Undue delay of marriage

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py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
1 Timothy 5:13-15 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.
Briefly, that's the whole point of what Paul is trying to prevent by laying down general advice. It is younger widows, generally, not these younger widows only.

It is not realistic to think that everyone can ignore certain provisions for avoiding sin and still avoid the sin they serve to control. Prudence determines that we shall not needlessly add to the severity of any struggle against sin. There is a wide difference between saying "You have an excuse for sexual sin because you are unmarried" and saying "Marriage can be a helpful preventive to fornication." It may be that lack of prudence is not often the root problem; but it is a sufficient aggravating factor in so many areas that it is worthy of being addressed. Obviously a cure for disease depends on addressing the root; but symptoms and side effects sometimes need to be ameliorated immediately as well.

I don't understand your affirmation that nothing external points to a person being called to marriage or not. You've already admitted that certain birth defects might point to them not being called in that way. A lack of need/desire could also point to them not being called. An absence of opportunity would also point to them not being called to that at the moment. So when you have the opposite of those points, when you have an external and an internal suitability conjoined with opportunity, that seems to be a call to marriage as much as desire, gifts, and church confirmation and opportunity verify a call to the ministry.

BTW, thanks all of you for this discussion. It is actually nice to be able to discuss this issue with someone without people engaging in name calling.
I was about to start, but you kind of rained on that parade.
 

Stargazer65

Puritan Board Freshman
However, there are certain things that are so serious that they can do tons of damage to another person. I have seen it; there are many people I have met who are hardened against marriage and the opposite sex because they married someone who was addicted to something, was abusive or controlling, etc. Unlike your post says, marriage did not cause these folks to deal with sin issues that they formerly ignored when single. Their self-centeredness ended up ruining the marriage, and hurting other people along the way.
This is an extreme situation. This issue in my OP is not about putting broken people into marriages to fix them. We are talking about people who are following God.

In other words, I would say that the only factor in growth in grace is the work of Christ on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Certainly I believe God can use another person like a spouse, but I would say that necessarily connecting sanctification to marriage is very dangerous theologically. I have seen some people who take this view, and they have almost a Roman Catholic sacramental view of marriage in the end. The reason is because, once you connect marriage necessarily to sanctification, now you have to argue that a person would not be sanctified without marriage. The problem is that the completion of the work of sanctification in our lives is made inevitable by the death of Christ on the cross, and is independent of whether or not we marry. Thus, it deeply concerns me when I hear people start talking this way.
The Holy Spirit works through means. This is not connecting sancification to marriage or taking a sacramental view of it. Part of that means is Godly fellowship. I'm sure you do not believe that we are meant to grow in isolation. You would not cut yourself off from the fellowship of the church, or fellow Christians and expect that growth would not be impeded. For the majority of Christians, a marriage partner is an essential part of fellowship and encouragement. Although all may not need and desire that level of companionship, the scriptures make it clear that it is a good thing, not a neutral thing.

---------- Post added at 01:21 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:17 PM ----------

BTW, thanks all of you for this discussion. It is actually nice to be able to discuss this issue with someone without people engaging in name calling.
I was about to start, but you kind of rained on that parade.
That's a funny.

:lol:
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
However much we affirm marriage, find it good according to Scripture, think of it as the typical and quite normal (even the majority) of lives in the world; we have to be tremendously careful not to err on the other side. And any affirmation of the goodness and appropriateness of marriage that does not account for its essential voluntariness, but instead turns it into a "law" of sorts, has crossed the limits, and falsely binds the conscience.

By "voluntary," I do not mean to despise societies that rely on arranged marriages, though those too must not violate true moral norms. But we must not turn the medieval oddity of a law that reduces the estate of marriage to a concession to the less-spiritual, into a new law (no less supposedly based in Truth than the former) that turns the whole attitude on its head and raises marriage to a "more-spiritual" condition.

Adam's concern (as I know, from following his online interactions elsewhere) is with the latter. His points may not be directly in opposition to several points made here. But his contention: that our own arguments in favor of whatever point we are making must be securely founded, and avoid tendentious and hasty conclusions--is surely true. We do ourselves no good service by adopting a new law (or what might easily be construed as such) in defense of an admittedly sound principle.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
However much we affirm marriage, find it good according to Scripture, think of it as the typical and quite normal (even the majority) of lives in the world; we have to be tremendously careful not to err on the other side. And any affirmation of the goodness and appropriateness of marriage that does not account for its essential voluntariness, but instead turns it into a "law" of sorts, has crossed the limits, and falsely binds the conscience.
Are you taking an exception to the WLC?
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
However much we affirm marriage, find it good according to Scripture, think of it as the typical and quite normal (even the majority) of lives in the world; we have to be tremendously careful not to err on the other side. And any affirmation of the goodness and appropriateness of marriage that does not account for its essential voluntariness, but instead turns it into a "law" of sorts, has crossed the limits, and falsely binds the conscience.
Are you taking an exception to the WLC?
I dont think he is or needs to take an exception here for Q139. Instead, he is applying the much needed applied wisdom when it comes to marriage. Particularly, it being transformed into a new law for everyone, which should not be bounded on everyone because not everyone is called to be married.
 

Stargazer65

Puritan Board Freshman
Instead, he is applying the much needed applied wisdom when it comes to marriage. Particularly, it being transformed into a new law for everyone, which should not be bounded on everyone because not everyone is called to be married.
I'm not sure I fully understand what particular new law has people concerned. Are you being hypothetical, or do you think my OP itself already goes to far? Give an example please.

Also, it would be helpful if you state that you agree or disagree with the WLC on that point, as Adam did, and why. That way we know if you disagree with the WLC itself on that point, or just interpret it differently. It gets confusing if that is not clear.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Also, it would be helpful if you state that you agree or disagree with the WLC on that point, as Adam did, and why. That way we know if you disagree with the WLC itself on that point, or just interpret it differently. It gets confusing if that is not clear.
I wouldn't want to disagree with the WLC. The command is clearly first of all to those Christians and non-Christians already in a relationship who are delaying getting married.

If there is a general instruction to Christians and non-Christians there would also have to be an explanation of the gift of continency.

undue delay of marriage
is wrong for
those that have not the gift of continency
Who are those that do not have, or do have, the gift of continency? Is this an absence of sexual desire and felt need to have female company, or is it having such desires under self-control?
 

Stargazer65

Puritan Board Freshman
I wouldn't want to disagree with the WLC. The command is clearly first of all to those Christians and non-Christians already in a relationship who are delaying getting married.
I agree. It is for those in relationships, which is why I highlighted the prevalence of pre-marital sex. The thread kind of detoured into a sidebar issue when we started discussing single and unattached people.

Who are those that do not have, or do have, the gift of continency? Is this an absence of sexual desire and felt need to have female company, or is it having such desires under self-control?
It would be both in my opinion. I mentioned a missionary who decided he was able to put off seeking a mate, because he could serve better as a single person. He still had desires, but they were under control. Twenty years later he married, because he desired it, and felt it would be a benefit to him as a Christian.

I think there are two biblical choices that the WLC implies:
1. I can serve God better as a single person right now.
2. I can serve God better as a married person right now.

Neither of these entails a new law.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
However much we affirm marriage, find it good according to Scripture, think of it as the typical and quite normal (even the majority) of lives in the world; we have to be tremendously careful not to err on the other side. And any affirmation of the goodness and appropriateness of marriage that does not account for its essential voluntariness, but instead turns it into a "law" of sorts, has crossed the limits, and falsely binds the conscience.
Are you taking an exception to the WLC?
I'm not sure why you would even ask me, Ruben. Can you spell out for me how you think something I wrote (@ #93) might contradict the Standards?

The (OPC) prooftexts for WLC A.139 at the point "undue delay of marriage," contain these:
m. 1 Cor. 7:7–9. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. Gen. 38:26. And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.
The first text addresses what Calvin calls "the neglect of remedy." Such neglect is a "tempting of God." There are some persons who are evidently not called to a single state, and who ought to be married, and may be, but for some reason refrain, foolishly, and do not take to the married state, and they "burn" (or needlessly risk it). Further, Calvin wisely observes, "many are stung with fleshly desires, who, nevertheless, do not require forthwith to have recourse to marriage." In other words, not every person tempted by lust is by that token bound for the altar, lest he be found disobedient. One needs ever to ask the question of those who might be married, and are not, "why not?" If it is a delay without basis, and this delay is making a foothold for the devil, then a further delay is "undue," and contributing to new sins.

In the second instance, the party (Judah) identified as guilty has the power to forbid marriage to certain persons who otherwise might, and perhaps ought to, be married. In other words, the divines are concerned with curbing authorities (family, church, state, or other) who for biblically indefensible reasons, or for no good reason, forbid the lawful marriage of persons who otherwise could be married, and presumably who desire it.

Thus, I don't think this particular observation concerning the will of God has to do with whether a person has a "duty" to marry, strictly speaking. It corrects those who are restraining from a marriage that is (in that particular case) the natural right. Taking the unlawful restraint off doesn't automatically imply a "duty" to marry. It is enough to now have the "freedom" to marry, a different concept.

I'll add that I see 1Cor.7:9 contains the apostolic imperative. If the conditions are just as described, then the counsel is applicable. But I would still deny a general "duty" to marry.
 
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Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Instead, he is applying the much needed applied wisdom when it comes to marriage. Particularly, it being transformed into a new law for everyone, which should not be bounded on everyone because not everyone is called to be married.
I'm not sure I fully understand what particular new law has people concerned. Are you being hypothetical, or do you think my OP itself already goes to far? Give an example please.

Also, it would be helpful if you state that you agree or disagree with the WLC on that point, as Adam did, and why. That way we know if you disagree with the WLC itself on that point, or just interpret it differently. It gets confusing if that is not clear.
Kevin, I am in agreement on 139 concerning undue marriage; I may not be in relation to dancing. I would need to check on the historical context of what they mean by dancing. If it was dancing provocatively, then yes; if it is dancing in general then no. By the way, I am not a dancer. I say this because I know of plenty of old Baptist that reject all forms of dancing; of course that for another thread for another time.

The point of my previous post here was to defend and briefly reinforce what Bruce said since not everyone is called to be married. The “new law” that we are speaking of is the requirement of everyone in our churches to be married; which granted most people in the church should be, depending of course on age. Marriage is a creational ordinance of God that will not disappear until after the end of this age; therefore it is still binding as a whole towards church, but not towards every individual of the church. We can see that this is not applied to everyone based on what our Lord says in Matthew 19:12:
“For there are eunuchs who were born thus from [their] mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
So you see to force someone to marriage would actually go against what Jesus himself would accept; and thus creating a new law of Christian Pharisaical thinking that works contrary to scripture itself. We are not to bind to conscience that in which scripture does not bind, in fact if scripture gives freedom here then we must recognize it.

This requirement of everyone being married is what Bruce was referring to. Of course that is one extreme, the other is doing nothing of those who are engaged in a prolonged relationship with the opposite sex that have no intention of marriage soon (in the near future, if ever). This is the other side of the spectrum that Q139 deals with directly. For in this case we do see two individuals interacting with the opposite sex in a way that will produce the sin that the question is dealing with. I hate to say it, but many times the modern church pushes are young people to commit adultery with the opposite sex, because of the way we engage in their education in the home and in Christian colleges/seminaries; whereby the young are not prepared for marriage by their families and the church when they reach that age to be married and the young are encouraged to place marriage aside for educational pursuits. In these situations, especially considering the hormones of the young, churches (including those that hold to Q139 of the WLC) need to revaluate their focus and priorities for the sake of the young members of the church. This would include more of an individual effort to know and provide care for all the young members of the body for positive and encouraging growth.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I'm not sure why you would even ask me, Ruben. Can you spell out for me how you think something I wrote (@ #93) might contradict the Standards?
Because you were defending Adam who stated his own disagreement with the WLC - I wanted to see how far you kept company with the view he propounded. I agreed with your post, but thought it would be good to have that precision. Since you hold that there are people evidently not called to a single state, I don't have anything to disagree with you about.
I'm sorry if that came across as a challenge - it was meant only to clarify.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Ruben,
I know Adam has chosen an alternate set of Standards, in order to avoid contentions on this topic. I want to affirm Adam's view, so far as it is biblical, because I also see objections raised to his view that are unsound. He might be able to affirm everything I said in my post, with the exception (memory serving?) that Paul's referent, 1Cor.7:9, is specifically to "unmarried widows" rather than to both "unmarried" (i.e., never married) and "widows." I take the latter.

I have the advantage of knowing Adam personally, knowing some of the battles he's been engaged in; and also being a somewhat dispassionate observer, not involved in those fights. I know where he's coming from. There are people out there who are militant concerning marriage, and in favor of a presumed "duty" to marry. These are some angry people, and many of them AREN'T married (I dare say) because if they were, they'd be impossible partners. Some are men angry at women who've said "no thanks," and who may still be unmarried. Others are women, angry because they claim they aren't being courted and wooed and wed because men aren't stepping up to their "duty."

Many of these people say that they want to follow the Lord's dictates in marriage, and they are NOT in fornication the meanwhile; and because they want to fulfill their "duty" they need other single-persons willing to do "theirs." They really do believe that the reason they aren't married is largely the problem that certain of their fellow believers fail to acknowledge God's command (Gen.1:28) has his name attached. They aren't "burning" (in the Pauline sense); they just know they aren't called to singleness because they want the blessings of the breast and of the womb; they want the body of a husband/wife to comfort them; they want the grace of life. And SOMEONE is denying them. It is their RIGHT to be married, because they WANT to be married, because it is a DUTY to be married (except for a few, under limited circumstances). Their big problem is being "sinned against."

And not just these sorts of people are drumming the drums for a duty to marry. There are some others, consistently or not (for example, Adam has addressed certain statements Mohler has made or defended), who are bold to say to their congregants, or to seminarians, "You men are sinning by not asking one of these young ladies out on a date, and hurrying to the altar." I can personally recall a pastor of one large church, having personal knowledge of some going-on-40 wallflower's private agony over not being married, using his bully pulpit to call for some (presumably) age-appropriate man to step up and take this woman. It was an attempt at pressure-tactics on a certain demographic among his listeners--in the pews or over the airwaves--to cause one of them to feel the "call of God" and do his "duty" by this dear lady.

These leaders do not know what is "best" for the generality of the young women. And for all they know, the generality of the men (who appear to be slow in this matter) are among a larger-than-typical number of young men in the next generation who could be called to the life of single-service, ala Apostle Paul. They do not know.

I do not think it is defensible to say to men or women, "You are unsure, or mistaken to think you are called to singleness, but I know." I don't think it is possible to properly urge the command of Gen.1:28/9:1 on any particular person or couple. We might as well agree that our moment is correlative to the "current crisis" (1Cor.7:26), and urge everyone to "remain as they are." Why not? None of then initial conditions obtain exactly; they require application in our time. I would be more willing to consider that arranged marriages are the way to go, than I would be to command the young people to marry unless they found an legitimate escape.

As a pastor, I may find that someone I counsel needs the particular command of 1Cor.7:9. I apply that text to him/her, to the best of my ability. Consider the issue: should he just start asking all the singles around him? Is there a person he's involved with already? Is that person a professing believer? Should he investigate the mail-order-bride industry? Doesn't his case call for prayer for the mate "answering" his true need to materialize? So that he may obey the will of God?

But a case does not a universal law make. And that is the "binding of conscience" I am concerned about. A man that "finds" a wife finds a good thing. To marry is natural. It is a freedom. It should be encouraged, whenever lawful and expedient. But the only guilt a man should feel is when he knows he is sinning--against himself or against another person.
 

Stargazer65

Puritan Board Freshman
There are people out there who are militant concerning marriage, and in favor of a presumed "duty" to marry. These are some angry people, and many of them AREN'T married (I dare say) because if they were, they'd be impossible partners. Some are men angry at women who've said "no thanks," and who may still be unmarried. Others are women, angry because they claim they aren't being courted and wooed and wed because men aren't stepping up to their "duty."

Many of these people say that they want to follow the Lord's dictates in marriage, and they are NOT in fornication the meanwhile; and because they want to fulfill their "duty" they need other single-persons willing to do "theirs." They really do believe that the reason they aren't married is largely the problem that certain of their fellow believers fail to acknowledge God's command (Gen.1:28) has his name attached. They aren't "burning" (in the Pauline sense); they just know they aren't called to singleness because they want the blessings of the breast and of the womb; they want the body of a husband/wife to comfort them; they want the grace of life. And SOMEONE is denying them. It is their RIGHT to be married, because they WANT to be married, because it is a DUTY to be married (except for a few, under limited circumstances). Their big problem is being "sinned against."

And not just these sorts of people are drumming the drums for a duty to marry. There are some others, consistently or not (for example, Adam has addressed certain statements Mohler has made or defended), who are bold to say to their congregants, or to seminarians, "You men are sinning by not asking one of these young ladies out on a date, and hurrying to the altar." I can personally recall a pastor of one large church, having personal knowledge of some going-on-40 wallflower's private agony over not being married, using his bully pulpit to call for some (presumably) age-appropriate man to step up and take this woman. It was an attempt at pressure-tactics on a certain demographic among his listeners--in the pews or over the airwaves--to cause one of them to feel the "call of God" and do his "duty" by this dear lady.

These leaders do not know what is "best" for the generality of the young women. And for all they know, the generality of the men (who appear to be slow in this matter) are among a larger-than-typical number of young men in the next generation who could be called to the life of single-service, ala Apostle Paul. They do not know.
I've never been exposed to that side of the fence. So I can understand why someone exposed to that environment would be cautious about what I am saying. My experience in youth was towards the opposite, such that singleness is heralded as a more spiritual state. If you thought about marriage before 25 you were ruining your ability to do God's work.

However, my OP was not about a duty to marry or a duty to be single, it is about a lack of motivation to marry when the Lord is leading in that direction. The world is promoting the putting off of marriage, as well as alternatives to marriage. I think there is a problem that young people in the church are following the world's advice that you need to extend your childhood into your late 20's. Those that could and should marry, have bought into a false belief that late marriage is somehow better than early marriage. Usually the arguments are things like: You will be more mature, you will be better off financially, etc... So marriage is somehow seen as a burden to the young, instead of a blessing.

I believe we were meant to mature together, not wait until we reach a supposed maturity. Finances are more a matter of how you handle money than how much you have.
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
The curse of waiting is oftentimes unfulfilled desires, development of selfishness, waste of resources, loss of Godly seed. Sometimes people who wait too long to marry have trouble shifting from singleness to the married state. This is a general observation, it's not a matter of giving a command to individual people.
 
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pianoman

Puritan Board Freshman
I most certainly agree that a delay of marriage is a problem in the church. I have noticed this, and I believe it is caused by our materialism. Everyone wants a degree and money before they get married and ultimately commit. And the men hold on to the girl until they are ready. I get pretty fired up about it. And of course, the guy and girl don't want to get married, but they have premarital sex. They want the benefits it seems of marriage without the commitment of marriage. And what surprises me is that their parents don't want them to get married in college or whatever, but they seem to be ok with them probably being active sexually. This is why I married my wife while still in my Junior year in college. We could make it financially with us both working, and I just feel like it is wrong to date for a long period of time without commitment. Although their may be different opinions on this verse I Cor. 1:9 "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." I think this is what Paul was speaking of here. I would rather be struggling a little financially and working hard than to know I am using my girl yet not committing to her. The only other option is to not "date" until you are older and financially stable, but then your like 28, and I'm just not that kind of person that wants to be alone. lol Ok. I will stop with my soap box.
 

Stargazer65

Puritan Board Freshman
I most certainly agree that a delay of marriage is a problem in the church. I have noticed this, and I believe it is caused by our materialism. Everyone wants a degree and money before they get married and ultimately commit. And the men hold on to the girl until they are ready. I get pretty fired up about it. And of course, the guy and girl don't want to get married, but they have premarital sex. They want the benefits it seems of marriage without the commitment of marriage. And what surprises me is that their parents don't want them to get married in college or whatever, but they seem to be ok with them probably being active sexually. This is why I married my wife while still in my Junior year in college. We could make it financially with us both working, and I just feel like it is wrong to date for a long period of time without commitment. Although their may be different opinions on this verse I Cor. 1:9 "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." I think this is what Paul was speaking of here. I would rather be struggling a little financially and working hard than to know I am using my girl yet not committing to her. The only other option is to not "date" until you are older and financially stable, but then your like 28, and I'm just not that kind of person that wants to be alone. lol Ok. I will stop with my soap box.
It sounds like you made a wise choice in your case. That's exactly the kind of situation where I think the church doesn't use biblical wisdom. Oftentimes we discourage young people from doing what you did, thinking we are somehow doing them a favor. In doing so we're going against what is the clear teaching of 1 Cor 7:9, that getting married may be the best choice.

It is not a neutral choice as if it doesn't matter. One choice is better than the other for each person. I think Adam's contention (earlier in this thread) was that you cannot say that marrying in college would be the best choice for everyone, to which I would agree. My contention is that you cannot tell people that waiting is the best choice for everyone, and I think Adam would agree with that also. But I think the latter situation is the problem in the church, not the former.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Kevin,
My response to yours would be that the Standards really aren't addressing the "wisdom" question that you seem to be addressing, when it points to the SIN of "undue delay of marriage." I have trued to explain what the divines were saying.
My experience in youth was towards the opposite, such that singleness is heralded as a more spiritual state.
I agree that this would be a problem. Call it "The New Monasticism." It was an error before, and it is an error now. The oddity we have today is a "turning on its head" of that old law of the spiritual-superiority of the single estate, by replacing it with the new law of the spiritual-superiority of the married estate. There is error to be shunned in either direction. There is NO (general) duty to be married, just as there is NO (general) duty to be single--certain exceptions/allowances/concessions made by either side.

I could be persuaded by you that there is a negative trend toward marriage, an unfortunate "discouragement" for early-marriage, etc. I haven't seen it, exactly, in my circles, or in our churches. But I admit my experience is limited. I wouldn't want to "discourage" early marriage; but neither would I want to "discourage" waiting on marriage, if indeed waiting is what is called for in some case--or even in a majority of cases where I might be called on to minister. It is just as foolish to decide in advance to default to counseling "not waiting" as it would be to have a default setting in the other direction. Such a rule, it seems to me, has little awareness of the delicate nature of pastoral ministry.

As I indicated, I think this is not a matter that can easily be subsumed under a "sin" category. It is a "wisdom" category. And such categories are a challenge to Christians who want to live in a very black-and-white world. Many Christians crave a "flowchart" for the Christian life. Many people have tried to turn the Bible into such a tool, or tried their hand at a casuistry register--one that ends up looking an awful lot like laws, for everyone.
The curse of waiting is oftentimes unfulfilled desires, development of selfishness, waste of resources, loss of Godly seed. Sometimes people who wait too long to marry have trouble shifting from singleness to the married state. This is a general observation, it's not a matter of giving a command to individual people.
And as I think Adam made plain already: everyone of these admittedly sage observations of yours has an equally legitimate counterpart; another argument from the field of wisdom's observations and ways that makes the opposite case. Can you admit that? Even if you don't agree that this hour is the time and place?

I think your post 107 pretty much makes the same point. So, we seem to be much in agreement.
 

Stargazer65

Puritan Board Freshman
Rev. Buchanan,
I accept your expanation of the Standards, you know more about them then me. Sometimes I misunderstand the context or wording. That being the case, it's fair to say I mistakenly applied the Standard to a problem that it wasn't intended to address. I'll be more careful about that in the future. So I admit that I agree that this falls into a wisdom category. If we are not wise in the decision, it is likely to cause sin.

I frequently used the term "Undue Delay of Marriage" because I thought it an apt description of the trend I've seen. But I could just as easily call it "unwisely putting off marriage" to avoid confusing it with the sin that Q139 points out.

So let me say that I see a problem with the church unwisely putting off marriage. I think people are doing it for the wrong reasons in most cases. If a young christian couple desired to get married to avoid fornication, wordly counselors would tell them to wait because that is not a good reason to marry. I believe most Christians automatically default to that same reasoning, without regard to what God says on the matter.

Sometimes we expect that they should have x,y, and z (insert career, schooling, and savings) before marriage. Sometimes I think that we have too pietistic a view of marriage. As if having and wanting to properly fulfill sexual desires in marriage makes someone less spiritual. So if we tell them to wait, and they end up in sexual sin, we blame it on their sinful heart without regarding that we may have unwisely talked them into putting off marriage.

I agree with Adam that this is not the one-size-fits-all answer for everyone. There are equally valid reasons why we could advise to put off marriage.

What about someone who says they want to remain single in life for the sake of avoiding the difficulties of marriage? If they can do that and remain pure, fine. I don't see anything in the scripture to forbid it, and the standards allow it. But I'd encourage them to pray about it, Paul's case is unusual, people are more apt to fall into impurity when they are single. I don't think it's because marriage is more spiritual, it's just a practical result of sexual fulfillment, companionship, and accountability to each other. Staying single is a serious business, just as much so as marriage. I'd remind them of the blessings they might be giving up, not just now, but in the future (possible children, and grandchildren in their old age). They need to count the cost of the decision, and if they prayerfully do so, and believe God wants them to be single, that's great. I just don't want them to make a flippant decision based on what the world does.

So because of my thoughts on the matter, I got a little excited when Adam compared the decision to planning dinner. Maybe I'm making it sound too urgent, I realize that deciding to be single in life today doesn't lock you into a vow of single life tomorrow.
 
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