By Mary Van Nattan
Genesis 24:1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
Point number one: Abraham did not leave Isaac to choose his own wife by himself. Abraham was getting old and he wanted to make sure that Isaac had a good wife before he died. He did not want to leave him unsettled and without his father's wisdom in finding a wife.
Mothers, you should not leave your kids to "make their own choice" in this matter. If this is not your husband's and your custom, you need to discuss this with your husband. This is altogether too important. If you are a young lady that is not married, you should seek your parents' counsel in this matter.
Point two: Abraham was willing to have a friend help find a wife for his son, BUT that friend was someone whom Abraham trusted entirely. He was the oldest servant in his employ which was quite likely Eliezer of Damascus who was born in Abraham's house. (Genesis 15:2-3) This servant understood Abraham's convictions, was likely a believer of that day as we will see later, and was completely familiar with the customs and needs of Abraham's household. He would, therefore, have a good understanding of just what kind of wife was needed.
Abraham did not let the ladies at his Bible believing local church or college be matchmakers for his son. He did not let some visiting preacher or missionary that hardly knew his son set up a "perfect match" for Isaac. Abraham chose a friend of long standing, someone completely familiar and in agreement with him, to look for a wife for his son.
Having a friend help you find a spouse for your child may be a good thing, but they better be someone that has one mind with you as much as possible. A friend whom you can entirely trust. Someone that does not agree with you on say remarriage after divorce, courtship, the KJV, church attendance, etc., is not necessarily going to find your child a spouse that believes like you do. Their inclination is going to be that "it doesn't really matter." Worse yet, they may even piano coversn the person they find not to let you or your child know that they do not have the same convictions as you in some area that they consider "unimportant."
It is especially important to get help from a Bible believing, godly man if you are a widowed or single mother with marriageable kids. Your father or brother is the obvious choice, but if he is not qualified spiritually, then your pastor or one of the older, godly men in your church might be a good option. A man who is mature and wise and a good judge of character. (Not a preacher that is in a hurry to marry off all the single people.)
Point three: Abraham wanted Isaac to have a wife that was one of "our kind of people." He did not want his son marrying one of the Canaanites. Later Esau, Isaac's son, would marry women that "...were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah." Genesis26:35 In Genesis 27:46 we find out what Rebekah had to say about them, And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?
How many people have sent their son or daughter off to some "Christian" college where they met and then married someone totally unfamiliar with the customs, standards, and convictions of their home? In the years that follow there can be tension, discord, and even fighting because of the differences in background, and the relationship makes the parents weary (especially if they end up living with their kids in their old age). And, this is assuming that both parties are saved and trying to serve the Lord to the best of their knowledge.
Someone who is saved out of a bad background may be able to overcome differences with a person from a Christian home, but this is only if the party with the rotten history has left it completely behind. This takes time to determine, not one or two months, or even one or two years, after they get saved. You have to be absolutely sure that they are going to stay with the Lord over the long haul and have really separated from their past and upbringing.
Some friends of ours had a daughter that was dating or engaged to a young man from a broken home. The mom, being an excellent judge of character, tried to tell her daughter that it was not going to work out, but the daughter did not believe her at first. Then on one occasion when the young couple had made a date, the fellow didn't show. When the girl questioned him later about it, his response was that, "Sometimes I need to go out with the guys."
The trust in his home had been violated and he had not separated himself from his parents sin. Rather, he had learned their ways and thought nothing was wrong with it. I am thankful to say that this young woman got out of that relationship and is happily married today.
If we look at what happens when someone marries an unsaved person who is pretending to be a Christian, or a Christian who is content to live like a Philistine, things get much worse. Abuse, adultery, alcohol, drugs, divorce and more can follow in the wake of such a terrible mistake.
Point four: Abraham was willing to go to a lot of trouble and expense to find a good wife for his son. Sending his servant off on this trip was not a cheap thing to do without consideration. Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Some people are too lazy or "busy" to go to much trouble to find spouses for their kids or keep them from marrying the wrong person. After their children marry spouses that are less than ideal, they moan and groan and feel sorry for themselves. In cases like this all the cure in the world may not make up for what they could have prevented.
Peter Cartwright the circuit riding preacher of the 1800s had to make a decision on this also. His account is interesting.
"I had a young and growing family of children, two sons and four daughters; was poor, owned a little farm of about one hundred and fifty acres; lands around me were high, and rising in value. My daughters would soon be grown up. I did not see any probable means by which I could settle them around or near us. Moreover, I had no right to expect our children to marry into wealthy families, and I did not desire it if it could be so; and by chance they might marry among the slave [owning] families. This I did not desire. Besides, I saw there was a marked distinction made among the people generally, between young people raised without work and those that had to work for their living; and though I had breasted the storms and suffered the hardships incident to an itinerant life for more than twenty years, chiefly spent in southern Kentucky and western Tennessee, and though I had just as many friends as any man ought to have, and hundreds that claimed me as the humble and unworthy instrument of their salvation, and felt not the least fear that I should not be well supported during life as a Methodist preacher, the whole country having grown up into improved and comfortable living; and although many, very many of my friends in the Church and out of the Church remonstrated against the idea of my moving to a new country, yet, after much prayer and anxious thought, I very clearly came to the conclusion that it was my duty to move; and although the thought of leaving thoBlipnds of my best friends was severely painful to me, and sometimes almost overwhelmed me, and shook my determination, yet I saw, or thought I saw, clear indications of Providence that I should leave my comfortable little home, and move to a free state or territory, for the following reasons: First, I would get entirely clear of the evil of slavery. Second, I could raise my children to work where work was not thought a degradation. Third, I believed I could better my temporal circumstances, and procure lands for my children as they grew up. And fourth, I could carry the Gospel to destitute souls that had, by their removal into some new country, been deprived of the means of grace. With these convictions, I consulted my wife, and found her of the same mind, and in the spring of 1828, with my brother-in-law, R. Gaines, a local preacher, and old father Charles Holliday, set out to explore Illinois in quest of a future home." (pp.244-245, Autobiography of Peter Cartwright the Backwoods Preacher)
Brother Cartwright saw that there was little or no possibility of finding spouses for his kids that were their kind of people. He did not want them marrying into slave owning families. The people of the area thought that hard working whites were "trash," but his kids had to work and help out in the home because they were poor. Altogether his family was on an entirely different wave length from the people around him. So, with this in mind, as well as his disgust that slavery was being justified by other Methodists, and the desire to minister to the people where he would go, he gave up all these tremendous blessings which he mentions and moved his family to the rough frontier. Talk about sacrifice! He understood the principle of Ezra 9:12, Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
There are people that are saved and trying to live for God after a fashion, but they are content to be like the world and friends of the world. James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. These people talk like the world, dress like the world, act like the world, enjoy the world's entertainment, want the world's education, and the world's music. In short, you cannot tell the difference between them and the Philistines.
If your family desires to separate from the world, you cannot let your kids marry people like this, no matter how doctrinally sound they may be in other areas or how "spiritual" they may appear. The church today is full of kids like the ones that Nehemiah found in JerBliplem when he returned from reporting to the king. Nehemiah 13:23 In those days also saw I blips that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: 24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the blips' language, but according to the language of each people. Sorry to say, these kind of young people are in our KJV-Only, Bible-believing churches. Many young people like this in our churches actually know a lot of good Bible believing terminology and can burp up the right answer on a lot of things, but their way of life and how they think and talk when they are not "being Christians" is totally worldly and ungodly.
One young man of our acquaintance went out to eat with an evangelist's son and another young man from the church he was then attending. The two other fellows proceeded to load up the juke box with rock music. He was disgusted and told them they were wrong for doing this. This was in a KJV-Only Baptist church that was supposed to be a separated and one with high standards. The evangelist's son had been exulted in the congregation as well, just because he was "Bro. so-and-so's" son and could sing.
Since good people are so hard to find these days it may be necessary to travel to meetings at churches that are like minded with you, go visit friends at a distance, or even move to another location to find spouses for your children. Talk to your husband about this and see what he thinks. You may even be attending a church that you feel is all right, but there is no one in the assembly whom you would want your son or daughter to marry. In these perilous times there are folks that do not even have many friends that are like minded with them, let alone ones that are geographically near. Don't give up! If you hear of some good people somewhere that you can tell are your kind of people, pursue a friendship and then go visit them if you can or have them to your home! If they do not have someone in their family that your son or daughter could marry, they may know someone else that would be suitable. The best way to find a good spouse for your child is to get with people that have your convictions. You may know someone that they need to meet also. It may not always be possible to do these things, but at least make an effort if you can.
Nehemiah 10:28 And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; 29 They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; 30 And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: You better take a long look at the people that you are cleaving to. Are they the kind of folks that you would want your kids to marry among? Those who are in your church are one thing if it is really a good church; but, who are you spending your time with and having as your close and dear friends? What kind of people visit in your home most often?
It may be necessary to move to keep your kids from getting messed up with the wrong kind of people. Peter Cartwright, like Abraham, did not want any of his kids to marry the people of the land because they did not share their convictions or standards.
Then too there is the cultural problem. We heard of a missionary family that actually came home from Africa because the African fellows where they were working were showing too much interest in their daughters who had arrived at womanhood. This was a matter of not marrying across national boundaries. Some of the African fellows may have been good men, but they were not suitable because of the cultural bounds that God has established. (Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;) More later on that.
Another problem that can arise here is that of whom you allow your kids to associate with. There have been people that were in the ministry or working in the church whose kids decided that someone their parents were working with or whom they allowed in their home was "OK" with Dad and Mom and therefore all right to marry. The parents then have the problem of having to either give their blessing on someone they do not really want their child marrying, or seeming to be hypocrites by refusing their blessing. Something of this sort could be how Esau got himself in trouble marrying pagan wives.
We read in Genesis chapter 26 about Isaac's relationship with Abimelech. After sorting out their troubled relationship, they had a feast together, a Middle eastern custom of good will and peace between people. Now at the end of this chapter, immediately after this feast, Esau went out and married two daughters of Hittites. Genesis 26:34 And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.
It is possible that Esau decided that this was all right simply because his father had made peace with some of the people of the land. The point is this, Isaac should have piano coversned Esau that the people of the land were not acceptable to them for spouses. (Maybe he did.) If you have to have people in your home that are not acceptable for spouses for your kids, then piano coversn the kids and do your best to keep any marital notions from developing on either the part of your kids or the person/people that you are dealing with or ministering to.
If it is possible, and your husband feels it is appropriate, it may even be good in some cases to try to keep certain young people out of your home. If you can find an excuse to keep someone out your home that you feel would be a problem, then make the excuse. This may seem "uncharitable and unloving" to some of you, but listen mothers, we are talking about your kids' future happiness and even their usefulness to the Lord. Would you rather be "nice" to a person you feel "needs help" and watch your child spend their married life till you die, or the Lord comes in a miserable situation; or turn that person over to someone else's care and so secure your child's married joy in the will of God?
We know of one Brother that had to do this when a young man wanted to come and visit in their home. He was not a particularly bad young man, but he was very messed up in some ways and was interested in the Brother's daughter. Neither the Brother nor his daughter had any interest in the young man for her future husband but the Brother made excuse and did not allow the fellow to visit in their home. True, he perhaps could have "ministered" to the fellow, but how much real "ministering" do you think would be likely when the young man was staying in the same house with the young lady he was interested in? And more importantly, what is "kinder", letting the young man visit and so continue and strengthen his false hopes for something that would never be his, or sending him away and so to hopefully lose this interest and learn to be content? And, what about the daughter? Would this Brother have been "more charitable" to allow a young man whom he did not approve and that she had no marital interest in visit in her home and put her in a strained situation? I trow not.
There are times when avoiding contact with individuals, families or even churches will be necessary in order to preserve the hearts and happiness of your dear children for the spouses that God intends for them.
background and graphics by mary vannattan
edited last: Dec. 2000