And here was my own mother, telling me she just wasn't sure she could bless this. It was a devastating moment. My mom is one of my best friends. She is wise beyond description, and we have always been close. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. But, as the storm in my heart began to subside, I made God one promise: "I will not marry this man without my parents' blessing. I know he is the one, and I will wait as long as it takes, but I will not step outside their protective covering."
We were engaged less than three weeks later.
Parental blessing is, I believe, one of the most significant factors in choosing a mate. It is so significant, in fact, that I don't know of any marriage that started out without the blessing and didn't end disastrously.
Courtship is the sure-fire way for the prospective couple to guarantee the parental blessing of their union. Why? The key to courtship is that it involves the parents in this very important decision from the beginning. Voddie Bauchum, Jr., says in his book "What He Must Be If He Wants to Marry My Daughter" that for a man to be meeting his sweetheart's father after he has already been seeing her for a while is too late. For a man to ask her father's permission to marry her after an emotional connection has already been made is too late. Those introductions should have been made before the couple spent much time together at all.
We are just now entering the season as a family when courtship and marriage could be real possibilities. So I cannot say here how it is going to happen. But I can recommend a few of the resources that are shaping our approach.
"Just Do Something" by Kevin DeYoung
I heartily recommend this (and any) book by this ardent young theologian. In it, DeYoung makes the case that there doesn't have to be "The One" but rather that any number of possibilities could work. He gooses young men who are reticent to settle down with this warning (paraphrased by me): While you, young men, are wasting time living for yourself and putting off settling down, the ladies are waiting, too. While they are waiting, they are most likely getting educated. After they are educated, possibly at great cost, they feel the need not to 'waste' it all, so they go to work and begin a career. Then you finally get off your duff and pop the question. But now they don't want to quit their newfound career to manage a home and raise children. Nice going. Just do something!
"What He Must Be (if he wants to marry my daughter)" by Voddie Bauchum, Jr.
Bauchum does a terrific job in reminding parents what kind of standard they should set in looking for mates for their children. The standards are high, but they are attainable. And we can allow for a lot of sanctification along the way. But his focus are non-negotiables that must be in place before any parental blessing can be given. This is an excellent read for fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.
"Boy Meets Girl" by Joshua Harris
My son read this book first, and we've had some great discussions. This book has a slightly different take as it documents the story of Harris and his then-fiance, who were both living far away from their parents. It won't be conservative enough for some. But the eight "dates" at the end of the book are well worth the read. There Harris lists eight "must-have" conversations for the prospective couple. It's a great way to begin to get a feel for the differences that might turn into points of contention later.
"Her Hand in Marriage" by Douglas Wilson
This was one of my favorites. Wilson approaches this, as he does everything, with a killer wit and great succinctness. It took one evening to read. I am thankful for his high view of the female gender. It is possible to be a complementarian and to see the woman as more than just a uterus with a broom. Wilson's most important contention is that, as our children search for mates, one thing they must do is find their intellectual equal. It isn't enough that "she's got the cutest shoes, and (he) likes the way she moves" (needtobreathe). They must be able to think together. I'm really thankful that Wilson acknowledges in this book that women have an important organ above their shoulders, too. A wise young man will be attracted to her brain as well as her...shoes.
May we raise wise children who seek our blessing and keep their covenants. That's marriage to the glory of God.