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.