Practical Lessons From The Life Of Idelette Calvin -- By: Joel R. Beeke

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 02:1 (Jan 2010)
Article: Practical Lessons From The Life Of Idelette Calvin
Author: Joel R. Beeke

Practical Lessons From The Life Of Idelette Calvin1

Joel R. Beeke

John Calvin was devoted to Scripture and the church. He emphasized God’s sovereignty and Christian living in his preaching and writing, and he was surrounded by many loyal Christian friends. Not surprisingly, he also had a very happy marriage. Yet finding a suitable marriage partner had proved to be a daunting task for Calvin.1 Many of his well-meaning friends and family members had attempted to play matchmaker for him, and each time Calvin had been disappointed. Eventually he nearly resigned himself to celibacy.2 When Calvin’s friend Guillaume Farel wrote to tell of yet another possible life mate, Calvin responded: “I do not belong to that foolish group of lovers, who are willing to cover even the shortcomings of a woman with kisses, as soon as they have fallen for her external appearance. The only beauty that charms me is that she is virtuous, obedient not arrogant, thrifty, and patient, and that I can expect her to care for my health.”3

When Calvin finally married Idelette van Buren, he found the one thing needful for which he was looking: a sincere and obedient heart of piety toward God. For Calvin and Idelette, such piety was key to braving the difficulties and challenges of married life.

While we know little of Calvin and Idelette’s home life, from all indications it was serene and godly despite its many tragedies and hardships. As we examine Idelette’s life with Calvin, let us focus on

several lessons that we can learn from her godly example. For in Idelette we see what can be called the blueprint for Christian marriage. It is the pattern of holy living that Colossians 3:12 says includes “kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.” These ingredients which permeated John and Idelette’s marriage still offer us today a variety of helpful ways to enrich and bless our marriages.


Calvin’s duties as a pastor and Reformer were too much for his health. He contracted so many diseases under his heavy load that his friends persuaded him that he needed a helpmeet to relieve some of the burdens of domestic life. Calvin had several students living with him, a few retirees (pensioners), and a surly housekeeper and her son. Calvin’s good friend Guillaume Farel attempted twice to find Calvin a spouse who would match his biblical ideal.

Eventually Martin Buc...

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