Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who sets the standards?

Due to some questions I've recieved about my previous post, "Responsibility and Purity" I think some clarification is needed. In that post I had two seperate ideas, and didn't do a good job of explaining the difference between the two. Here are my two main ideas:

Idea #1: Men should take the leadership role in pre-marital purity.

Idea #2: Men should become couragious protectors of their lady's "sacred boundary line."

The question was, "If men are taking the leadership role in purity, why talk about the woman's sacred boundary line? Shouldn't the man, if he is the leader, be the one setting the standards?"

This is an excellent question--and one that points out the delecate balance of give-and-take that exists in relationships. In order to answer it I need to touch on some Biblical truths about marriage.

In the marriage relationship the husband, scripturally, is the head. This does not mean that the wife is less than her husband, it is simply an authority structure. As part of that structure the husband is called to love his wife with the sacrifical servant-leader love that Christ showed for the church.  A husband who does not acknowledge this and instead lords his authority over his wife is not filling his role of authority in a scriptural way. A good husband will be a reflection Jesus's love to his wife.

Just as a husband is called to lovingly lead a wife is called to respectfully submit. Again, this is not a reflection of worth, it is simply an authority structure. Just as Jesus chooses to submit his will to the Father, even though he is in every way equal to His Father, the wife chooses to submit to her husband, even though she is in every way equal with him before God.

While respect and submission play a big role in a scriptural marriage relationship, they are not the complete story. A wise husband will not just make decisions without consulting his wife, assuming that as the leader he knows the full story. Instead, he will recognize that God has given him a valuable asset in his wife and will  take her counsel and concerns seriously. If the husband is the captain of the ship, the wife is his radar. A husband who ignores his wife's counsel is as foolish as a ship's captain that ignores the coming dangers that his radar reveals.

What does all this about the marriage have to do with purity in courtship? Everything!! The pre-marriage relationship, whether it is called courtship, engagement, or dating, is a valuable opportunity for both the committed young lady and the committed young man begin to learn what it is to be a wife or husband. He should get comfortable in being a leader. She should grow accustomed to following his lead. It is a time of preparation for marriage, both in physical skills (he being a provider, she being a "keeper at home") and in relationship skills.  They both need to learn to think as a team.

During that time a young man is getting his first taste at being "captain" of his own ship. Probably one of the first opportunities he will be given for taking the leadership role will be in the area of purity. What boundaries are needful for him to set? What balance between love and rules? What dangerous waters does he forsee, and how should he, as the captain, avoid them? As he makes these decisions a wise young captain will remember to consult his new "radar" to see what troubled waters she reveals.

So who sets the standards? The man or the woman? The short answer is YES! They BOTH do! Though a young man chooses to take the leadership role in purity, he also can also be a courageous defender of sacred boundary lines. The two aren't mutually exclusive. Neither is it mutually exclusive for a woman to allow her future husband to have the chance at leadership while still revealing things that she is and isn't comfortable with. He may not see the danger his radar reveals, but he can choose to act in accordance with it, knowing that one of the purposes God has given his future-wife is to be a wise counselor.

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