Can Christian Man Marry A Woman Intending to Tame Her?

Can a Christian man marry a feminist Christian woman with the intent of taming her like Petruchio did with Katherine in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”? Or must a Christian husband always seek a woman who is submissive and believes in and follows Biblical gender roles?

Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”

Here are some excerpts from synopsis of Taming of the Shrew by www.sparknotes.com:

“In the Italian city of Padua, a rich young man named Lucentio arrives with his servants, Tranio and Biondello, to attend the local university. Lucentio is excited to begin his studies, but his priorities change when he sees Bianca, a beautiful, mild young woman with whom Lucentio instantly falls in love. There are two problems: first, Bianca already has two suitors, Gremio and Hortensio; second, Bianca’s father, a wealthy old man named Baptista Minola, has declared that no one may court Bianca until first her older sister, the vicious, ill-tempered Katherine, is married…

The Katherine problem is solved for Bianca’s suitors when Hortensio’s friend Petruchio, a brash young man from Verona, arrives in Padua to find a wife. He intends to marry a rich woman, and does not care what she is like as long as she will bring him a fortune. He agrees to marry Katherine sight unseen. The next day, he goes to Baptista’s house to meet her, and they have a tremendous duel of words. As Katherine insults Petruchio repeatedly, Petruchio tells her that he will marry her whether she agrees or not. He tells Baptista, falsely, that Katherine has consented to marry him on Sunday. Hearing this claim, Katherine is strangely silent, and the wedding is set.

On Sunday, Petruchio is late to his own wedding, leaving Katherine to fear she will become an old maid. When Petruchio arrives, he is dressed in a ridiculous outfit and rides on a broken-down horse. After the wedding, Petruchio forces Katherine to leave for his country house before the feast, telling all in earshot that she is now his property and that he may do with her as he pleases. Once they reach his country house, Petruchio continues the process of “taming” Katherine by keeping her from eating or sleeping for several days—he pretends that he loves her so much he cannot allow her to eat his inferior food or to sleep in his poorly made bed

Katherine and Petruchio soon return to Padua to visit Baptista. On the way, Petruchio forces Katherine to say that the sun is the moon and that an old man is really a beautiful young maiden. Since Katherine’s willfulness is dissipating, she agrees that all is as her husband says

At the banquet following Hortensio’s wedding to the widow, the other characters are shocked to see that Katherine seems to have been “tamed”—she obeys everything that Petruchio says and gives a long speech advocating the loyalty of wives to their husbands. When the three new husbands stage a contest to see which of their wives will obey first when summoned, everyone expects Lucentio to win. Bianca, however, sends a message back refusing to obey, while Katherine comes immediately. The others acknowledge that Petruchio has won an astonishing victory, and the happy Katherine and Petruchio leave the banquet to go to bed.”

A lot of Christians who are ignorant of history and even the Bible would say a person is wrong for marrying for economic reasons. If you believe that, I would invite you to read the story of Ruth in the Bible.  She married Boaz to redeem her mother-in-law’s husband’s family land.  We falsely have been taught today that a person must marry because they first “fall in love with a person” – that command is found nowhere in the Bible. It is wishful thinking, mostly on the part of women.   Some will say – what about Jacob? He loved Rachel so much he served seven years for her.  But again, this is not a command, it is an example. And why did he love her? Check the story – it was because of how beautiful she was.

And let’s not forget Jacob’s mother and father. What a whirlwind romance they had right? They just met each other and went into his mother’s tent had sex and became man and wife.  No long courtship, no discussion.   Isaac followed his father’s advice for him in finding a wife and Rebekah followed her father’s command for her to go back and marry Isaac.  It was that simple.

But the most important question the Taming of the Shrew presents us with is whether or not it is sinful or immoral for a Christian man to marry a rebellious woman with the intention of taming her into submission?

However, before we can answer this question, we must first answer another very important question for Christians.

Can a Christian Marry an Unbeliever?

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 the Apostle Paul gives the following command regarding Christians entering into relationships with non-believers:

“14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

As we can see from the above Scriptures, it is clear that believers are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

This is why a Christian church has no business having an inter-faith conference with the Muslim church down the street. And it is also why a Christian man or woman can never enter into the most intimate of human relationships God ever designed which is marriage, with a non-believer.

Some Christians have falsely used 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 to say that the Apostle Paul was ok with Christians marrying non-Christians:

“13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

However, such an interpretation betrays the entire context of the passage which Paul states in verse 20 of this same chapter:

“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”

Paul is saying that if you become a believer and your spouses does not come to the faith as you have that you are to remain with them if they want to stay.  He is not saying it is ok for a Christian to purposefully marry a non-believer which would then conflict with what he said in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.

Now that we have established this important principle of the Scriptures, we can go on to answer the question at the center of this article.

Can a Christian Man Marry a Christian Feminist Woman with the Intent to Tame Her?

Throughout the Bible God’s relationship with humanity is pictured in two different ways.  As individuals our relationship with God is pictured as a father and child relationship.  But God’s relationship with his people in the collective sense is always pictured as that of a husband to his wife.

We can see this concept shown where God pictures the nation of Israel as a treacherous wife in Jeremiah 3:20:

“Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.”

Notice how he refers to his wife – “O house of Israel”.

Now let’s look further in this book to Jeremiah 18:1-6:

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”

What do we see here? God presents the picture of a potter who had a marred, meaning it had defects.  So, he reshaped it against as a whole new vessel.  God tells Israel, his wife, that she is like that clay.  He saw defects in her and wanted to reshape her in another vessel but she would not allow him to do so.

Now let’s look to the New Testament in Ephesians 5:25-27:

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

There is an important parallel here between God as a husband to Israel and Christ as a husband to the Church.  How does a potter shape his clay into the form he wishes it to be? He uses water.  In the same way we as Christian husbands are told to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her so he could wash her with “water by the word”, so she would not have “spot, or wrinkle”, so he could present her to “himself a glorious church”.

Why did God want to reshape Israel as his wife? Because she was “marred” which parallels the “spot or wrinkle” shown to us here with Christ and his wife, the Church, in the New Testament.

The point is that God is a consistent husband.  Christ is not a different kind of husband to the Church than God was to Israel.  We as Christian husbands can learn just a much from God’s example as a husband to Israel as we can learn from Christ’s example as a husband to the Church.  This is a fundamental truth that all Christian husbands must embrace.

With that being said can a Christian man marry a Christian woman whom he perceives is marred by feminist tendencies with the intention that he is going to attempt to wash her of those tendencies?

The answer based on God’s own example with both Israel and the Church is a resounding YES!

Am I recommending Men Marry Feminist Women with the Intent to Tame Them?

I have proven the case from the Scriptures that nothing in the Scriptures stops a man from marrying a woman whom he genuinely believes to be a Christian but is marred by feminism.

I made the following statement about my second wife in a post I wrote a few years ago that include my story about how I met my second wife and married her:

“While we were dating, I detected feminist tendencies in her that she had from her upbringing (her mom was a career woman as well).  Her mom even told me on one occasion that she taught her daughters to “be independent and not need a man”.  So even though my wife had become a Christian a few years before she met me, the feminism ran deep in her.  I also detected that her job as a manager might cause some friction in her commitment to our marriage and our home.

But she was so different from my first wife, and such a good Christian woman with great character that I chose to overlook some of these areas that would later come back to haunt me, naively thinking I could help her to see what God says a Christian woman’s priorities should be in regard to her husband, her children and her home.

I mentioned in that same post that my wife displayed many marks of a true believer in Christ.  She was so dedicated to seeing people saved.  She witnessed to her friends at work and relatives and she was concerned for her lost loved ones.  She went on missions’ trips with her church.  I spoke with her Pastor and some deacons at her church and saw in her a woman that had many great character traits and a passion for God.  But she was a new Christian, saved only few years before I met her.

So, I believed when I saw the feminist tendencies in her that I could just teach her and help her to learn those ways were not right.  She told me she believed the passages about submission that I showed her. But she also believed that men and women were equal and she was trying to square that with what the Bible said about submission.

I thought I could wash this feminism from her, but alas after almost 9 years of marriage much of it remains.  There has been some progress and some change but not nearly as much as I had hoped.

The question though is this – does my failure to be able to wash away my wife’s feminism with the Word of God mean that no man could do this with another woman?

The answer is no.  It is in fact possible.

In the three years since I wrote about my story with my failure to completely wash away my wife’s feminism, I have had many men write me telling they had success with their wives in this.  I have actually even had many young women write me telling me that my writings helped to convince them that feminism was wrong and they came out of it on their own before marriage.

So, what is the variable that makes for success in the taming of a feminist Christian wife?  The answer is it comes down to whether the woman will recognize this sinful thought process in her own life and then allow her husband in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to wash it from her.

In James 1:23-24 the Bible tells us about a man looking in a glass seeing his reflection:

“23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”

Now let’s apply what James is saying to a feminist Christian wife.  A man can take his wife to the spiritual mirror which is the Word of God.  He can show her the reflection of herself.  He can show her the sin of feminism all over her face.  But she must choose to humble herself before God and accept what she sees right there in the mirror.  She must then submit herself to her husband’s washing and see him as a God given instrument for sanctification in her life.

Some may argue “Well I am fine with trying to tame her before marriage, but you should not marry her until she is completely tamed of feminism”.  And I understand where that thinking comes from.   But just because something presents a lot more risk does not make it wrong.  Marriage itself is a risk.  Even marriage to a woman who seems to be a good Christian and one who fully embraces Biblical gender roles. It is simply a matter of how much risk is involved.

Is This a Change in My Position on Christian Men Marrying Feminist Women?

The answer is Yes. Throughout this ministry over the last four years I have made changes on several positions.  Really – over my entire Christian life I have made changes in my beliefs as the Lord has led me to do so.  We must never be so rigid or get to the point where God cannot change our position on something and teach us new things.

Up until now I have taught people on this blog as well as my own sons that I made a grave mistake in marrying their step mother with the intent to help her understand the errors of her feminist thinking.  I have taught young men on this blog and elsewhere that they should avoid interactions with feminist Christian women and at the first sign of feminist tendencies when dating or courting they should abandon such a woman.

If you or my sons want to follow the advice I have previously given there is no sin in following it still.  If you decide that the potential costs in this spiritual warfare to attempt to tame a feminist Christian wife is too much I completely understand and there is no sin in avoiding feminist women like the plague.

So here is my change. 

I have thought back to when I met my second wife and after I talked to all the people that knew her from her church as well as her family.  My intentions were noble.  I saw the potential in her for change.  I went into this marriage fully intent on washing her feminism away and believing she would allow me over time to do it. I believed her passion to see souls saved would result in a similar passion to conform herself as a wife to the will of God for her life. The problem was not in my intent, but in her continued unwillingness to fully yield to the Holy Spirit on this issue, so in turn she could not fully yield to me either.

If you find a woman who has the markings of a true believer in Christ as my second wife had, but this appears to be a blind spot in her life and you are intent on doing spiritual battle, even if takes the rest of your life married to her, to wash the spiritual wrinkles and spots of feminism from her then this is a noble cause. But be forewarned, this is not for the faint of heart. It could greatly affect your future children and in some cases the battle could even lead to divorce.

However, if you are marrying a feminist Christian woman with the intent that you are going to tolerate her feminism and will just give up your headship role over her then you are wrong.  As a Christian God does not allow you to surrender your position as head to your wife. So, if you know you are not willing to do battle to attempt to wash the feminism from a woman then you should not marry her.  You should only marry a woman who fully embraces Biblical gender roles before you marry her.

So here is the conclusion of the matter.  Is it a sin before God for a man to marry a Christian woman with the intent of taming her of her feminist tendencies and beliefs? The answer is no it is not a sin.

But I would leave any Christian man who intends to go into such a spiritual battle with this admonition from Christ found in Luke 14:31:

“Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” 

Be sure before you go to war, that you count the costs that may be incurred on you in the process of that war.

A Teenage Girl’s Courtship Covenant

Today I make the following covenant before God.

I will only seek to court a man when my father gives his permission to court that man and I will honor his rules for courting . (Genesis 29:15-20, Exodus 22:16-17)

I will not make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof by allowing myself to be alone with any man that I am not married to unless he is my close blood relative. (Romans 13:14)

I will guard my heart and save not only physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy as well for marriage and I will not awaken the type of love God meant only for marriage until I am married. (Proverbs 4:23, Song of Solomon 2:7)

I will not follow my heart or feelings in seeking my future husband as it may deceive me.  Instead I will seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance  as well as the guidance of my parents and other Christian elders as they follow Christ. (Proverbs 1:8,Proverbs 11:14,John 16:13)

I will not date because dating is led by the heart, not the spirit, it can often awaken the kind of love only meant for marriage and it makes provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

What is the difference between courting and dating?

Both dating and courting will involve couples doing things together.  A dating couple and a courting couple might go out to dinner, a movie theater, a sporting event or church event together.  A dating and a courting couple might spend time together with their various friends and family members.  A dating and a courting couple may be physically attracted to one another.

With all these similarities it understandable how some people might confuse dating with courting.  But the differences between these two activities are a matter of WHY, WHEN and HOW.

WHY Dating and Courting Occur Is Different

The reason why men and women date is to enjoy one another’s company.  For instance, if a couple goes on a date and either one or both do not enjoy the other’s company then they will not see each other again.  Even if a couple has been dating for some time, if they cease to enjoy one another’s company then they simply “break up”.

The reason why men and women court is for the purpose of discovering if they are compatible for marriage.  While courting couples may enjoy their time spent together as dating couples do they understand that this is only a happy byproduct of the courting process and not it’s core purpose.  When one courts they are interviewed by the other’s parents, family and friends and they also interview their prospective spouse’s family and friends.

Courting is not about having fun, it is a fact-finding mission about a prospective spouse.

The purpose of courting is to find out the character of a potential spouse by asking them about what they believe about God and about life and then finding out from their family and friends if their life matches their beliefs.

While courtships are sometimes terminated like dating relationships are, the termination of a courtship does not happen easily and it a serious event for both families.  Only if a serious incompatibly was found or if unfaithfulness was found on the part of either person would a courtship process be terminated.  Another important reason why courtships are terminated far less often than dating relationships is because both families do a preliminary investigation of the potential spouse before a courtship arrangement is agreed upon.

WHEN Dating and Courting Happens is Different

In dating a man typically approaches a woman and “asks her out”.  It might be to dinner, a school event, a church event or some other event.  With courting a man does not ask the woman out.  He asks her father’s permission to court his daughter.

And this brings us to another key difference between courting and dating.  The man does not ask permission to court another man’s daughter until he is prepared to support a wife and family.  Courtships unlike dating are not meant to be conducted over many years.  They are meant to be a short time to see of the couple are compatible for marriage and then they marry.  Typically, this process takes only a few months but usually does not go beyond a year.

From a courting perspective, it would be highly inappropriate for a young 16-year-old man in high school who is totally unprepared for marriage or unprepared to support a family to ask a young woman’s father if he may court her.  But with the practice of dating, a man need not be mature enough for marriage or able to provide for a family to enter into an intimate relationship with a young woman.

One last thing about WHEN courting occurs.  We have spoken about the prerequisites for a young man to be able to court someone’s daughter. So the next logical question would then be what about the young woman? What is the age for courtship for her?  The age is when her father deems her ready.  This may be before the legal age of adulthood which is 18 or after the legal age of adulthood. His primary concern would be to make the determination as to whether his daughter is spiritually and emotionally mature enough for marriage.

HOW Dating and Courting is Conducted is Different

When young men and women date they may kiss and hold hands on the very first date.  In fact, some couples even have sex on the first date.  Still for many teens they may not have sex for some time but they still become very intimate with each other in other emotional and physical ways.

For many young men and women dating is sort of like taking a drug.  They experience the dopamine rush in their brains of being with a new person.  Every text they receive from the other person gives them a rush. Every touch from that person gives them a rush.  Then they need to go further and further with the touching.  Even if some teens do not engage in full sexual intercourse, many dating teens are touching one another in other sexual ways.  It is all about the rush, the thrill of being with that person.

And then for many teens when the rush and the thrill of the new relationship goes away they breakup and move on to the next teen to experience new thrills with that new person.  And this cycle goes on and on throughout high school or college until they finally decide to settle down, get serious and get married.

When young men and women court they do NOT touch.  Some courting couples may be allowed to hold hands when the wedding is very close. But beyond that there is no kissing or hugging or cuddling during courting. And while they definitely investigate one another for compatibility they are not as emotionally intimate as dating couples.  The goal of courtship is to make sure a couple is compatible but at the same time not engage in the emotional and physical intimacy God meant for marriage.  Courting couples experience that dopamine rush too, but they do not allow it to control their actions.  They can finally and fully let go once they are married.  And on their wedding night and during their honeymoon – physical and emotional intimacy is all new for them and as beautiful as God intended it to be.

To help courting couples avoid the temptation to touch or talk in ways that are reserved for marriage they are never allowed to be alone.  They always have parents or siblings or other Christian elders with them at all times. Courting couples might go out to dinner, a movie theater, a sporting event or church event together but often they don’t even sit next to one another. Someone else is in-between whether it is a sibling or a parent.  So, they experience the events together but they do not touch. This is a major difference between dating couples and courting couples.

Conclusion

Some people wrongly think that courting is just “dating for marriage”.  But as we have shown here it is so much more than that. A core component of dating is physical intimacy even if the couple does not go all the way to intercourse.  Another critical difference between dating and courting is the parental involvement.  In dating the man asks the woman out, in courting the man asks the girl’s father for permission to court his daughter.  With dating the ability of the young man to provide for a family and his overall readiness for marriage is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is if the young woman finds him attractive and fun to be around.  In courting, the young man’s ability to provide for a family as well as his faith and overall maturity are critical prerequisites to him asking to court a man’s daughter.

Was Roy Moore violating Biblical commands in dating teenage girls?

Does the Bible condemn the practice of older men dating teenage girls? With the revelations in the news about Alabama Republican senate candidate Roy Moore having dated teenage girls decades ago when he is was in thirties this question has been raised amongst Christians.

Now let me be clear as a Bible believing Christian in regard to the sexual molestation accusations against Judge Moore.  If it can be proven that Judge Moore engaged in any type of sexual touching or sexual relations with these woman outside of marriage that would be by definition fornication and something that the Bible clearly condemns.

But that is not the question I am discussing here.  The fact is, even if Judge Moore did not engage in any extramarital sexual relations with any of these women there are many in our culture, including Christians, who would condemn him simply for dating teenage girls while he was in his early thirties and this is the question we will tackle in the article.

What is the minimum age for women to marry in the Bible?

There are two factors for determining a woman’s minimal age for marriage.

A woman must reach puberty first before she can marry

Two Bible passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New indicate that the minimal age for marriage of woman is when she reaches puberty.

“7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.

8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.”

Ezekiel 16:7-8 (KJV)

In the passage above from Ezekiel we read of God’s love story with Israel.  He presents himself as a wealthy man who finds an infant girl who had just been born and is left for dead in a field.  He takes her as ward in his home and when she reaches puberty (grows breasts and pubic hair) he declares that “thy time was the time of love” and he takes her as his wife.

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul tells of a similar story of a man with a young woman who is his ward whom he has an attraction to:

“36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.”

I Corinthians 7:36 (KJV)

When it says “pass the flower of her age” it literally means “ripe” as when a fruit is ready to be plucked and eaten.  Like Ezekiel 16:7-8 it refers to the fact that she has reached puberty and is now ready for marital love.

So according to both the Old and New Testaments a girl must first reach puberty before she can marry and when a girl reached puberty she was no longer considered a child but was now considered a woman.

A father determines at what age his daughter marries

There was a second factor in determining a woman’s age at the time of her marriage and we find this in the book of Exodus:

“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”

Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)

Today our culture treats a father’s blessing for his daughter to marry as a cute tradition and nothing more. Fathers are expected to rubber stamp any man their daughter says she wants to marry because after all it is her life, her body and her choice right?  Fathers have had their authority over whom their daughters marry completely removed.  However, we can see in the Scriptures that this was not just some tradition but we see that God grants fathers the authority over whom their daughters may marry.

Now a word caution on this.  A father’s authority over his daughter while being similar to that of a husband over his wife is different in some key aspects. A father’s authority is temporary.  He is there to raise her and prepare her for her future husband.  His authority and ownership over his daughter is not meant to be for life as a husband’s authority is meant to be for life.   So if a father is inhibiting his daughter from marrying well into her adult life in order to keep her in his home he has failed in the role God has given him.  He is sinning against God and his daughter by inhibiting his daughter from following God’s first command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

The State has no authority over marriage

Many Christians mistakenly think that God has given civil government nearly unlimited authority.  Most Christians think unless the government literally tells us to sin that they can pass any laws they want.  They site passages like this to bolster their belief:

“13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”

1 Peter 2:13-14 (KJV)

But they neglect the fact that Christ recognizes the concept of limited authority for civil government:

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:21 (KJV)

 

Christ said “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”.  That means “Obey the civil government in the areas that God has given to civil government”.

Romans 13:1-5 and 1 Peter 2:13-14 teach us that the role of government is to protect the people and punish evil doers according to God’s law. Search the Scriptures and you will find that the only authority God gives in marriage is to the family and specifically to the father.  Of course we know that the father is still under God’s authority in regard to marriage and he must regard his ownership of his daughter as a temporary stewardship in preparing her for her future husband.

What this means in practical terms is state marriage licenses are not required by God.  A marriage is valid in God’s eyes if a man has the permission of a woman’s father or if her father is gone and she is living on her own she consents to marriage.  He can enter into a covenant of marriage with her in private and that marriage is just as binding in God’s eyes as if they had a public ceremony with a pastor or priest and state marriage license.

This also means whether states outlaw all marriage under the age of 18 or even 21 Christians may disregard such laws as the usurping of authority over the family by the civil government.  Christians can and may practice civil disobedience against such laws.

How our culture mocks God’s laws

Julie Zauzmer, writing for the Washington Post recently published an article entitled “Roy Moore allegations prompt reflections on fundamentalist culture in which some Christian men date teens”.  In this article she assembles a chorus of opponents of the practice of older men dating teenage girls.

Here are some excerpts from that article with people mocking God’s laws:

“That courtship of underage girls is especially common in conservative religious communities.

“We should probably talk about how there is a segment of evangelicalism and home-school culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage. 14 year old girls courting adult men isn’t entirely uncommon,” Kathryn Brightbill, who works for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tweeted Friday, prompting a flurry of responses from other people who also had watched teenagers date much older Christian men…

Ashley Easter, who grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church where courting was the norm for teenagers, said, “That was the first thing I thought of with Roy Moore.” In her church community in Lynchburg, Va., Easter said, fathers had complete control over whom their daughters were allowed to date, and she could see how a father might set his teen daughter up with a much older man.

A woman’s role is to be a wife, a homemaker and someone who births children. The man’s role is generally to be established and someone who provides the full income,” said Easter, who runs the Courage Conference for survivors of church sexual abuse. “It may take longer for a man to reach stability. While a woman of 15 or 16, if she’s been trained for a long time looking after her younger siblings, in their eyes she might be ready for marriage.” [1]

While regrettably I was not able to have my children homeschooled for a variety of reasons I do consider myself a part of that “segment of evangelicalism and home-school culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage”.

Many of my friends growing up were homeschooled before they came to the Christian School I attended in high school. My parents homeschooled my niece and nephew who they adopted and I have cousins that have homeschooled their children as well.  And yes I grew up in Bible believing fundamental Baptist churches that while being imperfect did teach that “fathers had complete control over whom their daughters were allowed to date” according to the Word of God.  The sad thing is that many of these Baptist churches that formerly stood on the doctrines of Biblical gender roles have in recent decades abandoned these doctrines to appease feminists both inside and outside their churches.

What has been the result of the abandonment of courtship and the authority of the father over his daughter in regard to marriage? A massive increase in promiscuity among our young people who favor dating for fun instead of courtship for marriage. In many cases a huge delay of the marriage of young women well into their middle or late 20’s and a decrease in the size of Christian families. Young women are often more interested in their education and careers than in performing the main function God created them for which was to be wives and mothers.

Ashley Easter mock’s the fact that she was taught that “A woman’s role is to be a wife, a homemaker and someone who births children. The man’s role is generally to be established and someone who provides the full income”.

The sad part is Mrs. Easter growing up in a fundamental Baptist church knows the Scriptures actually support that very definition of a woman’s role that she mocks:

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

1 Timothy 5:14 (KJV)

The false “Child Marriage” narrative

I and other Christians who do not oppose marriage for women under the age of 18 are opposed to child marriage.  But we are opposed to child marriage as God defines it in the Scriptures and not how our culture defines child marriage.

My readers know I am no stranger to writing on controversial topics especially as they relate to the Bible and marriage and I know on this subject I may have some disagreement from even some of my strongest supporters.  But I would like you to truly consider something.

In the Scriptures we read:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

What the Bible calls “child marriage” and what our culture calls “child marriage” are two different things.  God says a girl is a child before she reaches puberty and that after she reaches puberty it “was the time of love” (Ezekiel 16:8) – in other words time for marriage. She was no longer considered a child, but was now considered a woman.  God forbids men from marrying a young girl who has not “passed the flower of her age” (I Corinthians 7:36) or in other words a girl who has not reached puberty.  She is still considered a child and is not eligible for marriage.

So yes if a man wants to marry some prepubescent girl he is in fact in violation of God’s law and that is “child marriage” we can all agree is wrong.

But our feminist and egalitarian culture has expanded the definition of how long girls remain children.  Our culture has expanded childhood for girls past the onset of puberty all the way to age 18.

In an article entitled “Why can 12-year-olds still get married in the United States?”, Fraidy Reiss writing for the Washington Post states:

“Unchained At Last, a nonprofit I founded to help women resist or escape forced marriage in the United States, spent the past year collecting marriage license data from 2000 to 2010, the most recent year for which most states were able to provide information. We learned that in 38 states, more than 167,000 children — almost all of them girls, some as young 12 — were married during that period, mostly to men 18 or older. Twelve states and the District of Columbia were unable to provide information on how many children had married there in that decade. Based on the correlation we identified between state population and child marriage, we estimated that the total number of children wed in America between 2000 and 2010 was nearly 248,000.

Despite these alarming numbers, and despite the documented consequences of early marriages, including negative effects on health and education and an increased likelihood of domestic violence, some state lawmakers have resisted passing legislation to end child marriage — because they wrongly fear that such measures might unlawfully stifle religious freedom or because they cling to the notion that marriage is the best solution for a teen pregnancy…

Regardless of whether the union was the child’s or the parents’ idea, marriage before 18 has catastrophic, lifelong effects on a girl, undermining her health, education and economic opportunities while increasing her risk of experiencing violence.” [2]

Reiss throws in marriages as young as 12(even though the majority were age 15 or higher) to really get the hairs on the back of people’s necks up.

If you were to tell people in Biblical times that a girl did not become a woman until she was 18 they would have laughed so hard at you they would have fallen over. Let me give you a little bit of historical backdrop on this before we condemn twelve year olds marrying:

Rev. Dr. Eugene Weitzel stated this about the Jewish view of early marriage:

    “As we noted above, the Jews clearly understood that the first command that God gave to Adam and Eve was “increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28). In fact one rabbi firmly believed that “A bachelor is not truly a man at all.” Furthermore, celibacy was looked upon as an anomaly, almost a disgrace.  Now keep in mind that Jesus Christ, a devout, practicing Jew who dearly loved his Jewish faith, grew up with this view of celibacy.  He also knew that his people believed in early marriage.  Many rabbis, even during Jesus’s time, taught that eighteen was the ideal age for marriage for a man but certainly not later than twenty-four. He knew too that girls were ready for marriage as soon as they were physically ready to conceive and bear children, which according to the law was twelve and one-half years. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably no more than fourteen years old when she gave birth to the Son of God.” [3]

Lucien Deiss in his book “Joseph, Mary, Jesus” writes:

    “How old could Mary have been? Young girls usually were betrothed as soon as they became a woman.  It was believed they reached puberty at about twelve or twelve and a half. Boys it was believed reached the age if puberty a year later. Marriage could take place one year after puberty a year later. In general, it was held that men could wait until the age of eighteen or twenty before marrying so that they could have time to build a house and plant a vineyard.”[4]

My point is that is highly likely from a historical perspective that Mary was betrothed to Joseph at 12 years old and most likely gave birth to Jesus by the age of 14. Now we know in the case of Mary that Jesus’s conception was of the Holy Spirit.  But under normal circumstances young women were commonly giving birth to their first child by age 13 or 14.

So are we willing to condemn Joseph the father of Jesus for child marriage because he most likely betrothed Mary at such a young age?  Worse yet are we as Christians willing to condemn God the Holy Spirit for conceiving a child in Mary at such a young age? Is God guilty of child abuse?

Reiss laments about the lack of nationwide state bans on marriage under the age of 18 “because they wrongly fear that such measures might unlawfully stifle religious freedom”.  Sorry mam – but that is exactly what such restrictions on marriage would be – a stifling of religious freedom.  But sadly I fear that Reiss and her allies may someday get such legislation passed.  We have seen in the last 20 years an onslaught of legislation that assaults religious liberty whether in the form of taking parental rights or giving new rights to the homosexual and transgender movements.

Another Christian blogger who goes by the name “nickducote” wrote the following in an article entitled “Jonathan Lindvall and Child Marriage: The Maranatha Story”:

“Marrying girls off so early does several things. For one thing, it precludes them having other options. They have not finished their academic education and are not qualified for anything besides homemaking. And even then, what fifteen-year-old is truly ready to run a home in today’s world? For another thing, such early marriage means a girl marries before she has time to completely mature and form her own outlook on life. But then, sadly, that’s rather part of the point. This sort of arrangement, after all, functions not as an independent adult making her own decisions but rather as a property transfer—and it is explicitly stated as such.” [5]

While I disagree with his positions and his values I think this blogger has actually done a very good job of concisely saying what those who oppose marriage of young women really have a problem with.  They have a problem with girls not having “other options”.  They have a problem with women not being “qualified for anything besides homemaking”. They have a problem with a woman not having “her own outlook on life”. They have a problem with marriage being “a property transfer”.

I am not against women having an education nor do I think the Bible is. But our society has turned education – especially higher education and college into a human right.  We have turned education into a false god that our culture worships.  It is not a human right according to the Word of God.

Education is fine as long as it is a help and not a hindrance to the primary tasks God has given us to do.  In the case of men education is often a help in one of their primary God given duties which is to provide for their families.  Education can be a help to women as well in being able to homeschool their children in the future.  But far too often education for women because more of a hindrance than a help to them pursuing their primary mission that God has given them.

A lot of women delay marriage for many years in the pursuit of higher education and often they are tempted to pursue careers before marriage.  The result is a large amount of women marrying well into their mid to late 20’s past their prime fertility years.  I wrote an article a few years back on this issue of women’s fertility entitled “Women’s ovaries don’t agree with Feminism” and I encourage you to read that article if you have not already.

It is not a crime against humanity if a woman does not receive a higher education or for that matter does not even finish high school and is only “qualified” for homemaking. This is one of the primary purposes for which God designed woman.  A lot of Christians misuse Proverbs 31 to try and teach that God approves of the modern concept of a career woman while ignoring this key verse in that passage:

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

Proverbs 31:27 (KJV)

How many career women actually look well to the ways of their household? How many career women instead barely cook for their families and leave their houses in disarray? How many are too tired to care for their children because they have dedicated all their energy to strangers outside the home? How many career women look at their husbands as their help meet instead of looking at themselves as their husband’s help meet?

The Proverbs 31 wife did go outside the home and buy and sell things but her focus was always on serving her home and her husband.  That was the center of her life – that was what gave her life meaning and fulfillment.  That is how she brought glory to both God and her husband.

Do women really need to form their “own outlook on life” before they marry?

God is portrayed as the potter to the clay in three different ways in the Bible.

In the New Testament God is portrayed in his sovereign creator role as the potter and individuals humans are the clay:

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”

Romans 9:20-21 (KJV)

We also see the children of Israel regard God as their father being their potter:

“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Isaiah 64:8 (KJV)

But there is a third role in which God pictures himself as the potter of the clay.  It is as a husband to his wife Israel:

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,

2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”

Jeremiah 18:1-6 (KJV)

And for those that wish to challenge that this is God talking to Israel as his wife I challenge with this other passage from earlier in the book of Jeremiah:

Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.”

Jeremiah 3:20 (KJV)

God literally equates “O house of Israel” with a wife who treacherously departs from her husband.   If you look at how the phrase “O house of Israel” is used in other Old Testament prophecy books it is always used in the sense of Israel as a nation – the wife of God.

So if a Christian rejects the idea of a husband being able to mold his wife as the potter molds the clay from this analogy of God and Israel they do so only from a position of pride and a rejection of the husband/wife relationship as it is pictured in the Bible.

When Christians bloggers like nickducote say women need to form their own outlooks on life before marrying he is saying they should be firm in who they are and what they believe before they marry.  The problem with this is that just as God wanted his wife Israel to be moldable to the way he wanted her to be – so too young women should be moldable to the way their husbands want them to be.

In a previous article I wrote entitled “Why unity in marriage has more to do with the wife than the husband” I dove into this concept that unity in marriage primarily has to do with the wife being moldable to her husband.

This does not mean a woman can never have her own opinions or even that young women cannot and should not have strong faiths even as young ladies before they marry.  My daughter who will be turning 16 in a few months has a strong Christian faith.  But I have taught her to keep herself moldable for her future husband and be prepared for the fact that he may see some things differently than I do as her father.  I only have a temporary stewardship over my daughter and one day I will give her to the man that will be her husband for life. It is to that man, and not me that she must mold herself.  It is with that man that she must become one flesh.

For decades Christians have done just as this blogger has recommended and encouraged women to have higher educations, form their own outlooks on life and ultimately marry much later.  And what has the result been? We have produced generations of contentious and brawling wives as the Bible warns against:

“9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house…

19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 21:9 & 19 (KJV)

Christian marriages now have the same divorce rates that non-Christian marriages have because we have rejected Biblical gender roles as taught in the Scriptures and Churches in mass have fully embraced modern feminist ideologies.

Is it wrong to view marriage as “a property transfer”?

Ever since Roe vs Wade and Second wave feminism the entire concept of a women belonging to men whether it be their fathers or their husbands was thrown out the window.  Women for decades have chanted “it’s my body and I can do with it as I want” whether in reference to abortion or even in sexually denying their husbands.

While it may seem appalling to our feminist and egalitarian culture marriage is in fact classified as a transfer of property in the Bible.  The Hebrew word used to speak of a woman getting married or being married or a man marrying a woman was the verb form the Hebrew “baal” which was literally “to be owned”.  The noun form of the Hebrew word “baal” was used to describe a husband which was literally “owner”.  See below this passage which described adultery and the penalty for it:

“If a man be found lying with a woman married[baal – verb] to an husband[baal-noun], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”
Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)

So we could literally take the first part of Deuteronomy 22:22 and translate it as “If a man be found lying with a woman owned by an OWNER/MASTER…”

In Deuteronomy 24:1 where we read about divorce and the first part references marriage where it states “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her” this again uses the verb form of baal for marriage.  It literally could be translated as “When a man hath taken a wife and owned her…”

Even Proverbs 31 which Christian feminists like to use to falsely teach that women can have careers and abandon their duties to the home to others shows the ownership of a husband over his wife.

“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband[baal – noun] doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”

Proverbs 31:10-11 (KJV)

So verse 11 of Proverbs 31 literally says “The heart of her OWNER/MASTER doth safely trust in her”.

My point is this blogger and many other Christians and non-Christians alike may not like it – but the Word of God frames marriage itself as an owner/owned relationship.  When a man marries a woman he takes ownership of her.  He becomes her master.  Biblically speaking, marriage under normal circumstances is absolutely a transfer of property in the sense of a father giving away his daughter in marriage to her husband.

Now we know as Christians that a husband is not to abuse his position as his wife’s master but that he is to love her as Christ loves the Church and washes her spots and wrinkles as Ephesians 5:25-27 states.  But husbands are the masters, the owners and the heads of their wives just as Christ is the master, owner and head of his church.

That’s just the Old Testament!

A lot of Christians and non-Christians alike will criticize any use of the Old Testament as a found for moral teachings especially as it relates to marriage.  This is huge topic but I will just give you a few pointers that defuse the false argument that there is no more binding moral law in the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ said of the Old Testament:

“17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:17-19 (KJV)

That Apostle Paul wrote:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Romans 3:31(KJV)

Later in the New Testament we are told in Hebrews 7:12 “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” and this in in reference to the fact that under the new priesthood of Christ the ceremonial and civil laws given to Israel as a nation are removed for the Church.  The Church unlike Israel is not a physical nation but rather a spiritual nation made up all peoples from all nations.

So for those who want to say “well if you belief daughters are owned by their fathers and wives are owned by their husbands then why are we not stoning kids for being rebellious or wives committing adultery?”  Great question and the answer is a very easy answer.  The answer is that adultery and rebellion of children toward their parents are still just as much sins against God as when he stated this thousands of years ago.  It is the penalty for these sins that has changed in the New Testament since the Church is not a nation it cannot exercise these types of punishments.

I will end with this passage from the Scriptures for those who find the Old Testament or the Bible repugnant to their modern American values. For you Christians who put more faith in studies conducted by man that say women should not do what God created them to do because it is “unhealthy” or “catastrophic” for them.

“Let God be true, but every man a liar”

Romans 3:4 (KJV)

References:

[1] Zauzmer, Julie. (2017). Roy Moore allegations prompt reflections on fundamentalist culture in which some Christian men date teens. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/11/13/roy-moore-allegations-prompt-reflections-on-fundamentalist-culture-in-which-some-christian-men-date-teens/

[2] Reiss, Fraidy. (2017). Why can 12-year-olds still get married in the United States. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/02/10/why-does-the-united-states-still-let-12-year-old-girls-get-married/?utm_term=.fd7b3878c31f&tid=a_inl

[3] Weitzel, Eugene. J. (2010). I Want to Be a Husband and Father for Life and a Catholic Priest Forever. U.S.: Xilbris Corporation. p. 113

[4] Deiss, Lucien (1996), Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Liturgical Press, p. 25, ISBN 978-0814622551

[5] nickducote. (2017). Jonathan Lindvall and Child Marriage: The Maranatha Story. Jonathan Homeschoolersanonymous.org. https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/2013/12/02/jonathan-lindvall-and-child-marriage-the-maranatha-story/