Almost all of the women who have written me in response to this article have indicated their grief and frustration that they are not yet married. Not one has indicated in her message that she has intended from the beginning to be single and to remain single. To the contrary, each writer has affirmed her own commitment to marriage and to be married, and each has spoken of her personal frustration that her hopes have not been yet fulfilled.

Addressed to Men

Given this commitment and hope as articulated by these thoughtful young women, it should be clear that when I spoke of a pattern of sin in the delay of marriage, I was certainly not attributing that sin to them. To the contrary, as one who believes wholeheartedly in the biblical pattern of complementarity and in the male responsibility to lead, I charge young men with far greater responsibility for this failure.

The extension of a "boy culture" into the twenties and thirties, along with a sense of uncertainty about the true nature of male leadership has led many young men to focus on career, friends, sports, and any number of other satisfactions when they should be preparing themselves for marriage and taking responsibility to grow up, be the man, and show God's glory as husband and father.

I am not calling for high school students to marry, and I am certainly not suggesting that believers of any age should marry thoughtlessly, carelessly, and without sound spiritual judgment. But I am most emphatically arguing that this delay of marriage now presents the church with a critical test: We will either recover a full and comprehensive biblical vision of marriage in all of its glory, or we will soon find believers so accommodated to the culture around us that all we seek in our marriages is to do marginally better than what we see in the world.

Sensitivity Needed

Sensitivity demands that we understand the grief, frustration, and concern of Christian young adults struggling with this issue. They are the inheritors of a culture that has minimized marriage and has sent mixed messages concerning sex, gender, marriage, and all the rest. The full biblical vision of marriage was not, in the main, held before them from their earliest years at home, and was not encouraged and enriched as they grew through adolescence into adulthood. Many of them--especially many young women--feel victimized by this pattern, and they are frustrated by the reality.

Now is the time for the church to take this conversation to the next level. This generation of Christian young adults has the opportunity to seize the moment, reverse cultural trends, and show their elders the glory of marriage as God intended it from the beginning.

I stand by my argument--renewed in this conviction even by the controversy that has followed. At the same time, I'm going to be a good bit more careful to make clear that young men must accept most of the blame for this situation. I will also remind these young men that, armed with a biblical mandate and fueled by Christian passion, they can also be the vanguard for recovery.

So, thanks to Camerin Courtney for her article, and to all those who have followed with responses. Let's keep this conversation going, and encourage each other to pursue God's glory in every dimension of our lives--and to settle for nothing less.


Listen to "The Mystery of Marriage" as delivered to the 2004 New Attitude ConferenceListen to the "FamilyLife Today" broadcast.

 

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com.  For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu.  Send feedback to mail@albertmohler.com.