A man asked for my young daughter’s hand in marriage. I gave my blessing. Here are some of the reasons I said “yes.” This post is only a supplement to Russell Moore’s recent thoughts on why he is thankful he married his bride at a young age.
The oldest of our four children was engaged last month. I was a little grumpy – – she is MY daughter after all. Yet my wife Jamie and I are excited and thankful. Our future son-in-law did everything parents could hope for – – While he did not stalk and field dress a bear as I previously stated I would require, he did ask my permission, not only to propose, but he also spoke with me at the very beginning of their relationship. He asked our opinion of the ring he picked out, and invited us to their college campus for the evening after the engagement. The picture to the right is of our daughter showing her siblings the ring.
Our future son-in-law is part of our church family. We know his parents well. (And his cousins played football with my sons thereby making it all the more romantic).
We remind our children fairly often that there are advantages to being pastor’s kids (PKs) and one of the joys of being a PK is that our church family shares in our excitement. Many have congratulated our daughter and her fiance. Lots of smiles.
But there are also challenges to being a PK – – (I’m sure we will be reading Barnabas Piper’s forthcoming book) – – one of which is that your church family loves you enough that if some feel you are too young to get married, they might be willing to tell you so.
For the record, my daughter and her future husband are planning to get married in a year, just after college graduation – – He plans to graduate four years after high school – – our daughter is a motivated student and it will be three years after high school for her. You do the math.
We are not deeply offended by questions about the wisdom of marrying young. We know that the reason people share their concerns is because they love us. And we know it is not only pastor’s kids who are pressed when they marry at a young age. Though PKs may have a larger pool of people who consider themselves eligible to weigh in on such matters.
Having said that, it should be clear that we disagree with the thought that 21 is too young to get married.
I, Chris Brauns the older, disagree. And I have encouraged my daughter to send people with questions my direction.
My decision to give away a daughter was not made in the course of a minute or two when a guy asked for permission to meet. On the contrary, we have told our children over the years that we are not opposed to them marrying before the age of 25. It is not good to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Marriage is a beautiful gift from God.
Of course, there were a great many qualifiers given when we said that we are not opposed to marrying at a young age! In order to have our blessing we told our children that they and the person they marry must both:
- Be growing Christians . . .which means that the only sound foundation for a home is the Lord Jesus Christ and if he is not your king, then you should have no confidence for the future (Psalm 127:1-5)
- Be Committed to a local church
- Have have shown themselves to be responsible and people of character
- Have the support of both of their parents (if possible)
- Be committed to a biblical view of marriage.
- Have demonstrated that the people with whom they have built community and friendships are people of character. After all, if all your friends are named Beavis, then there isn’t much mystery about your identity.
1 Corinthians 7:9 certainly informs our position on this matter! We believe that sexual intimacy is God’s gift for marriage. So our children know that we are not encouraging them to live with someone prior to marriage. On the contrary, purity is the goal.
My father-in-law (pictured with my bride at our wedding rehearsal) gave me my wife when she was 21 and our 25th wedding anniversary is coming up in August. Neither of us would change when we got married for anything – – and we certainly don’t feel that we missed out on life because we married young!
There is much more that I could write – – but as I said above, Russell Moore recently wrote, What I’ve Learned After 20 Years of Marriage, so much of my work is already done. Here is one excerpt:
My grandmother’s wisdom [to marry young] is akin to what sociologist Charles Murray talks about in his book The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead as the difference between a “start-up” marriage and a “merger” marriage. A merger marriage is the sort one sees every Sunday in the weddings pages of the New York Times, with a groom who’s a hedge-fund manager with a master’s degree behind him and a bride who’s a film professor with a Ph.D. and tenure. They each have their lives, and they merge them. A “start-up” is where the marriage isn’t the capstone of the life, but the foundation. It’s where the husband and the wife start their grown-up lives together, often with nothing but each other.
We weren’t ready to get married. That’s true. But our finances were the least of our worries.
Read the rest of What I’ve Learned After 20 Years of Marriage.
For the record – – I have not yet given my daughter away – – there is still the period of the engagement. Until I walk her down the aisle I still consider myself her man – – and pictures like this one of me with her in my pastoral study after I gave her a microscope are the sorts of images that I am bearing in mind.