Albert Mohler explains how our culture devalues marriage and why young people delay matrimony. He encourages Christians to avoid this societal trend by marrying young and pursuing adulthood as a couple.
John Fuller: Today on "Focus on the Family," Dr. Al Mohler wants to encourage young adults to get married.
Dr. Al Mohler: We were made for marriage. We are called to marriage and the unrest, the anxiety, the disquietude in our souls is to drive us towards the satisfaction that God intends for us only in the covenant of marriage.
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John: Dr. Mohler explains the value of marrying young and the dangers of longterm singleness on today's "Focus on the Family" with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, this is gonna be a counter-cultural message from our great friend, Dr. Al Mohler, a former board member here at Focus on the Family. Al is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and he spends an awful lot of time around young people, 20-somethings. And today, he's gonna address what he says is a dangerous trend in this generation and that is, the tendency to put off marriage until all sorts of other goals are achieved, like your bank account and your career.
This message is targeted to young adults, but parents of teens need to listen to this, too. Those youngsters will be graduating high school before you know it, including my Trent and Troy. And the question of when to marry is going to come up and you should be talkin' about it now. Al is a passionate biblical speaker, who makes a great case for the value of marrying sooner rather than later. And I'll tell you, as a dad of two boys, it resonates with me.
John: Yeah, I am really looking forward to this message and if you want to communicate your thoughts, your reactions, tell us on Facebook. Write us a note. Send us an e-mail. Talk to us through our app, but let us know what you think of this. Now in addition to being a seminary president, Dr. Mohler is a well-known commentator on theological issues and the culture. And he hosts a couple of podcasts, "The Briefing" and "Thinking in Public." And today's message was delivered at a youth conference called New Attitude. It was a few ago and we'll start after some opening remarks, picking up as Dr. Mohler reads from the Apostle Paul in the Bible, the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 6 on today's "Focus on the Family."
Dr. Al Mohler: "Now as a concession, not as a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and to the widows I say, that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion."
I want to make a statement and I choose to do so at this point, because I know that you are likely, at least in your spirit, to be ready to reject what I'm going to say. So, I want to have the biblical text real close (Laughter), so you can know that I didn't just come up with this.
Now I want to suggest to you that there is no biblical category of enduring singleness. I told you, you wouldn't like it. There is no biblical category of enduring singleness, except for the gift of celibacy and that for God's glory in Gospel service.
Now this is counter-intuitive, because we live in the day where we prize our ability to define our own existence and to choose our own lifestyle. We live in aday of confusion--we're gonna be looking at this very closely--a day of confusionin which marriage has been so marginalized, it has been so postponed, it is now one option among others. And so, what we have is the rise in the society and even in many churches, of enduring singleness seen as one more lifestyle option.
And I believe the Scripture does not leave that option open to us except in extraordinary circumstances, one of them being the celibate gift that God gives certain individuals for His glory and for Gospel service. Paul is very concerned, as we well know, with the furtherance of the Gospel, with the Great Commission, with the expansion of the Church. He is the apostle to the Gentiles and he knows full well that if he were now married, he could not be faithful both to his marriage and to this mission.
And that's critically important, because for some of you in this room, there will be a divine mission in life for the cause of God's glory, for the furtherance of the Gospel, for the health and the holiness of the church, which will mean that you are given the gift of celibacy rather than the gift of marriage.
This is Paul saying, some of you in the Corinthian church, you'll be given the gift of celibacy in order that, without the obligations of marriage and of parenthood, you can go where others cannot go. You can stay while others cannot stay. And your mind and mission can be undistracted by marriage and parenthood and that's to God's glory.
But He gives a critical tripwire here. And that has to do with self-control and passion. Let me be brutally honest. If you have been given the gift of celibacy, you will know it when before your Creator and Lord, you are able to say, "I can gladly live out my days without the pleasures of sex, without the company of a spouse. And I can do so, praising Your name, trusting You for my every provision and I am ready to be deployed in Your service to Your glory." If you can honestly say that, then go and seize the mission, the ministry the Lord would give you and fulfill it to His glory.
I do believe it is a rare gift. And you will know if you have that gift and most of you do not have that gift and you know it, because verses 8 and 9 apply directly to you. (Laughter) "Aflame with passion." There is a glow about you even now (Laughter). You are aflame with passion. You are living in expectation and anticipation and that should be holy, too.
And just as the celibate have to trust God for every provision of their completion, so must you. But my concern is, that the sin of sloth has invaded the Christian church on the issue of marriage. And so many young people and young adults think marriage is something I will get to. I'm not given the gift of celibacy. I know that. I have to be honest with myself. I'm not given the gift of celibacy and one day I hope to be married, but it's gonna come after this and after that and after the other. It's gonna come when I think I'm ready and I'm gonna decide when this is.
And in the meantime, singleness comes with all kinds of pleasures and a freedom from responsibility. The single life has no diapers. (Laughter) It lacks responsibility that comes in marriage. It lacks accountability. I'll be talking more about that, but from the very beginning, I want us to see that for most of us as Christians, we need to be very honest that marriage is one of the most crucial issues of our accountability before God
And it means that you in this generation, must take up responsibility to understand that marriage is not a lifestyle option. Marriage unless you were given the gift of celibacy, is not something you should look forward to at some point in your life when you think you're ready for it and you've made partner in the law firm and you have this much in terms of material gain and you think you've reached this point of personal maturity.
There is a formula in Scripture that isan expectation and that is, that adulthood equals marriage without the gift of celibacy. Adulthood equals marriage. Obviously, that is not the definition or the formula honored in this society.
John: We're right in the middle of a presentation from Dr. Al Mohler on "Focus on the Family" and you'll hear in just a moment or two about some of the benefits of marriage that go beyond the obvious. Get a CD of this program. It'll have quite a bit of extra content, when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or get the audio download at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's return now to Dr. Al Mohler on "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Dr. Mohler: I want to speak about four functions of marriage very quickly. The first is partnership. You find this directly revealed in 1 Corinthians 7. How substantial is this partnership? Look at verse 4. "For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."
It's incredible. The partnership is so much that we actually forfeit autonomy. Marriage is so important because we want our autonomy. We prize our autonomy. We want our personal zone of privacy. We like to define our own lives and autonomy is one of the besetting sins of our time and of our ego and of our drive of the giant "I," that first-person, singular pronoun that stands at the center of who we are. We want our autonomy and marriage says, "You don't have any autonomy."
And the minute you marry, you don't even own a body anymore. (Laughter) It's not even yours. I mean, up until now it's been your hand and it's been your face and it's been your body, but it's not anymore. (Laughter) It's not even yours. Because guys, the minute you marry, she just got a body (Laughter) and so did you. That partnership is so much that, that one-flesh relationship is not just in an act that takes place from time to time in marriage. It is the relationship itself. It is one flesh, so that there's no more "I, I." It's "We."
The second function of marriage is protection. Now how in the world is protection a major function of marriage? It is because we all need more protection than we would like in our autonomy to admit that we need. And one of the differences between men and women is, that we need some fundamentally different kinds of protection.
Now I know that chivalry is supposed to be dead, but not among God's people (Cheers and Applause), not among God's people. Among God's people we understand that a man is to protect a woman, to protect a woman's honor, to protect a woman's heart, to protect a woman's reputation, sometimes even to protect a woman's health, her safety. Guys, that's our job. God gave it to us. Just read the Bible. There is a protective mission given to us in marriage and it is our responsibility to fulfill it. Woe unto the man who fails in that responsibility.
But guys, it's very easy for us to say, "Hey, we are the protector. We don't need any protection." (Laughter) "Now how in the world is she gonna protect me. Ha, ha, ha." (Laughter) But there is a very important protection a woman gives a man in marriage and that is the protection of his passions. Men desperately need a wife as protection for honor and for passion and for protection of integrity. And guys, we need that. We need in our humility to confess that we need that. Otherwise, we will sin gruesomely without a wife, without the vows of marriage, without the fact that she is there to remind us at every moment, "You belong to me before God. You owe me all of your sexual passion. You owe me all of your sexual interest. God has given us to each other and you may not look outside this covenant of marriage, where your passions might lead you. I am your protection."
Now guys, procreation is the third function of marriage. You wouldn't know that from the secular conversation. You wouldn't know that this side of the sexual revolution.You wouldn't know that with the advent of the pill and with widespread contraception and birth control and abortion and all the rest. We live in an age in which babies are considered the accidental byproduct of sexual passion. They are "accidents." You failed to prevent this from happening.
When it is clear that from the very beginning, God's purpose in our sexuality, in our gender, in the covenant of marriage was, that children be brought and that His glory be demonstrated in the gift of children, the receiving of children, the blessing of children, the raising of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There is in the Bible, an unequivocal message that children are a gift, who are to be received. They are not an accidental byproduct of the sex act. They are not an intrusion upon our otherwise happy adult lives. They are not hungry, squirmy, dirty, needy little things. Well, they are that, but (Laughter) they are not those things as if they are to be intrusions in our lives, but they are to be welcomed. (Cheers) Now I'm not saying that a Christian couple may never use any methodology of birth control and timing. That's not my argument.
But I want to make the point emphatically that the rise of the contraceptive mentality is a deadly thing to the glory of God. The assumption that children are an intrusion into our marriage and the sometimes by-product of the act of sex is a deadly thing to the glory of God.
Fourth, as a function of marriage, pleasure. You didn't think I was gonna mention that. Some Christians do not. Looking back to the history of the Church, one of the greatest theologians of all Christian history was the Bishop of Hippo, Augustine, a great Fourth Century giant of the church. But when it came to sex, Augustine, who had lived a profligate, promiscuous life before his conversion, he had some pretty strange ideas that have infected the church for years. Augustine was certain that pleasure in sex was the result of sin.
Now we know that is not so. We know that is not so, because we've read Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. And we know that is not so, because God looked at His creation in that last verse of Genesis, Chapter 1 and He declared that is was good! Do not despise what God has put within you. I speak both to women and to men, but particularly to guys. Do not despise the passion for sexual union God has put within you. Do not slander the goodness of God's creation. We were made for marriage. We are called to marriage and the unrest, the "unsatisfaction," the anxiety, the disquietude in our souls is to drive us toward the satisfaction that God intends for us only in the covenant of marriage.
John: Dr. Al Mohler on "Focus on the Family" and he'll continue in just a moment with some specific recommendations for young men and women. Get the CD of this presentation. It has over an hour of content, when you call 1-800-A-FAMILY. That's 1-800-A-FAMILY or find a download, which has that additional content, as well at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's return now to Dr. Al Mohler on "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Dr. Mohler: The average age for a first marriage of a white male in America according to the 2000 census is 27.5 and updated data indicates that it's now over 28. The average first marriage for a white female, just looking at the statistical data, is about 26.4.
In the year 1900, the average boy reached sexual maturity at about age 15 and married generally by 20. The average girl reached sexual maturity at about 14 and married somewhere between 18 and 20 or somewhere thereabouts.
We now have a situation in which sexual maturity comes for many girls, the average before age 13 and for boys, the average at right about age 13. Now what have we done here? We've created this incredible span of time where sexual passion is ignited, but there is no holy means for it to be fulfilled.
Now some of you are immediately doing a calculation, saying, "He's asking us to marry at 16." (Laughter) No, but I want to tell you, I think that in a world that was much less confused and in a world that ordered itself according to biblical priorities, we would have a world in which people could marry much younger, much, much younger and have the full support of the society, which would see the holiness of marriage as the central crucible for adult making. (Applause) But we don't live in that world. (Applause)
I want to speak of the sin that I think besets this generation. It is the sin of delaying marriage as a lifestyle option, among those who intend someday to get married, but they just haven't yet. Now let me speak very quickly. This is a problem shared by men and women, but it's a problem primarily of men. We have established a "boy culture," in which boys are not growing up into men. Guys, the reality is, that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be a man in every way before God that we are called to be.
Does that mean having a job? You bet it does. Does that mean being productive? You bet it does. It means also taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as "husband" and by God's grace, we pray eventually as "father."
Sometimes this sin is shared also by women, who think that they will put off being a wife and a mother until they can establish their professional identity. I want to do this for myself before I would turn to marry. I would beg you to rethink all of that. What is the ultimate priority God has called us to? In heaven, is the crucible of our saint making going to have been done through our jobs? I don't think so. The Scripture makes clear that it will be done largely through our marriages.
The injury that comes by delay is multiple. You see, if we claim for ourselves, either as men or as women, the right to define ourselves as adults who will get married when we get to it, we're defining ourselves in pretty specific terms. Let me be clear. The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage. The more you as an adult, define yourself as an "I," the longer you do so, resiliently, the harder it's going to be to become a "we."
People who marry into adulthood, God's grace can often build there a wonderful marriage. And … and if you are in that situation right now, then be determined from this very moment to fulfill God's purpose and calling in your life, to find that spouse. If you're a man, to take the lead to find that woman God has for you and to marry her and to say from henceforth and forever more, a stake in the ground, a line on the calendar, a mark in my life indelibly, that from this point onward, I'm going to seek in every way to fulfill God's maximum glory in marriage.
Folks, understand that by God's grace, you'll be led. Guys, by God's grace, you're supposed to take the lead. You should seek a woman who fits all of the biblical qualifications. And you should seek and pray, be led to that woman, who will make you the man God would have you to be, who will be the mother of your children, the passionate partner in your ministry and vocation for the rest of your life and you've got to take the lead. That's not just a social pattern. I believe that's God's design. And ladies, be praying for the right kind of husband. And to both men and women, associate with the people you kinda [would] marry. Why would you waste your time? You must not waste your time. You must not waste your emotions. You must not waste your witness seeking a wife or seeking a husband in the wrong kind of places, among the wrong kind of people.
What about an action plan for God's glory in this generation? Stay pure till marriage. Trust God in all things. Honor marriage in every respect. Let the marriage bed be undefiled. Live out God's passion as married couples, men and women in the covenant God has given us. Show biblical manhood and biblical womanhood to the world. Let divorce be inconceivable. Let adultery be unfound. Let pornography be expunged. Grow in grace. By the mercy of God, show God's glory in marriage.
John: What a heartfelt charge to an audience of young adults, from Dr. Al Mohler and with that, we conclude this message from him on today's "Focus on the Family."
Jim: John, there's so many implications in what Dr. Mohler was saying there. We said at the start of the program that this presentation was going to be counterculture and it does fly in the face of the culture that's saying, wait until your late 20's or maybe even early 30's to get married, where you're fully formed and your education is complete and you have some financial freedom. But Al is really challenging the culture here to say, rethink it. And I think it is wise for us to talk with our teens and early 20-somethings about it.
John: Well, I've seen the research that says a young adult's brain isn't fully developed until about 25, especially in young men, so don't get married too soon. But my kids are in the 20's. I've got several in their 20's and they know some friends who have gotten married at 20, 21, 22 and they're doin' pretty well. So, I think in spite of the research, there are some at least, examples I see of kids who are making good decisions in that time frame.
Jim: Well and I think Al pointed out, there's also research showing that when we delay marriage to the late 20's or early 30's, our personalities and our career ambitions can become so strong that the merging of two people, the bonding of oneness in marriage is just much more difficult. And there's a lot of research showing that if you delay marriage too long, that relationship is less likely to be stable.
John: Yeah, it would seem to suggest then that the early 20's is really a prime time to start taking marriage serious and obviously, everybody's different, but you could have a very mature 18-year-old or an immature 25- or 30-year-old.
Jim: Well, it's that window of time that we're talking about and if you have young adults between the ages of 18 and 30, your job as a parent is to encourage independence, so in some ways, push that young man or that young woman out the door and say, "Be financially independent. Work towards marriage. Work towards committing to a ministry or a career, a church. You can't just stay here and play adolescent for the next 10 years." And that's a very important point in today's culture.
John: It's something that we've tried to do with our children, just to help them understand that we love you very much, but you know, 18, 19, time to start movin' out.
Jim: (Laughing) That's great, John. And for those parents who are thinking, what if my son or daughter is already seriously dating someone? Well, let me remind you that Focus on the Family has produced awonderful curriculum called Ready to Wed, that will help couples decide if they're right for each other. It provides about 10 hours of premarital counseling, which results in a much greater likelihood of staying married for the rest of their lives. It's an amazing statistic that we came across. Less than 10 hours, you have a far greater risk of divorce without that premarital counseling. So, I would suggest you take advantage of that.
Let me also say, thank you to the generous donors who helped make Ready to Wed possible. If you'd like to contribute to our work here at Focus on the Family to create a stable foundation for marriages, get in touch with us today and when you make a donation of any amount, I want to send today's message from Al Mohler with even more content that we couldn't put into the program, as our way of saying thank you.
John: Get the CD of Dr. Mohler's entire message when you call 800- A -FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Now if you'd like to make a donation by check, we still process paper here. Just drop it in the mail and our address is 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920.
By the way, Jim mentioned our Ready to Wed DVD curriculum kit. It really is outstanding and it's gonna help young people who are considering getting married, to really just walk through all the important aspects of the relationship and how they can better prepare.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. We'll hear from Dannah Gresh, as she helps you understand why a positive body image is so important to your daughter.
Mrs. Dannah Gresh: What you believe about your body, your daughter's gonna catch. This value of her body having purpose is better caught than taught.
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John: Dannah Gresh has some practical ways that you can build up your daughter's body image on the next "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly, as we once again, help your family thrive.
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Al MohlerView Bio
Dr. Albert Mohler is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a nationally-recognized leader among American evangelicals. He is a professor of Christian theology, an ordained minister, a columnist and the host of two radio programs, The Briefing and Thinking in Public. Dr. Mohler holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Seminary. He has authored several books including Culture Shift, Desire & Deceit and Atheism Remix. Dr. Mohler and his wife, Mary, have two children. Learn more about Dr. Mohler by visiting his website, www.albertmohler.com. Also, check out this blog post by Dr. Mohler which Jim Daly has mentioned on the Focus on the Family daily radio broadcast.