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    Called by His Name

    May 19, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    I remember that when I was in third grade I was completely infatuated with a little boy who sat near me in school. In my spare time, I practiced writing my first name with his last name. In high school, I became embarrassed when I rediscovered that notebook and threw it away, think such behavior symptomatic of some sort of childishness that I had outgrown in my “old age.” But later, at the age of twenty, I found myself spending at least half and hour helping one of my roommates practice her new name. She had just gotten engaged, and while we were all interested in wedding colors and dresses and flowers, of course, time was especially set aside for practicing the name.

    Specifically, if one has always been unhappy with their cursive h, should one try a new method entirely upon acquiring a last name containing said letter? We decided yes, invented a prettier h, and the rest is history.

    I own books from a time when women were fiercely attached to their husbands’ names. One we have been using lately is written by Mrs. Alfred Gatty, whose first name I know not.

    Last night, Si and I began reading together a surprisingly slim volume by Douglas Wilson entitled Reforming Marriage. I think this is going to be one of those marriage books that I actually keep, rather than passing along.

    Marriage books are like parenting books. A lot of helpful hints can usually be gleaned from such books, but there are only a handful worth reading again and again.

    Most marriage books worth keeping begin with a theology of marriage. This is essential because if we don’t understand what something is {if we aren’t aware of its nature}, we will set inappropriate goals for it, or set about building it up in an inappropriate manner.

    Even though I have read a couple books that begin with a theology of marriage, this is the very first I have read that discusses the custom of the wife taking the husband’s name.

    I absolutely adored taking my husband’s name. I considered it symbolic of the transfer of authority in my life, which is to say that I was leaving the shelter of my father behind and gaining the shelter of my husband. However, Wilson goes all the way back to the story of Creation to explain why our cultural custom of a wife being called by her husband’s name is appropriate:

    …the Bible does teach that God calls a husband and wife by the same name–the name of the husband. This fully supports both our particular custom of taking a new name, as well as the covenantal truth that custom represents.

    “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them mankind in the day they were created” (Gen. 5:2). In Hebrew, the italicized word translated mankind is Adam. In other words, God created Adam and his wife male and female, He blessed them, and called them Adam. She was, from the beginning, a covenantal partaker in the name of her husband. God does not call her Adam on her own, He calls her Adam with him.

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  • Reply Brandy May 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm


    We really do. We almost finished chapter two last night. I love the way Wilson thinks, his ability to make distinctions is rare these days.


    Did you see that I wrote you back on that other post? 🙂 If not, I said congratulations! I think I would have loved studying the book in Sunday School. What a good idea! Right now we are studying Titus in Sunday School as we have a recent seminary graduate who volunteered to teach us…

  • Reply Anonymous May 20, 2009 at 7:48 am

    This is our absolute favourite marriage book, too. We read it first about 5 years ago and have now just (last Sunday) finished studying it in our church’s adult Sunday School class.

    In Him

    Meredith in Aus

  • Reply Mystie May 19, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I’m glad you like the book! My husband and I have taken to heart the “keeping short accounts” advice, and it is such a blessing!

    I changed my capital cursive “W” while my husband courted me. 🙂 Now I fill margins with names I might give future children. 🙂

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