"When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken." (Deuteronomy 24:5)Unfortunately, this does not mean that the new husband does not have to do any work for a full year, rather this law applies to the state's demands and expectations upon a newly married couple. The health of the family is to be given greater priority over the health of the state. A man's responsibility to his new bride is to take precedents over his responsibility to the state. The state must recognize and respect the importance of families and must not enact policies and behaviors that would intrude into the family in a way that would be destructive, harmful, or counter productive.
This verse deals specifically with required military service and other forced obligations to the state. Couples, in their first year of marriage, were not to be pressed into service by the state but rather were to be given a year to establish their marriage and their family. Unfortunately, such wisdom is not universally practiced in our modern military. It is quite common for couples to get married immediately prior to one or the other deploying for six months or longer. While there are many reasons why couples marry just before joining the military, it often leads to significant hardships and difficulties, especially when faced with prolonged separation due to military deployments. God's wisdom is either to wait to wed or wait to deploy (a choice not available to most new recruits).
I believe that my government, in particular, needs to rethink its policy of deploying newly wed solders. I also believe that the military needs to amend its policies of deploying mothers of young children. There is a surprising number of women deployed who have infants at home under the care of husbands and/or grandparents. I believe that the same wisdom espoused in this scripture can also be applied to deploying parents, especially mothers, with infants under then age of one year old.
While this scripture deals specifically with the government's demands on the family, often the modern church also intrudes upon families with excessive demands, especially for newly married couples. I am amazed how often the church takes newly married couples and places them in "ministry", making them youth pastors, worship leaders, and the like. The church is then in a position to place demands and expectations on them that can interfere with their growth as a married couple. I think it would be wise for churches to remove all expectations and demands on newlyweds for a year to give them time to grow together without the interfering demands of the church. Similarly, I am also concerned with the number of young families that serve as senior pastors or senior leaders in churches. In the first century church, their leaders were called "elders", because they were "elder". They were older saints who, not only had the benefit of years of wisdom, but also had the time to devote to the church, in that they had finished raising their children and could give a greater portion of their time to the church. While this verse does not prohibit young families in position of leadership within the church, such decisions should be based on the principal found in this verse: family first, church and state second.
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