Blog Post by Rodney A. Wilson
Rodney Wilson is a regular guest post writer on Selma on Leadership. Rodney has been a marriage and family pastor/counselor for almost 20 years. Rodney and Selma have been married for 40 years and they have spoken and written on marriage and family issues for most of their married life.
I knew what it meant when my daughter’s long-time boyfriend asked to have “a meeting” with me. It meant he was going to ask for her hand in marriage. Both my sons-in-law respected me enough to have that meeting, communicate their intent to love and provide for my daughters, and stay faithful to them. Then it was my turn to talk about my expectations, and their turn to listen.
Adoniram Judson, the first ever American foreign missionary, decided to ask for his wife’s hand in marriage in a slightly different way. Here is his letter to her father, asking his permission and blessing on their marriage.
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
At first glance, Judson seems to provide the perfect illustration of how NOT to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage. Hardship? Suffering? Martyrdom? All dumb things to say to convince a Daddy to part with his baby girl.
A closer look shows us Judson’s request was so radical, but absolutely honest. It revealed in no uncertain terms his complete devotion to his God, the low price he placed on this world as his home, and his commitment to herald the gospel no matter the cost. It sounds so strange to our modern American ears, but this is a picture of how we are to live in Christ.
As a daddy of two daughters this letter impacted me profoundly. It is hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to let his daughter go. Here are three observations from this letter:
1) What courage Judson must have had to ask Mr. Hasseltine in such a brutally honest way.
2) What courage Mr. Hasseltine must have had to release his daughter to Judson, and ultimately to God.
3) What a long term impact obedience to God had in this story! Today, there are several thousand churches in that distant land, a direct result of Adoniram and Ann going, with the blessing of Mr. Hasseltine.
The resounding question Judson asks throughout his letter is “Can you consent?” I believe the same question is asked of us today as we live a life for Christ.
Can you consent to a life for Christ that might cost you everything?
Can you consent to one of your children moving to the mission field?
Can you consent to placing God in front of everything and everyone in your life?
“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider quality with God as something to be used for His advantage. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-6, 8
May your attitude in life be all about Him, above everything and everyone else.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Matthew 6:33