The Bride (and Groom) Wore White


It’s official. The Garden Wedding Quilt is finished. And I’m happy with the way it turned out (although haven’t heard yet if the newlyweds like it).

The quilt is based on the Double Wedding Ring pattern. There seems to be a lot of myth associated with this pattern but very little known history. It appears to have first been published as a design in the early part of the twentieth century and reached the height of its popularity during the Depression era.

Whatever its true history it has become synonymous with romance and wedlock. It’s interconnecting rings (the design of which may date as far back as fourth century Romans) can symbolise love, marriage, togetherness and unity.

There are also other symbols in the quilt: hearts for romance and to signify love; and feathers for peace and happiness.

The cream background was chosen with purity in mind - just as in times past the bride would have worn white as a symbol of her purity. In our culture today it’s become commonplace for the bride to wear white simply because it's popular or traditional and not because of any symbolic associations.

In Christian circles at least one would hope that this symbolism still remains but even there it’s on shaky ground.

Over the last two years I’ve had the privilege of watching a love unfold in perfect purity as I have watched my son and his now new bride. But I have held off writing this post: it wasn’t my story to tell and I didn’t want to embarrass the young couple. But I was reminded recently that even amongst Christians there is this perception that it is impossible to remain pure until marriage. We conveniently forget that God has called us to be s*xually pure and that His standards are the ones we are to live by – not the world’s!

As a mother of sons I am aware of the double standards that exist in this world and sadly even in the church. After all, it won’t be my children that come home pregnant! But s*xual purity is as important to me as if I had daughters and I’ve worked hard at instilling in my sons the importance of remaining pure until marriage.

There are several reasons why I believe it is so important:

1. God asks it of us. To abstain from s*x until marriage is to obey Him. The Bible tells us that when we marry our bodies belong to our spouse. Therefore as a single person we have no right to give away what belongs to someone else (our future spouse) or to steal what rightly belongs to someone else.

2. When two people who have remained pure marry they are then able to join together without any regrets for what they’ve done with past partners or any jealousies or concerns that their partner will think they don’t measure up to those he or she has known in the past. Instead they have the wonderful task of learning to love each other their whole lives long.

3. Sin has its consequences. Unplanned pregnancy, STD, AIDS, broken hearts and broken bodies are the risks taken when God’s ways are ignored.

So why do teens who are brought up in godly homes still fail to remain pure? Why is it that Christian young men and women fail to take abstinence seriously?

I believe there are several reasons and sadly, I think parents and the church must accept part of the blame.

1. They fail because we don’t give them expectations to live up to. Whether consciously or unconsciously we give them the message that abstinence is too hard and that we don’t expect them to be able to hold off until marriage. It’s a basic principle of human nature: expect less of someone and you’ll get less; expect more and they’ll likely exceed your expectations.

2. They fail because they fall prey to the Hollywood lie that you can’t help yourself – that it’s impossible to prevent yourself from falling into bed. God doesn’t give us commands that we have no hope of following. When He says “Don’t lie” we take that seriously. Ditto for “Don’t steal” and “Love your neighbour.” It’s not always easy but it is possible to obey. The same with “Wait for marriage”. However the trouble begins when we allow ourselves to get into situations where temptation is very hard to walk away from. This seems to be particularly true for s*xual sin and I suggest that this is in large part due to our culture. We have made a god out of falling in love and finding romance and experiencing the joys of close physical contact. We encourage dating from an early age and fail to emphasise the value of waiting for God to bring a mate to us and to do things His way. In fact, we set ourselves up for failure by getting into compromising situations and then excusing our behaviour by saying we couldn’t help ourselves. In short, we believe the lie.

3. Lastly, they fail because we don’t give them guidelines. We say “Don’t” and think that will do the trick when we should be putting in place safeguards to protect their purity (and also their hearts). We throw them to the wolves (so to speak) and expect them to come home unscathed.

So what can parents do?

* Start training and teaching your children when they’re young. It’s never too young for godly s*x training. I’m certainly not advocating telling them about the birds and the bees when they’re just getting out of diapers (about the time the first questions start!). It is unwise to give children information beyond their years but their early questions can be answered with sensitivity and with reference to God’s ways. When a baby is born it can be emphasised how wonderful it is that God made this baby and placed it in a family because His design is for two people to marry and raise children together. As children grow the explanation can be more detailed so that by the time they enter their teens they will know what is right and what is wrong and what God expects of them.

* Encourage your children to pray about their future spouse. Even when they’re still at the age where they think the opposite s*x is eek! Once they’re old enough to understand, encourage them to pray that they and their future spouse will be able to guard their hearts and their bodies for marriage.

* Pray for them. It’s never too early to pray for your child’s marriage and for the purity of the marriage bed. Never estimate the power you have as a parent to pray for your child.

* Discourage casual dating. Instead encourage them to wait until they are of an age to marry before looking for a mate. It’s obvious: if they’re too young for marriage then they’re too young to be pairing off with someone of the opposite s*x. All they are going to learn that way is how to have their heart broken. Instead encourage them to relate to both s*xes through healthy group activities (it helps if you have a youth group that discourages pairing off but sadly not all do).

* Discourage activities or events where young people will be too much alone or exposed to increased s*xual temptation. Consider whether activities such as going to the movies, swimming (particularly if it’s not with a group), dancing (if pairing off is encouraged and outfits are likely to be revealing) etc are suitable even if it is a church-organised event (sometimes even the best of youth leaders will plan unwisely). And parking is definitely a no-no. Getting to grips with someone in the back seat of a parked car is just asking for trouble.

* Some parents have found that asking their pre-teen for a promise to remain pure and perhaps sealing the promise with a ring or similar piece of jewellery is effective. We haven’t tried it in our family but it’s certainly worth trying if you think it would work with your child.

* Realise that as a parent you do have the right to set rules. I’ve heard of parents whose children started dating at an early age and the parents have felt that it was too soon but felt powerless to prevent it. Well hello! Who makes the rules around here? Who is the parent? Just because your teen is moving toward independence doesn’t mean you can give up the driver’s seat permanently. Your job’s not done yet.

* Discuss alternatives to dating for the time when they think they have found their future mate. This could include getting to know each other in the company of family and friends; deciding to refrain from physical contact (holding hands, cuddling, kissing) until their wedding day (it can be done as if I’ve witnessed); encouraging them to commit their time together to the Lord; making a promise to one another to protect the other’s purity; and many others that I haven’t yet thought of.

For those couples that remain pure until their wedding day, they reap the benefits of it within their own marriages. They give each other a wonderful gift that is complete and brand new. It could be likened to the difference between giving a quilt that has been made with loving stitches and never used and kept until the designated day, and a tatty old one that has been used countless times and now the dog has chewed and discarded it. I know what I’d rather my sons give and that’s why I’ll do all I can to help them to protect and treasure what they can only ever give away once. Purity.

Comments

A beautiful quilt and message, Jules. Thanks for sharing!

Btw, your blog says it was posted on January 19th...it's only the 18th here. Lol...is this a time zone thing or do you just live in the future?
Civilla said…
What a wonderful post, Jules. And I'm sure your children love the quilt. So professionally done.
Jules said…
Hi Emily, we live in the future! lol Actually it's a time zone thing. We're almost a day ahead of you - depending on where you live. At the moment I'm 7.5 hours ahead of where my husband is and it's making communication - even just through text messages because that's all we have - rather interesting. I have to keep reminding myself of the time difference - not just when I don't hear from him but also when trying to decipher his meaning!

Thank you Emily and Civilla for the compliments on the quilt. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. This pattern was a challenge for me and I adapted it to make it easier and it worked! I also tried some new techniques so I'm feeling rather good about the whole process at the moment (and anxious to start another one).

I've been wanting to share this message for a long time and I felt that this was finally the time to do it. I think my son's wedding and a thread on a forum I frequent were the 'push' I needed to finally write it.

Blessings, Jules
SchnauzerMom said…
Thanks for sharing, I totally agree with you. God doesn't change His mind what was sin 2,000 years ago is still sin today.
The quilt is gorgeous, I'm sure they love it, who wouldn't?
Jen said…
What a good post Jules. It seems like times have changed so much even since I was in high school. It used to be very taboo to be promiscuous before you were married. Nowdays kids think nothing of "hooking up" (the nice term for one-night-stands). I homeschool partly because I don't want my daughter to be as influenced by the ways of this world. My nieces who are 12 and 14 have been bombarded with s*x in the public schools where they live. They have been approached by teenage boys who have literally propositioned them. It just shocks me. What surprises me most is what parents allow their kids to watch on tv. These kids are watching very suggestive shows, and are getting desensitized. These shows basically take away the thinking that s*x outside of marriage is wrong. I would really love for my daughter not to date like I did. I dated a lot in high school, which I now see was a huge waste of time and energy. Plus I got my heart broken a lot. My senior year, I dated a guy and fell hard for him. He broke up with me at the beginning of the year, and I spent the remainder of my senior year brokenhearted and sad. It literally ruined my senior year. There is a book called "I Kissed Dating Goodbye", and I would really like Evie to read that when she gets older. It is more about courtship instead of dating.

Sorry for the super long reply. I just wholeheartly agreed with your post! Your quilt is absolutely beautiful by the way!!
Jules said…
SchnauzerMom, you're right. God's laws don't change simply because society does. What God said was wrong 2000 years ago is still wrong today evn if the world disagrees.

Jen, thanks for your comment. It's because of what I see happening around me that I felt I needed to write this post. It's been brewing for a long time.

My second son and his wife chose courtship over dating and we all reaped the benefits. It was incredible liberating for us as parents to know that this girl he introduced to the family would one day be his wife and our daughter. We were able to love her unreservedly, knowing that next week or month she wouldn't be replaced by someone new. And we had no hesitations when our granddaughter called her 'Aunty' because we knew that her little heart wasn't going to be broken either (never underestimate the attachments that younger members of the family form with the friends of other members). I know that there are times that these courtships don't work out and the couple decide not to marry, but what I've witnessed so far is that the majority are already certain that this person they've agreed to enter into a courting relationship with is their future spouse. What can I say? I support it wholeheartedly.

And yes, Josh Harris' book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" is an excellent book. I also believe that Elizabeth Elliott has written another good book. By all means, get Evie to read it when she's older. But start planting the ideas now that you want her to run with later - i.e. to eschew dating and instead look at godly alternatives.

And my son and his wife said the quilt looked good so I hope that means they like it!

Blessings, Jules
Liliana said…
This post should be a pamphlet and every family should have one.

The quilt is incredibly beautiful!
Jules said…
Thanks Lil. I've spent over two years working on that quilt and it seems funny that it's finally finished and gone. I haven't even had a chance to sit back and gloat over it. Probably just as well as I might have been tempted to 'borrow' it for my bed - indefinitely!

I don't know about a pamphlet but I certainly think that in the church we need to be talking about this more and helping our teens to be obedient to God in reagrds s*xual purity (well in regards everything but particularly this). There is so much pressure out there on teens to experiment and become active and as Jen pointed out, the pressure is beginning earlier and earlier and is often coming through the schools. Fortunately at our son' school the parents have to give permission for their children to attend s*x education classes. With each son we have declined to give our permission, stating that we would teach them at home. Certainly they'll still be exposed to the world's values at school through their peers and other classes, I'm not so naive that I don't realise that, but hopefully with what we've taught them at home they'll be able to stand firm and know in their own minds what is right and what is wrong.

Thank you to all of you who have responded. Blessings, Jules
Anonymous said…
Another good book that I found helpful (maybe even more so than 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' - maybe I was too young when I read that) was 'Choosing God's Best' by Dr. Don Raunikar. It's published by Random House, and you can find it on their website (https://www.randomhouse.com/author/results.pperl?authorid=75005) or on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Choosing-Gods-Best-Dr-Raunikar/dp/1576735672).

#2
busymomof10 said…
Beautiful, carefully crafted quilt -- and a beautiful, well-thought out post -- that you have pieced together. Thanks for sharing!

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