Ever since I was little, I have hoped I would eventually get married. I believe it is something the Lord has called me to. I am 19 but look and act like I am about 25. So I have had more than my share of 30-year-old men ask me out. And only a couple of guys my age have ever shown interest but wanted things that I am not willing to give.
I am not in college right now. I have a job that has me around people well above my age bracket, and the church I go to does not have a college ministry that I (or my parents) want me to be a part of. So I have a really, REALLY difficult time meeting godly men in their early- to mid-20s. I do not want to go hunting for a husband, but I want to meet guys that will encourage me in my walk with Christ and have the potential to be spouse material. How would you suggest I do that?
It's a blessing to know already that you want to get married to a godly man — many women wait until much later to make it a priority, and that comes with its own difficulties. But you, too, have some challenges to be aware of: primarily, your age as well as the fact that you're attracting men so much older than you. Although you feel God is calling you to marriage, you are likely not quite ready to be married. (See what we've said about the "one-year" rule of thumb.) It's possible you could be ready to marry in a year, but your youth may necessitate more than a year of waiting. How then should you spend this time, whether short or long? I believe, biblically, this is a season for preparing.
Three times in Song of Solomon, God warns young women "not [to] stir up or awaken love until it pleases" (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). About these verses, The Gospel Transformation Bible (ESV) says,
The Song's refrain in the midst of allusions to the couple's emotional and sexual joy teaches that pure passion is good and is approved by God, but also that it waits for the proper time (marriage) and the proper person (one's spouse.) In his grace, God provides marriage for deep emotional and physical fulfillment. Indeed, God identifies each as good. And yet our sinfulness and selfishness easily prompt us to pursue others outside of marriage.
Proverbs 19:14 says, "Houses and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord." The MacArthur study Bible says of this verse, "A wise wife is a result of divine blessing" (emphasis added). One of the best ways you can spend this time of waiting, therefore, whether it's a long time or short, is growing in the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10). If God gives prudent women as wives, and you long to be a Christian wife, make it your aim to grow in prudence. The best way to start is to study what God's Word says about it.
Proverbs is full of instruction about prudence. It is prudent to discern your way, give thought to your steps, listen to reproof, act with knowledge, ignore an insult and restrain your lips. Proverbs also says the path of life leads upward for the prudent, that the prudent sees danger and hides himself, and that the one who gathers in summer is a prudent son (Proverbs 10:5). Someone who is prudent understands seasons. I think this is key for you at this time.
Spend this season growing in your understanding of what it means to serve Christ faithfully by studying God's Word, investing in your church family, and seeking out godly mentoring from older Christian women. Then, as you become more mature in age, life experience and biblical wisdom, you'll be better prepared to assess a man's fitness for Christian marriage and to commit to the roles and responsibilities of being a godly wife. Study chapters like John 15 for instruction on abiding in Christ and bearing fruit that lasts in all seasons of life; Ephesians 5:1-21 for a picture of Gospel-centered living, and 22-33 for instruction on biblical marriage; and passages like Titus 2:3-5 for help in seeking out godly mentors. Consider studying the "one-another" passages in the New Testament that teach us how we are to live within the body, exhorting one another, building one another up, bearing with one another, etc.
You say you want to find "guys that will encourage [you] in [your] walk with Christ." While brothers in Christ are a blessing, as an unmarried woman, they should not be your primary source of encouragement in Christian growth. Instead, you should seek out older women to mentor you as well as pray for female friends your own age at church. Spend this season focused on daily Bible study and meditation, be active serving in a faithful church, and make it a priority to hear the regular preaching of God's Word. Time spent serving the body, studying the Bible and maturing in your faith will help you greatly when it comes time to marry.
Your efforts toward Christian discipleship won't be wasted. If, however, you don't focus your energy in this direction, you stand to waste precious time fretting over what may be, attracting men who are not viable candidates for husband, and being distracted by any number of temptations. Remember, you have an enemy who would love to derail your hopes for a God-honoring marriage (1 Peter 5:8). The fact that so many 30-year-old men have expressed their attraction to you is evidence that he's active.
You say, "I've had more than my share of 30-year-old men ask me out." Why do you think this is? This is a question you should talk about with your parents and pastor or mentor. And something you should want to change. Be who you are — a 19-year-old young woman. It's not a good thing to make yourself attractive to men so much older than you. Make it your aim to be modest in your dress, your attitudes and your actions. Guard your way (Psalm 119:9). Seek the way of wisdom (Psalm 90:12, Proverbs 4:7). Beware the call of folly (Proverbs 9:13-18). Pursue purity (Matthew 5:8), humility (James 4:6), prudence (Proverbs 8:5) and biblical virtue (2 Peter 1:5).
You should be able to look to the church you're a member of for support in your desire to be married as well as guidance in your journey to marriage. This is the heart of my advice whenever a single believer asks me about the best place to meet a spouse. Serving together in a biblically faithful church is the best and most practical place to meet a likeminded, similarly-called believer to marry. That's not to say it never happens elsewhere, but biblically, there is much wisdom in looking for a husband where you worship. But not just any church setting will do.
Not every church culture affirms biblical marriage or makes it a priority to encourage single members in their desire for marriage. What should you look for? Preaching that is biblically faithful, pastors who affirm God's design for marriage as a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5), church discipline in the case of marital infidelity as well as premarital counseling for engaged couples, and prayer support and accountability for those couples who are dating. Young marriages can start strong when they are cultivated in a Gospel-centered church community. If this does not describe your church and instead you're having to avoid those men who are of marrying age, that's a problem worth praying about, talking with your pastor about, and under extreme circumstances, re-evaluating where you go to church. (For more on this, please see these helpful Boundless resources:
I pray God will give you wisdom, prudence and great growth in godliness in this season of preparation.
Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.