Here’s a good question: At what age should a person marry? Well, obviously, since each situation is unique, it’s impossible to come up with a “one size fits all” age. But what I want to do with this post is present a Bible case that people getting married as teenagers can be a good thing.
Let me start by quoting Proverbs 5:18-19, which says:
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.
Notice that the man’s wife is specifically described as the wife of his “youth.” We find this same idea in Proverbs 2:17, which describes the immoral adulteress in this way:
Who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God.
The “covenant of her God” refers to the marriage covenant the woman once entered. Notice that she entered into that covenant with “the companion of her youth.” The picture is one of a young couple getting married and the woman cheating on the man sometime when they get older.
Truth be told, it is a simple fact that in Bible times people got married when they were relatively young, typically when they were teenagers. This was especially true for Jewish girls. Since there are no Bible instances of children getting married, there’s no need to get all weird here and take the age down too low.
And now let me give you three practical reasons why I believe that getting married in one’s later teens can be a good thing. Actually, I didn’t even get these from the Bible. They are just real-life facts that back up what the Bible teaches about getting married young.
Reason #1: It is a biological fact that when a young man or woman hits the teenage years, the urge to have sex increases.
I ask you, would God wire us this way and then expect us to resist that urge until we are married at 25 or 30 or whatever? It seems to me that the way He has designed our bodies points to Him being in favor of us getting married relatively young.
Reason #2: The whole idea of sowing your wild oats, getting drunk with your friends, laying out all night, carousing around, and acting like a typical early-twenty-something certainly takes a major hit if you’re married.
Imagine the following conversation:
“Hey, it’s Friday night, let’s go bar-hopping.” “I can’t, me and the wife are headed to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to pick out a shower curtain.”
Or this one:
“Hey, it’s ladies night at the club. Can you go with us?” No, my husband will be home soon and I’ve got to cook some dinner for him.”
Do you see what I mean?
Reason #3: Physically speaking, raising children is a game best played when your body is younger.
When Tonya and I got married, I was 27 and she was 25. When Ryan was born, I was 30 and she was 28. When Royce was born, I was 34 and she was 32. So now Ryan is almost 14, Royce is 10, and I am 44. That means that I speak with some authority when I say that kids and the infinite list of things that you have to do for them absolutely wear you down.
I held up pretty good until I hit 40. That’s when I fell apart physically. And yet I’m far from out of the woods on this raising kids thing. Right now I’m coaching Royce’s baseball team of 9 and 10 year olds. I’m lugging all that equipment in and out of my car. I’m hitting ground balls in practice. I’m crouching down in that catcher’s position to warm up my pitchers. Needless to say, when I get home after a game or a practice, I am done for the day.
The fact is that Tonya and I have often talked about how it would have been better if we’d gotten married when we were younger and been physically younger as we raised our kids. Honestly, if we had our lives to live over again, and we could go back and fix our sins and mistakes (which cost us several years), I think we would get married right out of high school and go to college as a married couple. We dated a lot in high school, and we both know now that it was always God’s will for us to marry each other. So we could have done that right after graduation and then gone to college together.
Someone says, “But Russell, you’ve got a good marriage. How could things have worked out any better than they did?” Are you kidding? The years of my late teens and early twenties were filled with sin and mistakes. Trust me, I’m still feeling the scars those years left on my soul. As a matter of fact, I actually know one couple who did get married right after high school and attend college as husband and wife. They’ve been married for many years now, have kids, hold down solid jobs, and seem perfectly happy and contented. Just think about all the temptations that come with college life, temptations that could be pretty much defanged if you were married.
Now, in closing, there is one last thing that I need to say on this subject. And please hear me well on this: Getting married young doesn’t magically preserve your marriage and mean that you will never get divorced. I hope you understand that if you want your marriage to work the way God intends, you have to make Him the center of it. That applies whether you get married at age 18 or age 98. My whole point with this post has been that the idea of entering into the marriage covenant with the companion of your youth is indeed Biblical. No, it’s not the average mindset in American culture, but that doesn’t automatically make it wrong. To the contrary, with the way America stands spiritually these days, not to mention our high divorce rate and scores of troubled marriages, how can we possibly say that our way is better than the way the Bible describes?