If you are a young person, especially in your late teens, you are often confronted with the crucial decision as to when you can start taking matters of independent life, marriage, sex, and romance seriously. You are nagged by the question: “When am I old enough to start a meaningful love relationship with the opposite sex, without any guilty feelings about my age and experience?” I am not talking about immorality here, which is obviously wrong for any upright family with godly integrity to allow their child to engage in. I am referring to a healthy, pure, relationship based on true love, which could one day lead to marriage. The situation is even more crucial for young adults.
We are told to be “old enough” before we take marriage seriously, but should “not be too old” also before we marry. So, how young is too young, and how old is too old? And, what age then, is exactly the right time to make marital affairs an essential part of my thinking and planning?
In my opinion, we prepare for marriage right from the time we are born. Our training, culture, the kind of environment we were exposed to, the food we ate, diseases that affected us, abuses or lives of luxury we experienced, our religious inclinations, choices of dresses and cosmetics, entertainment, education, etc., all contributed to who and what we are today. We are shaped, especially by the kind of family we were born into, what homes we lived in, and the character of the people who trained us.
What we normally call “preparation for marriage” at a later age when we have become adults, to me, is “icing on the cake”. You are merely putting finishing touches to preparation you started years back.
Do we notice that teenage problems (in miniature forms) are what become adult problems in our marriages? This is the reason why we must begin to give proper care, attention, love, prayers, God’s Word, and good training to our children before they become adults.
Analysis shows, for example, that if you wait till the age of 12 before you introduce sex education to your child, you are likely to be too late! When they cross the age of 12 into their teens, the reproductive organs begin to develop the essentials of sexual activity so fast. The modern day environment complexes the whole issue by offering a lot of raw materials for sex perversion, explosion of the powerful sex drive in us, and mishandling of our delicate sexual system. A teenage girl, for example, will begin to stand in front of the dressing mirror for hours to admire and deodorize her “new body” after a shower. Parents and elders should embark on serious, honest, consistent, pure, character-oriented sex education for our young people. They should back their teaching with practical, good example of morally upright lifestyles that will speak to the young generation louder than even their voices. We better “catch them before they get too far!”
I believe that you are ready to marry when you are mature enough to be independent of your parents, shoulder the responsibility of caring for another adult and children, and ready to leave home to team up with that adult to fulfill your responsibility to God, your family, and society.
Although the divorce rate is climbing among adult populations of the world, many of these relationships began a little too early without much preparation. Others too got involved in casual relationships very early without real understanding of what true love is, and changed men or women like dresses for new ones to satisfy their passions. They were therefore imbued with such lighthearted impressions about marriage from their youth, that the sense of commitment to one individual in a marriage relationship is foreign to them.
I am sometimes tempted therefore, to think that a lady should be at least 23 years old, and a gentleman at least 25, before they decide to marry. They can start to consciously prepare themselves for their future by adding more development to their talents and gifts especially when they reach the age of 16, but should not get close to anyone with romantic intentions and activities if they are not at least 18 years old. This is in view of the rampant divorces and tragic consequences of failed relationships of people too young and immature to handle their youthful emotions and passions, and deal with the common changes of life. The man in particular should be working to earn an income, or must have prepared himself to be ready to take up a meaningful job.
God made sure that Adam had a Garden in which he was working before Eve was given to him.
NB: Complete information on marriage preparation, dating, characteristics to look for as you make decisions, choice of mate, engagement, blessing of marriage, satisfying your spouse, family life in the home etc. could be obtained in Dr. Kisseadoo’s Book: Choosing A spouse And Living A Contented family Life.
Copyright May 2002 Rev. Dr. Samuel A. Kisseadoo (Professor of Biology, Hampton University)
Fruitful Ministries International Inc., 6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, Virginia 23669, USA.
Ph 757-7289330 Fax 757-7289335 [email protected]