Karen and I do not believe in a long dating period and definitely not a long engagement. Matters like finances may preclude that possibility. The longer couples wait, the greater the pressure to step over the line. Happens all the time. With the urge to merge, saying “no” becomes increasingly difficult as couples spend time together preparing for their life. Better to start their life together.
Why wait until you graduate? We have seen over and over again that marriage matures people, and statistics bear this out. They are now responsible for another person, thinking not just about themselves. They become better students, more serious about their future and career. Do you really think that single people living in an apartment with three other students or in the dormitory do better than married couples? Have another thought. And what if a baby comes? Two thoughts: more maturity, and God loves godly offspring!
Why not make your time together count as a couple by saying those incredible vows, then starting to live them out as you make a home. Married couples discover that they have as much or more time for studies than when single. They are no longer dating and hanging out, which sometimes means wasting time; they are doing life. Get married and make it work. A marriage certificate does not cancel out a college diploma; it can strengthen the possibility.
Having ministered with young adults for many years, we’ve heard the stories of dating couples trying to remain pure but finding it hard to hold the line. It’s a winnable war, but why fight it? Get married and enjoy it without shame or guilt. Now those moments build your life together in God rather than having to keep putting the brakes on love that has been aroused. The Bible says, “Don’t arouse love before its time.” But when its time comes, do not frustrate love by an artificial requirement like graduating first. The statistics are not in your favor.
The Biblical culture was attuned to this outlook. Men and women married earlier, when their bodies were telling them it was time to marry. Society today is putting the timer on pause for a college degree, a new career, or a missions opportunity overseas, and it can create disasters along the pathway. Couples meant to meet at the altar sometimes don’t as promiscuity derails them and turns passion into bitterness. We’ve seen it. Plus, the biological clock keeps ticking away.
“He that finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Finding means looking. And finding means marrying, and sooner is better than later. And at the altar you receive the favor of God, like the Scripture says. God must really love marriage!
Karen and I were counseling a college couple heading for marriage. They told us they were looking at a June wedding. I knew what Karen was thinking. I looked over at her and she nodded. I asked, “Why are you waiting until June? How about March?” I didn’t want to override any parental wishes, but we saw no reason to stay in the waiting room. Parents agreed, and they stepped up the program—with much delight! Our culture sadly has given couples too many reasons for waiting, and the average age keeps moving back, which also means that some never do. Sad! Let’s send it in the other direction. Amen?