The Wait Is Over
by Ted Cunningham
The unspoken message I heard loud and clear as a kid was, “Sex is dirty, nasty, and ugly, and you should save it for the one you love.”
I grew up in a Bible-teaching church and home. My youth group held regular talks on purity, during which I kissed dating goodbye and was told to save myself for marriage. Delay sex until marriage was the standard. Now, a generation later, young people are having sex and delaying marriage.
The church has taught us to honor purity, not marriage.
God created marriage for one man and one woman to enjoy for life. The only part of creation that God declared as “not good” was man’s singleness, and throughout Scripture marriage is normative, while singleness is the exception. Satan has duped our culture into believing the lie that says, “Marriage is the problem, not man.” He has convinced us that the best way to prosper in life is to abstain from marriage or delay it as long as possible.
And Christian young people have fallen for the lie. They are delaying marriage and having sex outside of marriage. They’ve been told to wait until they have it all figured out and find someone who has done the same. That’s why they keep hearing the words, “You’re too young.”
If you and your fiance walked into our church today, with budding love in your hearts, we would rejoice with you, even if you were only twenty years old. We would walk you through the biblical qualifications for marriage, and if you were ready, we’d give you the pastoral nod. Then we would set a date and throw a raging party!
Have you experienced such a love, and if so, how old were you? Do you have an intense desire to be with that person forever? Do you feel God could be knitting the two of you together? Has anyone ever told you, “There are lots of fish in the sea,” “You don’t know what you need,” or “There’s time for that later”?
Solomon pictures marriage as a blossoming vineyard and warns against the foxes that seek to destroy this vineyard, this love (Song 2:15). Even today, many foxes seek to destroy budding love before it can bloom. Some foxes are intentional, and some are not. Some are vicious, while some are simply misinformed.
Campus pastors challenge students to neglect young, budding love in order to focus on their relationship with Christ. Parents push the delay with bribes and the “you’ve got your whole life ahead of you” argument. Friends encourage the delay for fear of losing their buddies. Churches teach the delay as an antidote to divorce. Some young lovers delay marriage in order to give cohabitation a shot. Young ladies delay in hopes of finding the perfect guy. Young men delay to give themselves a few more years to party and set new high scores on their video games.
I hate the delay and I believe it is unnecessary.
Marrying young is not the problem. Love is from our Lord, and being in love is a blessing. If God plants love in you for another and you plan to get married young, the church should praise what He is doing, not tell you to wait.
Contrary to what you may have been told, marriage is not the reason people divorce. While I am an advocate for marrying young, I’m an even bigger advocate for helping you grow up. Experts call it “eradicating prolonged adolescence.” It is entirely possible to get married and pursue adulthood together with your spouse.
Entering adulthood doesn’t require that one wait until he or she is twenty-five years old, the age some researchers now believe is the milestone for adulthood. I don’t want that for you because frankly it’s unnecessary. Satan wants you to stay a little boy or girl because it leads you to focus on yourself and results in prolonged adolescence. God wants you to press on to maturity.
While there are many valid reasons to delay marriage, age should not be on that list. Marriages fall apart for all sorts of reasons: unmet or unrealistic expectations, buying into the “soul mate” myth, prolonged adolescence, lack of commitment, and a culture that devalues marriage. But those won’t go away with age. The true issue is maturity, not age.
So if you kissed dating good-bye, it’s time to say hello! If you have kept true love waiting, I tell you now, wait no more.