Isn't it worth waiting for a good marriage?

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Isn't it worth waiting for a good marriage?

Jun 30, 2008 |John Thomas
Question

I am a little confused by your one-track mind with regard to marriage. Of course it'd be nice to marry young — but the way you've gone about it makes the whole process of "courting" sound extremely clinical and almost vulgar.

The last girl I was vaguely interested in, I approached in a similar way to how you are approaching relationships — I thought with my head mostly, and indeed we were compatible, but I eventually found her rather dull, and the fact that she was vaguely pretty wasn't much of a lead to be honest. My heart just wasn't there — or rather, to be basic, I couldn't imagine myself having sex with her.

The fact is, in my experience, non-Christians are far more realistic about relationships and sex — and, dare I say it, they have far more magnetic personalities.

If someone asked me now what I want to be in 10 or so years time (I'm 18), I'd say a father. I want my children to have the best upbringing possible, and that means parents that truly love each other. To be honest, I'd rather marry a non-Christian who I could have a happy family with, than marry a Christian, doing it your way, and be unhappy because we married purely on the grounds we both believed in God and followed Jesus. Is that selfish? Possibly ... but if my children get a better quality of life, then so be it.

Actually, I am a pretty fervent Christian — especially in the Reformed tradition. But I think it may well be possible to raise my children in the Christian tradition even if my wife wasn't. Also, I would rather wait until I find someone I truly fall in love with. Even if it means I'm 28 when I do so. My father, grand father and great grand father all married when they were over 30, and were all Christians, and all had very happy marriages and brought their children up superbly.

Also, I have to add, I may be a typical man — I'm not very good with being romantic or "courting," as it were.

Sorry to be a bit rude, but I am all in favor of early marriages if they work — but I just think one sacrifices so much, whilst they could still get a good marriage and children from marrying six years later. What do you think?

Answer

We're sort of all over the map here, so let me try to boil your question down to what I think are the main themes.

When to marry. We're not saying you have to marry young. Obviously, whether young or old, you can't marry just whenever you want to if no one is willing to marry you at the time you want to get married, or you can't find someone whom you want to marry. I was 29 years old when I married my wife. There were other girls I got to know, but none captivated my heart until Alfie.

What we are saying is this: Don't purposely delay marriage for reasons that aren't biblical, the primary one being that you'd rather enjoy an extended adolescence, free from marriage and family responsibilities. True, this is probably less common among Boundless readers, but it is widely acknowledged as almost epidemic everywhere else. This devaluing of marriage and family has influenced the way many young Christians think, and we're doing our best to help them understand at what cost (to them personally and to us culturally and to the Church) they embrace that unbiblical view of marriage and family.

Our hope is that we help young Christians value and celebrate marriage and family at least as much as (and hopefully more than) they do their education and career and recreation, and help them evaluate whether they really do, or just think they do. If marriage is a high value of yours, and you're not purposely avoiding or delaying it because you're addicted to adultescence, then that particular Boundless message is not directed at you.

How to pursue a marriage relationship. While you might find it "vulgar" and "clinical" that we offer suggestions on how to move relationships forward, many of our readers say that is their top need. We receive hundreds of e-mails asking us that very question. Sometimes the answer is as "simple" and straightforward as "find a mentoring couple" (what you might refer to as "head" answer). At other times we suggest praying and waiting on God to reveal next steps (what you might refer to as "heart" answer). For us, it's not a matter of following "head" or "heart," but Spirit over flesh. Our "one-track" mind on marriage is this: pray boldlypursue biblically and discern spiritually. OK. Maybe three-tracks.

Whom to marry. None of us would advise marrying someone to whom you are not physically attracted. We might suggest that physical attraction often grows as spiritual attraction increases. But if you can't imagine yourself having sex with someone, you won't hear any of us advise giving her an engagement ring.

What you will hear us say is don't rely on physical attraction alone. Physical attraction is not enough glue to hold a marriage together. You need more. The very cornerstone of that "more" is shared core values. If you're a Christ-follower and you marry a non Christ-follower, I don't care how much sexual heat you have to start with, you're in for big, big trouble. You don't have to marry "purely" on the grounds of shared faith, but it's a non-negotiable part of the mix.

Now, if you're talking about faith "traditions," you could raise your children however you want and it might not matter what mommy believes. But if you're talking about you and your kids being Christ-followers and lovers — as the Reformed "tradition" teaches — and mommy not being a Christ-follower, then, yes, that will be a huge problem. Nothing tends to cool down the sexual heat for mommy or de-magnetize that magnetic personality like knowing her husband and children believe she's a fool.

Christianity is more than a faith tradition. It is a heart-pounding passion for Christ and for His Kingdom to be established in our lives and homes and every crevice of the world. So, no, your children won't have a better quality of life if you marry an unbeliever, because no, you won't have a happy family because no, she can't know what true love is and you really won't love your unbelieving spouse. Because Christ is the only source of true love and happiness, and because if you really loved her you'd be heartbroken over the fact that she's dead on the inside and doesn't know the only Person who could fill her emptiness. I'm sure you're a great guy and all, but you overestimate your ability to bring a woman true happiness.

If your "experience" is that non-Christian women are "far more realistic about relationships and sex," and "have more magnetic personalities" than Christian women, then I'd say you need a little more experience. Add to that experience a prayerful reading of 1 John as a springboard into discovering God's thoughts on true love, and I think you'll get more clarity on where to go from here.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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