LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Young men and women should not delay marriage until it is convenient for them but should actively seek the mate God has chosen for them, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told a national radio audience recently.
For the first time, men in the United States are marrying at an average age of 28 and women at 26.4, said Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. These numbers represent a profound change from 1900, when boys reached sexual maturity by 15 and married by 20 and girls matured sexually by 14 and married between 18 and 20, Mohler said.
Mohler’s taped comments were broadcast by FamilyLife Today on June 22. They were part of a message Mohler delivered at the 2004 New Attitude Conference for singles held in January in Louisville. FamilyLife Today is a daily radio program featuring co-hosts Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine and is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
While both men and women are guilty of the “sin of waiting,” Mohler singled out men as the prime offenders.
“The sin that I think besets this generation … is the sin of delaying marriage as a lifestyle option among those who intend some day to get married but they just haven’t yet,” Mohler said. “This is a problem shared by men and women. But it is a problem primarily of men. We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.
“Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be … It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as husband, and by God’s grace we pray eventually, as father.”
In his comments following Mohler’s message, Rainey added that men have become passive and women often reject God’s design for their lives. By charting their own course outside the bounds of Scripture, Christian men and women have remained in spiritual diapers, Rainey said.
“There has been some passivity among men and there has also been some women who have just decided to go off and live their lives and decide they are going to reject God’s design for who they are as women,” Rainey said. “I think today the church probably has the largest spiritual nursery that it has ever had in its history. And a spiritual nursery is believers who need to grow up.”
Mohler pointed out that Christian women often postpone nuptials until after they have become well established in a career. However, Mohler said this notion is unbiblical.
“What is the ultimate priority God has called us to? In heaven, is the crucible of our saint-making going to have been done through our jobs? I don’t think so. The Scripture makes clear that it will be done largely through our marriages.”
Delaying marriage until the late 20s or beyond often allows a person to develop unhealthy lifestyle patterns that become difficult to break once he or she is married, Mohler said.
“The corruption of delay, the injury that comes by delay, is multiple,” Mohler said.
“If we claim for ourselves, either as men or as women, the right to define ourselves as adults who will get married when we get to it, we’re defining ourselves in pretty specific terms. Let me be clear: The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage.”
Young men should be actively seeking the wife God has chosen for them, Mohler said. This does not mean a man should marry as a young teenager but it instead involves actively seeking God’s will, which is marriage for most men, Mohler said.
“You’ve got to be urgently seeking [a spouse] as much as you would seek what God would have you do vocationally, as much as you would seek what God would have you to do in terms of your mission for life,” Mohler said.
“Understand that you must be looking, guys, for that wife of your youth in whom you can find such fulfillment when the ‘we’ is created and the one flesh relationship is given and you grow up together in the faith and in the Lord and in your adulthood.”
In selecting a spouse, singles often become paralyzed by the idea of finding God’s will for their lives, Mohler said. Discovering God’s will is not an endless shell game, but simply is being conformed to the image of Christ and living in accord with the Scriptures, Mohler said.
“Sometimes we have this idea that God’s will is this hidden secret treasure …,” Mohler said, adding that according to Romans 12:1-2 believers are a “living sacrifice.”
“It’s not hidden from us. It’s there for us to find day by day as we follow God’s will, obey His laws, [and] live by His grace.”