Saturday, July 09, 2016
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Umstattd's assumptions are evident in this quote, and did not change when he changed his ideas about romance. Consider his statement, "This was not the deal!" He – and all of his friends – saw courtship as a contract. They were to do their part even if they found it awkward, and God would then be obligated to do His part by giving them a fulfilling marriage. Thus, when this lie was revealed either by years of singleness or by an unhappy marriage, they rebelled against the idea of courtship, or even against marriage itself. Yet, in revising his beliefs, Umstattd retained the foundational idea that the ultimate purpose of dating methods, romance, and marriage, are the happiness of man.
The connection between Umstattd's foundational idea and the existence of parallel homeschool cultures, is that Umstattd's idea goes far beyond the practice of courtship. Paris Reidhead, in Ten Shekels and Shirt, stated that modern Christian fundamentalism has simply become another expression of humanism, where the ultimate end of salvation is the happiness of man. Umstattd's sentiments about romance and marriage have the same man-centered core. How can a Christian article about romance not mention the Glory of God, when God is the point of all of life, and when marriage is display of Christ and His church? My explanation of these parallel cultures, then, is that while outwardly similar, they are deeply divided along lines of theology.
Consider another assumption in Umstattd's article: "...if we put up with the rules and awkwardness of courtship now we could avoid the pain of divorce later. The whole point of courtship was to have a happy marriage..." He and his friends believed that success and happiness in marriage could be brought about by a simple courtship formula. Implicit in this idea, however unintentional, is a denial of the doctrine of the deep sinfulness of man. In contrast, most "courtshipping homeschoolers" that I know tell me that the success and blessedness of any marriage will depend upon how tightly its members cling to the finished work of Christ, the faithful grace of God, and His ability to heal two deeply sinful individuals, far more than upon the method of courtship or dating which began the marriage.
This theological divide would also explain the differences between the fathers observed by Umstattd and the fathers I have observed. A father who believes that courtship is the most important ingredient for his daughter's happiness will tend toward overbearing control, while a father who understands the sinfulness of man will understand his daughter's limitations, but also his own limitations and impossibility of finding a perfect suitor. Such a father will also tend to act with mercy toward all suitors, because of his deep gratitude and humility which come from understanding the depth of sin out of which Christ has rescued him.
Thus my conclusion regarding Umstattd's article is that he mis-diagnoses the problems he has encountered. He believes that they are rooted in a wrong methodology (courtship), whereas they are actually rooted in shallow or incorrect theologies. However, I have a much more important conclusion to make with regards to the homeschool movement in general, and I have one more point to make in support.
This point is that these problems are not intrinsic to particular families so much as they are intrinsic to particular "communities." In Umstattd's article, for example, all of his friends shared these same problems, which I have rarely encountered; similar articles reference entire churches or homeschooling circles where these problems are universal. Even granting possible exaggeration, it is hard not to conclude that Umstattd's problems are pronounced and out of control in some circles, while being uncommon and rejected in others.ii
So, my final conclusion is that these parallel cultures do exist, and that their division is not along lines of external practice but rather along lines of practical theology. I say practical theology because I do not mean that Umstattd does not believe in the deep sinfulness of man, or absolute worthiness of God. Rather, I mean that he did not (and still does not) live out these doctrines in his favored approach to romance.iii
In the more general sense, I propose that some homeschool communities have failed to honor God in their counter-cultural practices because they did not set out to honor Him in the first place, but rather viewed these practices, such as courtship, as being primarily for their own happiness. Wiser methods of living applied in a void of deep theology are bound to become legalism and humanism. On the other hand, I hope that the doctrines of man's sinfulness, the victorious gospel of Christ, and the unfathomable character of God, drive my family and my homeschooling friends far more than any particular methodology of education or romance.
I will end with a recommendation for the repair all problems, both those found in Umstattd's culture and any found in my own:iv we must preach the character of God and the gospel of Christ both in their transcendence and in their practical eminence. We must live by a deep humility and grace born of our understanding of our own sinfulness, and by a great hope in the power of Spirit to conform us to Christ in all areas of life, including courtship and marriage.
Certainly, my wife and I have found these things to be absolutely true at all times in our relationship; without them we would have failed to bring glory to God, and probably would not be married. Our road was too full of doubts, struggles, questions, and sins for us to have succeeded on our own, no matter what model of courtship or dating we had pursued. I could say the same for many marriages I know, both ones that began with dating and ones that began with courtship. I do believe that courtship provides a couple with a wiser start in matrimony; however, it is the heart and the applied theology of a courtship, or homeschooling family, or any thing else, much more than the particular method, which determines whether it is pleasing to God.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Oh glorious day the Bellus sailed -
Took flight with full-spread canvas wings!
Our happy eyes beheld the land
Slip fast behind the sky and sea;
No comet flew, no prophet called,
The sea was shimmering in the light
The day we cast our mooring off
And set our faces toward the night.
A west wind1 took us swiftly out
And drove us thus for many days
And howled 'twixt sail and mast and line
Through wave and mighty, dark-green wave.
Each sailor raised his cider-mug
And climbed into his birth, content
That we should soon have crossed the sea
And reached that place where we were bent.
The captain, too, was in good state
As were the second mate and I,
And had not thought to see the hour
That long-blown western wind would die.
So we, becalmed upon that sea,
Gazed doubtful at the molten glass;
The wind had always blown for us -
This calm spell, then, would quickly pass.
"Oh sun, why mock us with thy rays!
Why, sky, withhold thy rain, thy breeze?"
The bos'n spoke when we had sat
Five weeks unmoved upon that sea.
At this each sailor bowed his head
Or cast his angry face away,
No man would meet me eye for eye
Or speak upon that silent day.
And silence passed from night to night
Until each man would only lift
His face to see the feeble waves
Upon which we were cast adrift.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Thursday, January 03, 2013
The first and most obvious symbolism in Kyleigh's engagement ring is the precious stone in the middle, which is a diamond. The jewelry industry has a lot of symbolism which it likes to attribute to diamonds, with such cheesy slogans as, “diamonds are forever” or “eight diamonds together are symbolic of eternity”. I reject these meanings – if not outright, then I at least reject them for the ring that I gave Kyleigh. I reject them because marriage itself is not forever, despite what every jewelry store merchant and commercial wedding planner cries from the rooftops. Marriage is only until death, where it then gives way to a much greater glory. I reject them because diamonds are not actually forever, and will pass away with the old earth. And from what I can tell, these industry slogans are a materialistic attempt to fill the void which has been left in society by the removal of a biblical understanding of what marriage is.
The Morning Glory
2. It symbolizes the beauty of marriage. God clothes the lilies of the field with more beauty than Solomon (Matt 6:29), and He likewise has clothed marriage with the beauty of His design for it, as well as the beauty that he gives to marriages between His children by His Spirit's sanctifying power.