Friday, March 06, 2009

What He Must Be: Can't Find One...Build One

My favorite chapter in Voddie Baucham's new book, What He Must Be...if He Wants to Marry My Daughter, is the last one, entitled, "Can't Find One...Build One." Citing studies that indicate that the adults in typical U.S. churches are comprised of 61% female and 39% male along with evidence that as many as 90% of the young men being raised in church will quit altogether by the time they reach 20, Baucham calls fathers of boys to invest themselves in the effort of raising godly young men.

The way that I have approached this concern with my own son and with other young men through the years is to challenge them to become the kind of men that the kind of women they hope to marry would desire to have as husbands. Fathers are called to be disciplers of their children (Ephesians 6:4) and a necessary part of that calling is for dads to teach their sons how to prepare to become husbands and fathers. Granted, some may called by God to permanent singleness, but they will be the exceptions, not the rule.

When Voddie writes about this issue he does so with biblical insights that have been forged in the furnace of being raised fatherless. There is no false idealism here, only the the passionate plea of a pastor and father who well-understands the challenges that are facing young men in our sexually confused culture. He challenges fathers of daughters to invest in young men to help them become marriageable.
We cannot expect young men in our culture to turn up as ready-made husbands. Our culture is broken. As a result, young men are broken. They do not have the tools they need. This is not always due to a lack of spiritual commitment. It is usually a result of a lack of teaching and discipleship. They just don't know what they dont know. As a result, fathers have to consider the possibility that they may, in a very real way, have to build their own son-in-law. Of course, this is not a problem for men with a multigenerational vision who view the work as an investment i their children's children (193).
This counsel is appropriate not only for men with daughters, but for all men who are thinking about the generations to follow. It is sound counsel for churches who should look for ways to evangelize, challenge and disciple the future men the Lord entrusts to them.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What He Must Be, If He Wants to Marry My Daughter-excerpt 1

As promised yesterday, I will post a few excerpts from Voddie Baucham's new book, What He Must Be, over the course of this week. In the first chapter, entitled, "Mutligenerational Vision, Voddie describes the point and purpose of the book.
This book is built on a single, simple premise: I believe fathers have a God-given responsibility to see to it that their daughters marry well and that their sons become worthy husbands. As such, I believe it is necessary for fathers to model biblical manhood, teach biblical manhood, and hunt for biblical manhood on behalf of their daughters. Similarly, I believe fathers with sons have a responsibility to prepare their sons for marriage.

Several years ago, when Jasmine was much younger, a family friend went through a difficult divorce. The breakup did not come as a surprise. It was obvious that theirs was not a God-honoring, biblically functioning marriage, and the handwriting had been on the wall for quite some time.

As things began to work themselves out and the dust began to settle, we talked with our children about the pain and high cost of divorce. As we took advantage of this teachable moment, Jasmine said something that I'll never forget. She looked at me, shook her head, and said, "Daddy, I’m glad I’ve got you to pick my husband." She was dead serious. She had just witnessed the consequences that often accompany a decision to marry an unworthy man, and although she wasn't old enough to understand it all, she did understand that her father was there to protect her.

I have no intention of picking Jasmine's husband for her. We do not advocate arranged marriages. Nor was that my daughter's understanding of the process. She was merely acknowledging what she had been taught all her life--the fact that her father intends to play an active role in the process of finding and evaluating potential suitors (27-28).
Baucham is not some moralistic idealist. In fact, one of the attractions about this book is its repeated appeals to the gospel. He is not offering some kind of formula that will insure a perfect marriage or a life of wedded bliss. Rather, he is calling for parents and young adults to wake up to the miserable failure of our culture's common approach to marriage.
We must find a better way. We must commit ourselves to preparing our children to find suitable mates without relying on the pagan, relativistic mythology that dominates our day. Divorce courts are filled with people who "followed their hearts" and married Mr. or Mrs. Right. There has to be a better way. This is not to say there is a sure-fire guarantee against failure. Nothing could be further Vom the truth. However, I can say for certain that continuing down our current path will not lead to more Godhonoring covenant marriages (49).
Parents must raise their children in ways that do not leave them on their own in the search for a life's mate. Voddie's book provides tools for those who want to pursue this course of parental responsibility.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Voddie Baucham, What He Must Be

Voddie Baucham has been greatly used of God to call attention to the importance of the family in both creation and the church. His book, Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God, calls attention to the need for Christian parents to take the lead in evangelizing and discipling their children.

Voddie is a friend of mine, and our church has benefited from his ministry on more than one occasion. Two years ago he led a conference for us on "Family Life in the Household of God" on the intersection of church and family. We had already moved away from youth-based youth ministry and were very glad to be challenged and instructed from God's Word on this subject by Voddie.

Some of the best discussions that we had came in the informal times around the lunch and dinner tables. One subject that repeatedly came up had to do with "courtship and dating." Parents and young people alike were full of questions and the conversations took us back into Scripture to mine its wisdom on relationships.

Before our first child was out of diapers Donna and I developed some clear convictions about dating. First, we became convinced that the American practice of recreational dating is a formula for spiritual and moral disaster. The rise in divorce rates occurred as American teenagers began to experience "dating" in the mid-twentieth century. Casual dating relationships seemed to be an excellent training ground for later serial monogamy in marriage.

Secondly, we were convinced there had to be a better way. There is. A growing number of Christian parents and young people have "kissed dating goodbye" and are giving themselves to a more thoughtful and intentional process of moving toward marriage. Call it what you will (so many practices that I find bizarre have been advocated in the name of "courtship" that I no longer use that term), but the process includes parental involvement in shepherding their children through the pursuit of marriage. Young people--including young adults--need wise guidance as they navigate those waters, and who better to help provide it for them than parents who love them more than anyone else?

Voddie Baucham gets this. And he writes about it in his newly released book, What He Must Be, if He Wants to Marry My Daughter. Voddie is a gifted writer, weaving interesting narrative around biblical teaching as he sets forth principles for parents who want to serve their children well in helping them get married. Though he focuses on what women and their parents should look for in a potential husband, the book is applicable to everyone who wants to help loved ones marry well. As the father of 5 daughters, I have been helped this book to think more specifically about the spiritual qualities that a man should be developing if he hopes to be a Christ-honoring husband. I was also convicted and challenged by Baucham to invest more energy in helping my son prepare to become a faithful prophet, priest, provider and protector for his future bride.

Voddie's overall concern is to help parents--especially fathers--shepherd their daughters through the process of arranging a marriage to the "right" man. This is not the same as an "arranged marriage" in the sense that the parents simply do it. Rather, it involves teaching and preparing daughters to enter into marriage as spiritually, emotionally and physically intact as possible.

This necessarily involves holding any potential suitor to biblical standards and encouraging him to cultivate the kind of character necessary to be a faithful husband. In our day of extended adolescence and the widespread feminization of men this can be a lonely task but Baucham gives some practical tools to assist in the effort.

I encourage you to read this book. To encourage you to do so, over the course of this week I will post some excerpts from it in order to whet your appetite.

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