Would you be happy with this scenario:
Your college-age daughter in her early 20’s meets a young, Christian man who “sweeps” her off her feet and they establish a relationship. Over break, she brings him home so you can meet him for a couple of days and give your approval of him, even though she has already given her heart to him.
You meet him a couple or three times after that and then one day he calls you up to arrange a meeting so he can ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. Sounds pretty good? Better than average even–in today’s culture. How would you react? Would you think it a fairy tale or a travesty?
Here’s one father’s take on it:
“First, why is it acceptable for a young man to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage after he has already stolen the daughter’s heart? Young men should ask a father’s permission before they begin the courtship process, not after they have completed it. This father was backed into a corner. What could he do? Was he really supposed to make the young man slow down and wait while he vetted him properly? Was he going to ask the young man to refrain from seeing his daughter until he determined his suitability as a potential suitor even though the young woman had already given herself to him?
This is not a fairy tale, this is a travesty! Where was the father when this young woman needed him? Where was the objective observer whose keen eye searched for all the biblical prerequisites? Where was this young woman’s protector?
Second, why is it acceptable for a father to give his consent to a young man he has only met two or three times? Does this father know with any degree of certainty that the young man standing before him is squared away theologically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually? Is he really going to be able to determine this young man’s suitability while he and his wife jump headlong into planning and paying for a wedding? And if he does find the young man wanting and calls off the wedding, what price will his daughter pay?
I realize these questions may seem shocking to some. After all, the scenario I described represents the fairy tale for which most Christian parents pray on behalf of their children. I know for a fact that many people find my assessment on this matter archaic, unrealistic, and naïve at best. However, my question is simply this: why should a young man ask permission at all if we don’t really believe that the permission is necessary? Is this merely a beloved old-fashioned tradition? Or do we really believe that a father has a genuine responsibility to approve and vet the man to whom his daughter pledges her love?
I believe we have compromised on this point. We have underestimated the power of emotional attraction between men and women. We have overestimated the ability of young men and women to evaluate the suitability of a potential mate objectively. And we have underestimated the importance of protecting our hearts in such matters. We raise a generation of young men who think differently about courtship.”–Voddie Baucham, What He Must Be