I recently read this blog post that I found through a link on Facebook. I was excited to read it because of the title: "A Case for Early Marriage: Why It’s a Good Idea to Get Married Young." It was also written by a Baptist pastor.
I'm 21 and married, so I was looking forward to seeing the author's biblical opinion of marrying young. And he made three points that I more or less agree with:
- Marriage is a Great Gift
- Marriage Encourages People to Grow Up
- Marriage Protects from Sexual Immorality
But upon finishing the article, I was rather disappointed. The author only made three points as to why marrying young shouldn't be considered taboo and he did not offer one passage of Scripture for any of it. I'm not saying that you can't make a valid point without backing it up with Scripture, but in a post that is written from the biblical perspective, it is expected that you provide support for your reasoning.
Some Scripture that could have been discussed in these points:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. ESV
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” ESV
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. ESV
Now, when someone creates a three-point list, it is my opinion that the last point should act as a finale, as the major concluding thought. That is why I was disappointed that this author ended his list with his point about sexual immorality. Granted, I believe that this is a true and valid concept. But in my opinion, this is a benefit of marrying early, not a main reason to marry early.
It is true that Paul writes, "Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband." And it is true that we are sexual creatures and that it is a heavy burden to place on young people to not have sex until marriage. But which is worse: sexual immorality or entering into a marriage covenant under false pretenses? I'm not sure I have an answer for that, but I do believe that wanting to have sex should not be the main driving force behind the decision to marry.
Some other important thoughts that I think could have been discussed in this post:
- Love can happen at any age.
- Or, let me ask this: How old do you have to be to love and be committed to someone?
- Let's not forget 1 Timothy 4:12:
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. NIV
- We trust young people to drive a vehicle at 16. We allow them to vote and serve the country at 18. We expect them to have decided what they're doing for the rest of their lives upon high school graduation. But at the thought of them marrying before 25, we say things like they're too young. They have so much growing up to do. They couldn't possibly have a handle on life yet.
- The bible never mentions a prime age for marriage.
- Generally, the ages of biblical figures upon marriage is not documented, though I did find some speculations during a brief search on the internet. Moses was 40. Jacob was about 84. Mary was probably in her early teens.
- Most commonly, women married between the ages of 13 to 16; men married during their late 20s to early 30s. This was due to the culture they were in, not necessarily because their religion dictated it.
- Everyone is different.
- In Paul's writing, he acknowledges that people are not the same; some are able to abstain from sexual immorality better than others. For some people, it's better not to marry. Everyone is different, so we cannot say that it is more beneficial to marry at one age over another.
- Instead of teaching children when they should marry, we should instead teach them God's intent for marriage and encourage them to marry whenever they are ready, no matter if that’s at 20, 30, or 50.
One last thought, which concerns a user's comment to the original post:
"I wonder why unbelievers even get married as it is a God ordained thing for spiritual people."
I will respond to this comment in two parts.
Q: Why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas? What about Halloween? Easter? Why do non-Christians thank God, swear to God, or curse God's name?
A: Religious thoughts and traditions have permeated our culture.
This isn't a good or bad thing, it's simply a reality. As Christians, we celebrate Christmas because it represents the birth of Christ. But it has also become linked to gift giving and receiving, spending time with friends and family, Santa Claus and Christmas trees, etc. Should non-Christians be allowed to celebrate Christmas if they aren't celebrating the birth of Christ? Yes, of course they should be, because it's become a cultural tradition. And who are we to tell someone that they aren't allowed to participate in a cultural festivity because they're doing it wrong?
This is why I support equal marriage. Because even though I have particular beliefs about marriage and what God intended it to be, I realize that the idea of marriage has also been adopted into the culture. For some people, the value of marriage might not be connected with their religious beliefs, but they do still value the institution of it. And, as I said before, we are in no position to tell someone that they should not be allowed to participate in something just because we disagree with them.
Q: Why do non-Christians eat? Have sex? Seek forgiveness?
A: Non-Christians are still human.
This seems like an obvious statement, but the more I see and hear Christians treat non-Christians, the more I've realized that Christians don't always see non-Christians as human. Their thought process: Why would a non-Christian participate in something that was designed by God? Well, God designed hunger, sex, etc. A non-Christian still experiences these things because God designed them, too. You heard me right, ladies and gentlemen. This is not a test. Sinners, non-believers, people of different races, people of different sexual orientation, people of different religions...God created every single one of them.
This should not be a revolutionary idea, but I see it missed time and time again. We are not of a higher pedigree because of our Christianity. And we are not immune to temptation or sin. We should not look down on anyone, ever. And above all, we should treat everyone, everyone, with love and respect.
I married at 21, but I’m not an advocate for marrying early. I’m an advocate for marrying when the time is right. For us, the time was right. Age should not be a barrier, but we should not push young people to marry before they are ready to do so. Yes, there are benefits for marrying early, benefits that go well beyond forcing someone to grow up or not having to battle your sex drive, but there are also benefits on waiting until you’re a bit older. At the end of the day, no one else can tell you when to marry. It’s a decision that has to be made between you, your future spouse, and God.
I’m sure if I had more time, I could write this a bit clearer, but I think you get the point. I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments that you might have.
currently listening to: I See Fire by Ed Sheeran
currently listening to: I See Fire by Ed Sheeran