Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Preparing Our Daughters For Lifelong Marriage Part 1

No doubt you're sick of hearing about the Duggars by now, but I really want to encourage mothers and wives by giving a Christian perspective on Anna Duggar's situation, and speak on how we can prepare our daughters for marriage and for a life of faith. Should we really "teach them to breathe fire" and would that prevent heartbreak in their lives?

In this first piece, I will deal with just the beginning portion of the worldly sentiments presented in the letter featured below. In another piece, I'll write on the breathe-fire portion.

Kirkland, a mother of two girls, recently wrote a Facebook post that went viral, detailed here and excerpted below:

Anna Duggar is in the worst position she could possibly be in right now. Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser because his family was famous in their religious circle. Anna Duggar was taught that her sole purpose in life, the most meaningful thing she could do, was to be chaste and proper, a devout wife, and a mother. Anna Duggar did that! Anna Duggar followed the rules that were imposed on her from the get-go and this is what she got in reward.
As a mother of daughters, this makes me ill. Parents, WE MUST DO BETTER BY OUR DAUGHTERS. Boys, men, are born with power. Girls have to command it for themselves. They aren't given it. They assume it and take it. But you have to teach them to do it, that they can do it. We HAVE to teach our daughters that they are not beholden to men like this. That they don't have to marry a man their father deems "acceptable" and then stay married to that man long, long after he proved himself UNACCEPTABLE. Educate them. Empower them. Give them the tools they need to survive, on their own if they must. Josh Duggar should be cowering in fear of Anna Duggar right now. Cowering. He isn't, but he should be. He should be quaking in fear that the house might fall down around them if he's in the same room as she. Please, instill your daughters with the resolve to make a man cower if he must. To say "I don't deserve this, and my children don't deserve this." I wish someone had ever, just once, told Anna she was capable of this. That she knew she is. As for my girls, I'll raise them to think they breathe fire.

It's tempting to champion this woman's cause given the completely humiliating manner in which Josh treated Anna. As much as I've cringed at Josh Duggar's heartbreaking sins and how unfavorably they reflect on Christianity, I'm mindful that we know very little information. Isn't that usually true, when we're tempted to judge others?

We have no idea what went on in their marriage or in their daily family life, but I know from experience that when you're caring for a newborn and other little ones, you have little interest in marital relations. (Don't roll your eyes yet...I am not going to excuse Josh or any other unfaithful spouse.) Weeks or sometimes months can go by without any attention to our husbands, easily, during this first year (or during times of intense stress), and our husbands are put in a difficult place, because to keep reminding us about their needs appears insensitive to our exhaustion or our feelings. I think many men remain silent so as not to provoke us or feel like schmucks.

Most women are aroused by feeling close to and in love with their husbands, and by being rested and relaxed enough to feel light and playful. Men are aroused far more easily (given their visual bent) and can even be aroused during times of exhaustion and intense stress.

Communication is very, very important here.

Our husbands are responsible before God for their decisions and actions, no matter whether we remember their needs or not. It isn't fair to blame an overwhelmed and physically exhausted mother for her husband's pornography habit or an affair, but it is wise for mothers to prepare their daughters to keep lines of communication open with their husbands in the year after childbirth, and during times of intense family stress. It's an unwise woman who assumes her husband is doing fine, as long as he isn't nagging for attention. Grace must abound on both sides.

God always provides a way out of temptation and open communication is one of those means in a marriage.

I am not indicating by these statements that I think Josh is a real Christian gone wrong, or that by more marital relations their issues could have been prevented. I don't know his spiritual state, but total deception such as his can start with small spiritual compromises, accompanied by a sense of entitlement. Satan is sure to spur us on in our compromises, by increasing our sense of entitlement.

We need to resist the temptation to make villains of one spouse or the other when we hear bits and pieces of marital stories, since no one knows the inner workings of a marriage, as I said. We do best to pray for our own marriage and the marriages within our churches. Because marriage. is. hard.

I resolve to prepare my daughters for the complexities of married life...for how many of us went into marriage wholly unprepared for the complexity, and had to make mistakes to learn how to dance well together? A lifelong marriage will have very low points, and only the strongest finish the race.

The world will scream for us to cut our losses, get out and start over, but the spiritually steadfast and long-suffering stay the course (though if you are being abused, put physical and emotional distance between you and the abuser, by all means).

And incidentally, when an adulterer remains unrepentant, he is abusing his wife emotionally and she is justified in leaving, with the Lord's blessing. Before it becomes clear that an adulterer is unrepentant, I believe the Lord would rather we keep our eyes on Him and proceed cautiously, though we can leave for adultery right away, if desired.

The world would have us believe that a women who stays is weak and stupid, but God's glory shines through us best when we focus on His character, rather than on what we deserve.

Kristen Welsh from We Are That Family successfully dealt with her husband's addiction to pornography (he's an ex youth pastor) and they have a strong marriage now. With our eyes on God instead of on our immediate heartache, marriage can persevere.

Anna Duggar is in the worst position she could possibly be in right now. This is a worldly perspective only. Anna Duggar is (let's assume), a born-again Christian and as such, she's got eternal life to look forward to, rather than eternal suffering. Contrary to Ms. Kirkland's sentiment, Anna is blessed beyond measure.

The 20-year-old woman who gets in a car accident a month before her wedding and becomes a paraplegic for life, is in a pretty awful situation, too, but like Anna's situation, it's part of the sin curse. We all suffer and everyone has devastating periods in their lives, whether they come early or later in our middle years. We all need divine strength to get through the day. We all need to be thankful for every day, and reminded that godliness with contentment is great gain.

Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser because his family was famous in their religious circle. 

Anna was crippled by her parents? While at least a two-year degree or a vocational skill is desirable before marriage, the Bible does not ask us to put our hope in education. Psalm 39:7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

The Bible does mandate one type of education--spiritual education, as outlined here:

Deuteromony 11:19 "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. "You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,…

The Bible also teaches that if we put the Kingdom of God first, then God will provide for all of our daily needs, education or not--and I say this as someone who, as a former public educator, has been guilty in the past of worshiping education.

Matthew 6:32-34 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It's so easy for all of us to disregard this verse when our daily bread appears insecure, as it may for Anna right now, but God's Word stands firm, no matter our circumstances. When we make a commitment to live each day for his glory and give tomorrow to Him, our joy abounds.

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