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Friday, October 10, 2014

A Girl and Her Father

Photo by: Ambro

Did you ever wonder where customs come from? Why is it that, in a wedding, the preacher asks, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” If the woman’s father walked her down the aisle, he answers, “I do” or “Her mother and I do.” Why does anyone give the bride away?

The answer's in the Bible. Since the Old Testament Law, a girl’s father is responsible for her until she marries. There doesn’t seem to be an age limit on the father’s authority. Let’s look at some of these passages.

The Fifth of the Ten Commandments reads like this: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee (Exodus 20:12, also in Deuteronomy 5:16; 27:16; Matthew 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2-3. The Apostle Paul says it’s the first commandment with promise—of long life. When a biblical command is given multiple times—in this case, nine times—it’s something God wants to make sure we do.)

So, what does it mean to honor one’s parents? Isn’t that just for little kids? I think there’s a distinction made between little children and adult children in how they honor their parents. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:1-3. 1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. In verse 1, there’s the word obey. It means “to obey, to hearken to.” The next verse says honor. It means “to honor, value, revere.”

There’s an interesting passage in the Old Testament about a woman making a vow to God. Let’s read it: If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the LORD shall forgive her (Numbers 30:3-8). Notice that the girl’s authority is her father, unless she is married. Then, her authority is her husband. Her earthly authorities are her spiritual leaders. This particular passage seems to be speaking of a young woman who lives under her father’s roof. (In the customs of Bible times, single women lived with their parents until they married. They did not live independent of their families.)

In the curious story of Jephthah’s vow, the daughter in question was a young woman. When her father told her of his vow to God, this was her response: And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth (Judges 11:36a). Notice her sweet submissive spirit, even though her father’s vow to God meant that she would never be married or have children.

There are many references to the father giving his daughter in marriage: Genesis 34:8; Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 15:16; Judges 1:12; 1 Samuel 18:17; 2 Kings 14:9, and others.

Why does the father give the daughter to the groom? It’s because it’s a transfer of authority.

We live in 2014, so how does this apply to young women today? 
  1. A woman must honor her father.
  2. The father is his daughter’s authority until she marries, therefore a single woman should listen to and heed her father’s advice. This doesn’t have an age limit on it. A single woman’s father is her God-given protection.

Let me share some true stories.

I’ll start with my own: My father had several rules for anyone wishing to drive me home from church or take me out on a date. The young man had to comply, or he didn’t have the “privilege” of driving me home or dating me. I sincerely believe that my dad’s rules protected me. I had a steady boyfriend for three years, a wonderful Christian young man who treated me with respect. My parents didn’t have peace about this young man for me. I broke up with him. Later, he married a good girl, and I married my husband. My parents were right; he wasn’t God’s best for me.

Cynthia* shares, “With my parents’ permission, I had been dating a Bible college student for a year when my parents, other adults, and several of my friends realized that he had become extremely manipulative and controlling. My parents told me to no longer communicate with him other than what was polite and unavoidable. I was crushed and was convinced that they were wrong, didn’t understand him, and would eventually change their minds, but it never once even crossed my mind not to obey. I thank the Lord because it soon became abundantly clear that my parents were right.”

Kathy’s* father made any young man wishing to date his beautiful daughter do a set of things. One day, a man who had shown her many attentions asked Kathy’s father if he could date her. Kathy’s dad seemed to handle the whole interaction badly, and the suitor got discouraged and quit. Some five years later, a much more wonderful man showed Kathy attention, did what her father requested, and Kathy and her Mr. Right are serving the Lord on the mission field today.

This testimony is from Jeanne.* “The only issues I had with my dad was once I had met and started dating my (now) husband. I was living on my own, felt very grown up, and my dad was in another country. He still found a way to keep me in line, though! I got an official curfew for the first time in my 20+ years (never really needed it in high school or college, but I didn't see it that way). I failed to tell my boyfriend about my 11:00 curfew, though. We were at a singles activity that turned into a prayer meeting for some missionaries shipping out, and were out until after midnight. No problem, right? Such a safe place and godly cause. I justified it in my mind. Problem was, my dad called to check up on me, and I didn't answer. An hour later, he called my boss at home. Woke the whole family up . . . . I was SO embarrassed and livid. I was MAD. So mad that my dad decided I probably wasn't mature enough to be in a relationship after all, and called my boyfriend to call it off. Thankfully, my honey was a LOT more mature than I was and responded with great submission, told my dad he took full responsibility, even though he was not aware of my curfew, would never let it happen again, thanked my dad for his concern, etc., etc. Dad called me back after 2 AM and told me he thought he could trust Anthony* to keep me in line, and that was that. I did submit to the rules even though I didn’t really understand them. We had very high standards when it came to dating, but none of them were my idea. I'm so, so grateful. I am thankful for a dad who made it his business to make an expensive international call to make sure I was safe—from myself.”

Tasha* says, “I came home from a Christian college after my freshman year and didn't want to go back the next year. I didn't have a problem with the rules or anything. I just loved being home and didn't want to leave again! Anyway, my dad told me to go back for just one semester and if at Christmastime I still didn't think college was for me, I could stay home then, but just to give it one more semester. I did it, and guess who I met on my first day back on campus? My amazing husband! Needless to say that by Christmas, I wanted to stay and finish my education! I am forever grateful for the wisdom of my father in making that decision for me.”
Dawn* says, “Whew! I was almost engaged to a man who wanted to be a math teacher instead of a missionary. (While dating, he said he was going to be a missionary.) My dad did not care much for the young man, but had no foundation as to why, but when he found out the man didn't want to be in missions, he found his reason! I broke up with him. Three months later, I met my missionary prince.”

Nancy’s* testimony: “My father was very strict not only whom I dated but who my friends were. My father not only interviewed each about their spiritual condition but oversaw all dating. My dating was always at youth activities and always chaperoned. I married a man who eventually ended up being a pastor and then a missionary.”

Frieda* shares, “My dad simply told me there were red flags in his mind about the man I was dating during college. I broke off the relationship and trusted that the Lord put that leadership (my dad’s) in my life. The Lord sent my husband the next year.”

God has put authorities in our lives to protect us. Our duty is to respect them and listen. A girl's father is her protection in matters of the heart.

* Not their real names, but their stories are true.

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