Sarah’s Laughter and Our Reflection

 “And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

In Genesis 18, Abraham and Sarah were visited by the Lord and told that they would be blessed with a son, and at such an old age one could only hope for a miracle in order for this to happen. Because of this, Sarah in her disbelief laughed in her heart at what she heard. At first, we may look down on her for such a reaction but we must not be so quick to judge. We all have doubts in our minds about what the will of God is for us and the timing in which He works.

Sarah questioned so much. She wondered why God was choosing to give her a child now of all times, for she wished as most young women did to have a child. Women hold an important role in Christ’s kingdom. They act as help meets for their husbands, they arise early to take care of their families by cooking, cleaning. They also aid in instructing the children in their schoolwork and catechism lessons, because they are the future of the church, such instruction is vital as told by Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 However, this truth applies to every single one of us. While mothers are important, we all have a place in the kingdom of Christ. Have you laughed as Sarah did because you questioned what the Lord has planned for you? Is there a reason for the tears and sorrows we face in this life? So much doubt, yet we have faith knowing that Christ’s plan is so much greater than our own. Trust God and He will bless you at the appointed time as He did for Sarah. Heed Psalm 27:14. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say, on the Lord.” 

Lisa Oomkes

As Christ and the Church

Whether you are married, engaged, dating or single, the issue of marriage should be important to you. The thought that goes into marriage is so skewed in the world today, that we as Christians must take heed to not let it affect us. In the last few months, I have put a lot of thought into my upcoming marriage, and how marriage is perceived by so much of the world. The world is so set on equating men and women, and if they can’t make that happen, they try desperately to set women above men in any way possible. Traditional marriage is so often seen as nothing more than an excuse for male chauvinism. It’s not. It’s an incredible balancing act, a cooperative, working relationship between two people, who, although they are not equal in authority, are equal in value.

The Form for the Confirmation of Marriage Before the Church that is used by the PRCA shows clearly our stance on marriage, that being male headship. It exhorts the bride to be the biblical help-meet for her husband, using phrases like “honor and fear him” and even uses that scary word “obedient” that so many women seem to be afraid of. That scary word comes up again in the portion of the form that contains the vows, where the bride vows to “be obedient to him, to serve and assist him…” This is not simply the opinion of an old fashioned, old school denomination either, this is backed up by the very Word of God (see Genesis 2:18, 3:16, Ephesians 5:22-24).

So no, marriage is not a fun-filled, co-dependent, equal-opportunity relationship. The only relationship in which persons perfectly co-exist without any dispute over cooperative ruling is the relationship of the persons of the Trinity. In any human relationship there simply must be a leader. In marriage it is to be the husband.

So what if we (women, or the world’s viewpoint of women) stopped being so selfish (because that’s what it is), and quit looking at what we have to do, don’t get to do, or who we have to listen to, and what if we looked at what men have to do, don’t get to do, or who they have to listen to. Let’s go back through the marriage form and look at traditional marriage from the groom’s side, and maybe we will see why marriage isn’t cruel or controlling, but rather an amazing bond.

First, we had looked at the exhortation to the bride, so let’s look at the exhortation to the groom now. In this section we find a call to “lead her with discretion, instructing, comforting, protecting…” That may not sound so bad, but think of the selflessness all of those things take. The exhortation goes on even further about the incredible love commanded of the husband.

Next, we looked at the vows in the form, in which the husband now swears to “never forsake her, to love her faithfully; to maintain her as a faithful and pious husband is bound to do…”  Again, see the selflessness here, as a man vows to work hard (see the end of the exhortation again) to provide physically, emotionally and spiritually for the woman he loves, the woman God has given him. Again, this is not the opinion simply of an old fashioned church, but Scripture backs this up. See Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:25-29.

Is this what we are afraid of submitting to, this kind of authority? When a woman takes marriage vows, she isn’t vowing to obey a controlling, careless spouse. She is promising to submit to a man who has just sworn that he will love his wife as tenderly and powerfully as Christ loves his Church.

I found something interesting while researching appropriate passages for this article. As I searched online for common wedding texts, I found that Ephesians 5 came up several times. That is fitting, and I did use it several times as you’ve seen. However, the verses that were selected were only the verses regarding the husband’s duty to his wife. There were no verses found about the wife’s duty to her husband. The world is so afraid of submission that they pick and choose verses that do not require that of them.

Are we so afraid to submit to a man who is called to behave himself toward us as Christ does to the church? Do we think it will be miserable? Are we miserable when we (as the church) submit to Christ? No! Submitting to Christ is what the church does joyfully, as our duty to the Lord who loved us unconditionally, so much so that He gave up His life! Greater love has no man (John 15:13)! So don’t let the world’s jaded idea of marriage fool you, a Christian’s marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church. A man and woman must understand that in marriage, they do have different roles to play, but when they are played correctly, God is glorified and our lives are enjoyable and blessed.

Suzie Kuiper

Date Like You Mean It

It’s easy not to think too deeply about the things that we do when we are young. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the excitement or passions of the moment without giving a lot of hard considerations to the choices we are making. Dating is a perfect example. It is so easy to get caught up in how attracted we are to someone, how they make us feel, and the fun of the adventure, that we forget how to take it seriously. But as young Christian people, we should be dating like we mean it.

The “imperativeness” of this can be understood when we realize what dating is meant to accomplish and picture. Ultimately dating is a means to an end: marriage. And marriage is not just about our wants or our happiness. If that were true, then there would be nothing wrong with gay marriage, divorce and remarriage, or even polygamy. The truth is, however, that marriage is all about God. It was created and instituted by the King of Kings at the beginning of time (Genesis 2:18-24). It is of His invention and not our own- He set the rules. He established what it was made to picture: the sacred and beautiful union of love between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His bride the Church. That is the holy relationship we are meant to emulate as we walk before the One who established such a bond! Marriage is no trivial matter. Likewise, the activity of dating cannot be either.

Also, the closer that two young people become, the greater the physical attraction between the two becomes. The deeper that your intimacy becomes in sharing time and conversations with one another, the deeper the desire for physical intimacy grows as well.  This is natural. After all, God created us to become “one flesh.” All the raging hormones of our youth does not help matters- it only makes the desire for that physical relationship that much stronger and overwhelming. In fact, so many relationships become so wrapped up in the physical, that they forget to nurture the spiritual and emotional bonds. It can so easily become the focus. And so, it is very easy for individuals, young and old alike, to “burn” in their lusts (I Corinthians 7:9).

Thus, dating leads to temptation. When it is done flippantly, with no view of the future or toward marriage, there is nothing to “wait for.” How easy it becomes to “burn” in lust. Of course this is no different for a young couple looking to marry, however, with the promise of marriage there is an end goal. They have something to look forward to, and know that the physical intimacy will be a blessed part of their union in Christ. This is yet another reason to take dating seriously. Can you stay pure as you draw close to another person, when you aren’t even thinking about marriage? If you are lost in the fun and thrill of the idea of a relationship, but aren’t developing the boundaries and the bonds that will keep you strong and connected spiritually and emotionally, then what are you expecting to get out of the relationship? Your thrills and desires can carry you away. And so, as Paul said, “it is better to marry than to burn.” Date like you mean to take it seriously, not just because you are infatuated or thrilled.

Marriage is about so much more than just the physical. Sure, that is a blessed and important part of marriage, and pleasing in God’s eyes when done in the context of marriage, but it is not what the marriage itself is grounded on. Therefore that shouldn’t be the focus of dating, either. Don’t just look for someone “cute” or “funny,” though those traits are by no means bad! But rather, look for a man of God who will lead you and his family in Christ. In life, God is first, above all things (I Cor. 10:31). In our dating and marriages the same should be true. Establish a relationship that is pleasing to the Lord. Spend time getting to know one another and growing in your faith. Make God your first priority. Love for one another can only come from Him (I John 4:7-19). A strong marriage is built on the love that flows out of our Lord, and without Him, we have no strength.

Let this guide both who you choose to date, and how you both go about spending time together and getting to know one another. Date a man who is strong in the Lord, and nurture a relationship of service to him and to your Lord, and not to your own lusts, wants, and feelings. Put God first:  don’t sacrifice Him for the approval of a person you are attracted to. And don’t forget: while you date you are getting to know the person that you may very well spend your whole life with. Are you using that time wisely to get to know them? Are you using this time to know their thoughts, their views, their attitudes towards life? Now is the time for that. Use it wisely. Remember… take dating seriously.

Abby Huizing