23. Fathers should oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse. While a father may find a wife for his son, sons are free to take initiative to seek and “take a wife.” A wise son will desire his parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process. Since daughters are “given in marriage” by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her. Upon a Marriage taking place, a new household with new jurisdiction is established, separate from that of the father. (Gen. 24:1ff.; 25:20; 28:2; Ex. 2:21; Josh. 15:17; Jdg. 12:9; 1 Sam. 18:27; Jer. 29:6; 1 Cor. 7:38; Gen. 24:58)
Gen. 24:1 – Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” …
Gen. 25:20 – Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.
Gen. 28:2 – Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.
Ex. 2:21 – Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.
Josh. 15:17 – So Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife.
Judg. 12:9 – He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years.
1Sam. 18:27 – therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as a wife.
Up to this far, all passages describe events, not what we should do.
Jer. 29:6 – Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.
This order was given to the Israelites taken in captive to Babylon. The whole passage is about building a future in Babylon, prospering where their situation took them. This is not a “God’s will for the Christian marriage” passage.
1Cor. 7:38 – So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
This passage does not mention a father, or a daughter. This is just one interpretation of the passage. The real Greek don’t even have the word “her” in this verse. Bible scholars disagree whether this passage speak of a father giving his daughter, of a man who may behave uncomely towards his fiancée by staying single (:36), or a person who will struggle to keep his/ her virginity, and should rather give it away in marriage.
Even if this verse is about fathers who give in marriage, the literal meaning would be that fathers do better if they do not give children in marriage. They do better if they do not “oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse”. As such, it is certainly no command to be involved in their search for a partner.
Gen. 24:58 – Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
Rebekah chose to go to Isaac. This is an event, not a teaching.
23a) Fathers should oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse.
No verse in here teaches they should, unless you take Jer. 29:6 as an order to us. But by :4, it is an order to those “caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon”. That is not us.
b) While a father may find a wife for his son,
Some texts speak of fathers doing it. But that don’t mean they may do it. Those same men who gave daughters in marriage were often sinners and cowards, prone to many types of wrongdoing. For example, Abraham (used here as an example of giving spousal advice to his son) also gave away his wife to a harem. The examples Abraham set for marrying and giving in marriage should not always be followed.
c) sons are free to take initiative to seek and “take a wife.”
These texts do not teach they are free to do so. It mentions sons doing so, but some of these very same sons who take wives also have crimes like murder and adultery on their consciences. As such, their examples do not show we should follow it.
d) A wise son will desire his parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process.
No verse teaches it. I think a wise son will ask their involvement, council and blessing if he correctly judges them to be wise. A wise son, who correctly judges his parents not to be wise in this matter, will not ask much help from them in the process.
e) Since daughters are “given in marriage” by their fathers,
“Are given” is a bit ambiguous here. If it means they were given in marriage by fathers in the sinful world of Bible times, then it is true. It is historically and factually true that daughters are often given in marriage.
If it implies daughters should be given in marriage by fathers, this is not in the Bible. Since patriarchists act out the latter belief in courtship/ betrothal, I will treat it as meaning the latter.
f) an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband,
This is not in the Bible.
g) although the final approval of a husband belongs to her.
This is believable, and compatible with free will and with mercy and loving others as yourself, but not taught in the Bible.
h) Upon a Marriage taking place, a new household with new jurisdiction is established, separate from that of the father.
This was not defended at all.
Other ways Christians understand this:
On the blog Jensgems, Jen writes:
This Tenet is about “betrothal,” a system that is far more about a cultural system that was commonplace two thousand years ago, than it is about any biblical mandates. Patriarchists are seeking to reestablish a system whereby the father becomes the ultimate authority and arbiter on making the most important decision that his children will ever enter into — their marriage partners. Two thousand years ago this may have made a lot more sense culturally than it does today. Two thousand years ago sons generally took wives right from within their own communities. Sons also often took wives from among their own cousins. Today we know that such “inbreeding” often produces disastrous results. They also frequently took wives that were in their early teens (e.g. 14 year olds). Betrothals were also often arranged for a young man to take more than one wife. Today we know better than to encourage that. Not everything recorded in Scripture (polygamy, marrying cousins, etc.) can or should be interpreted as a biblical mandate for us today. God gave us an intellect and He expects us to use it.
Summing it up
How reliable is this tenet? I will use a color code:
The color code: