When is the right time for marriage?
Question: "When is the right time for marriage?"
Answer: The right time to marry is different for each person and unique to each situation. Maturity levels and life experience are varying factors; some people are ready for marriage at 18, and some are never prepared for it. As we thumb through the phone book and see ads that read “Divorce - $199!” it is obvious that much of our society does not view marriage as an everlasting commitment. However, this is the world's view, which will usually contradict God's (1 Corinthians 3:18).
A strong foundation is imperative for a successful marriage and should be settled before one even begins to date or court a potential life mate. Our Christian walk should include much more than just attending church on Sundays and being involved in Bible study. We have to have a personal relationship with God that comes only through trusting in and obeying Jesus Christ. We must educate ourselves about marriage, seeking out God's view on it, before diving in. A person must know what the Bible says about love, commitment, sexual relations, the role of a husband and wife, and His expectations of us before committing to marriage. Having at least one good Christian married couple as a role model is also important. They can answer questions about the factors that go into a successful marriage, how they create intimacy (beyond the physical), how their faith is invaluable in their lives, etc.
Before considering marriage, a couple should first make sure that they are not unequally yoked together, meaning one is a believer and the other is not. Second Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” For a Christian to willingly marry an unbeliever would not only be a sin, but a grave mistake he or she would inevitably regret. Christians are members of God's family, and non-Christians are enemies of God (Colossians 1:19-22). People are under the control of either God or Satan, and these two forces cannot live in harmony together (Acts 26:18).
A prospective married couple also needs to make sure that they know each other well. They should know each other's views on marriage, finances, in-laws, child-rearing, discipline, duties of a husband and wife, whether only one of them or both will be working outside the home, and should know the level of the other person’s spiritual maturity. Many people get married taking their partner's word for it that they are a Christian, only to find out later that it was only lip service. Every couple considering marriage should go through counseling with a Christian marriage counselor or their pastor. In fact, many pastors will not perform weddings unless they have met several times with the couple in a counseling setting.
Marriage is not only a commitment, but is a covenant with God. It is the promise to remain with that other person for the remainder of your life, no matter if your partner is rich, poor, healthy, sick, overweight, underweight, or boring. A Christian marriage should endure through every circumstance, including fighting, anger, devastation, disaster, depression, bitterness, addiction and loneliness. Marriage should never be entered into with the idea that divorce is an option—not even as the last straw when a couple feels they are at the end of their rope. The Bible tells us that through God, all things are possible (Luke 18:27), and this certainly includes marriage. If a couple makes the decision at the beginning to stay committed and to put God first, divorce will not be the inevitable solution to a miserable situation.
It is important to remember that God wants to give us the desires of our heart, but that is only possible if our desires match His. He has a plan for each of us, and it may or may not include marriage. Getting married and starting a family are often the next steps that a person automatically takes after getting an education and/or a job. But Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:7, “I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness.” This may not be evident to a person at first. They may only realize it after years of searching and not finding a suitable marriage partner.
People often get married because it just “feels right.” In the early stages of dating, and even marriage, you see the other person coming, and you get butterflies in your stomach. Romance is at its peak, and you know the feeling of being “in love.” Many expect that this feeling will remain forever. Unfortunately, it does not. The result can be disappointment and even divorce as those feelings fade, but those in successful marriages know that the excitement of being with the other person does not have to end. Instead, the butterflies give way to a deeper love, a stronger commitment, a more solid foundation, and unbreakable security.
The Bible is clear that the definition of love does not rely on feelings; this is evident when we are told to love our enemies (Luke 6:35). It is possible only when we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, cultivating the fruit of our salvation (Galatians 5:22-23). It is a decision we make on a daily basis to die to ourselves and our selfishness, and to let God shine through us. First Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us how to love others: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Recommended Resource: I Promise You by Willard F. Harley, Jr..
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Questions about Marriage
When is the right time for marriage?