“Let marriage be held in honor among all,”
I was raised to be a wife.
That statement alone can bring out the worst in people. It is sad that I can’t even write that statement without the fear of being attacked by those who say that I should never be “just a wife” or that I need to go find myself before I get married. When did the desire to be married or the desire to be a wife become something to be ashamed of? Truthfully I feel like it’s my generation that worked the hardest to destroy the sanctity of marriage. The 70’s were full of people encouraging us to enjoy sex outside of marriage, to be free to seek our own happiness above all, and that marriage was just a piece of paper. Sadly, I as well as many of my friends, bought into the lies we were told.
But back to my original statement. My mother and her mother and all the women in my family took great pride in being a wife. In being a spouse. In being a companion, partner, helpmate. From as far back as I can remember, everything I learned at the feet of the women in my family was all to teach me how to be the best wife possible. How to keep a home. How to manage money. How to cook. How to clean. How to raise children. How to take pride in everything that being a wife meant.
Etiquette classes and home economic classes taught me how to dress, speak, and live in such a way that I would be a compliment to my husband as he worked hard to support our family. I was never discouraged from getting an education. In fact, most of the women in my family have extraordinary educations which they use(d) to shape and mold the next generation, whether with jobs or just with a well rounded life.
But with everything I was taught, I was never taught how to date. How to seek a husband. How to discern the good from the bad, how to be intentional. All you have to do is look at my personal statistics (four marriages) to know that somehow I missed something along the way.
Recently I was asked to review a book called The Dating Manifesto by Lisa Anderson. Lisa is the director of young adults for Focus On The Family. Although she didn’t choose to be single this far into her adult life, she certainly has used the wisdom she has gained to help those who are floundering around in the wasteland of dating. As Lisa says “It’s not a “follow your heart” book or fluffy, feel-good book. It’s not a twelve-step program. It’s not a “do these ten things and he or she will fall in love with you” book.” It is “an argument for making marriage a priority even if right now it’s the furthest thing from your mind. It’s a brutal dismantling of our culture’s (and in some ways, the church’s) current dating system.”
I love that she points out that marriage should be a community event. That those of us who are married should be helping those who are single if they are searching for a spouse. That we should be mentoring singles, including them in our daily lives. “Back in the day, it was families and church communities that brought couples together……They talked up marriage and communicated that it was good and for most people.” I, like her, can count on one hand the older women who helped me date, who mentored me while I was dating, who stepped up and told me that I shouldn’t be stepping into the mess I was stepping into. I know. I am equally guilty of “not wanting to get involved in someone’s love life”. I have been burned by sticking my nose in where it was not wanted. Or even when it was wanted but the answer wasn’t what they wanted to hear.
From “What’s the Big Deal about Marriage (chapter 2) to Ditch the Hollywood Script (chapter 3) to “Prevent Dating Death” (chapter 6) to the end of the book chapter titled “A Note to the Church, Parents, Oldsters, and Married Peeps in General”, The Dating Manifesto covers every messy, disastrous, beautiful, joyful moment of the dating process…what it should and shouldn’t be. This book is for singles, married people, and especially for pastors of singles/young adults. If I had read this book or been taught the precepts Lisa shares, I might not have floundered for so long. Personally I think this book should be handed to every teenager getting ready to head out into the great big world of dating. Pastors should hand this book out like candy to the singles in their church. That’s how important I think this book is.
Now lest you think that I am saying I got it wrong when I married my sweetheart, let me assure you that God used our mess to make a marriage miracle. I can say that if we had not found God and humbled ourselves at the foot of the cross, we would for sure be just another statistic. But because of His grace and mercy we are able to reach out to those singles around us to help them not make the same mistakes we made. We are putting The Dating Manifesto in our arsenal of weapons as we mentor singles and help them to defeat the enemy as he tries to keep people from seeking out the sanctity of marriage. For all you guys who may think it’s a girly book I gave it to sweetheart to read. After finishing it he commented in his pilot/man brain/structured way “It outlines quantifiable goals to achieve prior to entering the dating world. It identifies the end goal of Christian dating as the pursuit of matrimony”. Must be a guy thing.
Christmas is coming (what????) and now you have the perfect gift for all your single friends. Go ahead. Stick your nose into someone else’s business. Bring dating and marriage back to the high standards that God set for them.
©2015MichelleWelch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries and Single Matters Magazine
photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
You can purchase The Dating Manifesto HERE
Focus on The Family Helping Families Thrive is found at www.focusonthefamily.com
More information about Lisa Anderson can be found at http://www.lisacanderson.com/ or at @LisaCanderson or at Lisa@lisacanderson.com