Dad, you must get this one right. If you mess up here, all that you have invested in your daughter could be wasted on a dud.
The guys come around asking for her hand, but they really want much more. They want the entire twenty or so years you have invested in your precious daughter. They want all the training, the money you sank into dental and medical, and all the clothes and education. They want to reap the harvest that you have so carefully tended and protected for the best part of your life. When that young man comes around asking for your daughter, or maybe just announces that he is taking her, he is making off with the major fruit of your life.
Raising daughters is not a good business deal. You make a twenty-year investment and then just up and give the whole thing away to an inexperienced boy who doesn’t at all appreciate the value of what he is getting, and is probably not worthy of the gift, or “theft,” as it may be. To top it all off, he changes her name – takes her out of the family, and erases all traces of her lineage. Her children will not carry on your family name!
But there is comfort in knowing that all your investment was not really for that bonehead son-in-law; it was for your daughter – for her sake. Because you made her your life’s work, no matter what befalls her later in life, you can know that she will face it with courage and wisdom, bringing glory to God. She was God’s gift to you and your wife, precious and vulnerable, just raw material, and by means of his grace, you gave her back to him to be one of his stars in eternity. We dads are God’s teachers, his priests, entrusted with his most beloved creation, his last crowning feat of creation – the human female.
It is an act of faith to give our daughters in marriage. It must be how God felt when he turned away and left Adam alone in the garden with Eve. His work, as is ours, was complete. Their lives are now theirs to live – for better or for worse.
The Bible speaks of fathers “giving” their daughters in marriage, as if everyone respected his right to legislate in such matters. In an ideal society, fathers would always be wise, daughters would be mature, and suitors would be transparent and righteous. But fathers are usually clumsy and dull of discernment; daughters, selfish and impatient and suitors may be lustful and coy. Sadly, statistics show that new “Christian” marriages are more likely to end in divorce than not. And of those who stay together, most are not happy and holy. Holy matrimony is nearly a lost grace, as rare and blessed as the appearance of an angel.
Fathers, those of you with daughters yet to be married, I am speaking to you now. After you are satisfied that you have put your best into your daughter and after you have prepared and preserved her for her day of marriage, you have one last task that you must get right. If you miss this last turn in all your preparations, you have missed your life’s most vital purpose as a father. You must make absolutely sure that the one to whom you give your daughter is indeed worthy of her. This is not an easy task. Outward appearance is deceiving, and you are quite capable of being deceived. You will need help, more than I can give, in screening the young men who would court your daughter. It is this screening process that we are going to talk about. You are the chief screener. Do you know what questions to ask and how to ask them? Do you know how to get behind the young man’s facade and know the real man?
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