I HAVE BEEN VERY HAPPY in my marriage, thank God.
I have a faithful wife, according to Solomon:
“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her” (Prov. 31:11).
She spoils nothing for me.
Ah, dear Lord God, marriage is not something natural and physical;
but it is a gift of God, the sweetest,
nay, the most chaste life; it is above all celibacy.
~ Martin Luther
To my niece
I read on your wedding website this phrase,
“We know we are pretty young… But…”
This gave me pause and here’s why. I don’t know how old your intended is, but I do know you are almost twenty-three.
Your sentence caused me to stop to ponder the pressures that come to bear on a young couple, twenty-three, about to marry. Obviously the pressures on anyone preparing a wedding celebration and the joining of two separate lives, all while living away from home and taking college classes, are a great many. But particularly I wondered what societal attitudes would cause these young people to squirm in discomfort about their age. Why the need to offer an explanation?
You are a couple who understand and have properly considered God’s intentions for marriage. I know that you, and I assume your intended, were raised among Godly people who honor the gift of marriage and God’s institution of it. You attend a Confessional Lutheran college, in a program whose purpose is training church workers. From this I assume that most of your immediate peers will most likely also have been raised to know that marriage is a God-pleasing rite. You ought to have no need to defend your choice.
But this situation highlights one way in which today’s parent and grandparent generations have failed to pass on to the young people what a marriage really is. I’m not saying at all that your particular parents and grandparents did not do so. But society’s parents and grandparents. In order to offer support to you, and to others who might be feeling societal pressure to postpone marriage, I’m writing this, even at the risk of telling you a bunch of things you already know.
Society’s parents and grandparents want their kids to be better off than they were. They want their kids to have a higher education, an easier life, more stuff, and fewer kids. Logic would tell us that these goals can sometimes be accomplished more easily by postponing marriage. But such goals are not the true Biblical goals of a Godly marriage and family.
Let’s start at the beginning. The very beginning. Adam and Eve. Among all God’s marvelous creation, Adam had no helper meet (or suitable) for him. And so God made him a helper, Eve, directly from his flesh. Adam and Eve were the crown of God’s creation.
Genesis 1:28-31 reads,
Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth … Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
In Genesis 2, verses 21-25, we hear the specifics of Eve’s creation,
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
In Psalms 127 ad 128, we read both of the necessity of God being the builder of your household, and of the blessing that a wife and family is to a God-fearing man.
Besides our own enjoyment, marriage serves two primary purposes. Firstly, in the temporal sense, it provides a richer and deeper area in which to fulfill our Christian vocations. We serve spouse, children, church and community through marriage and family. Through marriage, God gives us truly awesome opportunities to show our gratitude to Him for His great salvation.
And secondly, marriage provides a safe and secure place for children to be brought up to know God and to understand the rules of society. And this brings us back to point number one, since a strong family unit and Godly individuals will better serve those communities of which you are a part.
In the Sixth Commandment section of the Large Catechism we see this described. “Married life is no matter for jest or idle curiosity, but it is a glorious institution and an object of God’s serious concern. For it is of the highest importance to Him that persons be brought up to serve the world, promote knowledge of God, godly living, and all virtues, and fight against wickedness and the devil (paragraph 208 of the Ten Commandments).
Of course marriage is also for personal enjoyment and pleasure, just as God uses so many of our earthly commitments to also give us enjoyment and pleasure. From a spouse we have companionship, love, support, help with practical needs, and the gift of physical intimacy.
As to when marriage ought to happen or what age is appropriate for marriage, the idea that we need to wait until certain landmarks or indicators are passed is a very recent idea. As a result of the sexual revolution and ready access to contraceptives, the organic connection between marriage and family has been eliminated. Regularly godless couples, and more often all the time even those couples who have been raised in Christian homes, choose a fornicative lifestyle over and above marriage. Because of the ready access to contraception, and because we as a society have gradually accepted a fornicative lifestyle as appropriate, today’s couples can now have lengthy premarital relationships. In such instances, the burning passion for which St. Paul urges marriage, in the opening verses of I Corinthians 7, is already being satiated.
This is not normal or God-fearing, of course. But it does make it easier from the physical standpoint, to postpone marriage. And postponing marriage in pursuit of those standards or goals or landmarks I mentioned above has gradually become the norm, even for those Christian young people who do not wish to live a fornicative lifestyle.
Our culture today worships stability as a god. Financial stability. A dwelling place. Job security. Academic stability. These are all things that a godless society deems necessary for responsible adulthood. Rather than trusting in God to provide according to His wisdom and love, we trust in these mammon. Even among the God-fearing in today’s society, these temporal landmarks are deemed necessary anchors or basic foundations. And so there is often some concern when a young couple marries, that the man and woman are not fully prepared for adult responsibility since they may have not attained certain of these markers.
And so the pressure. The pressure is on the young people to wait. To attain. To be responsible. And at the same time to refrain from sexual immorality. Our society’s standards make very difficult demands on today’s young people, don’t they?
Pastor Jonathan Fisk of Worldview Everlasting has put it this way,
Get married as soon as you’ve found the person that it’s a good idea to get married to. If you’ve found that person and then you put if off, you’re just wasting your time. But keep this in mind, when I say get married when you find the right person, I don’t mean get married when you find someone you think you love. Get married when you find someone who shares your faith, shares your Christianity, loves both the law and the gospel, and will make a golden addition to the community in which you dwell.
And so Dear Niece, have you found the right person according to a Godly definition?
And may God bless this sacred union!