Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 16, 1967
NUMBER 44, PAGE 10b-11a

Preparation For Marriage

Don Bassett

Some time ago a scripture reading in a Bible study directed my attention to several passages in Genesis dealing with the lives of Isaac and Rebekah and their sons, Esau and Jacob. They have yielded some helpful thoughts on preparation for marriage which might be useful to parents, Bible teachers, and the young.

Parental Responsibility

"And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: If Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?" (Gen. 27:46) Rebekah's concern for Jacob was admirable but it came rather late. The fact that Jacob built a good marriage could not very well be attributed to any preparation on Rebekah's part of which the scriptures speak.

Rebekah largely ignored the responsibility parents have to prepare their children for marriage. The marriages of Esau to the daughters of pagans were what she had actually prepared her boys for. In the deception of Isaac which Rebekah forced upon Jacob she taught her sons favoritism in the home, deception in the home, and disrespect for the head of the home all in one fell swoop. (Gen. 27)

Today parents are to bring their children up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph. 6:4) Surely this involves teaching in the home as God would have it. Parents are to avoid "provoking your children to wrath." (Eph. 6:4) Rebekah and Isaac did this very thing by the favoritism they showed toward the two different sons. "And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob." (Gen. 25:28) Parents have a responsibility to live exemplary married lives before their children. (Eph. 5:22-33) Our galloping divorce rate compounds itself, no doubt, because of the contagiously malignant nature of disharmony in the home.

As a parent I want my child to have a good marriage and I must not leave it all to chance. Rebekah did so and complained, "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth (Esau had already-married pagans). If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth... what good shall my life do me?" But she had no right to complain. She was reaping what she had sown, as I shall.

Responsibility Of The Young-Negative

"And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael..." (Gen. 28:8-9)

Sometimes young people seem to feel that the errors of their parents excuse rebellious, foolish, irresponsible actions on their part. Esau apparently felt this way. He deliberately contracted a marriage for the sole purpose of displeasing his parents. The young must prepare for marriage negatively by shunning the temptation to marry hastily, or for the wrong reason, or to the wrong person. Esau did all three.

How many young people today get married (or worse) just to "show" their parents that they can do it? Sometimes the parents are at fault but this does not justify hasty marriage to discipline them, or just to get away from them. "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly." (Prov.14:29) Vengeance is a poor reason for marriage for, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom. 12:19) To be married to the wrong person is disastrous. "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones." (Prov.12:4)

Responsibility Of The Young-Positive

In spite of the mistakes that Rebekah may have made in rearing Jacob and Esau the Bible says that when Jacob went to Paddan-Aram to seek a wife that he "served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her." (Gen. 29:20) When he found that he had been deceived into marrying Leah instead of Rachel, he served seven more years for Rachel. (Gen. 29:30)

Jacob made mistakes in his own life but one mistake he did not make was entering into marriage hastily. He spent seven years in positive preparation. No wonder the marriage was a lasting one. They had time to think it over before it was too late. It was a "death do us part" marriage. "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave...." (Gen. 36: 19-20) There are too few of this kind today.

Young people ought to be willing to take some time and care in planning constructively for marriage, and yet of the two most important decisions that men make in their lives, the second is dwelt upon less that the selection of a new car in many instances. Often marriages are nothing more than a hurry-up processing of the gratification of the flesh, a poor reason for getting married if not accompanied by genuine love.

Jacob's marriage lasted a lifetime because it was built on a love that made seven years seem like "a few days." Young people are marrying today on the basis of a love that makes seven days seem like a few years. There is no question that when the desire to marry comes upon the young that it is hard for them to wait. But may there be more and more of them who will be willing to take the time and make the preparation necessary for a lasting harmonious relationship. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."