Talking to my second oldest daughter, Michelle (married to Mike), today. And we really covered some ground. At first I had to wonder about how she started off the conversation. She just bolted out a question within seconds after I said hello.
"Mom, if I was thirty years old and not married yet would I live at home?" Bold and blunt came the question, so much so I couldn't grab hold of where she was coming from, so my only response possible was complete and utter honesty to her question.
"Well," I said, "We do live in America, and we wouldn't be able to make you live with us. But if you were unmarried, no matter what age, you would always have a place here."
Really? No matter what?" she continued to question with a rather forceful voice making it hard for me to understand what this was all about. She has been married for four years.
"Uh, ya. No matter what. Like I said, your father and I can't make any of you children do something you absolutely refuse to do once you are eighteen, but you would have had a place here. If your sisters are never married, they will always have a place here."
" Wouldn't you make us?" She demands.
"No. I couldn't make you. But I would hope that you would choose it."
"Wouldn't you tell us we should," she asked, still rather forceful, still rather hard to read.
"Well, your dad and I would certainly do our best to point out to you where we come from scripturally on our understanding that unmarried women should live at home." I trail off hoping that my answers to these blunt questions don't spark a hot debate. I was thinking she was calling about our impending camping trip, that I am supposed to be starting today.
"Oh," her voice relaxes, " so you would tell us, teach us that it is best that we stayed with you?"
"Ya," I answer, my voice wavering between continued apprehension and relief. "It is what your dad and I see in scripture."
I hope that this relaxed feeling continues as I think, "But I thought you knew this?"
"So an unmarried woman is supposed to live with her parents?"
"Well, your dad and I get our stance from scripture. In the Old Testament, no wait. Before we go there let me say, that we look at the Old Testament and the law that we no longer live under, through what Jesus did with it on the Sermon on the Mount. He took it to a whole other level, so not just don't murder but don't say someone is an idiot and tear him apart with words."
"So," I continue, "There are many places in the Old Testament that speaks to the protection of unmarried women."
"Well for instance, in, I think Numbers, it talks about how if a woman is unmarried and she enters into a contract and her father doesn't approve of it, it is null and void. The same goes if it is his wife. But if he doesn't care she is held to the contract."
"What if she was married but now her husband is dead?"
"Then she is on her own." I reply. thinking we are winding down.
"But what about me? If Mike died would I be on my own?" now worry has shot into her words and without thinking I answer quickly.
"Well, but the New Testament also says that the church, which we are to you over the fact that we are also your family, is to take care of their widows and we would certainly do that! We wouldn't leave you out there if you needed us."
"Oh," is the relieved response.
The rest of the conversation goes to her and her friends having a discussion about her submitting to her husband. She was getting some flack. You know the score dear reader; "Men and women are equal" and "I need to know my man values me and listens to me," it goes on in to self-discovery and independence, things we are never called to as believers. And it is spoken with condescension toward our young girl, married four years and twenty-two years old. I'm not going to say, "only twenty-two", because I do not believe youth is a curse for marriage, but that is another conversation, not this one.
This one, Michelle directs, is about getting her friends to understand that her listening to her husband's lead, frees her, not binds her. And that having spent her singleness submitting to her parents helped her be a better wife. She tells me what I know, that for her it is hard, but she knows without a shadow of a doubt that it is right. I wonder as she tells me that if I could have done a better job showing her the beauty of being lead by a husband. But it is what it is, this is where I hope that my children go far beyond where their parents were and where we took them.
We continued to talk about how some of her friends want to hold out for their husband, or man, to be perfect, a man that can be trusted to lead gently and appropriately. Ah, this is a hard one for me because I do have a great leader. It is very easy for me to hand my life over to him for him to take care of. I haven't always done so but it was always there for me, an easy road. But we talk about how God doesn't give us that out. We talk about how men do not rise to the occasion by being held out on or manipulated or nagged. That quite frankly, most men do not do well if they perceive that they have come to God or responded to God's main call or the call to a manner of serving because of the woman in their life. We are their help mate it is true and Michelle and I agree to talk further on that score also.
Oh yes, it was a good conversation. I am glad that even though some of this doesn't seem to apply to her right now, she is eagerly seeking out what God says on the issue, we did talk about where to find understanding in the scripture and futher study. She is eager to know so that she can speak better about what she knows, a knowing that for now comes from deep down inside but lacks reference and concrete support that others often need and that God tells us to have. 'Be prepared to answer about the hope that is in you' - somewhere in Peter's letters and paraphrased. But the clarity she gains will serve her well: in pointing the thirsty to the Real Well of living water; in being a good wife; a daughter of Sarah: and for raising her children. This is what God designed her for.
So I am getting reminded, Godincidences are swarming, to get Dirt and I started on writing out those principles from our class, the class that was meant to spring board a larger body of work on building a future of purity for generations to come. A writing that would hold our stories and our children's stories that show that when we trust and follow God in through the narrow gate we have a peace that surpasses all understanding. Principles that ultimately say, purity in body and spirit, lived out in the grace of God not the Law, gains a life much, not only in heaven for eternity but here on earth in an abundant life, a free and unbound, unfettered, unshackled life.