The Wife of Your Youth|
When God created the world, there was only one thing that He found not to be good, and He quickly remedied it. "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31), except the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). God took a rib from the man's side, and He fashioned it into a woman (Gen. 2:21-23). It is this original creation of woman that is continually witnessed by the institution of marriage, for the Scripture says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).
From the beginning, marriage has been a blessing to man. Marriage has always been God's provision for companionship and procreation for man (Gen. 1:28; 2:18). It is the foundation for family and the first institution of society. Through marriage, man can glorify God, for marriage bears the likeness of Christ's relationship with the church, and it is a great demonstration of sacrificial love (Eph. 5:22-33). A man and his wife in Christ are fellow heirs of the grace of life (1Pet. 3:7), and they support one another in their common goal of bringing glory to God and inheriting eternal life. It is no wonder then that Scripture says, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD" (Prov. 18:22).
Consider again the declaration given in Genesis 2:24. It describes the action of a man and not a boy. Marriage is for those who are mature enough to handle the responsibility of marriage. However, it should also be noted that Genesis 2:24 says that "a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife." This is a description of a young man who lives with his parents until he takes a wife. Concerning the woman he marries, Scripture indicates that she also should be of "full age" but under her father's oversight until he gives her to be married (1Cor. 7:36). From these passages, it is evident that God intends for young men to marry young women according to His ideal design.
When this evidence of Scripture concerning marriage is presented in our present society, it is likely to be met with a wave of resistance, so let us anticipate and answer objections. First, let us notice that Genesis 2:24 describes God's ideal design, but it is not a mandate for every young person to marry. The apostle Paul, an unmarried man, recognized the benefits of being unmarried under certain circumstances (1Cor. 7:8, 25-35). However, he also recognized the goodness of marriage and gave instructions from God concerning marriage (1Cor. 7:1-9; Eph. 5:22-33; 1Tim. 5:14; 1Pet. 3:1-7). Taken altogether, Scripture demonstrates that being alone and unmarried is the exception, but God's original design intends marriage between a man and a woman. Regarding the age at which to marry, we should acknowledge that maturity is the greater concern rather than years of age. Marriage is not for children, but it is clearly intended for young men and young women. Our society places a low priority on marriage and counsels young people to sow their wild oats and engage in as many relationships as they can before they finally settle down to marry. This advice comes from the world and not from the wisdom of God, for no such pattern of behavior can be found in the Scriptures.
Concerning the marriage of young people, Scripture speaks very favorably of it. The Old Testament uses the phrase "the wife of your youth" in several passages to emphasize the commitment that a man is to make to his wife during their youth and then maintain throughout their lives. In Proverbs 5:18, the word of God says, "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth." This particular passage advises a man not to be enticed by an adulteress, but instead he is to be satisfied throughout his life with the wife of his youth. In Malachi 2:14-15, God condemned divorce among the Jews and instructed each man not to "deal treacherously against the wife of your youth." In that passage, God described "the wife of your youth" as "your companion and your wife by covenant." In these passages, it is evident that God intends for young people to get married and stay married for life.
Having considered these things from the Scriptures, we need to teach them to our young people. Godly marriage is a blessing they should seek, and they must be taught how to find it. Let us teach them to honor marriage (Heb. 13:4), how to prepare to be godly spouses, and how to identify those who will make godly spouses (Prov. 31:10-31). Let us also teach them the gravity of their choice of spouse, for "an excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones" (Prov. 12:4). Rather than teaching our young people to shop around in relationships in the same way they would try on different sizes of shoes, let us teach them to wait for the right relationship. Let us teach them to "flee fornication" (1Cor. 6:18), to "flee youthful lusts" (2Tim. 2:22), and to recognize the provision made for God for the needs of the flesh according to 1Corinthians 7:1-3:
1Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
We will do our young people a great service if we teach them this wisdom from the word of God. Their lives will be blessed for it, and God will be glorified.
Stacey E. Durham
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