Getting Hitched

21 Jun

Lately I have been reading Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will.  The ninth chapter in the book is titled “Work, Wedlock, and God’s Will,” and is one of my favorite chapters.  Really good stuff.  I might post more from the chapter later, but for now, here is what he says to say about “getting hitched”:

It seems that getting married is getting harder to do, or at least harder to commit to.  In 1965, the median age at first marriage was 22.8 for men and 20.6 for women.  By 2002, a little more than a generation later, the median age for marriage rose to 26.9 for men and 25.3 for women.  Delayed marriage occurs for numerous reasons: longer life spans, the drive for more education, transient lifestyles among the young, greater discretionary income, a desire for more experiences before marriage, and greater (and habitual) independence.  Add to these the opportunities to meet hundreds of potential mates, leading to more second-guessing and indecisions.

For Christians there is another delaying factor: searching for the will of God in marriage.  What decision, we think to ourselves, is more important than picking a husband or wife?  Surely, God wants to, in fact must tell me who is the right guy for me.  Such an approach sounds spiritual, but wisdom points us in a different direction…. (That’s the thing about wisdom; it’s less of a detailed road map and more of a way to make decisions in many different situations.)

Step One: Search the Scriptures.  The Bible won’t tell you whom to marry, but it does tell you something about marriage.  Marriage should be between one man and one woman.  Christians should marry Christians (Malachi 2:11; 1 Corinthians 7:39).  We should not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).  I wouldn’t advise a very mature believer to marry someone who converted yesterday, nor would I recommend a Protestant marry a Catholic, nor an evangelical wed a more liberal Christian.  Those marriages still work out sometimes, but that’s not the model.  You want to yoke yourself to someone who is going to be plowing in the same direction you are.

Christians should also be circumspect before marrying someone who has been divorced.  If the divorce did not take place on biblical grounds (e.g., sexual immorality [Matthew 19:9] or desertion by an unbelieving spouse [1 Corinthians 7:15]), then Jesus says you are committing adultery because you are marrying someone who should still be married to his or her spouse (Matthew 5:31-32).

Step Two: Get wise counsel.  Do your friends think this marriage makes sense?  Do they see you growing and flourishing when you’re around him, or do they sense that you get moody and frustrated whenever you are together?  Even more importantly, what do your parents think?  It’s true that sometimes parents object to marriages for all the wrong reasons.  But in this country we probably honor our parents less than we should and are too impatient with them and try too little to bring them along and hear them out when they aren’t excited about a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Step Three: Pray.  Ask God for pure motives.  You don’t want to get married for lust or money or for fear of being single.  You certainly don’t want to get married to spite an ex-girlfriend or show an ex-boyfriend that you are desirable after all.  Ask God that He would help you be honest about who you are and that you might know the other person for who she really is.  Ask God for help not to make a decision based on your hormones, and that you won’t refuse to make a decision out of cowardice.

Finally, pray less that God would show you who is the right husband or wife and pray more to be the right kind of husband or wife.  If everyone was praying to be the right spouse, it wouldn’t matter nearly so much who is the “right” spouse.  Dump your list of the seventeen things you need in a wife and make yourself a list of seventeen things you need to be as a husband.

Step Four: Make a decision.  I know this may sound crass, and your parents might not appreciate the advice, but guys, if you like a girl and you’re both Christians and your friends and family aren’t alarmed and she actually likes you back, you should probably get married.  Let me be quick to add that singleness is not a disease in need of a cure.  God can lead you into a time (or lifetime) of fruitful ministry as a single person.  And if you at times feel frustration over an earnest longing to be married, remember this time of being single is part of God’s good plan too.  The church, for her part, needs to do a better job reaching out to singles, not treating them like misfits or as simply married people waiting to happen.

So I want to be clear: There’s nothing wrong with being single.  But gentlemen, there is something wrong with waiting around for God to pluck a woman from your side.  He did it for Adam, but He’s not going to do it for you.  No matter who you marry, it will be hard work.  So find someone to marry and work at it.  You may get cold feet before walking down the aisle—that’s normal.  But don’t overthink yourself into lifelong celibacy.

Too many young guys are waiting for writing in the sky before they make a relational commitment.  It doesn’t have to be that complicated.  My grandpa DeYoung met my grandma on his paper route.  Then they worked at the bowling alley together and started hanging out at the soda fountain.  Eventually my grandpa proposed and they got married in 1948.  When I asked him if he agonized over the decision to get married, he paused for a moment and said, “Uh . . . no.  Was I supposed to?” 

Gentlemen, there are wonderful Christian girls waiting for you to act, well, like a man.  Stop waiting for romantic lightning to strike.  Stop waiting for the umpteenth green light.  Stop “hanging out” every night without ever making your intentions clear.  Go ask a girl on a date, or ask her “to court,” or whatever you think is the appropriate language.  But do something.  If you want to be single, that’s great.  Jesus was single.  I hear it can be a pretty good gig.  But if you want to get married, do something about it.  Take a chance.  Risk rejection.  Be the relational and spiritual leader God has called you to be.

There are always plenty of exceptions, but as a general rule, Christians are waiting too long to get married.  There are too many great Christians out there who should be married to one of the other great Christians out there.  I remember Elisabeth Elliott saying one time that while speaking at a large Christian singles ministry, she desperately wanted to line up all the men on one wall, all the women on the other, count off (1,1; 2,2; 3,3) and pair up those singles, and get them married.

Let me say it one more time: There is nothing wrong with being single.  It can be a gift from the Lord and a gift to the church.  But when there is an overabundance of Christian singles who want to be married, this is a problem.  And it’s a problem I put squarely at the feet of young men whose immaturity, passivity, and indecision are pushing their hormones to the limits of self-control, delaying the growing-up process, and forcing countless numbers of young women to spend lots of time and money pursuing a career (which is not necessarily wrong) when they would rather be getting married and having children.  Men, if you want to be married, find a godly gal, treat her right, talk to her parents, pop the question, tie the knot, and start making babies.

Just Do Something, pg. 104-108

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