Posted by: Phoebe | July 9, 2010

BSC: Task 2: Thoughts on biblical dating

The second task was not what I expected. I thought I would be going out and doing something, but instead I’m told to go read Boundless! It’s a very good series, the series on “Biblical Dating” by Scott Croft and though I have read it before it won’t hurt me to read it again. I’ll may post a more specific response to it later. Nevertheless, I hope that the future tasks will have a broader spiritual nature.

I don’t really like to talk about dating or courtship on facebook or my blog. When we discuss heated issues on the internet the discussion easily turns into hypotheticals that are not edifying. It is so easy to have a set-in-stone opinion about these things, but cyberworld is not the real world, which is filled with the variables of character and personality. It also seems odd for me to state opinions stringently when I have little experience. Nevertheless I have opinions and I can say I agree with almost everything Scott Croft and Boundless writers say.

One thing I like is the careful and clear way Scott Croft clarifies his working definitions for “biblical dating” and “modern dating.” It made me think of this verse:

“Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.”
– Proverbs 30:18-19

As it came to my mind, the phrase “the way of a man with a maiden” is a phrase in scripture that parallels the meaning of “dating” or “courtship.” And indeed, that “way” is wonderful to puzzle about. We can’t really understand or pin down how it works. Indeed, in my observation sometimes the young men aren’t sure how it is supposed to work! But when the mating dance (in whatever form it takes) does lead to Godly and fruitful marriage, it is wholly the work of our Designer and loving Father. We don’t understand it, but we like to try to figure out how it works, and which forms of the “way of a man with a maiden” are Godly and good.

In regards to our efforts to decipher which “way” is the “right way” I think of a musical analogy. When a musician learns a piece of music, he must develop opinions of the proper way to play it. He must decide what tempo he wants it, how short or long to hold notes and how separated or connected. He must think about how loud or soft each note should be and which timbre to bring into it. There are thousands of ways to play any one piece and he must think about as many of them as possible and make decisions. Some aspects of his interpretation are innate, caused by his personality, and he plays the piece that way involuntarily. But he must think about many other things to form his own interpretation. Artists on recordings, previous experience, and books on style will influence him. Above all his teacher, who knows the student’s personality and is qualified to teach by many years of personal study, has the authority to guide the student to a good interpretation.

Sometimes we wonder “is there one right way to interpret this piece?” The answer is first that there are wrong ways to interpret it. There are ways that are stylistically appropriate to the composer’s period and though a musician may purposefully and thoughtfully choose to disregard them in order to create a modern interpretation, he must understand the original style. There are also rules on how to be musically and aesthetically appropriate, and disregarding these is wrong. There may not be one correct way, but there are correct ways.

If we do not try to figure out the Godly way to pursue love and marriage we are like immature musicians who do not know how to seek a good interpretation. In our interactions with others we may transgress actual principles in God’s laws. Or we may fall into behaviors that are not wholly wrong, but not right either, ones that distort the Author’s original purpose for our lives. To avoid this, it is imperative to submit to God’s word and seek to apply principles for Godly living. To think about “the way of a man with a maiden” as appropriate to our lives and culture we should indeed read books and listen to teaching on the topic. But finally we should listen carefully to wise people in our lives, those who have a right to speak authoritatively by their biblical knowledge, personal experience, and love and care for us as individuals. They will be able to give us wisdom that is more directly applicable to our lives than the wisdom impersonal sources give us. They may be able to help us apply broad biblical principles in specific ways that we would not have discerned.

There is a right and good way for each of us, and if we wait for him our Father in heaven will guide us. Like a good teacher, he may present us choices and decisions, but in the end he will show us clearly what his will is. Sometimes we will make mistakes, but with an attitude of prayer and obedience we can learn his way. God will lead us to the truth. He will show us his way, even the way to seek marriage. His sovereign will brings us life, no matter what course he has planned for us.

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