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The Way of

a Man with a Maid


Nita Brainard

The Way of a Man with a Maid

Courtship is a bit like tying your shoes. The Bible doesn't teach you how to do it. It just assumes you know. "The way of a man with a maid" is one of the things "too wonderful for Agur, the writer of Proverbs 30. It is something like the soaring of an eagle in the air; something a man knows by nature and doesn't need to be taught.
In our perverse generation corrupt men have so abused "the way of a man with a maid" for the fulfilling of their selfish lusts, that godly people have reacted and rejected the thing all together. Some even question the purity of the beautiful, God-given propensity, commonly called "falling in love." These well-meaning people, who rightly oppose the abuses they see all around them, have sometimes built up systems of courtship which eliminate "the way of a man with a maid." In an attempt to rid themselves and their families of what is carnal, fleshly, and filthy, they also throw out by their systems that which is natural, human, and lovely.
In the midst of this confusion, I want to suggest a sane middle ground between the American dating game and the modern courtship doctrines that have arisen to oppose it. We notice from the above quoted verse that the Bible speaks of the way of a man with a maid. Sorry boys. Even if you can't help falling in love, the business of actually courting a girl belongs to a man. Someone, that is, who knows who he is, what he needs and where he is going. This isn't child's play. It's not trial and error. It's not the dating game.
The next thing we notice is that it is the way of a man with a maid. It is not the way of a maid with a man. A girl who will throw herself at a man understands nothing of the nature of courtship and precious little of her own needs. It is the business of a man to show his love first that a woman may love in return, for she is a picture of the church-who love Christ because he first loved us.
Another thing we notice is that it is the way of a man with a maid. It is not the way of a man with a father, and certainly not the way of a father with a father. Fathers make excellent advisors and protectors, but they shouldn't need to be courted. And they certainly have no business getting in between a man and a maid, except in those cases where they need to turn an unsuitable man away from their daughter. If the man is suitable, he should be given leave to court the girl in whatever way nature has taught him. A father who will inform his daughter when a good man has expressed an interest in her robs his future son-in-law of his first duty to a woman-that of opening his heart to her. If he does not rob him of his manhood, he yet robs him of the joy of manhood, and robs his daughter of the first pleasure of love.
The father ought also to be very liberal in the regulations put upon a man whom he trusts to court his daughter. Some doctrines of courtship seem to assume that everyone has poor character. That there is call for caution in every case cannot be denied, but suspicion and stringent regulations are not for those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. To forbid parking at Lover's Lookout is legitimate. To require a chaperone at all times is not. If a man cannot be trusted to be alone with a girl, he should be rejected, not chaperoned.
A man should be certain of his love before he opens his heart to a girl and tries to win her to himself. How, and how quickly, he does so depends entirely on who he is. If he has chosen his girl wisely, she is a match to his own soul, and the means which he chooses will suit her. But he should not expect a commitment from her at the beginning. She may hardly know him. He knows her, because he has been watching her closely for a while, and he has made it his business to know all he can of her, but she may have barely noticed him. Perhaps she had a secret suspicion of his interest in her, but she may not have dared to hope there was any real substance to it. She knows enough of his character and person not to reject him as a suitor, but she can't have the certainty about the relationship which he has. As a woman she is expected to commit herself to a man's leadership. She cannot do this until he has proven his love to her. She cannot go on a mere profession. Her heart must be won by his love. This will take time. And this is what courtship is all about-a man winning the heart of the maid he loves.
At the beginning of courtship, he must give all on nothing but the hope that his girl will love him, too-even as a picture of Christ who loved us and gave himself for us, dying for us while we were yet sinners, without any assurance that we would respond to his love. A man who is not willing to give this is not ready to court. If he is able to win his girl without it, they both get cheated. He ought to be deeply in love and be able to shower his love upon his girl until she is fully assured that she can trust him. When he has convinced her that his love is enduring, and so won her heart to himself, then he can ask her to commit herself to him-and she can safely say Yes. Having done so, and being now secure in one another's love, the couple ought by all means to be married at the earliest possible date. "Let every man have his own wife."