P: Pray for a Good Wife
The inspirational story: A man went to go pray for a wife at a school chapel and then ran into a girl whom he dated and then later married. Praying had immediate and tangible results! What a compelling testament to his faith!
Of course, what makes this story so compelling is how unusual it is. Usually prayer doesn't work in such a predictable manner. Typically when you pray, there's no answer, sign or direct benefit. Usually when you pray, it's like nothing happened at all. But of course, this story is used to say that god will provide. This story is a bit on the creepy side, because it really seems to imply that the woman's consent is not really needed. The guy prayed, and then god assumedly made the woman respond.
More than likely though, the man just had dating on his mind, saw a nice, eligible religious woman, and introduced himself. The story even admits that they vaguely knew of each other before, and he had just then taken it upon himself to ask her out. He got some placebo swagger from the prayer, and the context put her in a new light. It could have been anyone. I've definitely been in that situation of not thinking of someone romantically until the right context was provided.
The biblical story: Abraham sent his slave out of the country to buy a wife for Isaaic. Rebekah was brought back and immediately fell in love with her new husband. (Genesis 24:64-65)
Wow, this story was so ridiculous that I can hardly believe that it's in here, but given what this guy has endorsed in the past, it's not too much of a surprise. He really seems to be promoting this idea of a parent-led courtship, and the natural extreme of that is an arranged marriage. And of course, since the marriage is arranged by God through the father, it will all turn out in the end. It's just this weird idolizing of subservience - especially on the part of the woman - and allowing your parents and God to control your life.
Christian Advice: In this chapter, he fully exposes his Catholic bias, I suppose figuring that by now even the heathen Protestants would be willing to listen to Catholic superior knowledge. He advises men to pray to the holy family and to the archangel Raphael, because of the story in the book of Tobit. The idea of the demigods helping out is certainly not new, but it certainly won't do anything special either.
At the very end of the chapter, there is a bit of good advice you could sift out: try to meet people at events you enjoy. Not bad. Of course you have to wade through all this crap to get it, but that's pretty similar to the bible.
Q: Questions to Ask Before Saying "I Do"
This chapter really is just a list of questions, with a little bit of preface that the tougher ones such as "health status, previous marriages, and abusive family situations" should be asked by a priest or a premarital counselor. Which is odd; why wouldn't you be able to discuss those things yourself with the person you will be married to? Wouldn't you like to know, for example, the sexual health status of your future mate? How about why they got divorced?
Anyway, here are some of the more ridiculous questions.
Which of your parents paid the monthly bills for your family? (Not sure why this is important? I guess it's to make sure she comes from a gender-typical family.)
Which of your parents led family prayer time, if you had one? (Again, not sure on the purpose. I guess to make sure that she's religious and that her father led stuff, like he should.)
Who do you think should be primarily responsible for a child's discipline: the father or the mother? (Again, deciding if she adheres to gender roles)
Are you more outgoing or private? (This question doesn't seem appropriate to ask at any stage in the relationship. If you don't know them too well, then it's a bit forward, if you do know them a bit, then you should be able to figure it out).
Do you take any exceptions to the moral teachings of the Church? (You certainly wouldn't want one of those rebellious types).
R: Romeo Online
For all the precautions against falling into sin in previous chapters, this one is curiously devoid of the temptations of cyber sex. Indeed, it seems that Mr. Wood believes that writing is a good way to keep a romance chaste. He goes out of his way to idolize the past, and gives this excerpt from an 1808 smitten lover, "Excepting my obligation to God, my heart, my affections, my undivided and unreserved love are yours." He claims that any woman would swoon over this line, but I think I'd prefer someone who knows the definition of "unreserved". Apparently, Wood thinks that in the past people writing to each other were saints, but allow me to counter that with another excerpt, one from A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning from 1611.
"Anne, you and I are like the pointed legs of a compass
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home."
Quite dirty, I'd say.
After pining for a more elegant time of written correspondence, he shows his age by believing that all youth communicate with horrible AOL "Wassup" slang. WTF, ROFL.
At the end, he recommends Christian-specific dating websites, but warns that not all of them are Christian enough (and indeed 90% of lay chartrooms should be avoided completely). He does run into a bit of a sticky situation with recommending dating sites, however. Consider this: If you are indeed using a Christian dating site, then you are taking the initiative in the relationship; it's out of the parent's hands. This is too far removed from a parent-arranged meeting. How on earth can you get the parents involved to supervise the relationship?
No joke, he suggests starting out on your second correspondence with a lady by asking her for her father's number to ask for permission to court. He admit this seems extreme, but insists that it is necessary and charming. I find it very creepy and controlling.
S: Scarcity of Women
Here he addresses the "forever alone" whiners who complain about the lack of good-enough women. I would imagine what they mean is the lack of subservient-enough women.
Here he urges men to expand their horizons: get involved with the church in new ways, give single women around them a chance, and get involved with online Christian dating sites. He assures us that using a dating site is not "desperate": meeting people in secular locations like a singles bar is desperate.
The inspirational tale: A woman restricted her dating pool on a christian website to men in her area. One man decided that he really wanted her and pursued her, explaining that he'd travel across the country to pick up a million-dollar prize if he needed, and she was better than that. They're now married.
This is actually a very creepy tale. Having studied abusive relationships, they often start with this whirlwind of romantic gestures, but still tied in with a lack of boundaries. This man didn't respect her wishes to date in her area. He didn't think that he should have to respect her desires, and that's even before they met or exchanged any sort of meaningful conversations. This man won't accept no. His falling so head-over-heels and idolizing her will lead to disappointment when she can't live up to his impossible standards, and he will become angry and blame her. I can't even imagine how their relationship will turn out. To hold this up as a positive example of a healthy relationships just boggles me.
T: To have and To Hold
Citing the catechism, Wood warns us that divorce (or "Christian divorce") is not an option. The bible says that you can't get divorced, so you have to make sure that the decision is one that lasts for a lifetime. He says that once you're in, you're stuck, so you'd better be very certain that you're ready for a lifelong commitment. Not even a caveat for abuse, hate, or someone falling out of their religion. Now of course, marriage is a personal decision. You should be able to get out whenever you want. If the two of you have a 5-minute marriage plan, well that's your decision. Your marriage should last as long as you both shall want.
But of course, he does allow that one biblical out: death. Apparently once one of you goes to heaven, the other is free to cheat around until they meet up again in heaven again. This might seem like an oversight, but it certainly does make sense when you consider what used to be the purpose of marriage: large batches of children, and an assurance of the man's offspring being his. If one dies, they have to get remarried to keep those goals going, and in fact the bible does contain commands for a widow to marry her brother-in-law. Of course, this edict is skipped as well. Nearly every time the bible gives explicit relationship legal advice, this book seems to skip over it.
Next Episode: The Ultimate Marriage Buster