In 2014, Time Magazine conducted a study among millennials and tried to find out where the culture is shifting towards the view of marriage. Because the millennial is considered to be more outgoing and risky according to leading sociologists, they assumed that Generation Y would have the urgency to get married and live life to the fullest. Instead, it was found that millennial mentality contradicted the assumptions that many researchers at TIME had made. Over 25% of millennials claimed that they had no desire or wish to become married. Others said that they would be married if they had enough money, were a bit older (older as in 30 years of age or more), and/or they had found the right person who fit all their standards.
I must admit that I agreed with this philosophy at one point. I thought relationships were a waste of time, a waste of money, and a distraction from ministry or worship. As I began reading my Bible again, I found some texts that said that it was best not to have relations with a woman or to be married, so I assumed the Bible was trying to say that marriage needed to be avoided. I thought marriage was for those who were weak and gave in to easily. More times than I could count, I made it publicly known that I didn’t want to ever become married. Friends of mine, both male and female, agreed with me. It wasn’t until later on, specifically last year, that I started seeing that marriage was not something that we should run away from.
I have read many blogs in which writers (who happened to be single) advised millennials to not focus on marriage and instead focus on careers, ministry, and education. Most of the counsel I have received, even from the godliest people, has been to not consider courtship until I reach the age of 30. Others have advised me to not get married at all and instead to pursue an ambitious career. The worst was when I heard it from couples whom I thought were happy. I have been told to not have kids or to first have a good income (literal advice was $70,000 or more) before having one kid.
Over and over again singles are pushed around and told “don’t do this”or “don’t do that”, and my favorite: “think about your future.” We tend to stress financial stability, comfort, and purpose over marriage and this mentality has reached the Church. We have forgotten the image in the Bible of the Church being the chosen bride of Christ, and Christ being the promised groom. Instead, many modern Evangelicals (sadly even the truly conservative ones) have adopted the kind of mentality that is growing among the millennials. We now revere marriage as a major distraction from what is really important: ourselves. There is no way someone can convince me otherwise: the only reason one would not want to get married, other than God granting someone the gift of celibacy, is because of selfishness.
Some might not believe me, but just consider some of the reasons many people tend to have to avoid marriage:
- I haven’t found the perfect person. (Translation: No one fits my standard.)
- I don’t have enough money. (Translation: Money is my sovereign God that predetermines my destiny.)
- I don’t know if I could live with someone for the rest of my life. (Translation: I am not willing to humble myself for another person.)
- Culture says I don’t have to be married, and marriage is based on culture. (Translation: God didn’t create marriage; man did. God doesn’t determine marriage, I do.)
- I don’t want kids. (Translation: I don’t want to be held responsible for a child.)
- I hate kids. (Translation: I don’t have a heart…plain and simple.)
- I don’t want to be distracted from my education, career, or ministry. (Translation: I don’t want anything to stand in the way of my ambition.)
- I can’t have sex with just one person for the rest of my life. (Translation: I am in lust, adultery, or addicted to pornography and I don’t want anything to keep me away from my lifestyle.)
The saddest part about this list, is that I have heard all of these complaints coming from people who called themselves Christians. That pains me because it seems young Christians have forgotten the beauty, value, and significance of marriage. Marriage is something to be sought after. I agree that it is not the ultimate goal and that it is not the true source of happiness, but one can’t read the Bible cover to cover and conclude that God wants celibacy to be the norm. On the contrary, God wants His children to pursue marriage, and to have relationships between one man and one woman.
Out of all the books of the Bible, I believe that Genesis is the best book to read to prepare us for marriage and what God planned for His people. In Genesis 2:18 (ESV) the Scripture says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” Then later on in Genesis 2:21-24 (ESV) the story continues: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
The most amazing thing about this text is that God saw that man should not be alone. I can safely assume that the same goes for women. We need earthly companionship to satisfy us physically, emotionally, and yes even sexually. God made man and woman so that they could complement one another: man being the leader, and the woman being the helper. God had foreknown, and created marriage from the very beginning. It was God’s idea to implement marriage and this sparked something truly remarkable. God now desires that men should leave their own household behind to court a woman, and later on marry her. Then, when married, they shall know each other and become one flesh.
Another distinct fact that should not be overlooked is that God took a rib from Adam. Why did God take the rib? One rabbi argued that if God were to take a bone from the arm, then we could make the argument that women was inferior; he also argued that if God were to take a bone from the leg, then the argument could be made that woman was superior. Instead, God took the rib and out of it formed Eve, the first woman. Make no mistake about this: God created man and woman equally. They are of equal worth and there is no biblical evidence for male or female superiority. Instead, the Bible emphasizes the value of the combining of man and woman to make one flesh, and that they would complement one another with distinct roles.
God wants us to be married (save for one exception: the gift of celibacy, but that is an exception not a norm). Other than the gift of celibacy, God makes it abundantly clear that “it is not good that man should be alone.” To the man: make no mistake, you need woman. To the woman: make no mistake, you need man. God created us to desire each other, to be attracted to each other, and to be married under spiritual authority. There is no reason to hold off marriage, but instead we are to have a godly desire to pursue marriage. John Calvin once said this when preaching on the passage I just quoted, “I regard it as common law for man’s vocation…that solitude is not good, exempting only him or her whom God exempts by special privilege.”
Thankfully, the majority of the Church, and even millennials, are not entirely convinced of the fact that marriage should be eliminated, but there is a staggering amount of people who think that it should be prolonged or avoided. Instead, I think we should pursue it while keeping ourselves in the deepest place of prayer. We seek marriage because it glorifies Christ, not because of social status or cultural norms. God wants us to find happiness in companionship.
As a single man, I want to be a husband and a father. Yes, I want to be in ministry. Yes, I want to pursue graduate studies (even to getting a ThD). Yes, I want to have a good income. Yes, I love free time. However, I am not convinced that God will be fine with me if I live out His purpose for my life, only to never share any of it with anyone else. I trust His call for my life, and I know that He has prepared a person to be in my life. I hope that others will have the same faith as I from the young millennial generation and attempt to see that marriage is worth seeking after.
I don’t believe for a second that any marriage is going to be comfortable, luxurious, or even remotely easy, so what is the purpose of basing marriage off of some criteria that would be impossible to meet? Instead, I will trust in God, walk in humility, and submit myself to Christ’s commands, so that one day I will be able to recite the following in full confidence:
I, James, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Soli Deo Gloria.