Dear Mrs. Debi,
I love your new book, Preparing to Be a Help Meet. I was deeply affected by the phrase, “I can think of nothing I want more than someone to truly love me.” I am a 27-year-old homeschooled girl. My older sister and I have no reason to believe marriage is in sight.
Mom is a wonderful person, but still believes it is her total responsibility to guide and protect us as if we were still children. This might be fine and good, but the years have passed and Mom is so much in our faces and controlling toward the few Possibilities that have come our way that if things continue status quo I suspect we will remain old maids.
Mom doesn’t see this as bad. “After all,” she says, “it is better to remain a vessel for God than to marry an unrighteous man.” That is easy for her to say. Mom’s spiritual talk is her way of reminding us what a loser Dad is. Dad is a long way from being the Apostle Paul, but then Mom is no ministering angel toward him. That is another subject and their problem…unless mine and my sister’s loveless and childless fate is perpetuated by their sin.
My question is this: What can we do? Are we really rebellious when we want to be adults making our own decisions? Can a saved parent hold a grown child back from having a life that God would freely give? What does the Bible say? If we are free, then how do we find these Possibilities? Or have them find us? ~Just call me Miss Loveless
Dear Miss Loveless and her Loveless Sister,
What a sad state you find yourself in. Maybe a little Bible information will shed some light on your plight.
God clearly reveals the age when one becomes an autonomous adult. Is this the age of accountability? It is far more than that.
The phrase “twenty years old and upward” appears 132 times in the Scripture. God gives twenty years old as being the beginning of a man’s independent responsibilities toward Him in worship: Exodus 30:14, “Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.” The twenty-year-old was no longer covered by his family’s sacrifice.
In Numbers chapters 1–3, God says many times, “number the names of every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war:”
It is most significant that when a man reached the age of twenty, he was counted as an independent family separate from his father. Number 1:18 says, “And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty-years-old and upward by their polls.”
You will note all these Old Testament passages refer to a man’s age, not a female’s. Some will argue that females have no independent standing before God, that they must relate to God and society in subjection to a man—either their father or a husband. In the New Testament we find no such rigid cultural standards. God clarified this point through his dealings with Mary. The Holy Ghost approached Mary about becoming the mother of Jesus without going through either her parents or her betrothed husband. And she made her decision on her own.
Furthermore, overly protective parents are handicapping their adult children spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Young adults need to be tested so they can gain wisdom. A parent’s instruction concerning life is not sufficient; there comes a time when we must stand alone before God in regard to the choices we make if we are to grow to maturity before God. Some will fail; some will be wounded; but that is life. It is God’s testing ground to prove who and what we are. When our adult children leave home and grow into wise sons and daughters of the living God, sacrificing their life for righteousness, it brings great glory to God. A cloistered adult kid is a glory only to a needy parent.
You as a single woman, far past the age of twenty, will stand before God for your own decisions. (Of course, everyone living in the house should follow house rules.)
How can you safeguard yourself against making unwise decisions? We all think we are wise, but it is so easy to be deceived. A wise daughter should continue to seek her parents’ counsel as well as the counsel of any and all wise people in her life, especially concerning the most important decision of your life. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Then Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” But know that the final decisions are yours to live with.
Now your second question: How can you meet Possibilities? You can ask your dad, an older brother, a man in the Church who walks upright and is happily wed, or your pastor to introduce you to young men who might need a wife. Men know what men are “up to” better than females, so it is wise to meet a “Possibility” through a man who regards your well-being as important. Even if your mom and dad were divorced, I would think your dad would be the first place to seek help. Dads naturally tend to be protective of their own flesh and blood, so even if he doesn’t live righteously, he will want your husband to be a good man.
It is possible that your dad would soberly take on the task. Usually dads, even lost ones, are more emotionally-balanced than moms who often thrive on controlling in an invasive way. When I asked the local men their thoughts on approaching a parent concerning getting to know a girl for marriage, they agreed that having to approach a girl’s father would be scary, but having to deal with the older woman about her daughters would be humiliating. They all agreed that they would give up pursuing a good woman as a possible wife to avoid being under the scrutiny (authority) of the girl’s mom.
Be ready for an emotional storm. Kindly let Mom know of your decision to act autonomously as a grown woman. Chances are she will see you choosing your dad over her and it will stir up an old personal hurt. She might tell some ugly stories, but in every bad marriage there are two sides, and both are usually greatly exaggerated. Refuse to listen, as she will regret the telling later. Be patient, wise, discerning, and reassuring toward her.
Now, if Dad or another trusted man does help find you a husband, I want you to know this important detail. You are your mother’s daughter. She loves you and has given her life for you. Honor her. Give her space and let her be a part of your new family.
Also, remember that she, as a woman in sourness toward her husband, is probably judgmental toward men in general, and thus a lingering spirit of criticism will most likely be an evil stronghold in your own life. Start now reading all the stories in the Old Testament of men God chose to use as his messengers. Learning how God loved and dealt with different people brings you to know the mind of God; this will renew your mind. There were Adam, Samson, David, Jonah, and Solomon. Become acquainted with these men of God. See their ups and downs. Read the story of the prophet Elijah who had a nervous breakdown; of Ezekiel who had strange visions, and laid on his side and ate dung while prophesying; Jeremiah the weeping prophet; and a crowd of other eccentric men God chose to honor as his special men.
If you are really blessed you will marry one of the sons of Adam, and you will be judgmental toward him because he will be a jerk. But sweetie, so are you; only you will not see the beam in your own eye. Be sure to read Created to Be His Help Meet when you find yourself irritated with your man. Don’t let what happened to your mama happen to you and your daughters. If we are not ever vigilant, sin has a way of being passed down through the generations. It is a robber of love, joy, and peace—and marriages.
In the end, a Possibility is just that: a Possibility. You will need to seek God’s will and have peace that this is the man you want to honor and obey all the days of your life, and the one you want to be the daddy to your children. It is a sobering thought. Once you are put to the test you might start agreeing with your mom and decide to stay single. But you need the opportunity to decide.
God tells us his will in I Timothy 5:14: “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” The Scripture also says, “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34a). I would encourage you to pour your life into the ministry until such time God blesses you with a man. Read Preparing to Be a Help Meet.
Some naysayers will point out that this verse says women, not girls. We already covered the age of an adult found in the Old Testament (20 years old). What does “younger” refer to? Twenty? Twenty-five? Thirty? Well, younger is definitely not older. Keep in mind that the best, safest and healthiest childbearing age is from twenty to thirty.
May God’s blessing be on you and your sister, and may both of you soon have someone to truly love you.