We just watched a new documentary called “To Be One” that shows the process that three couples and their parents went though leading up to and after their weddings. Now if you are expecting this documentary to be an apologetic for courtship and betrothal it is not. Yes there is scripture shown and spoken of but in general the idea of courtship/betrothal is assumed as the biblical mandate. We do see some variation in how one views the courtship and betrothal process. Two of the couples start with a courtship phase with the intention of marriage if God leads then move to betrothal while a third couple moves straight to betrothal. Norm Wakefield, who speaks in the first part of this documentary, says it best when he shares that while there are biblical principles to follow if one is looking for a perfectly defined road map you will miss God’s hand working in the process (my paraphrase). I would add that this is much as we see in scripture as not everyone meets and marries their spouses in the exact same way but all have the similarity that there is no process such as we have today where one tries out, so to speak, a number of possible suitors before settling on the best of the lot.
Another important aspect that is shown in this documentary is the involvement of the parents in each couple’s marriage. This includes even as far as suggesting a future spouse with one couple moving into betrothal after having not known each other in more than a cursory manner. I am sure some would see this and think of this process as archaic and maybe even wrong but that would only be an opinion derived from enculturated instincts not biblical commands and principles. All too often parents are removed from the marriage process until the end but as is seen in this documentary all the parents are involved from the beginning, in varying manners but all were involved early on. What is not shown but seems alluded to is that that these parents did not just get involved in the lives of their children when marriage was coming around but this was simply an extension of their relationship with their children. The message to us as parents is to start now, not later when they are older, so that being involved later will not be an issue.
I also like the consistent stress on marriage being a picture of Christ and His bride, the church. It made me wonder if the idea we have of “trying Jesus” came from our cultural views on marriage or if our these views on marriage led to this attitude. Regardless, in our society today the professing church all too often marginalizes the marriage process and also tends to marginalize the relationship between Christ and His church. We need to take how we proceed into marriage with as much seriousness as we are called to with our relationship to Christ.
I think this documentary was well done as it did a great job of putting some meat to the idea of courtship and betrothal. It allows others to see, at least in a small way, what the process can look like. All courtship and betrothal will not be the same but the goal is the same: to protect the hearts of God’s children until they are ready to “leave and cleave.” I am sure for some, probably many, this documentary will be strange but to live by God’s standards will be strange. It was strange for Abraham to live as he did among the pagans. It was strange for Moses and Paul to live as they did as it was for the other saints of scripture. It will be strange for us to live by God’s all sufficient word but that is what we are called to do. We are to seek out God’s will realizing that things will not always be as you may have seen in the documentary but the principles that flowed through it do not change.
I would encourage you to watch this documentary and if it does not sit right with you do not brush it off but search out scripture to see if your discomfort is from your presuppositions. Even if the idea of courtship/betrothal is not new to you and that is your leaning I think this will give you some insight in various way this works. One thing I took away from this documentary, and I should have thought of this before, was the whole idea of Christ coming for His bride and how we usually make weddings all about the bride when it is to be focused on the groom. Not because he is the groom but because he represents Christ coming for His bride the church. Hmm, I think my daughter at her wedding will be the one waiting at the altar for her future husband to come get her.
Here is a link so you can see a trailer and purchase the DVD: To Be One