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F R O M T H E V I S I O N F O R U M , I N C .
A N D D O U G P H I L L I P S
J U L Y 1 9 , 2 0 0 1
Never Been Kissed:
A Home-School Love Story
Saturday, June 9, 2001
Deep in the Hill Country of South Central Texas, on a quiet ranch, the world is about to change. There are no newspapers, there is no public fanfare -- but most of the more than 600 people gathered know they are about to witness something that the majority of Americans will never experience: A truly pure woman is about to covenant in marriage with a truly virtuous man for the stated purpose of building a multi-generational legacy for the glory of God.
This is a true love story -- the kind of which you rarely hear about these days. From their childhood, both groom and bride had purposed to let their parents direct them in all things. Both had demonstrated an unusual ability to submit their wills to that of their parents'. Both were willing to allow their parents to guide the process of preparation for maturity and marriage, even when this meant taking a very different path from that traversed by friends and peers. In fact, both had purposed to have no other romantic relationship than the one reserved for the spouse God would give to them.
When they stand at the marriage altar today, both bride and groom proclaim to the world that this is their first love. It is true love. In fact, today, they will take their very first kiss -- Ever! -- With anyone! -- And they will do it at the moment they are pronounced man and wife.
But this love story is about more than just the bride and groom. It is about two families, an entire community of believers, and a new generation of children who are being raised to embrace and emulate the pattern for life preparation and marriage being modeled today by the happy couple.
Though the bride and the groom are only in their early twenties, this story is actually more than three decades in the making. It is the story of two sets of parents, both first-generation home educators, who understood the Scriptures to commission them to raise their children in a manner set apart from the world. Both sets of parents embraced this commission, and for decades both sets of parents have prayed and planned and prepared for this very moment.
For these parents, this marriage is a victory. It is a vindication of the fact that God's ways work. It is yet more evidence that He is the God of the covenant who honors promises and blesses obedience.
But even more is going on. A major deposit is about to be made in the spiritual bank account of a community of believers. For the local church congregation of more than 150 who are gathered as witnesses, this is the first time that two members of their own assembly have come together in marriage. In a real sense, this couple represents the first fruits of a young church, which from its inception has been dedicated to praying for the marriages of its young men and women. For two years they have prayed for strong families. They have cried out to the Lord that he would be merciful and provide godly spouses for their children. They have asked Him to raise up another generation that will build on the principles of family revival their parents have embraced -- home education, multi-generational faithfulness, biblical patriarchy, covenant keeping, virtuous womanhood, and courageous manhood.
Today, the little children of the congregation will be watching. This too is a blessing. It means that they are growing up with the right kind of examples around them. It means that there is the wonderful hope that they will grow up in a spiritual community where it is normative for young men and women to grow up in purity.
The groom is Joshua Goforth. At the ripe old age of twenty-one, he has already distinguished himself among his peers as a man of vision, spiritual focus, and excellence as the graphic designer extraordinaire for all three of the Vision Forum catalogs (book catalog, All-American Boy's Adventure Catalog, and the Beautiful Girlhood Collection). Joshua, who joined Vision Forum immediately upon completion of his home education, is one of a growing number of home educated students who are demonstrating that a little bit of entrepreneurial vision, a lot of effort, and some good old-fashioned practical experience is a superior method of life preparation than a four-year journey through the halls of Babylon (a.k.a., the modern college experience).
With just moments to go before the wedding begins, I am standing and praying with the groom. He has given me the awesome privilege of assisting his father and father-in-law in officiating over the marriage. His last words to me as a single man sum up the message of this wedding: "I know I am not worthy of this woman, but I also know that God is doing something really special here, and He is doing it for future generations."
The lady of the hour is Miss Noelle Wheeler, the twenty-four year old daughter of evangelist Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler. Vision Forum readers may recognize her as the girl who graces the cover of the Beautiful Girlhood Collection with such genuine sweetness and femininity, or as the author of our best-selling book Daughters of Destiny. Anyone who has met Noelle knows that she possesses a refreshing innocence and precious naivet that only comes from a girl who has been raised around the sweet aroma of Christian holiness. Today, she is focused on one thing: preparing herself for her new earthly Lord (1 Peter 3) with whom she will focus the rest of her life in the service of Jesus Christ as they purpose to seek the Lord for many children and commit their marriage to a joint-dominion work for the glory of God.
The marriage commences. It is perfect in every respect. Beautiful sunlight from the Lord and a pleasant breeze accompany the lovely strains of music which proceed from the outdoor gazebo by which bride and groom will take their vows. As I share a message of encouragement to the couple, accompanied by the vows of their covenant, I can sense a true spirit of hope and glorious expectation coming from the many well wishers gathered.
But one last event is yet to take place. With just moments to go before bride and groom are pronounced man and wife, the father of the bride rises to approach the couple. He takes his stand before me. In his own inimitable style, Little Bear Wheeler reaches down to the ground and reveals a replica of the massive sword once carried by the original "Braveheart," William Wallace of Scotland. Raising the sword with both hands he proclaims the following words, which I will attempt to paraphrase below:
"Kneel Joshua Goforth... In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I commission you to take my daughter. I have raised her with a sacred purity as few girls have ever been raised. Today, I give her to you. You are to be the loving lord in your home and over her. Cherish and love her and never forget what a rare gift God has given to you. Keep the sword in your house forever. When your children rise up and ask you 'father, whence comes this sword,' you must answer them that 'This sword was given as a charge by my father to me as a reminder that our family would forever be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the covenant of marriage is sacred and never to be broken.'"
Last night was my ninth wedding anniversary. As my wife Beall and I reflected upon the joys of our own marriage and the supreme happiness God has given to us, we were also able to rejoice in the new marriage we witnessed a month prior.
We rejoiced because the world is now a better place. We rejoiced because a promise has been kept. It was a promise given millennia ago to a great man named Abraham. It is a promise that was affirmed by Solomon and echoed in the words of the Apostles. It is a promise that more and more parents are claiming as they dedicate their children to the service of the Lord, as they fulfill the substance of the Deuteronomy 6 mandate by walking alongside their children through home education, as they turn their hearts to home and from the debilitating philosophies of our culture, so that they can raise warriors for Jesus Christ.
I was there. I witnessed it from three feet away. It was sealed before the public with a vow and a kiss -- a very special kiss, the kind you don't hear about any more. A kiss of purity and innocence -- a genuine first kiss.
Wake up happy tomorrow -- you serve a God who keeps His promises!
Thank you Father, for reminding us that God's ways work. Thank you Father, for vindicating parents who have stood against the world, year after year, in the home education of their children. Thank you Jesus, for praying fathers who have turned their hearts to home. Thank you Father, for noble and pious mothers who have labored in the trenches of daily homemaking. Thank you Father, for raising up a generation of young men and women who we can actually set before our little ones and say -- "follow their example." Thank you for the marriage of Joshua Goforth to Noelle Wheeler. We are all better for it.
Standing Amazed in His Presence, I Remain,
President, The Vision Forum, Inc.