“If you are faithful, God will give you a wife.”
Most people, even Christians, make the decision to choose a lifelong mate based upon many factors. Physical attraction often starts the process of learning about one another, which consists of a series of revelations that unfold over time–usually about a year or two. During the courtship period, character is tested, actions are weighed against principles, trade-offs and compromises are worked out, and the couple begin to grow together in several important areas, such as Mutual Affection, Admiration, Respect, and Commonality.
NTCC subjects its seminary students to a ritualistic mating system in which the proper means of courtship are blatantly disregarded in favor of the all-consuming goal, which is the production of work units to feed the organization. NTCC cares little about the quality of the product (the marriage itself) so long as there are adequate numbers of “couples” dispatched into “the work of the Lord”.
Normal people meet and associate in a normal human environment. Even in churches, the milieu against which couples relate to one another is “normal”. However, the controlling environment of NTCC, motivated by the fear that “something might happen”, eliminates dating from the equation, forbids the prospective couple to have privacy at any time, and restricts courtship to a location known as The Wall. The way this works is very simple. When the head of the organization is in attendance at a mass gathering in the school’s Fellowship Hall, a young man asks for permission to “talk” to a girl of his liking. If the head of the organization grants permission, the young man asks the young lady to “talk”. If she agrees to “talk”, they take their places in chairs across from each other against a long, blank wall where other hopeful pairs are also “talking”. These innocent trysts are extremely brief and not at all frequent. A couple who have been “talking” for six months will have actually spent perhaps twenty hours “talking” while seated against The Wall. At this point, they are often goaded into a decision with comments such as, “You’ve been talking for six months! What’s wrong, can’t you make up your mind?” The forced separation coupled with the pressure to commit is a recipe for marital strife and failure, often resulting in very regrettable lifelong choices.
The pressure to be married is great for both men and women. Young men are taught that a wife is necessary for the completion of their ministry. They come to believe that a wife is important for two reasons: the fulfillment of sexual needs, and the provision of a helper in the church. After all, a successful preacher needs someone to play the piano and pray with prospects at the altar. Obsequious loyalty to the leadership is rewarded with occasional matchmaking efforts. This fact is subtly telegraphed in the oft-repeated maxim that, “If you are faithful, God will give you a wife.” Women are faced with the prospect of attending seminary primarily for the purpose of becoming the wife of a potential preacher. With these shallow and limited goals, and after very little time actually spent in becoming adequately acquainted, young couples enter into marriage on very shaky terms.
Mutual respect, admiration, and affection are based only upon one thing in such cases; loyalty to NTCC and the fulfillment of the larger program. Women seek out men who appear to have the potential for “success” in the ministry, and men seek out women who have the seal of approval from the leadership and their wives. Tacitly understood (if unspoken) is the central truth: any disloyalty, failing attendance, or slackness of dedication with respect, not to Christ, but to NTCC, will constitute a breech of pre-nuptial concord, will be considered “desertion for the gospel’s sake”, and will likely result in divorce.
Perhaps nothing suffers more from this courtship method than the idea of Commonality. These couples generally are from differing backgrounds, sometimes differing races, cultures and nationalities, and usually have nothing in common save for a determination to promote the NTCC program and the apostolic prerogatives and privileges of its leaders. This is characterized as the Work of the Lord, and yet should either of the two decide for any reason that they would like to pursue the ministry or their Christian experience in some context outside of NTCC, the deal is off, and divorce is imminent. One need not look far to find many examples of the matrimonial musical chairs game that continues to break the hearts of innocent people, rewarding opportunistic loyalty and sundering once-happy families for the benefit of the group and its leaders’ personal goals. This demonstrates the power of the brainwashing that leads people to believe that no one can be saved who leaves the group.
This article is part of a series entitled “What Can I Expect From New Testament Christian Seminary? ”