On Friday, I was reading an article in Christianity Today entitled The Case for Early Marriage. The author proposes that perhaps one of the best solutions to evangelical concerns about the way singles (mis)handle their sexuality would be to encourage young Christians to marry earlier than the trend.
His rationale? Practically speaking, many other creative campaigning doesn’t work. Christians still fall into sinful sexual behavior. Further, the later women marry, the more challenging it is to make the most of their fertile years.
His concerns? Well-meaning Christians who might discourage young believers from getting married, suggesting that they need to wait awhile, but not acknowledging the repercussions of that.
If this is a topic of interest to you, the article is worth a read.
Here is my own reaction:
As an unmarried twenty-eight year old, I’d say that perhaps the easiest time to naturally cross paths with many other committed Christians is during high school or college years. As the author mentioned, pursuing marriage this young does mean that the couple would need to grow up together and that can be a challenge, but I trust that it could be a rewarding one and could cement a solid foundation for a strong Christian marriage.
For early marriage to work, like any other aim we might have for the next generation of Christians, it requires a community-level participation. It’s not just a matter of being raised in a good home or an upstanding church. Young folks have to see healthy marriages modeled in their neighborhoods from childhood on up. Lots of believers need to be praying for revival in the institution of marriage. In a culture marred by divorce, abortion, and single-parenting, who’s teaching kids that marriage is sacred and that it can actually work? Many young people are cynical about marriage because of what they’ve seen and experienced in their own homes.
Last week, I was talking to a friend about the trend of post-college Christian women marrying unbelievers. This deeply troubles me and yet, I can see why these things occur. As the article mentioned, oftentimes, there are fewer post-college age single committed Christian men in our churches than there are women. Sometimes women do stick it out trying to mingle among Christian crowds for several years, only to find that nothing pans out. Some Christian guys are thinking: they want to finish school, get a good job, establish themselves, feel ready, and meet the ideal woman. Meanwhile, women tend to be deeply relational and they know that their biological clock has some time constraints. So, sometimes in frustration and disappointment, women in their late twenties and beyond broaden their horizons in the search for a mate.
I’m not condoning this; I believe it is sin and that women who chose this pay a price that I’m personally not willing to pay for a husband. Still, it’s painful and sad to see that for some the options seem to be wait for years (maybe a lifetime) or settle for the prospect of a family with a man who loves her, but not the Lord. Frankly, it really rattles me that this happens, but I know of testimonies where God has provided abundantly for women who wait, sometimes with a godly husband and sometimes, with Himself.
So, yes, early marriage is one potentially viable resolution to a problem that seems to grow deeper and more complicated as single Christians get older and find themselves still unmarried and grappling with the difficulties of sexuality.
What about those of us that are already past the early marriage option, though?
In principle, I’d like to see women take a stand for truth and resist the urge to get into relationships with unbelievers. I’d like to think that if enough women did this, it could encourage Christian men who are reluctant to marry to reconsider their approach.
I’d also like to see churches encouraging younger (and older) singles to get married, namely, teaching them about biblical manhood and womanhood. If young men were trained to be more willing to take initiative, lead, and make a commitment, this could have a very positive outcome. Likewise, if young women were trained to be more supportive of the roles of men in their lives, respectful about their efforts in leadership, and willing to be responders rather than initiatiors in dating, this could bring about some restoration to the pre-marital relationship process which has become confusing and in some instances, appears to have broken down entirely.
At the end of the day, though, these are generalizations and not specific solutions for personal stories of waiting and wondering if and/or when your time might come if you are a single, committed believer who wants to marry.
Whether or not more churches decide to make these matters a priority, or more young men and women step up to live biblically, in your personal case, I would say, God is still sovereign, He is still active and powerful, and He will continue to work in your life to bring about His kingdom purposes for His great glory. It’s my hope and prayer for the many precious single people I know that He will provide for each one in a way that will surpass their own hopes and dreams. In the meantime, some of us must ask God to show us what it means to rejoice and be glad in this very day that the Lord has made and trust Him for all that remains unseen.