The Case for Marrying Young

It is almost a truism today that it is best to wait until one is older to get married. I’ve heard Christian parents joke that they weren’t going to let their kids (often daughters) date until they turned 25. People are marrying later and later than they ever have and many in the church approve of the trend. The assumption is that people who marry late have grown up, learned more about life, attained financial stability and personal maturity, and are therefore more ready for marriage.

It is my belief that this reflects a fundamentally unbiblical mindset about marriage. God’s plan is not the same for everyone. Some find their mates early and others wait on the Lord for years, even decades, to find the one for them. But the idea that waiting to marry is somehow better is not, in my view, biblically justified and may have some contrary effects.

A lot has already been written on this, and I have no wish to re-plow those fields.

  • The opening salvo in this discussion may have been an article by Mark Regnerus in Christianity Today, called “The Case for Early Marriage.”
  • Dr. Mohler followed up with an article reviewing and expounding on the CT article. His is called, “The Case for (Early) Marriage.”
  • Today, Matt Svoboda has a post up called, “Get Married Before You Turn 23” making some of the same points. While I would never put a time limit on it (believing that you should be led of God, not by any kind of specific age guideline), Matt makes some good points.

All these articles are worth reading, and I do not intend to reiterate or review those articles. You can and should read them for yourself, if you have not yet done so. I would just like to focus on a few supplementary points which come from my own experience and convictions.

1) Many, even within the church, have a very negative view of marriage, which (in part) drives the trend of late marriages. 

I remember speaking to a young woman who was newly married and expecting a child. She told me something that bothered me. “I cannot believe the negative messages about marriage and parenthood that I have gotten within the church. She married young and was starting a family without much delay and had encountered much criticism and even condemnation.

Marriage as God intended is not a curse and parenting while parenting is hard and demands sacrifice, it is a great joy. Yet even in the church we have bought into the idea that marriage and procreation are destructive to the enjoyment of life and should be delayed as long as possible.

2) Young marriages among committed Christians have a great chance to be happy. 

I’ve done a lot of marriages in my 32 years of full-time Christian ministry – from 18 year-olds to senior citizens. Many of these marriages have been young whippersnappers and the vast majority of them have not only lasted, but have been (seemingly) happy. 

I do not have scientific research here. My evidence is wholly personal and anecdotal. But young marriages (among grounded, growing Christians) are just as successful, and perhaps even more so than marriages among those who wait until they are 25 or 30 to marry.

I believe that is true because young marriage often reflects a more biblical outlook on marriage than is seen in the “wait till you are 30″ philosophy. I will spell out some of those reasons.

3) If sexual purity matters, young marriage is important. 

Do we really believe that purity until marriage is important, that it leads to blessing? If so, then early marriage is of value. The longer a couple of young people delay marriage, the less likely it is that they will remain pure. My wife and I waited until marriage to have sex, but we were married between our 21st birthdays (she is 2 months older than I). Had we delayed marriage until we were 25 or 28, would we have been able to hold out? I don’t know. But the longer you wait, the less likely you are to wait!

Let’s face it, one of the reasons people are putting off marriage is because they are already sharing that act which God intended to be sacred to the marriage bed.

If purity before marriage really matters to you, then it is foolish, no, it is stupid, to tell young people to wait until 25 or 30 years old. Yes, there are people who remain virgins into their 30s, but the number of Christian young people who give in to the temptation of premarital sex gets higher every year they delay marriage.

If we believe in sexual purity, young marriage is a boon.

4) Marriage is not about “finding your soulmate” but about sharing your life with another person.

According to common belief, youth is a time to sow your wild oats (I know, a very old-fashioned term) and have some fun. Then, at some point, you magically find your “soulmate” and all desire for other women or other men fades away. That perfect person will make you happy, fulfill your dreams, and you can ride off into the sunset together to live happily ever after.

Balderdash.

And dangerous balderdash at that. A few years down the road when the bloom is off the rose, suddenly “we fell out of love” and no longer make each other happy. The soulmate mythology is at the heart of a lot of broken dreams and broken marriages.

Marriage is about two people coming together to love God and to love one another. It is more than just romance; it is the hard work of kindness and forgiveness, of compromise and cooperation, of learning and growing together.

I am glad that I picked my wife and did not have an arranged marriage. But if two people in an arranged marriage treat one another with kindness, respect and selflessness, a love can grow between them that is deeper than the silly notions of romantic love that our world cherishes.

Yes, it is a cliche, but it is true nonetheless. Marriage is less about finding the right person than being the right person. It is about how you act, not how you feel. Young couples who are taught in the ways of God and of the Word can grow together as one.

5) (HERE’S THE BIG ONE) Marriage is about two becoming one, not two individuals sharing parts of their lives.

This is the root of it, in my humble but correct opinion. The philosophy behind the wait-to-marry movement reflects an unbiblical, worldly view of marriage – that marriage is two individuals who, while maintaining their individuality, join together to share a part of their individual lives with one another.

I noticed this in the change to a simple wedding ceremony – the unity candle. Back in the “good old days”, the couple took their candles and held them together to light the one candle, then they extinguished their individual candles. While I find the unity candle a little bit tired, it is a biblical symbol. “The two become one.” A man and wife are not two separate individuals who are roommates and lovers. They are one flesh. One life.

But that is not the modern mindset. Today, when a couple does the unity candle, they often leave the two individual candles lit. That is symbolic of this new understanding (I’ve actually seen wedding officiants make that point during the ceremony). I have my life. Jenni has her life. We have a part of our lives that we share. That is not the biblical view.

The marry-late mentality is built on the idea that two people need to find their own way, to become separate, mature, independent individuals before they join together in the limited partnership called marriage. Certainly, some people wait for marriage for noble reasons, and I am not intending to make myself anyone’s judge. But in general, the movement to marry late reflects a “I have to be my own person” mentality, which is inimical to biblical “one-flesh” concepts of marriage.

I left my parents’ home to attend college. There, God brought Jenni and I together. I was a 20-year-old college grad when we married. I have never lived on my own. I went from my parents’ home to college to an apartment with my young bride. For 35 1/2 years we have shared our lives – for good or ill. Neither of us has any sense of what a life would be like without the other. We shared a life as we grew up. We made lot of mistakes, but we made them together. We were poor together and learned how God provides. We struggled together and learned of God’s goodness. We have always had a shared bank account.

Conclusion

There are some very good reasons for young Christians, who love the Lord and live by his Word, to consider marrying young. The idea that Christians ought to wait until they are 25 or 30 years old to marry has no biblical support and may actually be contrary to biblical values and inimical to Christian virtues such as moral purity.

 

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    Slightly off-topic: One of the more disturbing things to me is the number of couples who maintain separate finances.

    It seems to me that one flesh also means one bank account. Just an opinion.

    • Doug Hibbard says

      We’ve got like 9.

      But both of our names are on all of them.

      Transparency and shared responsibility/accountability is the key, I think. Ann’s a far better money manager than I am, but I still need to know what’s happening, so we work it together.

      Fortunately, Guidestone has all of our life’s savings, so it’s all taken care of.

    • says

      I think it’s part of the pattern of item #5 above.

      I noticed when we married that my wife was a pretty frugal shopper. I make most of our money and I think it’s great that she spends most of it. While there are some things that we buy that are necessarily “mine” or “hers”, everything is really both of ours. I want her to have access to all of our money. There is no good reason to have money that is just mine or money that is just hers.

    • says

      I’d agree, though I think there’s room for some flexibility.

      Being the 57-year old always-single in the crowd, I have to go to my parents for an example. When my mom started teaching, she had a separate account for her income. This wasn’t so that she’d have it separate from Dad, but because her income was primarily intended to pay for college for us kids. There was a main, shared primary account for the family expenses that Dad’s income went into, and Mom’s account that her income went into. I think there was some of Mom’s income that wasn’t spent on college, but knowing Mom, that was probably mostly spent on gifts for others. Money was transferred from one account to another when needed.

      Though Mom’s name was (as best as I remember) the only name on her account, I don’t think I would classify this as ‘separate finances’.

  2. says

    What about those, like me, who are 30, called to the ministry, and still single, but not by choice. Posts like this make me feel like some how I am less of a Christian. I think this, because I have already had at least one church that I know of, turn me down, not for my theology, not for my preaching ability, but because I was single. This was not a “large” church either, but one of about 30 members. How about rather than a post that disparages all single Christians over 25, you put out a post that talks about how the most important aspect of a Godly relationship is not age, but that it is a Godly relationship, whether the couple is 20 or 50. To tell someone that they are ” contrary to biblical values and inimical to Christian virtues such as moral purity”, is not helpful. It is wrong. And it does more damage than you possibly can realize.

    • Doug Hibbard says

      I’ll let Dave defend his premise his own way, but I think there’s a difference in those who are not married because they either have not encountered the opportunity or have not pursued the opportunity, and the other cultural push, which is that you should flee from marriage until you are older.

      There’s more than two groups of people in this world–and it’s hard with a discussion like this to cover everyone.

      There are those who aren’t married because they’re just not. It hasn’t come on their radar, it hasn’t been an option, it’s not something they even know they want to do.

      Then there’s those who run from it and only want to party the single way until they are “older,” whatever that may mean. These are the ones that I think Dave is addressing, not the others.

      You should not feel like less of a Christian. And yes, there are churches that will turn you down due to being single. There are churches that will turn you down for being too young until you are old enough to be turned down for being too old. There are churches that will turn you down, if you get married, because you don’t have kids until you have kids that are too young, until you have teenagers, after that, they’ll turn you down because they’re not sure your kids are behaving in college. Unless, of course, you never have kids and then they’ll turn you down for that.

      I’ve been in “paid ministry” for more years than not–counting bi-vo years and everything else, almost my entire working life plus my college years. After a tough battle with it mentally, I finally had to come to the conclusion that my value as a Christian could never be determined by a search committee or church business meeting. They can evaluate if I fit their profile for a church leader, but not my worth before God. I gave too many angry people that power for too long. Nowadays, I tend to give it to blog writers and commenters, which is just as dangerous–but don’t give that power to anybody.

      Not to search committees, marriage discussions, churches, or bloggers. Your value is determined by the price paid for you, and you cost as much as Dave, me, John, or anybody else in this thread. Draw your conclusions from that, not from the age of your marriage.

      • Kris B. says

        As a single, recent seminary grad who desires to pursue vocational ministry and who has experienced some of what you described, I found your post encouraging, Doug! Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    • Dave Miller says

      Mr. Muschany, Did you actually read my article?

      Your complaint is based on something I did not say. In fact, I made several statements to make sure that people knew I was not saying what you said I said.

      One of the things I find most frustrating is when someone acts offended by something I DIDN’T say, when if they simply read the article they would know I didn’t say what they got offended about.

      • Mike Bergman says

        As a single 33.5 year old who’d prefer to be married but isn’t yet… I didn’t get that sense from the opener. But I did think: I wonder if Dave would go for an sbcvoices sponsored dating site?

        btw, I’ve been doing the single man pastoring thing for almost ten years, for those on the front end of it: patience and prayer…yeah rejection stinks anytime, but don’t get too caught up in it, and trust if a church ain’t interested then that’s not where God wants you to be.

          • volfan007 says

            You could run ads on TV…. Southern Baptist Singles.com…. we could have Dave walking thru a large church….with some catchy music playing in the background…..and, Al Mohler’s voice saying, “Are you single, and a Southern Baptist? Would you like to meet someone, who believes like you? Aren’t you tired of being lonely? Well, come to Southern Baptist Singles.Com, and meet other lonely, Southern Baptists?” And, Dave could have a really sad look on his face, as he stares down at the pews.

            Then, the next scene….Dave and his wife can come walking into Church…with big smiles on their faces….and then, Al Mohler says, “See what Southern Baptist Singles.Com can do!”

            SBCVoices could make a bundle.

            David ;)

          • Kris B. says

            Here’s what an Al Mohler ad would sound like –

            “What is clear on this website is that is an unprecedented opportunity for singles to marry. Let’s be clear – you have to fulfill that biblical mandate, so we have been audacious enough to set up this website to provide this unparalleled opportunity for meeting other singles!”

            (If you spend much time around SBTS circles, you learn his buzzwords!)

        • B. McBride says

          Depending on your theological bent there could be two sites…
          “Finding God’s Love for You,” and “Chosen, yet undiscovered.” :)

      • says

        I did read what you said. I did read your modifiers to the content of your post. However, the general tone of the article, is that “younger” marriage is superior to all other types of relationships. You try to differentiate between those who “choose” to remain single, and those that do not. Yet even in that distinction you are condemning people who make heartfelt and Godly decisions about their lives.

        I don’t want or like being single. Yet I also am thankful that the Lord has kept me single as long as he has. Had I tried to marry the girl I was interested in high school and college (we ended up going to the same school), I guarantee we would have ended up getting a divorce due to how immature I (we) was at that point. The entire concept of marriages being “better” because of the age of those who get married, is an entirely foreign concept. If a relationship is based and founded on God, no matter what the age, or reasons for the age, that relationship will succeed.

        I use to think that the concept of “two become one” meant that I would find a girl who “fit” my puzzle piece. That the two of us would “fill in” each others holes, and we would become one piece. I do not believe that is how it should go. I believe that before one, especially guys, can functionally develop a Godly relationship, they need to be “whole” in their own lives. Otherwise they are doing a disservice to their spouse. The spouse does not “fix” the problems that you have when you are married. That is something only God does in a persons life. Some of us, are so full of holes, that God needs to spend extra time making us ready, so that we are properly able to be the spouse we need to be. Sanctification is both a singular event, and a life long process.

        Maybe my conduct in this very thread is proof that I still need some “work” before I can be the ready for marriage. As such, it is good that I am not married now. Yet your words indicate that I am somehow doing things in a unbiblical way.

        How about instead of inserting age into the discussion, why not make a thread on what biblical marriage is? Surely the conditions for biblical marriage do not change with age, correct? Why even give the chance for misinterpretation when you can touch exclusively on what makes a Godly marriage/relationship?

        • Dave Miller says

          Look, you are making this all about you. I am addressing a cultural trend of delaying marriage and the fact that advocacy of late marriage has gained traction even in the church. I am confronting that situation, which I believe flows from an unbiblical mindset.

          It’s not about you. As the blog author I address the topic on my mind. This is it. You do not have to like my topic, but could we please stick towhat i wrote, not what you wish I’d written?

          If you’d like to quarrel with what I actually said, go for it. If you’d like to advocate the other side, the field is yours.

          • says

            We must travel in very different circles then, because all I have experienced and have had relayed to me by others who are/have faced similar situations, is suspicion by the “church”. As in, “You are still single? Something must be wrong with you!” In both college (I attended a SBC affiliated school) and in seminary (again SBC), both the students and the factuality/staff were distrusting of those who got older and were still single. What I saw, were people going to college/seminary to FIND a mate before they “got old”.

            So I am sorry, I just can’t relate to what you have written because what I have seen, is the exact opposite of what you see. But then again, maybe our own experiences, me being single until 30, you getting married at 20 have clouded, have clouded both of ours sight. We see what we want to see, and are oblivious to the other side of the coin.

          • Tarheel says

            Dave Miller,

            I understand what you’re saying and have agreement with much it, at least in the principle of a cultural devaluation of the importance and biblical mandate of marriage, child rearing, etc.., but I was a little taken aback by this post as well.

            I have not yet read your links…but the placing of an arbitrary age (or age range) on a requirement for marriage lacks biblical basis, and quite obviously can cause hurt in the lives those who fail, for whatever reason, to meet the extra biblical standards and opines of others.

            As one who did not marry till I was almost 30, I can identify with what SVMuschany is saying. Every word. He’s speaking very real and deep hurts caused by people espousing suspicion and even biblical infidelity toward those who don’t marry young.

            I see this form of (dare I say it?) discrimination with regard to those in the church that are older and not married….even those who are divorced. I see it especially with men. Unwarranted Suspicions of the worst kind abound toward these men. Ministry limitations are placed on these men, even if it’s simply “unspoken” limitations.

            Even though I’ve now been married for over 10 years – I guess I’m a little sensitive to the issue as I’ve “been there, endured that, and got the T-Shirt to prove it.”

          • Tarheel says

            I realize you wrote a personal caveat regarding the setting of an age, but even still your article seems to articulate an “age range” for “biblical marriage”.

          • says

            SV and Tarheel,
            You two have very valid points. There is an equal problem in the church that looks upon singles with suspicion.

            But those valid points likely belong in response to a different article. Dave’s point is this:
            “The idea that Christians ought to wait until they are 25 or 30 years old to marry has no biblical support and may actually be contrary to biblical values and inimical to Christian virtues such as moral purity.”

            His article is against those that say Christians OUGHT TO wait until 25-30. As if that is the godly thing to do. He’s making an argument that there isn’t a God-given age limit and that there is wisdom in marrying young (if that’s what the Lord has for you).
            That’s all. That’s who he’s talking to. If that’s not your view or your position then he’s not even talking about what you are talking about. Like I said, ya’ll have a very valid point. But it doesn’t belong as a critique to Dave’s very fine article.

          • Bill Mac says

            Although I married young, I have long seen the stigma that Christians place on single people. I have sat on pulpit committees that would not consider a single person. I have heard countless times “I just wish he/she would find someone” as if the single person was broken and marriage would fix them. Dave hasn’t done it here, but I’ve seen articles by Christians that imply that not marrying young is sinful. I think Mohler’s comes close to that.

          • Tarheel says

            Mike, thank you.

            Like I said in my first response, I am by in large in agreement with the sentiments that I think Dave is sharing. You indicated that he is speaking to those who teach that Christians OUGHT to wait to marry…saying that they are on shaky biblical ground for teaching that…if that is his intent then I agree…however, as one who has lived what he is talking about…the article did not come across that way…it came across that if you do not seek to and marry young you are out of bounds relating to the biblical instructions for marriage…the article was his opinion and that is fine (we all have enough of those, and don’t mind sharing them) but I truly felt that his comments lent themselves to expressing that people like SV and myself are without biblical basis for our choices/situations and are therefore in the wrong.

            He essentially said that those who wait are “asking” for temptation to engage in sinful activity. I agree, but lets be honest….devoted believers who sincerely believe that waiting to marry is the right thing for them are hardly the risk for promiscuity….although it is a real temptation and possibility.

            You see, that argumentation plays right into the discrimination that I and others have talked about relating to singles. Church search committees reject them out of hand for ridiculous reasons among which is the ole;

            “is he gonna come here and be on the hunt?”

            People, without real justification as aloud “why is that man or lady working with children and teens when they are single and 30+ years of age…what is going on?”

            I could go on and on….

            Honestly, you people who married young are simply outta touch on this one. That comment is not meant as a slight or a disrespectful jab…just a cold hard fact.

            Where in the Bible is there an instruction or principle to marry early? In the article, Dave seems to assume that and argue against Christians choosing to marry later. The article is his opinion, and apparently others agree…but to assume a position without biblical justification as the biblical model is to castigate those that disagree…whether that castigation is intentional or not.

          • Bob Browning says

            SVMuschany,

            As a 30-year-old that married when I was 19, let me throw my 1.999 cents in the ring.

            Dave’s article is not slamming singleness. From everything I’ve seen Dave write on this site, he is far too biblical to condemn something that the apostle Paul actually commends.

            The tension here stems from the fact that the Bible actually encourages both singleness and marriage – as it is granted to each individual by God. Therefore, what Dave is advocating is NOT that everyone should get married, but rather that the church has adopted an unhealthy practice of putting marriage off until later in life.

            I’ve experienced my share of skepticism from people inside and outside the church regarding my choice to marry at the age of 19. And they made comments that were directed specifically toward me and they meant to offend me – they wanted to make me feel like I’d messed up by marrying young. Dave has not addressed anyone personally – and he has not labeled singleness as evil – so there is no reason for you to be offended by his comments.

            Finally, let me say that I do think a follow-up discussion of the proper use of singleness and its gift to the church would be very profitable. I think if Dave is willing, that might help bridge the artificial gap that seems to have developed here.

            In Christ,

            -Bob B.

  3. John Wylie says

    My wife and I were married young. She was 18 and two weeks after graduating high school, and I was 19. We have been married 23 and a half years and my only regret is that I didn’t marry her sooner (no pun intended). I told her one day if she ever got to where you couldn’t take it any more and wanted to leave be sure and pack me a bag and I would go with her.

    • Dave Miller says

      I was always the youngest in my class. The cut-off was September 15 in Iowa for starting school, and I was born on the 13th (Friday the 13th of September).

      Then, I took CLEP tests and skipped my freshman year. I graduated college at 20 and seminary at 23.

  4. Bennett Willis says

    My first wife and I married when I was 25 and she was 30. We met in a group that was entirely made up of college grads. We had jobs, often for a while. it was “time” for us to marry. The group met once each week. Every couple of years the group would have to reorganize because everyone married each other. About 20 years later we had a reunion of everyone who could be found who was in the group. I think that 30-40 of us showed up.

    Some in the group had never married but no one could think of anyone from the group who had married and then divorced. That system seemed to work well. We fit the established/stable description. This was in the ’60’s so it may not be relevant now.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Married at 20, my wife was 19. Next to accepting Jesus as Lord, best decision that I ever made. As John Wylie stated, if anything I regret we didn’t marry sooner.

      Is it true that Mary & Joseph were around 14 & 16 when they married?

      • Nate says

        I don’t know about Mary and Joseph, but my grandmother (my dad’s mom) married at 14 (early part of the 20th century), my grandfather was 18.

  5. Dale Pugh says

    My experience with marriages and divorces is just the opposite of yours. I find that those who are younger are really not mature enough to handle the commitments required by marriage. Add to that the economic, educational, and emotional struggles that come and you have a marriage disaster on your hands. In addition, I’m not sure that marriage/divorce statistics would be on your side.
    http://www.mckinleyirvin.com/blog/divorce/32-shocking-divorce-statistics/
    I don’t see age as a critical issue in a biblical understanding of marriage. While I completely agree with most of your points, I don’t think they take into account that a young person must first find his/her contentment and satisfaction in life in a committed relationship to Jesus Christ. If that person, no matter how old, is looking for what they need in another person, they’re always going to be disappointed.

    • says

      Many young people are not mature enough these days. However, this was not always the case. Part of the reason they aren’t mature enough is because they haven’t had to be.

      I went to a rural high school back in the early 80’s. In those days students were bus drivers. For a couple of weeks in the fall school was all but shut down because most of the kids were in the fields for harvest. Throughout the school year kids would bring rifles, bows, or shotguns to school because they had either been out hunting before school or were going hunting after school – for food. I’ve known of kids who drove tractors to school because they were out using them to work the fields long before the school day started. Many of these kids got married shortly after graduation and are still married. You don’t see that anymore.

      Maturity is the ability to take responsibility not only for oneself, but for others. It always involves self-sacrifice. If kids are maturing late, they probably aren’t maturing enough to be good spouses in adulthood.

      So the question is: How do we raise kids to be mature in good time?

    • says

      I just clicked over to read the linked article. Oklahoma holds an infamous distinction in the report offered where divorce is concerned. Sociologists have reflected on the matter here (in OK) and find the pervasive expectation to marry early to be a contributing factor. By expectations is meant a cultural expectation present in, according to polls, the “reddest state with the reddest counties.” And, the development of such an expectation can in a significant way be traced to religious convictions/sensibilities.

      The qualifier Dave makes is that young, well-grounded Christian couples do well when they marry young. Universalize the expectation, and you may be sure the issues of socialization, economics, and maturity play a much larger role in successful marriages when the caveat is removed thereby offering a different contextual consideration for making statements about early marriage. Another way of saying I agree with Dale that there are many factors to consider when the divorce rate addresses total populations rather than an exclusive survey of young people considered well grounded in Christian families.

      Dave covers the matter from one perspective. But totalizing that perspective is not what he seems to have intended nor is it helpful when imposed on his piece.

      The one matter that Dave included that we do not handle very well is a Bible read where marriage occurred among what today would be considered middle adolescents. What we know of sexual development today complicates the matter.

      We tell our young people true love waits when the context of the Scriptures reveals waiting was not much of an issue with marriage understood as a non-romantic event often dictated by political or economic expedience. It is very hard to read the story of a wife retrieved for Isaac through a romantic grid.

      Only in the modern era has marriage been so tightly woven into an ambiguous category like romance.

  6. Adam Blosser says

    Agreed.

    The article hits the nail on the head. There is a general devaluing of marriage in our culture that is manifesting itself in so many different ways. Unfortunately, this devaluing of marriage is often very present in the church as well, as this article indicates.

    Those who are objecting are reading their own circumstances into the article rather than dealing with the substance of the article. Just as they have been hurt and looked down upon for not marrying until later in life or even not marrying at all, many who do marry and bear children young are considered to be off their rocker.

    The way the church sometimes/often treats singles who get old without marrying is a separate issue, but an important one nonetheless.

  7. says

    Great article, Dave!

    One of the issues I hear some Christian singles talk about is the lack of good mates. For that most part, this is a produce of the culture. It’s tough being counter-cultural. We live in a narcissistic culture and narcissists make terrible partners. Self-sacrifice is seen as weak and self-sacrifice is what makes marriage great.

  8. volfan007 says

    My Grandfather was 18 when he married my Grandmother, who was 15. She had my Mother when she was 16 yrs old. My Grandparents had a great marriage all the way, until my Grandfather died….years of being happily married. So, getting married young certainly worked for them.

    I, too, have wondered about everyone waiting so long to get married in our society, today. It does seem that it could lead to a lot of temptation for young people. Nowadays, people would cringe if a 16 year old wanted to get married. In fact, a lot of people, nowadays, almost think that a person should be out of college, before they get married. And, I wonder how these young people fight off the temptation to have sex, all of that time?

    David

  9. volfan007 says

    Talking to some of the single women, who are older, I’m told that men EXPECT sex on a date. I’ve had some single, Christian ladies say that they can’t hardly find a man, who doesn’t expect sex on a date. And, treat them as if they’re abnormal, if they don’t give the man sex.

    I bet it’s hard for older, single, Christian women to stay pure in our society.

    David

  10. says

    I think as parents, we should support our children more financially in the first few years of marriage. I realize that few young married couples want to live with their parents or in-laws for the first few years, but if we’re going to advocate getting married young, we don’t want to cripple our children with life-long debt. Our society is built to be more financially beneficial to those who marry later in life. Christian parents should help reverse the trend by attempting to provide for our children what our society will not: an environment for human flourishing.

    • says

      Agreed. When my wife and I (married at ages 24 [me] & 25 [her]) moved to Maryland, we lived with my in-laws for a while. It allowed us to save the money we needed to purchase our home – where we still live with our children.

      Not that all younger married couples should or want to live with their parents, but supportive parents are helpful. Even if it’s just helping them around their new place, helping them pick up groceries, or watching children.

  11. says

    Married two months before turning 20 to Patty, who turned 20 three months earlier. Married almost 31 years.

    I will see if I could stir Paul to read this one as he married at 30.

  12. Louis says

    The scriptures do not address the age at which one is to marry. That means such decisions should be made using practical wisdom in light of existing circumstances.

    In light of this, we should not state or imply that the Bible says anything one way or the other. If we do so, we are taking the Bible places that it does not go. And that is not good.

    There are many factors to be considered in deciding whether to marry. Stability and maturity are not to be dismissed or considered lightly.

    Also to be considered are educational and vocational goals.

    All Christians are called to sexual purity, in and outside of marriage. Learning to control sexual desire is one of the toughest challenges for people today. The desire to please the Lord in this area should not cause people to make unwise decisions in other areas.

    Some people are mature enough to marry at 20 and do quite well. My observations are that the vast majority of 20 year olds I know are not ready socially or intellectually to marry. If we encourage such people to marry at that age when they are too young or inexperienced, we are not doing them a service.

    This is particularly true of young women. In some quarters of Christianity, young women are not encouraged to become educated or to pursue demanding careers. Many women will not do that, and that is fine. We should all follow our individual callings.

    In today’s society young people (men and women) who have the ability and resources to obtain education should do so. I believe it will be very unproductive for Christians to be seen as becoming more like Amish people and other groups who do not seek formal education and are reverting to 19th Century social norms.

    But, again, this is very much an individual thing. There young people who are ready to marry young. I do not believe the number is a significant percentage based on my experience. And I do not believe scripture gives direction here.

    • John Fariss says

      I have to agree with Louis here.

      My grandfather was born in 1865, which puts him in an age in which people tended to marry by the age of 20 if not before. But he was small and sickly, and the doctors said he would never live past 40. Consequently, he decided never to marry, expecting that he would die young and leave a widow, probably with small children, and no way to support herself. He went into the sawmill and logging business back when the mill was moved to be as close to the timber as possible. That is what he was doing on the morning of his 40th birthday. They say he got up, said, “Well, I’m still alive, I think I’ll get married.” He started corresponding with a girl 10 or 15 years his junior from the farm next to his parent’s. They got married, had three children, and he lived to be 86. I eventually found out that his father was 32 when he married. My father was 26 when he married, his older brother was 29, and I was 26. I know I would not have been sufficiently mature to get married much earlier than that; as it was, I was barely mature enough then to stay married.

      John

  13. Paul says

    Ok, Todd goaded me into it.

    There’s really too much I’d like to say and too little space, but I’ll make some general comments. The linked articles have some merit in advocating FOR marriage. There are also some weaknesses. The CT article essentially says (with Mohler’s agreement) that God made us with sexuality/sexual urges as a part of our human makeup and it is unhealthy to put those urges off too long (and impractical to expect that we would). I see a number of flaws in that kind of thinking. We have been created with all sorts of natural inclinations which are, in and of themselves, normal and good. However, that doesn’t mean that the best path is to indulge them as soon as they arise – or in the ways that we think we should naturally indulge them. I took away the impression that the sexual urge is simply one that we cannot realistically expect to deny. But doesn’t that speak AGAINST the Christian discipline of self discipline? And where does that leave the person who has those urges but no opportunity to indulge them in a marital relationship? We certainly wouldn’t encourage them to frequent prostitutes since they can’t reasonable be expected to abstain from sex at their age. How should a Pastor counsel that person? I think most here would counsel them to patience and self-discipline. Yet, that person has the same opportunity (via the prostitute) as the person who has a bona fide girlfriend. Why would I counsel one to be patient and abstain from the prostitute and not counsel the other to be patient and abstain with his girlfriend? Again, the primary explanation is that we simply can’t expect that kind of self-control from people these days.

    My wife and I were 30 when we got married and our honeymoon night was the first time we ever consummated our relationship. Maybe we were just freaks. Maybe the 20% of evangelicals who don’t have sex before marriage are genuine oddities. I just think we’ve (the church) capitulated on this issue because of our failures and the ineffective ways we’ve tried to address it thus far.

    It is also my belief that bringing age into this discussion is misguided. I understand the point that people can advocate for waiting for the wrong reasons. I think it’s wrongheaded to suggest that advocating someone wait could be “contrary to biblical values and inimical to Christian virtues.” Some people in the Bible got married at a young age. Some were older. Some never married at all. The Bible doesn’t encourage a particular age. It only encourages particular conditions. Some people are ready to satisfy those conditions at a young age. My brother, Todd, was 19 and was well prepared. Some at an older age. Again, I was 30 and, honestly, pretty picky, which is why it took so long. It paid off in Spades, by the way. Saying a person should marry when they are young is like saying a person should become a Christian at age 13. A person should become a Christian when they can fully comprehend what that means and are willing to do so as drawn by the Lord.

    A person should marry when they are adequately prepared for the experience and the opportunity presents itself. Whatever age that may be.

  14. Andy Miller says

    I agree, Uncle Dave. If the young people in our churches aren’t ready to get married until their late 20s, then we’re not adequately training our young people. Or maybe many of them are ready, but they’ve been told they must be educationally, financially, emotionally (and in any other number of other ways) stable before they get married. When do any of us ever have that kind of stability? If we ever do, it’s probably after, not before, we get married.

    Not everyone needs to marry young, but the idea should not be discouraged.

    • Tarheel says

      “Not everyone needs to marry young, but the idea should not be discouraged.”

      Now that statement I can agree with. We should not be about discouraging anyone, at any phase of life, from Biblically marrying.

      Sometimes choosing to wait till later in life for marriage is not only prudent, but also the right thing to do.

      I think it is wiser to encourage believers to pursue and devote themselves to Christ, finding their satisfaction and joy in Him alone first and foremost…in so doing they will find themselves on the path to a God glorifying life and marriage, among other important aspects of life, will come in time. That time is different for everyone,

  15. says

    I like this:
    “That perfect person will make you happy, fulfill your dreams, and you can ride off into the sunset together to live happily ever after. Balderdash.”

    I’m 29, I’ve been married 38 years… wait.. umm, make that 59. I won’t say 38 happy years. You can give a guy perfect health and a million bucks and he still may not be happy. But thru that 38 years, we raised 3 wonderful daughters, and my appreciation for my wife is great than ever. And my dependence on her help and all that she brings to our relationship is greater than ever as well.
    Wish I’d married her sooner.

  16. Tarheel says

    I too wish I had married my wife sooner…like I said earlier I did not marry till I was almost 30….but I did not know her until I met her, so it was not possible for me to have married her earlier. ;-)

  17. John Fariss says

    Now that’s it’s too late, but at least i have had time to digest this, something else occurs to me. There are, I think, several factors involved. And as Louis so aptly pointed out, in the absence of a Biblical mandate, these other issues must be considered.

    One: nutrition. Better nutrition has lowered the age of puberty. This creates sexual tension at a much earlier age that it did 100 years +/- ago.

    Two: education. 100 years ago, at least in the South with which I am most familiar, there was no expectation, very little opportunity, and not a lot of incentive for most teens to finish high school, much less go to college. A lot of kids up to the late 1800s, including in my own family, went to work full time when they were12 or 13. I remember when i was a kid, one of my great-aunts telling me that she started full-time in a cotton mill when she was 13, and the mill owners liked that because as that age, girls could get their hands into the machinery to get fouled strings and thread out–no matter that they could also loose a hand in the process. As dangerous as that was, a teen or teen couple could support themselves (and a family) doing that. Today, unskilled labor is both diminishing, and will hardly support a family, making more education a necessity.

    Three: culture. Both of the above and others factors as well (such as the desire to let kids remains kids longer) have influenced culture to take a dim view of early marriage. This goes into the whole issue of maturity. And frankly, I think there are other matters more pressing for us to engage with than this issue. And I have doubts that the conservative, evangelical church can do much about it.

    John

  18. Dave Miller says

    For the record, I did not say that everyone should marry young. In fact, if you will look, I even made that as a criticism of Matt’s article.

    My point is simply that marrying young (18-21 yrs old is what I’m thinking of here) is not the horror show that many have acted like it is.

    Christians should marry according to God’s will, not according to any set timetable.

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