“Girls are like apples on trees. Their fathers are the farmers, whose job is to care for them. He must protect his apples from pests and disease. He must guard them against thieves who may pick his apples prematurely. Neither those at the top nor those at the bottom can help their location. But, when each reaches peak ripeness, it is the farmer’s job to harvest that fruit and give it to whom he will, to those in need. So there is nothing wrong with the apples still on the tree and nothing wrong with the boys who seek them. But it is the farmer’s duty to provide for both, in due season.”
The above quote is from creepy “Quiverfull” promoter Vaughn Ohlman. Fundagelicals love them some hardcore patriarchy and controlling women is one of the “divine rights” they assert. Ohlman used to run a website called letthemmarry.org. However, so much bad publicity was generated from the website that he shut it down. What could be wrong with encouraging marriage? Well, Ohlman promoted that fathers should be picking the spouses for their daughters. He also promotes that fathers were responsible for making sure their daughters were virgins before they got married and that the fathers should betroth their daughters to suitable mates.
To make it even creepier, in his book What Are You Doing, Ohlman asserts that one of the major problems in the United States is that young men are ready to marry but can’t. The reason why? Good Christians are not betrothing their daughters when they are ready to be married. When are these young women ready to marry? As soon as they get breast. Ohlman promotes young girls getting betrothed and married as young as thirteen years old!
Ohlman arranged a marriage for his son. His daughter-in-law describes the betrothal and marriage on her website.
My husband, Joshua, and I met two hours before we said our marriage vows. We began our romantic relationship with a marriage covenant. It’s always fun to see the look of shock on people’s faces when they ask me, “So, how did you two meet?”, but what I enjoy much more than that is the sense of security I have in my marriage, security which began before I had spoken more than four words to my husband.
Let me back up and give you a little context.
My family came from something of a courtship background. My father, an adult convert to Christianity, knew he didn’t want his children indulging in the lust-based dating culture he had experienced, and that all relationships we entered would be with the goal of marriage. I knew from a very young age that my daddy would be a huge part of the marriage process for me, and I envisioned him coming home one day and saying, “Laura, I have a man who’s interested in marrying you and would make you a great husband…”
However, after several failed courtship-type “pre-relationships” that didn’t go at all like I had expected or desired, I started to question how we were going about the marriage process and wondering what had happened to my childhood expectations. In short, I wasn’t so sure I liked the courtship process, and I was becoming increasingly convinced that courtship wasn’t actually all that Biblical. I had read all the courtship books, listened to courtship sermons, talked to other courtship proponents. I agreed with them that dating was practice for divorce and unhealthy for young men and women to participate in, but somehow courtship was seeming less and less like the proper alternative.
And thus begins my story.
My dad contacted Mr. Vaughn Ohlman by request of a mutual friend who wanted them to debate the doctrine of infant baptism. My dad is a strong proponent of infant baptism, while Mr. Ohlman was (and is) a credo-baptist (someone who baptizes upon profession of faith only). The debate was short lived, however, for they got sidetracked by another topic of interest to them both: getting their children married. In his introductory email, my father added a footnote mentioning his desire to find a husband for me, his daughter. Mr. Ohlman wasted no time in responding that he had a son who greatly desired a wife. smile
Then one day I read a book entitled What Are You Doing by this same Vaughn Ohlman. It was life-changing. What Are You Doing? is a fictional story portraying and teaching principles that I found to be far more Biblical (and much less scary) than courtship.
After reading Mr. Ohlman’s book I went to my dad and begged him to find me a husband using the Biblical principles summarized in What Are You Doing?, little guessing I’d end up marrying the author’s own son. God has a sense of humor!
Months of emails, phone calls, and prayer by the two fathers culminated in my dad’s approval of an Ohlman visit to the Camps’ house… and instructions for Joshua to buy some rings!
I should note that people often get the impression that we got married on blind faith, simply trusting that God would miraculously sort out any difficulties which came along afterwards. I think this is, in large part, a product of people’s own insecurities: they cannot imagine trusting in a vetting process in which they did not directly participate. But when I say “months” of communication went between the two fathers, I hope it’s obvious that we weren’t doing anything on “blind faith”.
Indeed, what really happened is that Joshua and I trusted our respective fathers to do the vetting for us… and to do a much better job than we could have done. Our dads weren’t dealing with raging hormones, crazy emotions, or an overwhelming desire to ignore important issues simply for the sake of getting married. My dad was able to take a serious look at Joshua’s character in a way I would have been unequipped (and unlikely) to do.
Finally, the entire Ohlman family -excluding Joshua- arrived one Wednesday in August (Joshua couldn’t fly in until Friday due to work). The days before Joshua arrived were mildly awkward because everyone was pretending they didn’t know what was going on and that the Ohlmans, a family from Texas, “just happened” to have stopped by to visit a family they’d never met before… in Michigan. At the same time, however, our families hit it off immediately and we felt like life-long friends right away.
When Joshua finally arrived my dad met him at the airport, took him out to lunch, and “grilled” him. Satisfied that he’d done his due diligence, my dad brought Joshua home and introduced him to us all. Dad then took me on a walk and nervously asked me to assure him I was all right being betrothed to someone who was still, emotionally and practically, a stranger. I assured him that I was more than “all right” with it and that I had already grown to love his family.
Less than two hours later we held a small ceremony in our back yard. My dad and Mr. Ohlman gave a short sermon/admonition, each to their respective children… and then my dad put my hand in Joshua’s, thereby giving me away to the man I henceforth have had the privilege of calling my husband! Barring family members, I had never held a man’s hand before. It was so special to do so with only one man, and only after being covenanted with him for life.
I can’t tell you how deliriously happy I was at that point. To have blissfully skipped through all of the nerves, awkwardness, and -even worse- possible heartbreak of courtship in just two hours. To be completely secure in my relationship with Joshua from day one.
It. Was. Wonderful.
Starting out a romantic relationship with a covenant adds so much security to the relationship. It means that instead of seeing issues, however large or small, as possible roadblocks or deal breakers, you work through them as any married couple ought. It means that you can begin to love your man without fearing he’ll back out of the relationship for no valid reason, and vice versa. It means you can allow yourself to have all the fluttery, lovey-dovey feelings right away… and believe me, they show up quicker than you could ever think possible!
As I sit here with my second child, our 3-week-old son, on my lap, I smile at the thought that we came up with his name the day after we were betrothed. That’s right, we decided on a name for our baby boy the day after we met. How’s that for a covenant?
It should be noted that his future daughter-in-law was nineteen at the time of the betrothal. This is Fundagelicals training women to be submissive to men taken to the extreme. Are we raising handmaidens in the Church now?
Trying to recreate an ancient patriarch and pass it off as the “Word of God” will only push Fundagelical Christianity further into irrelevance. The Bible doesn’t call us to live an ancient way of life; it calls us to live a Christ-like life in a modern context.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to like the post and subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall.