On Marrying a Younger Man

Sharon Dating, Marriage 9 Comments

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A few weeks ago I came across a blog post titled 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. Some of the advice was sound. It advised against marrying women who are not followers of Christ, as well as women who love to gossip or slander. Those are wise warnings.

As for the rest of the list, I cannot agree with much of it–mostly because his “types” are only bad stereotypes, which isn’t very helpful. However, I was surprised and then a little bit tickled when I discovered this type of women at #3:

“The Older Woman.”

Under this category, the author explained that marrying an older woman is not a sin, but it’s also not “God’s ideal.” He goes on to reason that it “requires an extra measure of grace to lead a woman who’s older than you.”As his scriptural justification he cited Adam and Eve: “God intentionally (with good reason!) created Adam before Eve in the First Marriage.  Scripture informs us that God created man first chronologically for the sake of authority!”

The reason this made me laugh is that I am nearly 4 years older than my husband. Obviously, I do not agree with this man’s advice. However several years ago I wrote a post called Why I Married a Younger Man, so I wasn’t planning to respond further.

wedding dayThen on Monday we celebrated my husband’s 30th birthday, which got me to thinking about him, the man he was when we married, and the man he is becoming.

My husband is and has always been one of the wisest people I know. At the age of 23 he was more mature than some 40 year olds. Some of his maturity comes from his particular life experience, but a lot of it comes from anchoring his identity in Christ. He isn’t the guy who has to “prove” how strong or smart or manly he is. Instead, his actions are typically motivated out of love for God and love for others, and he’s been that way as long as I’ve known him.

Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t watched him mature over the years. He is not the same man that he was when we met, and neither am I. Back then, he was 23 and I was 26. Now he’s 30 and I am 33. That age difference means less and less as the years go on.

That’s why I both sympathize with yet reject the advice not to marry an older woman. On the one hand, the difference between a 20 year-old man and a 25 year-old woman can be significant. On the other hand, the difference between a 45 year-old man and a 50 year-old woman is basically nothing.

Which gets to the problem with this blogger’s advice: it cannot be generalized. Some men mature faster than some women. Some men are very mature at a very young age. And some single women are at an age when a five year age difference means nothing.

My heart is especially tender for this latter category of singles, since I have a number of single friends in their 30’s and 40’s who long to be married but have fewer and fewer options available to them. I encourage many of these friends not to rule out younger men, and the older I get, the more of my single friends do end up marrying younger men.

Now, the blogger backed up his argument with Scripture, but here I have to be frank–that passage in Genesis has been used to legitimize just about every interpretation under the sun. We are never told that the creation order was a prescription for the birth order of spouses. We simply aren’t. This is a case of reading a particular interpretation into the text, and should be discarded as such.

I’m not saying age shouldn’t be a consideration. Age, personality, background, life goals, life priorities, and other personal qualities are all important considerations when thinking about marriage. Returning to “the list,” a conservative Christian man probably would not like being married to a a Christian feminist woman. But that does not mean ALL Christian men should avoid marrying Christian feminists, anymore than ALL men should avoid marrying older women.

The church is beautifully diverse, and every couple is different, which is why these lists are limited in their helpfulness. Too often they reflect more about the list-maker’s personal preferences than solid biblical counsel. You can spot this mistake when a list focuses on certain expressions of a virtue or vice, rather than the virtues or vices themselves. After all, what matters is not so much age, as maturity.

That’s why I hope all my single people will hold these lists with a very open hand. Instead, I hope you will do this work of discernment in community, with the direction of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit. God created unique image bearers, not categories, which is why I am SO grateful for the community counsel and the Holy Spirit vision that allowed me to see my husband not as a “younger man,” but as the man of God that he is.

Otherwise, I would have missed out on a lot of the good that God had for me!

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.59.09 PMSharon

Sharon

Sharon

Comments 9

  1. Alyson

    I love this- because I too am married to a younger man. Our ages are 30 and 33 as well. I had a small pause when we met over 4 years ago that he was too young, but what a silly notion, because as you stated age isn’t the scale that should be used in dating. My husband is a pastor and such an incredibly strong man of God who leads our family well.
    PS I feel that we should be best friends since we have so much in common! haha 😉
    Thank you for your honesty and your sensitivity toward your single friends.

  2. Lynn

    I so enjoyed this. I have a dear friend who is in a developing relationship with a man who is 3.5 years younger. They have known each other all their lives, so the possibility of a romantic relationship has taken her by surprise. They are the same age you described, 23 and 26. And yes, he too is more mature than many 40 year olds. So glad to be able to share this with her as an encouragement.

  3. Marie

    Thanks for being a voice of reason and truth amidst all the, sometimes scary, opinions masquerading as knowledge. I was feeling kind of down reading some of the other “wisdom” on this topic when i found this blog. This reminded me to look to God, not man’s opinions, as the authority or expert. He transcends social structures, cultural norms, statistics, and especially human opinions.

  4. ymmarta

    What really makes his “advice” nonsensical is that churches are filled with little old ladies who sit under the authority of pastors young enough to be their grandsons. An effective leader is not limited by age, nor the age of those being lead.

  5. Pepita

    Perfect…interestingly I ready that gentleman’s article too…how could the scripture of Adam and Eve be used in to talk about age. Some women have married men of the same age and they are complaining their husbands never grow up…lol…I married a younger man..emotionally I feel like a child around him..thank God I married Him…and thanks for sharing this.

  6. Debora

    I’m so inspired and strengthened. Needed to hear those words as I had just finished reading the very same article you wrote about!
    Keep on writing sister 🙂

  7. Joshua

    Thank you for this. Read the other guy’s article too and it strongly expressed certain views opposed to simple reason. I don’t understand how a man can positively label a thing as “God’s ideal” or otherwise when a fundamental truth on which the world was founded is that the heart of God cannot be understood, much less idealized by man. That’s what we have the Holy Spirit for, not some web article.
    In a society where marrying an older woman is against unspoken tradition, dating my girl who is about a year older than me is perhaps deviant. But I find comfort knowing that destiny worked it out and whatever plans God has for us are beautiful; no man has the power to make it any less by their individual perception of it.
    And of course, knowing that other people have and continue to live it out happily. That’s a good look.

  8. Flobaby

    I love this article! I’m 8 years older than my boyfriend, I’m so shy to introduce him to my friends! Though he loves me and is ready to wed me, I don’t think I have the guts to call him my husband! I’m already 35! Its him who is after me, busy showing me love, but its hard for me to wholeheartedly accept him. Please help me. Thank you.

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