Have this talk with your teenagers now before it is too late: what marriage is and what it is not.
Current statistics reveal that you might want to discuss a few cliffhanger concepts about the marriage decision thoroughly with your pre-married older adolescents now, before they enter the guy/girl whirlwind. You may think they know these concepts about marriage already by your fine example and by the CD’s and sermons you’ve listened to as a family, and by what you have grown to understand about marriage but have only just slightly discussed/shared with your children, on the run. Apparently, they don’t.
Alarming statistics for Christian high school and college-aged adolescents are currently coming in. The Southern Baptist convention conducted one of those large studies. According to that study as well as other confirming studies, 70% of evangelical students these ages lose their faith. 80% lose their virginity. And a growing alarming number are marrying non-Christians. Your older children “got it” until the first very dashing non-Christian guy stepped across their path or the cute little female number with skimpy clothes said “hi”.
Sit down today and cover these three vital points with your pre-marrieds…upon which all of Christendom and its next generation hang. This is warfare. You can lose all your homeschooling years of effort at this threshold.
1.—Only marry a Christian.
2.—The simple and only way to stay sexually pure.
3.—What marriage actually is.
Only marry a Christian… or they board the Titanic.
Start with the three most explosive commands of Scriptures on this topic. Have your older sons and daughters write them down and memorize them and say them to you tomorrow. Do it again next week. Have them say them while standing on their head the week after. Haul the words around in their hip pockets if need be. Glue them to their foreheads!!!
—“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:14-15).
—He/she is free to marry anyone they wish but that other person must belong to the LORD (1 Cor. 7:39).
—“Can two walk together unless they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Remind them that marriage is a looooooooooooooong walk.
Now, given that they are only to marry a believer or all hell breaks loose (statistically, a person who disregards these clear teachings of Scripture WILL run aground and rip their insides to smithereens… the majority of married people in our culture get divorced), what sorts of things do they need to do now to ENSURE that this will be so?
Limit un-believer time.
Do not WALK in the way of sinners, nor STAND in the counsel of the wicked, nor SIT in the seat of scoffers (Psalm 1:1).
Say this verse at breakfast, lunch and dinner for awhile? Assert it triumphantly and joyfully out of the blue throughout the day…while they are not yet enamored of anyone? Say it and leave out words? Start it and quit halfway through ....so THEIR brain will finish it?
Do not LINGER with unbelievers. Do the bare minimum and get out of there. Arthur Blessit used to say when he witnessed in bars, that after deliberate prayer he entered the bar, firmly sat down next to someone, blurted out the gospel and then got out of there. He did not linger, or toy with his own heart.
“Love is what you’ve been through together.” So you have to minimize the togetherness. Causal social gatherings/exciting activities/well-paying part-time jobs/classrooms/and endless sports with unbelievers can turn into nightmares…your son’s or your daughters own nightmare. Instead, get them with believers at every opportunity.
Your discussion is aimed at achieving discernment in making their most pivotal life decision, after conversion—deciding how much complication they want to add to their most intimate of relationships: their lifetime marriage. This is about taking stock ahead of time to reduce the source of all potential needless stress in their life. They have only one chance with both the privilege and responsibility of making a calculated/wise specific choice, about the one person with whom they will spend the rest of their lives. They need to keep their heads on about what they are signing on for, because it is a vow that they are never to get out of. That person must be a believer.
Describe to them how marriage is the most defining social relationship an adult will ever enter. Tell them directly:
Its all-encompassing new parameters will define you and what you can do and be for the rest of your life. If you marry an alcoholic, your choices within marriage are limited. If you marry an unbeliever, it defines how you will be perceived by other unbelievers, as well as by your spouse. Unbeknownst to you your spouse will calculate quietly: do you do what you believe? Does your faith make any difference? By watching you, why should he/she ever convert? And you will deal with many a dark hour behind closed doors. You will end up having to hide your desire for Christian growth as it triggers anger in your spouse…and worse yet, you’ll fall under a curse by disobeying a direct black and white command.
The scope and extent of these parameters are as large and significant as your first set of birth parameters were—the family you were born into. This is your new identity, involving both opportunity and limitation. In some ways, its loving arms are loving fences. Who that person is and what he believes will be huge. Keep your emotions in check, so you give yourself time to choose wisely with your mind.
Once you enter marriage, you will now be coping with yourself, in the context of another person. You will be figuring out how to navigate through life with a peer, a person totally other than you, who shared none of your childhood. This can either be an expanding blessing or an expanding curse, depending upon who you say “yes” to. This is not a weekend fling, nor is it a vacation you get over, or a short dream from which you will awake. This is for keeps, day in and day out, from the marriage day onward, for years and years and years.
Choosing this person with the wise godly counsel of older married people will help keep you from making a mistake. Obtaining objective counsel from those who know you best helps ensure a life of no regrets. Who you share your intimate life with is not like any relating you’ll ever do with anyone else. Those who have trouble in their intimate life eventually lose their joy in their larger life. Marrying a Christian is the fence that makes for your own happiness. There is always a silver lining of “later” blessing behind all of God’s commands. Believe it. Obey the commands found in Scripture in your choice of a mate.
Teach them what a fool is because “The companion of fools comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:20). Say this verse at breakfast, lunch and dinner, too! Teach your pre-marrieds that fools are not hobos with floppy shoes and droopy hats. They are fools in their thinking. They might even be good-looking. “The fool has said in his heart there is no god” (Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1). Fools are unbelievers.
- The simple and only way to stay sexually pure: Teach them “not to touch” ...until they’ve said “I do.”
Handshakes can communicate worlds. High-fives can feel too nice. If a peer lies down in the grass next to them, teach your adolescent child to immediately sit up, get up, stand up. Students today are fashioning a “proper” good-bye or hello involving huge bear hugs at every chance they get… they might as well be bare hugs. Teach yours not to cooperate; teach them how to make “proper good byes” of their own. Because anything goes, teach them to be prepared for anything, to duck if someone spontaneously decides to kiss them. Students in high schools these days kiss each other like they are going to war and will never see each other again, merely between classes!!! If your pre-marrieds will simply not touch…ever…they diminish their chances of going under not just by 1,000 percent, but totally.
- Next, teach them what marriage IS and what it isn’t…deliver them from fairy tales in this area.
Marriage is the key transformational social relationship that our Heavenly Father set up for two very immature people to be conformed to the image of His Son. It has been said that if God didn’t use the lure of sexual attraction, no two people would ever get married if they really knew ahead of time how much work it was!
You marry to show the unconditional, self-sacrificial enduring love of Yeshua to another human over a lifetime. To lovingly and ongoingly represent Yeshua to another soul is the goal. If you marry to get your own needs met, you’re in for a rude crash. Expectations kill relationships. Marriage is an adventure in adjustment…you’ll adapt to what is and give to God what is not. Relationships thrive in the soil of gratefulness and appreciation. There is only One who can satisfy us totally through thick and thin, and that is Yeshua. If you cave in and give up in your marriage halfway through, thinking it is too hard to do this ongoing relating, you missed the enduring part. You didn’t get a chance to experience in your own gizzard what endurance feels like. Marriage isn’t about the other person failing to meet your needs. It is all about what your are made of—about yielding to the Father in the fire of an imperfect relationship, in order to become like Him.
Marriage is unlike any other relationship.
It is 24/7. This means you won’t be taking many days away from it. It will be the air you breathe constantly, for either good or ill. That means you’ll be trooping through colds, flu, messy bloody childbirths, squealingly tight finances, depression, anger, personal willfulness and stubborn spots, irritated relatives, car breakdowns, dashed expectations, sudden circumstantial reversals, temptations and misunderstandings, together. There is almost no stress that marriage doesn’t eventually undergo.
No matter how talented, caring, handsome/pretty, wealthy or how “in love with you” (for the moment) that unbeliever is, he/she is no companion for your soul. The biggest need of your soul is heart rest and that can only come with a spouse who is a true believer. You have to think very carefully about dancing near the flame of an unbeliever: what would that be like day in and day out, over the long haul? What you might not chafe under after a week, could become intolerable to you after two years. And there will be a lot more years to go after that—a lot more.
Because of Adam, marriage is subjected to the cosmic effects of the Genesis Fall from the get-go. The Fall was all about driving a wedge of alienation at the core of our soul, causing separation from both God and our spouse. This is why we have trouble praying even after years of spiritual growth when it should have become easy. The Fall produced a natural alienation that has to be hurdled each and every time we come before God…we don’t like to pray until we get started and push through that obstacle. The same is true for marriage. To hurdle this core alienation from each other, in even the best of relationships, often requires continual maturity, and on some days, weeping resolve for women and determined patient resolve for men. This is part of the course of love God designed for us. It makes deep people out of all of us. It makes us more like him. But to knowingly add the further alienation of unbelief can be deadly.
You must talk about these matters early on, before there is a very handsome/beautiful tempting unbelieving pursuer of your offspring…because there may be little hope of talking about it afterwards. How much and how many are the Christian relationships compared to the pagan influences in your pre-marrieds’ lives? Convenience is the devil’s game: the convenience of unchristian environments, the inconvenience and effort it takes to obtain Christian ones. Keep a zealous watch over the companions of your older offspring. Who are they? Go out of your way to associate with other deep believers.
Second, teach them not to touch. Child-rearing begins with “do not touch” and ends with the very same command. Don’t allow them to light the match and there’ll be no fires to put out. Your job is not over until you get them to the altar with a godly mate. Then and only then, let go.