Readers Note: This article was originally published in February 2018
Parents have an incredible amount of influence in the decisions made by their children. What you say and how you say it will communicate a message. Over the last several years, I have noticed that parents are communicating some clear messages about marriage. Here are 2 Great Messages Parents Can Communicate About Marriage.
Not all of the messages we communicate are productive or helpful. Sometimes, they can create a lot of tension and confusion in the minds of young people. Parents mean well, but we may not understand how our message is being heard by our children. Here are two bad messages Christian parents can communicate about marriage.
1. Get married as soon as possible
The Christian culture lends itself to this narrative. We hold marriage in high degree (and we should). We want our children to live in sexual purity (and we should). These two good principles for life end up shaping what we communicate to our children. Marriage can become a status symbol that says you have matured to the next level of being a Christian adult.
Now, full disclosure, I have communicated this message to my own children. I love my marriage. Shannon and I began our journey together when I was 20 years old and she was 21. I have had to catch myself from the fine line of pushing them in a direction versus sensing if they believe God is leading them in a direction. What I have learned is that my life story does not need to be my children’s life story.
When we communicate the “get married as soon as possible” message, then we can forget the blessing of being single in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul teaches us about the value and blessing of being single in service to God. Very few Christian young people hear this message.
The “get married as soon as possible” message can also miss the maturity, character, or love required to build a successful marriage relationship. Our focus becomes to encourage our kids to have a wedding rather than to be a great spouse.
2. Wait until later to get married
This is a growing message in our culture. In Canada, men are married for the first time around the age of 31, and women are married for the first time around the age of 28.5. Christian parents are buying into the idea that our children need to get their education completed, launch their careers, and get all of the partying out of their system before getting married.
I will admit that there is logic to this thinking, but I also believe it lacks some Christian wisdom.
First, God never called us to be one with our career. He did call us to be one with our spouse. When a person spends the first years of their adult life living to build their own path, how much more difficult will it be to truly partner with another person in life?
Second, sexual purity is a big deal in God’s economy. I will not take the time to address all of the Scriptural teaching about sex, but I will say the Bible is clear that sexual relations and intimacy is for a marriage relationship.
Let’s look at what waiting would mean for our sons. Multiple studies show that testosterone peaks in a male as he moves from his teens into his 20’s. This sex hormone is powerful in males. It is difficult to fully describe how strong the desire for sexual relations can be for young men at this stage of life.
I realize there are exceptions, but most young men and women simply won’t wait until 31 to have sex. In essence, we can inadvertently teach our children to pursue their education and career at the expense of their obedience to God.
Communicate a Positive Message About Marriage
Sometimes we communicate out of our own pain. If you have had difficulties in marriage, then you can pass those on to your children and make them very hesitant to experience marriage. Do not let your pain cloud what God has designed for our good.
Marriage is God’s idea. He wants us to thrive as humans and created marriage to help us thrive. As Christian parents, we need to communicate positive messages about marriage to our children because that is the heart of God for them and for humanity.