Marriage in the Modern World
Last time, in Dear Bethany: we met Zach (a Naval Airman) and Bethany (a nursing student), and Zach met Bethany’s dad, John (a shrewd negotiator). Ding ding! Round One begins…now.
So you see, when Zach asked for our blessing to marry our daughter, he was asking for a lot. It was at this time that I was especially thankful for God’s hierarchy of leadership in our family. I gladly withdrew from the negotiations with Zach and let John handle it, relieved that we were on the same page concerning our daughter’s future. There was no way we were going to give our blessing to a couple of 18-year-old kids, both of whom possess such enormous potential for success in life, and agree to let him marry her.
Of course, the email John wrote to Zach during Round One was much softer than that. Politely, while John wasn’t saying an emphatic “No,” he was saying a loud and clear “Not yet.” Apparently, Zach didn’t hear him and countered the offer.
Zach was sure that because Bethany and he were both seeking God’s will (was he really going to play the God card?), in love with each other, and committed to their relationship, it was time to take it to the next level. Zach explained how important it was to Bethany that they have our blessing before getting engaged. He also understood how focused Bethany was to earn her BS Nursing degree and become an RN after college; he was equally committed to his six-year agreement with the US Navy and knew that a long-distance relationship and engagement were doable.
Again, John gave our reasons for “Not yet.” Very practical reasons, very sound reasons, very parental reasons to wait. Then he hit the SEND button. Zach again countered…
This little tennis match went on for four weeks: John’s lobbing a reply that was sure to make sense to this love-struck young man, and a well-placed return back across the net from Zach with more reasons that we should be eager and thrilled to grant our permission. He just didn’t understand our perspective.
Zach couldn’t possibly know how much work it takes to blend two lives, two personalities, two wills into one life, one flesh. He couldn’t possibly be ready for that much responsibility, could he? But when John and I discussed that aspect of marriage, we realized we didn’t know what we were getting into 27 years earlier either. We only knew that God had brought us together, had moved some pretty amazing puzzle pieces around, and come up with the finished work of “John and Judy.” And you can be sure it seemed more appropriate and acceptable for us to play the God card back then.
By the time John sent his final reply, we had resigned ourselves to a couple of facts: there was going to be no logical reasoning that would convince Zach that it was too soon to become engaged; and this is what Zach and Bethany both wanted, our permission for them to be engaged, and we had no option but to grant it.
We did, however, have options in how we granted our permission. And necessity being the mother of invention, John invented the Conditional Blessing.
Dear Bethany is happening in real time and online – look for updates every other Tuesday.
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