Almost done here. This week’s will be short, as there is not a whole lot I disagree with and I have no personal experience in this matter. Here is the Boundless link.
Croft only talks briefly about finding out if this is the right person and I will do likewise. For my response to his insistence that the couple might be able to serve God better together than apart please see my rant on “Romantic Love and Fire Insurance”(link to Facebook note as it wasn’t posted here). For his idea on family roles, I’ll probably do something about Complimentarianism at some point in the future. For now, suffice to say that he is privileging the writings of Deutero-Paul (probably not written by Paul) over the genuine writings of Paul, who wrote that there is no “Jew nor Gentile, free nor slave, male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). I would agree with Croft that there has to be some sort of affection for the other and not just physical attraction or chemistry.
I would also agree with him that it is not time to have sex yet. Engagement is not marriage and sex should be saved for marriage. Now during the engagement, I agree that the main thing that the couple should be talking about is preparing for marriage itself. It is important to find out what possible conflicts there will be in terms of raising a family and how the couple will work them out.
He moves from preparing the marriage to preparing the wedding. He points out that the wedding should be mainly about God and not primarily about the couple. It should be viewed as a worship service in which two people get married. On this point I agree with him in some ways but wish that he would unpack his comments a little bit more. Yes, it is a problem that too many people use the Church as a prop in terms of getting married. The Church often has no more value to the couple than the rings, the bride’s dress, the groom’s tux, or the outfits that the bride and the groom have thrust upon the bridesmaids and groomsmen. It’s just part of the “picture” of a wedding. This does cheapen the value of the Church.
However, do you know what other big family event is also primarily a worship service? A funeral. A funeral is a worship service in which a dead person is buried. Yes, it is primarily about God and about the reality that our world is fallen and broken. However, it is also about the specific person in the casket and the grief of his/her family. Pastorally, that should be an important part of the funeral, even though it is primarily a worship service.
Likewise a wedding should also be a celebration of the love of two people who have decided to spend the rest of their lives together, as well as the expansion of their families. Pastorally, that should be an important part of the wedding, even though it is primarily a worship service. It is also a reminder of the first wedding between Adam and Eve—whether you take that story literally or not—and a reminder that love is an important part of God’s purpose in creating us.
The other thing Croft insists upon is the need for short engagements. I somewhat agree that an engagement ought to be relatively short in comparison to the relationship. That is because, by the time you are engaged, you should already have some idea of when approximately you want to get married, and the important thing at this point is preparation for both the wedding and the marriage (marriage being most important). However, I believe that this takes place in the context of a longer dating relationship than Croft wants to exist. He also insists that a long engagement could be in sinful violation of earlier principles. This comes dangerously close to Croft placing his own interpretation of Scripture on the same level as Scripture itself. As a Reformed Protestant, I see that as idolatry and therefore a greater sin than the sins that he is concerned about.