Monday, November 06, 2006

Delaying Marriage

***Because it has been misunderstood by several, I feel I need to make a disclaimer and stress that the statements below are NOT MY OPINIONS - just my attempt to regurgitate several of the statements that have been printed within the books I have read on the subject. Please stay tuned for my reflections.***

For quite some time, I have been reading a group of books about single Christian adults, pondering the question of why so many of them remain single. The writers (men and women) put the responsibility on the shoulders of both men and women. (In short, women have held on to women's lib, have put career before godly womanhood, and have unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) sent the message that they don't need or want men. Men have shrugged off the responsibilities of initiating and taking the lead while favoring their "single time" compared to marriage.) These are, of course, generalizations.

Almost all of these particular books place more "blame" for this delay on the men, however... and specifically cite the changes within church culture as one of the main reasons. Many claim that the current elder men of the church were better instructed (in their youth, by the elder men of the church of their time) to follow the biblical commandment of marriage - unless they were one of the very few who were given the gift of singleness. It seems men of the past were almost made fun of (instead of praised, which is common in current times) for placing their love of guy vacations and expensive toys as a higher priority than dealing with the marriage obstacles in their lives. In addition, the men have become hesitant in accepting their roles and initiating interactions with women in many arenas of life.

Beyond these, there are so many other "reasons" that are often cited: the invention of the group date, the church's acceptance of the worldview on gender rules, applying the reason of "gift of singleness" to a much larger group than God intended (or Paul described), super-fast changes within the cultures of generations (that usually took multiple generations to occur), women's confusion over pressure "to be all that life can offer", etc.

One man who is continually cited in these books is Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also writes a popular daily commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues. (I just want to point out that Mr. Mohler does not necessarily believe all of the ideas stated above. He is, however, quoted often for his strong concern about singles abandoning the biblical commandment to be married and "be fruitful and multiply.") For those who have time, I would like you to consider reading this transcript from a radio program that featured Dr. Mohler's address to a Christian singles conference.

(Ed. The transcript (or media presentation) link has been corrected. Sorry for the confusion.)

Christian friends and family, what do you think about the comments posted above or the radio show transcript?

(P.S. If you are reading this blog and you are hesitant to comment because you think I don't know who you are, please do comment and join in the discussions. It is very likely that I DO know exactly who you are...or that we have many mutual friends...or - most likely- that I read YOUR blog each day. If none of these apply, I am always happy to make a new friend!)


John Yadamec said...

Just for the record, I didn't hang up on you. Heard some weird static, and then nothing. Hope you get some good posts on this!

Dani said...

I have some ideas but I want to read the radio transcript first, and the computer won't open it, can you post the urrl?

Sandy-san said...

Same as Dani... I'll comment when I read the transcript. The current link unfortunately doesn't lead anywhere.

lydia said...

I'm thankful to see that the link has been corrected, and I was able to read the transcript.

First of all, I think it is interesting that Mr. Mohler calls it "the sin of delaying marriage." I've never really thought of it in quite this way, and I don't know that I completely understand what he means by this. I think I understand that the sin, on the women's part, is primarily the focus on seeking after the corporate world rather than focusing on the pattern of biblical womanhood. I don't believe it is ungodly for a woman to seek a place in the corporate world; however, I believe the sin occurs when she makes that her chief goal and priority. Mr. Dennis Rainey made the comment that the Scripture tells women to put their first priority in their relationship with God, and secondly "upon her husband, upon her children, upon the younger women, to teach them how to love their husbands."

Mr. Rainey also made the comment that on the part of the men, the sin comes in passivity. He referenced I Corinthians 16:13-14, which I think is an interesting passage to reference. Personally, I agree that men need to stop being passive and start taking the lead. As Mr. Mohler stated, "Guys, by God's grace, you are supposed to take the lead. That's not just a social pattern. I believe that's God's design." I also agree that both men and women have been feeding off one another in their sin. Because women don't desire marriage as much as they used to, men have become more passive in being leaders.

The other comment I have is regarding the following statement by Mr. Mohler: "The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage." This is something that I haven't really considered before, but I think it is a good point. I imagine that the longer it is until you are married, the more you adapt to being single and independent. I would have to believe that, for most people, this independence would be difficult to shed. It would be difficult to truly commit to your husband or wife, and be one together.

I would also like to make this final comment...I'm not sure that God calls everyone to be married at a young age. As you stated, Strem, I believe there are very few who were given the gift of singleness. However, I think Mr. Mohler errs in trying to group all young people together, and applying this belief.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dani said...

I believe that when two people are lead together of the Lord the should be married, and marriage should last forever. I can see how the longer one lives alone the more habits they develop that makes living with someone difficult. I don't think that dooms a marriage however. When two people get married they should be completely committed, so it shouldn't matter just what road of what difficulty they have to walk together. Every relationship is going to have problems and trials.

I disagree with marrying so early myself. I was engaged for more than 4 years, and we almost got married when I was 18, 19, and 20. It would have been a terrible idea. I'm still not entirely sure that I know alot about who I am, and for two people fresh out of highschool with no real knowledge of themselves to come together, is to create a marriage without a good foundation. He turned out to be every form of abusive, and I probably wasn't a wonderful person to be with either.

I made a vow to not date for a year, to spend sometime getting closer to God and to study earnestly. When I date again, I'm not going to look for someone. I'm going to wait for Him to bring me a Primitive Baptist. Some one that I can share my joy with, that's the most important thing after all.

I was always lead to believe that I could do anything and make anything of myself. However I was suppose to settle down and get married. All the women in my family married young, and so I feel like the clock is ticking down. I don't think that is a healthy way to look at things. We all have a different timing in our lives, and sometimes the hardest thing to do is to be still and patiently wait upon the Lord. I am happy to say that for the first time in my life I feel like if I was to not marry I would be happy. I was taught that I needed a man, and I don't have to have that to be happy. I want a husband and a family, but I recognize that my ultimate happiness is in the Lord. He can use me in lots of ways, I can be a wife, mother, and professional. He could use me in a way other than as a wife and a mother, and I'm content to find out as He reveals it to me.

I think that to blanketly say that most young people should marry, and they should do it at an early age, is far too simplistic.

Dani said...

Two other notes, I do believe however in relationships that men are not assertive enough. I want to understand what it means to be submissive, and to fit into the world in the way that He designed, but it's hard, when there isn't a man who fills his part. I'm sure that I am not doing a good enough job with fulfilling my role either.

Also on the surrounding yourself with the type of people that are marriagable. This can be difficult. In my case, I have good and Godly friends, but I want a Primitive Baptist for a husband. There aren't a great deal of youth among our people here in Alabama, so meeting men isn't as easy. That's why this sort of thing is such a blessing, but can you really start/form a relationship through the internet?

Sandy-san said...

Dani states: "That's why this sort of thing is such a blessing, but can you really start/form a relationship through the internet?"

I can say with good authority... why yes, you can!


Sandy-san said...

I'm too tired to read/comment on this transcript, so I'll try it tomorrow. Sorry I am being so slow!

Dani said...

I will take that as a good sign of hope for me then.


Chris said...

Hey Folks: I've written a somewhat lengthy response, so chose to write it on my blog. You can see it at:

Dani said...

are we going to get your thoughts?

pretty please

strem said...

There are so many parts of this discussion... and most are too difficult to condense into comments - just as it was difficult to condense the many book ideas into a post. I guess my first response would be in reference to what many of you have written about age... and a direct quote from Chris' blog: "Fourth, since the Bible is mostly silent on a marriage age, I would hesitate to establish such an age, or insist it must occur at a certain time in life."

I agree... yet I believe - like most of the authors state - that we can't be oblivious to how a woman's body is made and how the seasons of her life have been created. If a man wants to be 35 and try to find a 20 year old to marry, that'd be one way to go about it. However, that isn't common. Most of the time, men delaying marriage causes women (in the peer age group) to delay in marriage...thereby affecting "be fruitful and multiply" command. Doesn't biology give us some direction about the time that women should be marrying?

Elizabeth said...

I think that is a great point Strem. We all know that in bible times, a girl was expected to be married by the time she was 14 or so! But in this day and age that is certainly frowned upon, I certainly wouldn't endorse someone in eith grade to go get married.
The point that I am trying to make is that we all need to wait upon the Lord's timing, in all things including marriage - especially marriage. There are some that He calls to be single in His Kingdom - the Apostle Paul. While, I haven't read the transcript, I would not call it a sin to remain single, unless, as Lydia said, you are making the corporate world your focus, when the bible clearly states that a woman is to be a keeper at home.
We just need to be waiting upon the Lord's timing.

Sandy-san said...

I agree with you, Sister Michelle. I finally added my LONG thoughts on my blog, if you are interested in reading it.