Trey and Deborah's Story:
Last spring and summer our family spent quite a bit of time with the Lance family. As Trey got to know Deborah and our family he began to consider Deborah as a possibility for marriage. He talked with his parents at length and while they also thought that Deborah might be the perfect wife for Trey, they encouraged him to wait and pray. Deborah was still 17 at the time and Paul had just given away his first daughter. Shannon correctly surmised that Paul wasn't ready to consider giving away his second daughter yet.
Deborah turned 18 in December and in January Shannon called Paul and told him that Trey was interested in marrying Deborah. Now, there are some varying opinions among families that we know that are using something close to this model. Some feel that if a young man doesn't go to the prospective bride's father and start the process of seeking his daughter's hand in marriage, he isn't much of a man, that he is somehow cowardly. Although we aren't totally opposed to the son making the first approach we do have a bit different perspective on it. Paul's response to a young man who approaches him would probably be, "thank you for you interest, is it okay if I talk with your father?" The first reason for this approach is that we would like our children to marry sons and daughters who have good relationships with their parents. The second reason is to protect the heart of the son as well as the daughter. We taught our daughters to guard their hearts until Paul approves of a young man. We don't believe it's a women's place to pursue a husband. Considering this man or that for marriage only leads to dreaming and fantasizing that is unhealthy and will lead to baggage being brought into the marriage. The son on the other hand, with his father's help, has to make a decision to pursue a young lady. We have tried to think of a better way, but short of an arranged marriage, we can't think of a way that the young man doesn't have some emotional involvement. Talking to a perspective Dad about his daughter is a huge emotional step for any young man. By having the fathers speak first and discuss the possibility of their children marrying, the emotional involvement of the son is minimized. The fathers can discuss beliefs the two families have and see if there are any reasons they feel their children shouldn't be married.
The next step for us was for Trey to talk to Paul. Here Abigail and Deborah's stories are a little different. We had spent so much time with Dayton already that we felt we knew him well. Paul had already grilled him on all of his beliefs, not from the perspective of a future son-in-law but just because he loves discussing scripture and Dayton was eager to discuss scripture also as we spent time driving around Israel. Although we had spent a lot of time with the Lance family the summer before getting to know them and Paul and Shannon had kept up with each other through phone calls, Paul hadn't spent much time visiting with Trey up to this point. Although I have to admit Shannon did his best to get Paul to get to know Trey. During one of our visits to their house last summer Shannon invited Paul to go work with him and Trey on a house they were building. As we spent time with the Lance family, we enjoyed our time together, but when a young man wants to marry your daughter there are questions that need to be asked that delve beneath the surface.
So, we set up a separate email account for Paul and Trey to write to each other. We are not a very private family and our kids read through all our emails to see if there's anything interesting going on. That part worked pretty well but the frequency of calls between Shannon and Paul (which sometimes turned into a call with Trey) caused some of the older children to be suspicious that something was up. Paul takes this step very seriously. He feels it is his responsibility to screen a young man before approving of him. Paul wants his daughters to feel secure that if he allows a young man to ask for their hand in marriage, they don't have to worry about his character or whether he loves Yahwh. It takes many probing questions, but also and most importantly, a lot of prayer. After a couple of weeks of visiting back and forth with Trey, Paul was convinced that he and Deborah would probably be a good match and Trey was convinced that he really wanted to marry Deborah. So the next step was to ask Deborah what she thought. Paul and I talked to her and she thought that the idea was worth considering. We told her to take as much time as she wanted to think about it. She could wait until we made another trip to the lower 48 and had spent more time together. We didn't want her to feel any pressure to make any snap decisions. So she began to think and pray about it. Over the next few days I would see her looking at pictures we had taken during our times together with Trey. She was thinking back and reflecting on the character he had shown and praying that Yahwh would prick her heart with feelings for Trey if he was the man Yahwh wanted her to marry. After three days she told me that she thought she wanted to marry Trey, but she wanted to see him in person again. She wanted to make sure that the remembrances she had of Trey in her mind form the summer before were who he really was. She had done a good job of guarding her heart and had not been thinking of Trey as a prospective husband (or anyone else for that matter) and she wanted to make sure she wasn't creating an image of him that she wanted him to be and not who he really was. Paul thought that was very wise and he decided that he too would like to see Trey face to face and talk to him. We made plans to go to Family Week in Kentucky and stop by and see the Lance's on the way. This was an easy plan because Grandma Effie's house is on the way to Kentucky and the Lance's live only two hours east of her farm.
We decided to meet the Lance's at the Hughes' home. The Hughes' are mutual friends that live in Minot which we go right through on the way to Grandma's house. We got there on Friday and spent Shabbat with them. It was pretty awkward between Trey and Deborah with such a big question hanging out there, but by Saturday night Deborah had decided that yes, Trey was who she thought he was and she really wanted to marry him. Paul had also spent time visiting with Trey and felt that, if Deborah agreed, Trey was the man she should marry. So, he gave Trey his permission to ask Deborah to marry him. Trey asked Deborah, she said yes and we announced their decision to the rest of the crowd. Some were pleasantly surprised and some said they knew it all along.
The next step was the betrothal. We choose to get betrothed and then married because that's the way they do it in the Bible. The Bible is rich with examples and analogies of betrothals and marriages. If we as the church aren't using that model for ourselves, then the analogies will lose some of their meaning. In the Biblical model the betrothal is binding. Consider Mary and Joseph. They were betrothed and Joseph was going to quietly divorce Mary until he found out that the baby Yeshua was from the Holy Spirit.
The next step was the wedding. We had to decide whether to return to Alaska and then return for the wedding or have the wedding before we went back to Alaska. Trey and Deborah decided that sooner was better than later so we decided to make it happen. Up until now Trey and Deborah had been guarding their hearts, but now they were betrothed, legally married and they could open up their hearts. The betrothal period is a time of emotional (not physical) wooing. They along with their fathers decided to limit their physical touching to holding hands. Because their emotions were starting to soar they were chaperoned at all times to make adhering to that decision easier. The betrothal period was a fun time for them as they got to know each other in a way they hadn't before. It all culminated in the wedding ceremony where they shared their first embrace and their first kiss.