Jonathan Lindvall and Child Marriage: The Maranatha Story

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on December 2, 2013

Maranatha’s courtship story has been told and retold in homeschooling circles at least since the 1990s, and is held up by many as an ideal. But there’s one thing that is routinely left out of the story. Just how old was Maranatha Owen when she married Matthew Chapman at the culmination of a parent-guided courtship/betrothal process?

We often think about child marriage as something that happens in other countries, but not here.

I’ve generally thought of it that way too, even with my background. I grew up in a conservative evangelical/fundamentalist homeschool community where no one dated and everyone talked about and aspired to courtship. But in my community essentially no one started courting before attaining legal adulthood. Recently I’ve been hearing other stories, though, far different stories—and one of those stories is Maranatha’s, which I will tell in a moment.

There were a couple of relevant reasons those in my community put off courtship. First, courtship was scary, and the consequences were huge. If you courted and then broke it off that had the potential to look really really bad. After all, the whole reason for foregoing dating was the idea that for every romantic relationship you have, you give away a piece of your heart that you will never get back. Second, courtship was about finding a marriage partner, and long courtships or engagements were seen as causes for fleshly temptation. Therefore it made no sense to begin a courtship before you were actually ready for marriage. And thus we waited.

There are some Christian homeschooling leaders, Jonathan Lindvall primary among them, who brush these reasons aside and preach the godliness of youthful courtship.

Lindvall argues for avoiding the heartache of broken courtship by means of heavy parental control and what he likes to term “betrothals.” If parents help their children find godly partners, love will follow eventually, or so his argument goes. Lindvall and others like him also argue that young people are ready for marriage far earlier than “the world” may recognize, and that waiting rather than marrying young only leads to temptation and the possibility of going astray.

And now we turn to the story of the 1988 betrothal and marriage of Matthew Chapmen and Maranatha Owen. I will begin by summarizing the story as told by Lindvall, and will then answer the question of the couple’s age.

Having began saved at age 19, Matthew Chapman felt led to the ministry. He attended Baylor University’s ministerial program and began serving as a ministerial intern at a large church in Waco, Texas. During this time he began to look for mentorship from an older man at the church, a homeschooling father named Stan Owen. Stan became Matthew’s spiritual father, and the two spent a great deal of time together. In the summer of 1986, Stan began to feel that God had destined Matthew to marry his daughter Maranatha. Without talking to either Matthew, his spiritual son, or Maranatha, his biological daughter, Stan dedicated the two together in marriage in prayer before God.

In early fall of 1986, Matthew confessed to Stan that he was troubled by a strong attraction to Stan’s daughter Maranatha.

He confessed that he found her “very attractive” and that she had become “a distraction.” “I don’t know what to do about it,” he said. According to Lindvall’s telling, “Matthew was certain this attraction could not be right since Maranatha was so much younger than he.” ”Have you ever considered that this may be a good thing?” Stan asked him in response, “How do you know this isn’t from the Lord?” But Stan went on to tell Matthew that Maranatha wasn’t ready for marriage yet, and that he therefore needed to put a hold on his feelings for a while. Matthew continued to be a frequent guest in Stan’s home, constantly in contact with Maranatha and the rest of the family, but was forbidden to tell Maranatha about his feelings or have any physical contact with her.

Shortly after this Maranatha told her father that she had “an interest” in Matthew. As time went by Maranatha found her “attraction” to Matthew “increasingly distracting.” She told her father about her crush as she had been taught to do. Stan told Maranatha that she needed to “keep her heart pure and focused on the Lord” and to “wholly give herself to the Lord without any lingering desire for Matthew.” And Maranatha obediently sought to do just that. Of course, Stan had already decided to give Maranatha to Matthew, so this was simply a matter of biding his time until he decided Maranatha was ready.

A year later, in early fall of 1987, Matthew felt that God had told him by direct communication that he, Matthew, was to marry Maranatha. Matthew shared with his mentor what God had told him, and asked permission to propose to Maranatha. Stan confirmed that the thoughts may well have been from God, but asked Matthew to wait a little longer, promising to share when he had heard from God himself.

Several months went by and Christmas arrived. Stan’s Christmas present to Matthew was a Christmas card with the words “This year for Christmas, I am going to give you the greatest gift I could ever give you” on the front.

Inside was a photograph of Maranatha.

There were also instructions: “On January 1st, you may ask Maranatha to marry you.” The instructions stated, however, that while Matthew and Maranatha could become engaged Stan would not give Maranatha to Matthew until he determined she was ready, which might be months or years. Matthew proposed and Maranatha accepted.

Stan wanted to do things as they were done in the Bible, when betrothal was legally binding. Therefore, on February 22, 1988, just over a month after Matthew’s proposal and Maranatha’s acceptance, the two were legally married at the courthouse. Maranatha continued to live in her father’s home until her official “wedding” day, which, although she was already legally married, would be when she would begin her married life.

The summer of 1988, Stan decided that Maranatha was ready. In the six or so months since Matthew’s proposal and Maranatha’s acceptance, Matthew had prepared a home for them to live in and Maranatha had sewed a wedding dress. After dinner one day, Stan unexpectedly and without prior warning informed Matthew and Maranatha that the time was fast approaching. But Stan wanted to reenact the Biblical story of Jesus as bridegroom and the Church as his bride, so he did not give either Matthew or Maranatha a date.

Immediately after Stan’s surprise announcement, Maranatha was taken by her family members to the home of another Christian family. There Maranatha waited for Matthew to come and claim her. Every day between 3 pm and midnight she dressed in her wedding dress and sat with her suitcase, waiting. Finally, at long last, Stan told Matthew that the day had arrived, and Matthew came to the house where Maranatha was staying, claimed her, and took her to a surprise wedding feast Stan had prepared, complete with guests, singing, and dancing. The couple then left on their honeymoon and began their married life.

So now let’s talk ages.

When Matthew first expressed his interest in Maranatha—interest Stan affirmed as from God but asked Matthew to put on hold—Maranatha was 13 and Matthew was 26.

When Matthew heard from God that he was to marry Maranatha, and begged Stan to let him propose marriage to her, Maranatha was 14 and Matthew was 27. When Stan gave Matthew the go ahead to propose to his daughter, Maranatha was 15 and Matthew was 27. They were the same ages when they married just over a month later, and when Maranatha left her father’s home and the couple began their married life together Maranatha was 15 and Matthew was 28.

The original story doesn’t include any ages at all. I suspect that Lindvall and others felt these ages were appropriate, but were concerned that some might be put off by the idea of a 15-year-old girl marrying a 27-year-old man. I found the ages by looking them up on public record. They’re not available on the internet or in print otherwise.

Marrying girls off so early does several things. For one thing, it precludes them having other options. They have not finished their academic education and are not qualified for anything besides homemaking. And even then, what fifteen-year-old is truly ready to run a home in today’s world? For another thing, such early marriage means a girl marries before she has time to completely mature and form her own outlook on life. But then, sadly, that’s rather part of the point. This sort of arrangement, after all, functions not as an independent adult making her own decisions but rather as a property transfer—and it is explicitly stated as such.

Matthew wrote this in an article titled Thoughts on Betrothal (15 Years Later):

I know that in my case, I cannot even begin to fully communicate the wonderful gift Maranatha’s father gave to me in his daughter on the day we married. All her life, he had called her to trust him and follow him, even when she didn’t understand or, perhaps, even agree with how he was leading her, and she did. A few nights before our wedding feast, when Maranatha was dressed and ready and waiting for me to come, the doorbell rang and it was her dad who showed up instead. He assured her the wedding feast was not that particular night, and asked her to change her clothes and join him for a special dinner. He took her to a nice restaurant where they had a wonderful evening talking and sharing and laughing and crying together. Then, at one point, he told her, “Sweetheart, all your life you have submitted to me, trusted me, and followed me, and you have done this well. But, when Matthew comes and takes you, all of that transfers over to him, even if that means he leads you in ways that vary from how I would do things.” And when I went to get her, she followed her dad’s final lead right into my headship of her. Wow! Did I walk into a good deal or what?! I’ll tell you what though, having a wife with a heart like that makes you all the more want to seek the Lord and lead her faithfully.

Parents, I would also charge you to consider this. The way many Christian homeschooling parents raise their daughters, they mature rather quickly and develop significant capacities by a relatively young age. By their middle-teens, many daughters (but by no means all) possess the maturity and skills to run their own home. My point is to encourage you to be open to the Lord and take to heart that some of your daughters may be ready to marry sooner than your preconceived ideas have allowed for. And why not, if they are truly ready? What is the purpose of holding out for a predetermined numeric age if they are legitimately prepared and the Lord has brought His choice of a young man along for her? Don’t be surprised if this is some of the fruit of your good parenting in bringing forth mature, well-equipped, Godly young daughters. However, I seldom think this will be the case for most young men—it takes them (us) a lot longer to get to where they need to be. I have also seen that, oftentimes, a difference in age—even a significant one—with the man being older, helps make for a better fit.

Matthew says that homeschooled girls mature quickly.

While I’m sure there are some homeschooled girls for whom this is true, I know the sort of homeschooled girls he’s talking about—they’re the ones raised to care for big families, cook, clean, and take care of babies, wear long dresses, practice submission, and learn a modest temperament. Maturity isn’t the ability to make a pie or change a diaper. Maturity isn’t the ability to quote a Bible verse or stay silent rather than gushing over the latest fad. And while we’re at it, running a home in today’s world takes more than knowledge of cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

Let me take a moment to address two objections I’ve seen raised. First, it is true that many girls in mainstream society date as early as 14. However, the courtship or betrothal process is closer to actual literal wedding planning than it is to dating. Courtship and betrothal are quite literally about getting married, and not at some nebulous time in the future but now. Second, it is true that it used to be more common for women to marry younger, even as young as 15. However, it was never as common to marry so young as we tend to think it was looking back (in fact, there are entire historical periods where people married just as late as we do today), and besides, the world today is not the same as the world of the past. Average age of marriage is generally a result of societal and economic factors that actually, like, matter.

Maranatha’s story is an extreme, yes, but it is not the only one of its kind. In 2008, only weeks after turning 16, Maranatha’s daughter Lauren married a man who was 26, a man who had already been interested in her for several years. And I’ve been hearing other stories too, stories of courtships begun at age 14 and marriages entered into at 16 or 17. Right now, my heart is sad for girls married off before they have the time to live, to learn who they are, to forge their own beliefs and outlook on life—girls married off so early other options are severely limited, and in such a patriarchal setting that even consent is curtailed.

In case you’re wondering, Matthew and Maranatha were married in Texas.

The law in that state requires parental permission for marriages involving those who are 16 or 17, and a special court dispensation for marriages involving those under 16. I suspect that the law was different in 1988, and that this is the reason Maranatha’s daughter Lauren married immediately after turning 16 rather than before.

39 comments

  • Wow. This is really disturbing. I’d read this courtship story before and found it problematic in plenty of ways, but finding out how young Maranatha was kind of breaks my heart.

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  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    When Matthew first expressed his interest in Maranatha—interest Stan affirmed as from God but asked Matthew to put on hold—Maranatha was 13 and Matthew was 26.

    13 is still four years over Mohammed’s favorite wife. (Though Islamic scholars claim the age of nine is when that marriage was arranged, not when it was actually done and consummated.)

    And I understand (like Texas) a lot of the Former Confederate States have Age of Consent at 16 or so. I know Louisiana does. I’m not sure of the reason for this, but it probably dates back to the founding of those states in the late 18th/early 19th Century. (Hmmm… Isn’t that the Godly Golden Age of some of these patrio types?)

  • This is so sad to hear, I too was raised with idea of courtship, but in my family it more dating with the intent of marriage, rather than just dating for dating sake. These girls don’t even know who they are and this men are a step away from pedophiles and possibly statutory rapist depending on the age of submissions in the state. This poor children, if you really love your child you would want them to grow up.

  • Let a grown man tell me he is interested in my teenage daughter and he had better hope he runs faster than a bullet. Just as I would not let an adult woman take my teen son, I won’t let a creepy man take my daughter. What is wrong with you that you cannot attract an adult woman, rather than a child?

  • I have mixed feelings. The pair had genuine attraction for each other which turned out to be genuine feelings. If they have a happy and loving marriage I don’t see that its such a big deal. My own great grandmother married at 14 over 100 years ago to my great grandfather who was in his 20s at the time. They were happy and raised a healthy family. It wasn’t uncommon then.

    I feel that Marantha’s situation is far better than than the promiscuity that many young kids get into today which leads to STIs, unwanted pregnancies, emotional distress and more. Of course I am aware not ALL teens are experiencing such negative situations, and I know there are far more choices available to us than just marriage at 15 or a life of promiscuity, obviously. But it wasn’t so long ago that I was a teen and I can tell you that some of my friends who did suffer greatly, would have preferred having just one genuine relationship from an early age.

    I remember having crushes on older guys when I was 13, 14 and 15 and had I been raised in a different culture, I may have been ready and willing to marry them.

    I’m not a fundie, by the way. Not even Christian. Not even particularly “spiritual”.

    I just see this from a different perspective.

    • YL, thanks for injecting a little balance into this topic. As a Christian, I object to these patriocentric cults for many reasons but, that aside, there are worse things than marrying at 15 for love. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 15 and they loved each other fiercely their whole lives. The first time she ever met him, she told her friend, “That’s the man I’m going to marry.” He always treated her like a queen. I wouldn’t have wanted my daughter to marry anywhere near that young but for some people it actually can work out well, even in our day.

    • For me, it’s not the part about 15 or 16 that bothers me the most. It’s the teaching behind it. The father who teaches his daughter to obey him, half-way arranging the marriage, etc. Then there’s the educational neglect issue. Most girls aren’t through with their education at 15. What happens if their husband dies and they never developed the skill?

      • Hallf way?

      • Well, I just mean it’s not 100% blind. Homeschool daughters have the choice…but then, do they if they are trained to obey no matter what? tricky.

      • I actually met Maranatha when she’d been married for a couple of years, in the home of her parents. She was home schooled in the best way. Her parents were sooooo good at it, and the homeschooling association that they belonged to was top-notch. There was no educational neglect. The whole parental/spousal ownership flavor of it all bothers me, but even with all of that, Maranatha was an unusually bright and mature teenager. It does not surprise me one bit that she is still happily married to Matthew. I’m sure she is fine in every way.

    • Young marriage can lead to those things. It is still a teen pregnancy even if they are married. Couples under 21 have the highest divorce rate. And 100 years there were hardly any opportunities for women. What else could they do? It wasn’t uncommon for parents to marry off girls young to relieve financial strain. Women were trapped in marriages even if they were unhappy or their husbands drank, gambled etc. The appeal to tradition is a logical fallacy. What seemed to work well in one century doesn’t justify it for another.

      • Thanks, A.Roddy, for reminding us that the 21st Century is not the Bronze Age and women and girls deserve FAR greater opportunities and education than Christian Patriarchy homeschooler parents (especially husbands) want for them. Women are just as intelligent and curious as men and so will always want to escape their imprisoned lives as unpaid drudges, being compensated by the honorific title “wife.” Good marriages are equal partnerships between two ADULTS.

    • My mother was 18 and my father 27 which today would not be excepted either.

  • Isn’t there someone’s picture we can use besides Lauren’s? I grew up near the family. Her brother is an old friend. It would not surprise me if someone in the family is reading HA and rethinking some of us this. But if the kids see Lauren’s picture (and considering she did not have much options), it could set back.

  • ^ The above comment is EXACTLY why this story must be shared.

    • I disagree. I don’t think the point of HA should be to take down the system but embrass the QF/QP alumni at the same time. If we can’t do this with our slates clean, I’ll bail on the conversation.

  • “Nice” way to ensure female slavery. Someone who’s married at 16 and having kids from 17 on will stay submissive, knowing there is no way out.
    No one is mature for marriage and starting of a family if they are not able to support their offspring on their own financially.
    And anyone who impregnates a woman under 18 should be prosecuted by the law…

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  • Frankly, this story creeps me out. I had never heard any of it before not having been exposed to Lindvall in any way. I have major issues with much older men “falling in love” with teenage girls. Something about that rubs me all wrong and gives me a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am sad for a girl that young to be involved. I knew one lady who had married extremely young like that and she never really grew up mentally – even though she didn’t have a large family and was not in a bondage type situation.

    Speaking of widows the scripture says, 1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

    “whom she will” means she has a choice. It seems unreasonable to say this doesn’t apply to other women in the church – even young ones.

    My parents tried a *somewhat* structured (compared to these people’s ideas) method of courtship, but the results were less than great, so they backed off and gave the rest of us a lot more room. My own husband and I did something that was partially “courtship” (by my definition, not the patriarchists’), and partially dating. We had a somewhat long “courtship” and a year long engagement. When we married I was 38 and he was 32. Um…yeah. He’s not “much older” than me, and yet, by God’s grace, I feel incredibly well matched! 🙂 So much for the father image husband (which I believe comes from the Puritans from something I read years ago).

    The whole thing about Stan committing Matthew and Maranatha to each other in marriage before either of them had indicated any interest is eerily familiar to another instance of which I was spectator. At that time I was greatly bothered about a similar method. It’s enough to give you goosebumps, and you feel like the young lady is somehow a piece of stuff to be claimed and passed around and manipulated by a lot of other people. 😛 Again – that sick feeling in the stomach. I’m not a feminist, but this kind of stuff is contrary to my Christian beliefs.

    In some cases even the prospective man is manipulated. One wonders how much Stan sang Maranatha’s praises to Matthew or subtly turned his attention towards her. Yeah….I’ve seen that too. I’ve had it done to me by someone who hoped I would pass on the information about this “wonderful guy” to a third party. It gets messy out there, folks. “Courtship” and “betrothal” don’t resolve the same old issues of human orneriness and “all’s fair in love and war” as much as its proponents like to think.

    • P.S. I should mention here that the end also does not justify the means. A happy marriage doesn’t prove that the method was “God’s perfect will”. God works in spite of human error sometimes. The Apostle Paul was told *not* to go up to Jerusalem, but he did anyway, and he ended up in prison where a number of epistles were written. That good fruit in the end doesn’t mean it was “right”, or even OK, for him to disobey in the first place.

  • This discussion is absurd. What about diversity? Why can’t people be different? Just because it creeps *you* out doesn’t mean at all that it creeps everyone out. Some of you should take it upon yourselves to get to know Matthew and Maranatha before making such harsh, bold and judgmental statements. So maybe you wouldn’t do it that way, so what? Isn’t there room in this world for everybody? Most everyone on this site is griping about how others do things and how they would do it differently. Good grief!

    Maturity is quite about being able to see things from others’ perspectives and not only yours.

    [HA note: comment modified due to Comment Policy #3 and 4.]

    • Dear Concerned –
      I freely admit for my own part that my initial reaction to this story was emotional. I am a woman after all. 🙂 And, no there is nothing wrong with that. God created women different on purpose. But, I think it would be dishonest of me to apologize for my own feelings about this because I still feel the same about it as I did then, only hopefully for more thought out reasons by this point.

      But I did include a reference to scripture in regards to a widow marrying “whom she will” because there is a serious problem in the courtship/betrothal movement with manipulation and micromanagement on the part of parents/fathers. The Maranatha & Matthew story presents too many things that are very serious issues that have in some cases caused real problems in father/child and/or marriage relationships. Just because these three people (and presumably the mother – where is she?) were happy about it, it doesn’t follow that this kind of intense supervision by the father of the girl (or the man, for that matter) will always bring such “great” results.

      Speaking of which – In my post script I said that just because there are good results from a method it does not prove that it is “God’s perfect will.” Matthew and Maranatha may have a very happy marriage that brings them great joy. Good for them. But, it doesn’t mean that their story is a revelation of God’s will for others, nor that they were peculiarly blessed above others! The self-satisfied conclusions and suggestions are disturbing.

      And yes, there is certainly room for diversity in methods of relationship building. In fact, I believe that every couple’s story will and *should* be at least a little different from anyone else’s. Some are very different. I’ve heard some lulus over the years. 🙂 However, there is not “room in the world for everybody”. Some things *are* sin. Some things go beyond the pale of decency and order – even in the minds of those who are not of the Christian faith. Pedophilia is one of those things that most agree is wrong. These kinds of stories and encouragement to marry daughters off young to older men is unnerving for anyone who if familiar with the practices of some men who lust for little girls.

      Here are some thoughts for you –

      First of all, if we turn the situation around, does that change the view? If a *woman* who was 26 fell in love with a 13 year old *boy* and his father encouraged her that it might be God’s will for them, how would the world view that? How would Christians view that? Why is it “OK” for a much older man to “fall in love” with a 13 year old girl, but (to most people) not for a much older woman to fall in love with a 13 year old boy? Why is it “OK” for a man to desire a daughter image for a wife, but not for a woman to desire a son image for a husband? The “maturity” level issue is not the only answer here.

      The biblical model of a marriage is more that of an equal and is illustrated as a “sister” – 1 Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? (Also see Solomon’s Song.)

      Here’s a fact – 13 years later – with Maranatha being 26 and Matthew being 39 there likely wouldn’t be an issue in most people’s minds (other than her father’s apparent demigod type manipulations).
      Why? Because 13 year old girls are undeveloped – mentally, *intellectually* and usually *physically*. A man (at least in our culture, and perhaps others) who would be attracted to this degree to a *child* of that age calls himself into serious question as to his motives and desires in a wife. I don’t have time or space to pursue the ramifications of that, but I’m sure you can find something online that will explain it. Even if a girl can manage a house and children, at that age she is not fit for a mature man to “fall in love with” as a potential partner in marriage. I’m sorry, but if you believe that women are to be subservient menpleasers with no personal identity, you probably won’t understand that at all. I find it difficult to explain this briefly to people who don’t “get it”.

      Another issue: For all the talk about Maranatha and Matthew’s marriage being a wonderful example of Christ and the church I find a glaring and disturbing contradiction in the fact that **Maranatha’s** father orchestrated and brokered this whole relationship to such a degree. The father of the bride – the church – **did not** arrange the marriage of Christ! If there was a “father” of the church, so to speak, it would be the world! It was God the Father who “arranged” – if you can suggest a father’s involvement. _But_ biblically speaking, I find that it was Christ Himself who sought the church and paid the price for our redemption – which we receive only If We Want It! (Free will.) When a man stands up and claims that he is creating a “wonderful” example of biblical truth for everyone to admire in the life of his daughter – well, he jolly well better get his types straight. And Stan didn’t. So…where’s the amazing biblical picture? It looks terribly skewed from here.

      Romans 2:17-21 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?…

      This applies to Christians as well.

      Maybe this will give you a better perspective as to my initial repulsion at this story. It was expressed in terms of emotions, but it was not based strictly on that.

      If you got this far, thanks for taking the time to read this. 🙂

      • Awesome post, Mary Stephens.
        The age difference isn’t the issue here, it’s the father’s micromanagement and the very young age of the daughter.
        I had crushes on men that were significantly older than me when I was in my teens, but I think I just saw them as the type of man I wanted to be loved by one day. I also had a relationship with a man ten years my senior when I was twenty. But I was twenty, not thirteen!
        My youngest sister met her husband when she was in her mid teens and they started dating. They married when she was nineteen and he was twenty-six. That is pretty young, in my opinion, but they chose each other and they decided to get married when they did. It’s different when the “children” -for lack of a better word- do the deciding and the parents assume the supporting role.

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  • Wow. First time poster here. My granddaughter is 12 1/2 and she is a baby. She’s probably the most mature tween I’ve been exposed to, and it sickens me to think of an 18 years plus man ( much less 27) thinking of her in wife terms. This is wrong on a lot of levels. I was raised in a fundie household, but my Dad is a sweetie and my Mom ran the show. Thank God I didn’t have to worry about arranged marriage. My Dad did give his consent when I was about 14 to a young man ( he was about 20ish) to drive me home one night after church. I nipped that right in the bud and said, ” No thank-you,” and my dad never did that again!

  • I remember listening to Jonathan Lindvall perhaps as long as three decades ago; he is inspiring, especially for those of us who came from pasts we wished we could have done a “redo” on. The best advice I think I’ve heard was from an elderly woman who said her parents let her date when she was thirteen, but the rule was she could not date the same boy two times in a row. I had the impression this dating was with the “at arms length” attitude Elisabeth Elliot used to speak of; sans the kissy and inappropriate discussions. By the time she was old enough to consider marriage age, she had dated quite a few young men and had properly gained wisdom. Maybe someone here also heard this and knows the source of this advice; hey, maybe lots of people would give the same advice.

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