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Monday, May 23, 2011

Wait, Don't Wait, Wait, Don't Wait?

Confusing title, right? What is this all about? Well, after a friend of mine had mentioned the topic of marriage at a young age, I thought a lot about the views concerning the right marriageable age according to the world’s standards and according to Christian standards. The world says that one should wait to get married until they’ve done everything they wanted to: had as much fun as possible, gone to college, and had a successful career. By that time, the person should be in their mid to late twenties, which is the best time for marriage according to the world. They say that a young person should wait to get married until all those things have been fulfilled. The Christian realm, well from what I’ve been exposed to, takes on the belief that a young person should get married as soon as possible. It seems that when one hits twenty, the Christian realm believes it is imperative that a spouse is found for that young person. So what is a young person supposed to do when they are pushed and pulled by these views from both sides? One says “Wait!” the other side says “Don’t Wait!” The views are conflicting, and in my opinion, both are detrimental to the young individual. Yes, I said it. BOTH are detrimental. The world’s standard, as we know, is wrong because it puts the selfish needs first. It says that the flesh should enjoy it’s worldly pleasure of independence and freedom before settling down. Because of this view, I have noticed a trend among the world to put off marriage for years. Supposedly these couples have found their soulmate, but they don’t want to be “tied down” just yet. In turn couples could be dating for years before they decide to get married. So we know that the world’s perspective is wrong, but the Christian perspective is too? I would definitely say it is. Marriage at a young age is not for everyone, and it should not be pushed upon anyone either. God works in His timing, and to push marriage upon someone who is not ready financially, spiritually, mentally, and physically is just not right. And some people may have all these things together but God has not allowed the right person to enter their lives yet. Who are we to say they should be married young? It’s all in God’s timing. It seems the Christian standards place unimaginable amounts of pressure on young adults concerning this matter. This is detrimental to impressionable young adults. How? Well for starters, if this idea is bred into them at a young age, their mind will always revolve on “I have to be married by ________ years of age.” They have this goal set in their minds that one has to be married by a certain age. So here this young person has this mindset and is so consumed with finding the right person, their thoughts are on nothing else but the need to be married by that age. When the time comes closer to that age they have “set,” and the right person has not showed up, the only thing that will be left is deep sorrow and utter despondency as to why they are not married. The young adult might start to think that there is something wrong with them because they are not married and many other lies. Notice that the focus was on marriage and not God? They spent their whole time obsessing over their timing instead of waiting on God. God doesn’t work on our time.

I know the subject arises about the Bible concerning early marriage, so I will explain this as well since you are probably thinking “But the Bible encourages marriage at a young age!” I believe this verse is used for that statement

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
(Psa 127:4 ESV)

I can understand where someone gets the idea of marriage at a young age from that verse, but we need to look at this in the perspective of the culture of Israel in those days. For one, it was normal in the Israelite culture of the Old Testament to be married in the teens, for men and women alike. Young men and women were ready to take on the responsibilities of adulthood because they were trained to be ready by then. We live in a totally different culture today. In our culture, it would be very hard for someone to get a full-time job to support a wife and family as a teenager. That’s just a rarity in our culture. One usually has to go through school first in order to support a family. And our culture prepares children to stay adolescents until they’re out of college. The difference in culture is a main reason why I would suggest it doesn’t apply necessarily to today’s culture, especially since many parts of the Old Testament were specifically written to the Israelites of that time period.

A more Biblical example to further uphold my statement would be to define the definition of “youth.” I studied this for a bit in order to understand what the exact age of a “youth” was. In the Strong’s Concordance, the definition really wasn’t definite. The word “youth” in Psalm 127:4 is defined as this according to Strong’s Concordance, “ youth, the state (juvenility) or the persons (young people): ---- childhood, youth.” It was very basic and inconclusive, so I took it upon myself to look up what exactly defined a “young” person in the Bible. Instances of the word “young” (pertaining to humans) are inconclusive in the Hebrew. They uphold close to the same definition of “youth” in the Old Testament. So I decided to see how “young” is defined in the New Testament as the definitions of “youth” in the New Testament were inconclusive as well. Since “young” is part of the definition of youth, I figured it would be a good idea to see what the New Testament Greek defined “young” as. This was conclusive. I took the passage in Acts, pertaining to the young man named Eutychus who fell from the window when Paul was teaching:

And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
(Act 20:9 KJV)

Strong’s Concordance defines the definition of “young” as this, “a youth (up to about forty years):--- young man.” Opposed to what we normally consider “young,” the Bible clearly uses the word “young” for anyone under forty years of age! I believe we can also conclude that the passage in Psalms refers to someone up to forty years of age as well. So in reality, the word “young” for marriage isn’t necessarily the picture we have in mind. It also would explain why there are some young adults who aren’t married until they are in their late twenties or thirties. If the Bible truly encouraged marriage at a “young age” according to our perceived standards, wouldn’t we all be married in our early twenties or sooner?

With that all said, I believe we should have a healthy and fresh mindset of marriageable age, not conforming to the standards of those around us, but conforming to God’s will for our lives. In God’s time he will provide the man or woman for marriage. It doesn’t matter if we’re eighteen or forty when we marry. And we shouldn’t feel as if it did. God is the author of time and He will bring about marriage in His timing.