse is what makes us demand things we simply cannot have in this life. Redemption teaches us to live with our own imperfections, too, so we don’t take ourselves and our fantasies too seriously.

This brings us back to the premise that the work of redemption has one goal in this world: Promoting fellowship and communion among broken humans. The miracle of faith is that we can genuinely love and relate to people for which there is no earthly reason to even associate with them. This is a lost thread of redemption in modern churches. You can find ecclesiology books that assume a church should be internally divided into various social groupings that reflect the wider society, with no intention of breaking down those barriers.

This is why we have youth programs, elderly programs, and married-with-children programs, and singles programs. If a household is divided, it cannot stand against the wiles of the Devil. This is by far the single biggest failure of Western Christian religion. Only in Western culture is there such a focus on keeping generations divided from each other. Only in Western society are you taught to prefer the company of age peers, as if no one else should be able to understand you.

And so we have this strange mythology of age-peer marriage, as if the biblical standard of men marrying younger women was somehow dirty. Courtship across generations that way is painted as icky and immoral, yet the age disparity is a founding element in the kind of relaxed patriarchy that God requires for redemption. Without the proper social setting, Biblical Law cannot work so well as God intended.

Thus, we are left today with a society where people choose their own age peers for marriage and it’s altogether rare that a woman will respect her husband as God intended. The proper basis for marriage is her awe of him, and his treasuring of her, not sexual attraction arising from a sense of peerage. We can still make it work, but it’s a broken model. Guys are supposed to be attracted to younger gals, and vice versa.

The whole business of generational peering is defiance of God. It creates an underlying expectation of hostility between generations that trashes the wisdom of experience in life. It creates whole generations with their characteristic flaws, because they are kept in a closed loop that amplifies every small difference in historical experience. There is nothing that builds a stability of culture and no sense of multi-generational devotion to any particular intellectual culture, much less a heart-led one.

So what can we do? How do we fight the smothering influence of our ambient civilization, a civilization custom made to please Satan? It takes a miracle from God. But miracles are brought into our lives by faith, by commitment to God and trust in His power and promises. If we commit ourselves to exposing Biblical Law and all its assumptions, we can depend on the Father to use us to establish something fresh that brings us back toward Eden.

But that requires from us an acknowledgment that this is included in the package of redemption. At a minimum, we must recognize how the ambient culture conflicts with Biblical Law and awaken that awareness. We cannot pretend that serving Christ means reforming the ambient culture; it means radically replacing it. If we can awaken this doctrine of the Bible and keep it alive, God will draw to it those whom He intends to use to build what He intended. It will be a courtship of hearts to the truth.

If all of Creation groans with longing to see genuine faithfulness to God revealed in human existence, then we should be longing for it, too.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
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8 Responses to Courtship and Longing

  1. Jack says:

    Your post suggests that men should be marrying women who are younger than themselves. In the RP sphere, there is a rule of thumb that says a man should choose a woman who is younger than he is, but not younger than half his age plus 7. There is also the idea that couples should get married young, but also old enough to be fully mature. Putting these two ideas together, the ideal marriage arrangement would be between a woman in her early twenties, and a man in his late twenties. Of course, there are a lot of correlating implications, but according to your concept of an idealized, heart led community, would you agree with these ideas, or modify them in any way?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jack says:

    In the Bible, there is a story of Jacob’s oldest son, Ruben, having an affair with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. Meanwhile, Jacob’s other son Judah, committed adultery/incest with his daughter-in-law, Tamar. At Jacob’s death, Judah received the Lion’s Share of the blessings, and indeed had the honor of becoming an ancestor of Christ, while Reuben received the very worst curses of all the brothers. I’ve often wondered why this was the case, since both sons were guilty of fornication, as well as many other egregious transgressions. But in light of what you’ve written about generational peering being in defiance of God, this begins to make sense. Reuben and Bilhah were most likely peers in age, while Judah and Tamar probably had a vast age difference. Moreover, Reuben’s sin was an act of rebellion against the patriarchal structure, whereas Judah’s sin rather foolishly confirmed it, so to speak. In addition, Reuben usurped his father’s authority, he dishonored his father, and he disturbed the shalom in the family. Judah, on the other hand, took responsibility for his error and made restitutions to Tamar.
    From these observations, we might also conclude that respect for authority and the patriarchal structure, as well as maintaining shalom, are of larger importance than avoiding sexual indiscretions. I don’t say this to condone promiscuity in any way, but rather to highlight how important patriarchy and shalom are in the order of things. This is an important finding that should be emphasized in our pursuit of a better faith community model.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ed Hurst says:

    Right, Jack. Sexual indiscretion is frowned on and a problem, but they do happen. The issue is how they are handled, and whether it threatens shalom.


  4. Ed Hurst says:

    On the one hand, the Bible indicates men were 30-ish and wives were under 20. A difference of 10 years was common, and ranged as high as 20 without raising eyebrows. An extreme example is Ruth and Boaz; he was roughly 70 and she was apparently under 30 and still quite desirable. That said, we are not living in that context, so our own guidelines and limits need to take into account the problems peculiar to our situation. Ancient Israel married off their daughters shortly after menarche, but so far as anyone can discern, that occurred much later then than it does now. And their culture was far more integrated across generations, with none of that age-peer business. We have the problem with a huge cultural gap if men and women are more than five years apart. That culture gap can be overcome, but it’s no small task.

    We need a community that is aware of this and works toward countering the Western social model. Women might marry a little later than they do in the Bible, and our men have virtually none of the social structure that restrained Ancient Israeli men. So I’m rather uncomfortable trying to set ideal ages, in favor simply making people aware of what’s involved. This sort of jumps the gun on my next post, but I’m okay with that.


  5. Jack says:

    Thank you. Your series of posts on this subject are extremely insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Iain says:

    Oh boy, I’ve been working on Genesis and they are what we like to call “human” nowadays. Sex and intrigue ain’t nothing new. If half plus seven is true then I married right. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!
    I am a firm believer in arranged marriage. In other cultures, India, the middle east and many others it the norm. They believe first comes marriage and love comes later. Mature adults, Elders are far better matchmakers than youth’s left to choose by themselves. It should be common sense but not much in WC is.


  7. Jay DiNitto says:

    A lot of what we’re left with in terms of the mythos of courtship is Victorian discretion. Politeness demands that we avoid frank discussion about things like this. When you ban this kind of talk, the only types of people that do talk about it are overt degenerate types because they disregard the norms.


  8. Pingback: Ed Hurst’s series: Return to Eden | Σ Frame

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