Undue delay of marriage

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by Stargazer65, Sep 28, 2011.

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  1. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    Philip states things pretty well here. I find lots of Christians coming up with excuses to delay. I know this from firsthand experience in my own youth, since I followed the wordly advice to wait until much older. It would have been nice if an elder would have mentored me in this area. I'm sure I would have gotten good advice had I asked, but being somewhat shy I muddled through things on my own.

    I understand the caution that we should not make rash decisions and jump into marriage indiscriminately. However, I don't think that is the problem in the Christian community, at least not in my experience. I think Christians are waiting until the world thinks it's a good time to get married. Which seems to be getting later and later all the time. By the world's standard we should be waiting until we're both graduated from college, both have steady careers, have a four bedroom house, two cars, on and on ad nauseum. :barfy:

    Adam had none of these things when God made Eve, except a job of course.
  2. Weston Stoler

    Weston Stoler Puritan Board Sophomore

    I guess I have just been fed those sayings that "your too young" far too long. Hahaha maybe I am kicking against the pricks :p
  3. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm not trying to goad you into anything Weston, I don't know your situation. I just want to encourage you not to go with the world's "Status Quo" of waiting for the sake of appearances, and instead seek God's will.:2cents:
  4. cajunhillbilly53

    cajunhillbilly53 Puritan Board Freshman

    How about a 58 year old widwoer who misses the companionship of a woman? How long should I delay marriage?
  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Until you find one who you want to marry.
  6. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Is the primary motivation not to delay marriage simply the avoidance of fornication? That doesn’t sound right. Are there not positive benefits that should be emphasized?
  7. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    I fully agree, there are other benefits. Just for one: For every negative command in the decalogue, there is a positive. So just from that aspect there is the positive benefit of marital sexual relations. Proverbs 5:18
  8. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    Of course there are positive benefits of marriage. But there are also positive benefits of singleness. Consider 1 Cor 7:32-35.
  9. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with you Joanna. The ability to remain single and happily serve the Lord in that capacity is a blessing. Undue delay of marriage has nothing to do with a single person serving God in that capacity. I believe it is talking about having a close man-woman relationship for too long of a period of time before marriage, or outside of marriage. In other words, being a steady boyfriend/girlfriend for years on end for the sake of having a relationship, but avoiding marriage.
  10. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    Depends where you go. In one part, the delay may be unavoidable because society seems to make further education unavoidable, and so the delay may just be a matter of responsibility. In some church environments though, you might have either an undue exalting of singleness, or a lack of discussion with young people on marriage. In some places all a young person will really hear on the subject is "Well God has someone for you, you just need to wait," but there is nothing at all said on preparing yourself, what the commitments involved are, and almost no encouragement to inquire into the subject itself. The result is that when a person wants to pursue, he realizes that he knows almost nothing about marriage except what he has learned from watching others, and knows even less from Scripture. This does happen in some places. Unfortunately too, I think the result is that because nothing is said on it, then nothing good is said on the matter, and so you don't conceive of marriage as something that can be joyful, fulfilling, or successful--let alone God-exalting. Thus, less motivation to pursue.

    The result too is that when you read Al Mohler on this for the first time, or you find that in the WLC, you are not a little caught off guard. Coming to a Reformed church, I was a bit surprised on the change of emphasis. So it depends on what church you are talking about.
  11. Constantlyreforming

    Constantlyreforming Puritan Board Sophomore

    It does take between 11-20 months to plan a proper wedding....

    just sayin'....

    ---------- Post added at 10:45 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:42 AM ----------

    Some men worked years before they were permitted to marry a woman...and then they ended up marrying the wrong woman....
  12. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman


    I guess my wife and I were never properly wed then, we only took 3 months to plan ours.
  13. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    We took twelve days. :up: And it was beautiful!
  14. Constantlyreforming

    Constantlyreforming Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm being koi.


    I do wonder how our marriages would fare if arranged marriages were still the usual...
  15. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    I knew. But isn't it ironic that big wedding ceremonies are sometimes at the beginning of the shortest marriages?

    I suspect they would do a little better, but I don't have any hard data to back it up.:think: Just adding a little parental wisdom to the equation would improve things in many cases.
  16. dog8food

    dog8food Puritan Board Freshman

    Here's my excuse:
    I'm nearly 30 with no job prospects--not even sure what direction to go. Once I get that settled (if ever) I might consider a relationship.
  17. Weston Stoler

    Weston Stoler Puritan Board Sophomore

    Also some people are just not mature enough to take up a wife. We have children marrying adult women (maturity wise). I believe that a man should be mature and able to support his wife emotively, financially, and spiritually. If they be 18 or 70. :2cents:
  18. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    End up marrying the wrong woman? Sometimes I wonder if in God's economy that is even possible. Here's what I mean. Yes, you can make a poor choice in a spouse. But who's to say that God didn't intend that for good? Especially when you asked God to guide you and believed He would do so? I am not talking about presuming on the grace of God, but when we genuinely make mistakes. :worms:
  19. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    But a week later he got a hottie :)
  20. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member


    koi plural of koi
    Noun: A common carp of a large ornamental variety, originally bred in Japan.
    ht wikipedia
  21. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Young men and women have a responsibility to become mature so that they don't delay marriage.
  22. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Let's just be careful not to fault folks simply because they married later.
  23. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    It's still the wrong woman in God's preceptive will. You were foolish in choosing her.

    It's the right woman in God's decretive will. All things work together for the good.

    ---------- Post added at 12:42 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:38 AM ----------

    Maturity is a difficult thing to judge. Might merit another thread.

  24. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Sounds fishy... You evidently missed the context...
  25. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I thought that Ethan made a mistake using "koi" instead of "coy".

    I don't see any other fish references in the context.

    Maybe I'm missing something :scratch: :p
  26. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Agreed. We are discussing the undue delay of marriage. There is appropriate delay and inappropriate delay. My point was that irresponsibility does not make an otherwise inappropriate delay to be appropriate in every way. In our Christian charity to one another, we of course must meet people where they are. By all means, continue to develop character and responsibility if one is not ready, but realize that sin often has a great part in prolonging this development. Am I free of this indictment? No, I am not.
  27. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm sure he created the fish word on purpose. The chances of mispelling only two out of three letters, and coming up with a fish by a random chance is just too implausable. Wouldn't happen in millions of years.
  28. Stargazer65

    Stargazer65 Puritan Board Freshman

    As Tim says, we have charity towards one another. The purpose of the thread is not to pick on people who marry late, or single people, or those with appropriate reasons to delay. It should be assumed that everyone is following after God's will for their life, unless they state otherwise, or act in blatant violation of commandments. The purpose is to comment on whether you believe there is a problem with undue delay of marriage in the church, and why or why not. It is certainly valid to state that Christians have a responsibility to mature so that they can marry. That statment makes no unfair judgments of anyone, it should be understood that marriage is not God's will for every single person. It should be also understood that not everyone is able to marry, even if they desire to do so, for valid reasons.
  29. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey Everyone!

    I have actually talked with people who have studied the confessions on that issue, and they have questioned whether or not the "undue delay of marriage" here refers to the delay of marriage that Mohler and others are talking about.

    For example, the Puritans actually had laws against long engagements. This would make a ton of sense as the background for this section of the confession, since delaying marriage in the context of engagement was seen as something that could lead to serious problems.

    Also, while I am aware that Mohler and others use 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9 as a proof text for this position, in my mind, they simply are not good proof texts.

    First of all, notice the structure of verses 2-4

    2. ...man...wife...woman...husband.
    3. ...husband...wife...wife...husband
    4. ...wife...husband...husband...wife

    Notice, that verses 2-4 have exactly the same structure, namely, a chiasm. It is in the form of:


    Thus, most scholars will say that verses 2-4 are a unit. However, verses 3-4 are talking about the marital duty of sexual relations. How can this be?

    Of course, the simple solution to the problem is that the Greek term echo [to have] can be used as a euphemism for sexual relations. The following texts in the Septuagint and the New Testament are some of the texts mentioned by Gordon Fee as instances in which echo bears this meaning:

    Exodus 2:1 There was a certain man of tribe of Levi who took [a wife] from the daughters of Levi, and he had [echo] her. [translation mine]

    Deuteronomy 28:30 thou shalt take a wife, and another man shall have [echo] her; thou shalt build a house, and thou shalt not dwell in it; thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes of it. [Brenton Translation]

    Isaiah 13:16 and they will strike their children in front of them, they will plunder their houses, and they will have [echo] their wives. [translation mine]

    Mark 6:18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have [echo] your brother's wife." [NASB]

    1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has [echo] his father's wife. [NASB]

    Thus, the meaning of verse 2 would be "because of sexual immorality, let each man have sexual relations with his own wife, and let each woman have sexual relations with her own husband."

    This interpretation would also fit with verse 1. Paul would be admitting that there is some truth to what is said in verse 1 but, because sexual immorality will exist in this life, we are not to refrain from sexual relations with our wives. Indeed, he goes on to say that there is only one case where someone cannot have sexual relations with their wife, and that by an agreement for a period of time so that they can devote themselves to prayer [v.5]. Thus, the text is addressing one topic from verse 1 until verse 5.

    There are also some other criticisms that can be levied against this interpretation of this passage. First of all, there is a Greek word for "to marry," namely, gameo, and Paul uses that term down in verse 9 in the imperative. It is hard to explain why it is that Paul used the imperative of gameo in verse 9, but not in verse 2. There is no literary reason why he would change, nor is their a contextual reason why he would change.

    Also, it would seem, if we take this interpretation, that Paul contradicts himself. Paul later on commands them not to seek to change their state [7:27]. Now, whether you limit this to the time of the "present distress" or not, you have just made Paul command the virgins in the Corinthian congregation to get married, and yet, to not seek to change their marital status. Such makes Paul utterly self-contradictory.

    Not only that, but this interpretation completely disrupts the text of verses 1-7. Verse 2 would be a statement addressed to virgins, verses 3-4 would be a text addressed to married people, and verses 5-7 would again be referring to virgins. Such an interpretation thus makes the structure of the entire passage totally random, and inserts an unnatural break at every change of audience.

    Thus, I would say that 1 Corinthians 7:2 is not at all relevant to our present circumstances as single people.
    I have also found out something interesting with regards to this passage. The NET has interestingly translated this text as:

    1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of immoralities, each man should have relations with his own wife and each woman with her own husband.

    What is also interesting is the footnote that they give explaining the reasoning for their translation:

    tn Grk “each man should have his own wife.” “Have” in this context means “have marital relations with” (see the following verse). The verb ἐχέτω (ecetw, “have”) occurs twice in the Greek text, but has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons. This verb occurs 8 times in the LXX (Exod 2:1; Deut 28:30; 2 Chr 11:21; 1 Esd 9:12, 18; Tob 3:8; Isa 13:16; 54:1) with the meaning “have sexual relations with,” and 9 times elsewhere in the NT with the same meaning (Matt 20:23; 22:28; Mark 6:18; 12:33; Luke 20:28; John 4:18 [twice] 1 Cor 5:1; 7:29).

    It is interesting that they have said the very same thing I said above. Not only that, but other very well known commentators say the same thing. Dr. Craig Blomberg [pgs. 133, 136], Gordon Fee [pgs. 278-279], and Dr. Richard Hays [pgs. 113-114] have all taken this interpretation of this passage in their commentaries. In fact, Gordon Fee says he knows of no instance in which the idiom "to have a wife" means "to take a wife" [Fee, p.278 n48]. He says that, in most of those instances, the Greek term lamba,nw is used. He sights the fact that this idiom is used in a Western text variant of 7:28 where it replaces the Greek verb game,w which means "to marry." He also cites an apocryphal text in Tobit 4:12 which does, indeed, refer to taking a wife because of sexual immorality [pornei,a], and lamba,nw is clearly used there. He concludes that, "Paul's usage is clearly different from these" [Fee, 278 n.48]. Furthermore, Fee notes that, for a woman to "take a husband" was utterly foreign to first century cultures [Fee, 278 n48].

    Also, as far as 1 Corinthians 7:9, the problem there is with the context. I agree with Fee and Blomberg and Hays that verses 8-9 are talking about widows and widowers. There is a masculine/feminine pairing, and the masculine form of "widow" is falling out of usage at this time. Also, it would produce incredible awkwardness as Paul would then be addressing singles twenty verses apart, and giving them contradictory messages [marry, but remain as you are]. Hence, I would say that verse 8 should be understood as, "But I say even unto the widows and the widowers..."

    This also fits well in the flow of Paul's thought in this passage. In verses 2-5 he says that husbands and wives should have sexual relations because of sexual immorality so Satan doesn't tempt them because of their "lack of self control." This very nicely parallels Paul's statement in verse 9 "But, if they do not have self control let them marry." If Paul is dealing with widows and widowers in verses 8-9, then he is dealing with what happens when the sexual relationship is broken up by death. Obviously, husbands and wives cannot engage in sexual relations after death. So, how is this to be handled? Paul says that, if you can, you are to remain as he is [widowed]. However, if you still desire those sexual relations, then you should remarry, because it is better to marry than to not have self control.

    Finally the passage about Judah and Tamar is not really dealing about the issue of some kind of delay of marriage in the sense Mohler and others are talking about. First, the background to the text is most probably the levarite duties. Tamar's first two husbands had died because God struck them dead. She was entitled to marry Shelah, but Judah made up the excuse that he was too young, because he was afraid that Shelah would die like his other two sons. The point is that he is not taking care of the widow in his household, which is totally contradicted by the law of God which gives specific laws for this very situation. Thus, Judah was acting against the very character of God to not take care of the widow in his household.

    Hence, I have not seen anything in the scriptures anywhere that says that "delay of marriage" in the sense that Mohler is talking about is wrong in and of itself. However, I think the problem is that both marriage and singleness can be used for selfish reasons. There are married people, for example, who seek to control their spouse and their kids. There are also married people who spend time with family rather than going to church. In the same way, singleness can be used in selfish ways at all. The issue is how are we using are singleness. Are we using it to the glory of God, or are we going to use it for ourselves? That is something that cannot be cured with marriage, because a person who uses their singleness selfishly will use their marriage selfishly. Then, not just one person will be hurt, but several people will be hurt! Therefore, the solution to this problem is not marriage; that will actually make things worse. The solution is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It is getting people to stop using their marital status in a selfish fashion, and getting them to start using it in a Godly fashion for his glory.

    God Bless,
  30. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Adam, that's a very interesting post. What would your take be on the various verses that mention a "wife of your youth", as in Proverbs 5 or Malachi 2? Obviously these are not a command, but it does seem to reflect a presumption that marriage will (ordinarily) take place in youth.
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