Early Marriage and Maturity

Something that has been much on my mind lately–and much on the blogosphere for the past year or so–is early marriage.

Seth and I got married when I was twenty.  Most of the rest of the kids I went to church with that were my age got married years after I did.  At the time I thought it was more or less luck (aka the sovereignty of God) that I met someone that early, but lately I’m wondering if our wedding came so early because that was really what I was looking for.  I wasn’t interested in dating, I was interested in getting married!

And never for a moment have either of us regretted getting married when we did.  In fact, I’ve often been very thankful indeed for the various life circumstances that transpired so that we could get married without forfeiting anything we, or my parents, thought was important.  We would like to be able to present our children “ready for marriage” at a similar age.

It isn’t really socially acceptable, however.  I’ve had plenty of people tell me I was too young, or bemoan all the lovely opportunities I’ll never have because of settling down so early.  But by far one of the biggest objections I hear is: “well, that may have worked for you, but most twenty-year-olds don’t have any idea who they are yet or what they need in a spouse or will want in a marriage when they’re forty.”  Usually followed by the person telling me that their child, for instance, of my age or even older, is certainly not ready to make such a big decision.

I’ve read a lot of really good responses to that concern, many of which center around the necessity of parental involvement, discernment, and community participation in the young person’s dating decisions.  And while I don’t disagree with that, I think there’s a much more important point to be made: we don’t marry someone to satisfy ourselves, we marry someone to glorify God.

Our youth pastor when I was in high school used to say that he wanted to marry somebody who was so focused on serving God that their trajectories were so similar that they couldn’t help but being drawn together–because they were both being drawn toward Him.  I don’t think that ideal is what’s on people’s (parents’!) minds when they think about their children being unable to figure out what makes a good mate when they’re twenty!  Personalities change.  Hobbies change.  Passions change.  But God doesn’t change.  If He is our all, our only obsession, our only desire and our only focus, then in a very real sense, we will always have everything in common–because He is our everything.

Seth and I are very much an illustration of this, at least as much as that we are very different people from very different cultural backgrounds with very few interests in common, at least at the beginning.  Over the years it’s been quite remarkable how much we’ve both adapted bits of pieces of the other into ourselves–and I don’t think either of us could deny that our differences have definitely made marriage harder at times–but we’ve also never regretted making a shared (and similar) passion for Christ our “only thing.”

In short, I’m very happy to have married someone who was obsessed about following the same One I follow, rather than someone who I knew, after living a few more years, would have “suited” my personality and interests and the “direction” I was going with my life.  And while I can certainly agree that I am far from being the same person I was six years ago–enough different, in fact, that our marriage might indeed be rocky if those transient things were what it had been based on–I don’t think my powers of discernment as far as recognizing a brother in Christ have really increased that much.  I’ve never been disappointed in what my twenty-year-old self made of Seth, and I don’t think many twenty-year-olds are too dumb to have discerned the same thing. 

Twenty-year-olds might not know who exactly they are yet, but they can surely know who He is, what He says about marriage, and what He thinks makes a worthy spouse, and not hesitate to jump when they meet someone who fits the bill.

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