Should Age Be A Barrier For Intending Couples?
The marriage institution came into prominence in Genesis, where the creation of the first couple started. Genesis 2:7 narrates the process of Adam’s creation, who came into existence shortly before Eve, his helpmate, created when the Lord felt he needed one. From this, it could be deduced that Adam and Eve were practically the same age. Away from religion, true love is said to be blind, as it knows no race, age or any barrier for that matter. But in Nigeria, some churches flatly refuse to wed a couple, where the man is considered too old and vice versa. Since genuine love is supposed to be the foundation of a strong marriage that can weather inevitable difficulties, should age pose a problem, when choosing a life partner? Should it matter the age of either of the intending couple so long they love each other and have agreed to marry? What should be considered the acceptable or ‘safe’ age difference on either side? Which is more important in marriage: age or love? Is it against Biblical injunction for people to marry whoever they like, regardless of their age? CHRIS IREKAMBA writes.
‘We Counsel That Age Difference Should Not Be Too Much’ (Pastor Brown Oyitso, Provincial Pastor/Chairman, Central Missions Board RCCG) IN our church and from what I think the scripture says, a man and woman must be mature in four ways before they think of getting married. In the first place, they must be physically mature, which means the lady has the necessary reproductive organs to carry a baby and the young man is also physically able to impregnate a lady.
And so, they must be biologically fit to get married. Secondly, they must also be spiritually mature, meaning they are born again and have the fear of God because if you go into marriage without this, the marriage may not last.
Thirdly, they must be financially mature, the Bible says ‘for this cause a man shall leave father and mother…’ Financial maturity means that they should be able to rent a place even if it is just a room, where the man and his wife can live comfortably.
Fourthly, they must be emotionally mature, in the sense that they should be able to plan for themselves and not that when things happen, they start running to their parents to complain and the latter begin to advise them based on their own views.
Emotional maturity is where age comes in. There are people who are not emotionally mature, even at age 30 and these are people that keep running to their parents or third parties to discuss their marital problems, thereby complicating things.
If you are mature in these four areas, you can get married as an adult and not as a teenager, because marriage is meant for adults. The Bible didn’t say ‘a boy shall leave father and mother…’ so you must be a man before you get married.
There are some wives that are older than their husbands. In such cases, what we do is to counsel that the age difference should not be too much.
For instance, if a woman is 50 years old and the man is 22 years and they come to me for marriage, I would ask them to pray over it. If they do and then there is parental consent because we must get letters from both parents to show that the intending couples have obtained their consent, then we go ahead to unite them.
The Bible says with two or three witnesses a matter is established. If the man is 10 years older than the lady, that usually is not much of a problem because I am six years older than my wife.
It’s when the woman is much older than the man that we ask them to go and really pray because as a woman grows older, she gets closer to menopause, although there is nothing God cannot do. In our church, we’ve heard testimonies of 52, 57 years old women getting pregnant. But if the age difference is very wide, we ask them to pray and the pastor also prays with them.
If they come back to say that God is leading them to get married and the pastor also gets a message from God, of course, they will get married. In every marriage, understanding is very critical.
The man must understand his wife and vice versa. But where this is missing, suspicion and such things come in. A couple must know how to communicate, which, if lacking in a marriage can create problem. Love and affection are also part of it. Of course, if you are not born again, there is no way you can be joined together as husband and wife.
The fear of God must be in every marriage, so that when the couple has issues, they can ask themselves what the Bible says concerning such. ‘If The Man Is Older By 10 Years, We Refer Such Cases To Our Leader’ (Pastor Jerry Asemota, Church Secretary, Deeper Life Bible Church) THE people getting married should be adults, not children.
Adam wasn’t marrying a small, immature girl. So, they should be mature and then, of course, God brought the woman to the man, and that is why we impress it on our members that they should pray and know God’s will, which is very important.
It solves the problem of incompatibility, background differences and all that. Once that is solved, every other thing in the marriage should work, though that doesn’t mean that the couple will not have likes and dislikes. Marriage is supposed to bring them together irrespective of whatever differences.
Obviously, the man being older than the woman seems to be the normal thing, and that is when he can assume the headship that God had given to him because God made the man the head of the woman.
To that extent, when the man is older it’s alright, though this does not mean if the woman is older and it is the will of God, that they should not marry.
The essential thing is getting the will of God because He is the One that knows the hearts of all men. Whatever the age of the woman, God has a plan for her, and He will still fulfill that in her life.
If God arranges it in such a way that she is to marry somebody younger than her, it shouldn’t cause any alarm though the society may frown on it because of culture and the fact that people have been used to something different. But God doesn’t work to satisfy society or tradition.
In that case, the church won’t be averse to such decision, once the two of them agree. So, if it is God’s will that a 35-year-old woman marries a 32 year-old man, the church has nothing to say against it.
So long it is God’s will. The parents may say, ‘but this is not what we are used to’ but if it is God’s will, that ends the matter. The church is out to do the will of God and not that of man. However, if the man is older than the woman by 10 years and vice versa, we normally refer such cases to our leader. He also prays and if he is led by God to confirm it, there is no problem.
Although nobody knows when a man or woman will die, you want to also avoid a situation, where we have young widows in the church. It puts the woman in a very precarious situation, if the man is too old and eventually passes on leaving her with very young children.
And the fact that she has children can make it difficult for suitors to marry her again. With the life expectancy in Nigeria, it becomes worrisome, when a man is 20 years or more older than the woman.
Marriage is a relationship given by God to mankind and it was done out of love. So, there should be love between the man and woman, which will help the marriage to grow.
Again, as Christians, they would want to go to heaven. They should be able to teach their children the way and fear of God. Whatever we do with our marriage, we would be answerable to God. ‘The Bible Did Not Specify Minimum Or Maximum Age’ (Most Rev. Adebayo Akinde, Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion /Bishop, Lagos Mainland) THE Bible doesn’t have any specific ruling on age, but when one considers the Biblical standard for marriage, clearly it is important that the people involved should be mature emotionally, in terms of exposure to life.
However, with Biblical guidelines, I would say a minor that has not attained the age of taking independent decisions and is not ready to accept responsibilities shouldn’t go into marriage. There are basic requirements before two people can contract marriage.
The Bible does not have any specific ruling on minimum or maximum age. Marriage is a serious issue and a lifetime covenant between two people. And whether the man is older than the woman or vice versa, is not given much attention in the Bible. But Adam was created before Eve, which gives the impression that he must be older than Eve. And if that is the ideal created by God, then we should be applying it.
I would advise it is much better for the man to be older, but there are people who get mature faster than others. That the woman is older than the man should not be a problem, as long as there is love between both of them.
Age should not be a prerequisite. The basic thing to consider in marriage is love and where there is love, it matters not whether the man is wealthy or not, whether the woman is beautiful or not, as all these considerations become secondary.
The basic ingredient and success in marriage is love. The man must love the wife and vice versa. In this wise, it is not sufficient to just look for the right partner.
The husband must make conscious effort to be the right person for the wife and vice versa. Basically, both of them have responsibilities and they must resolve that it is a lifelong union, which is what the Bible says.
Finally, both must work at making their marriage successful. ‘As Long As People Are Not Minors, Age Should Not Be A Problem’ (Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Ralph Madu, Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja) THERE is a barrier, as in the case of somebody that is under age.
But who says a marriage should not hold simply because the man is older than the woman and vice versa? Have you seen a couple that are born on the same day? One must be older either with one day or years.
People can be on the same age bracket, but one will definitely be older. Marriage is between two people, and if one of them is 100 years old and the other is 20 years old, whose responsibility is it to decide? All those considerations are frivolous and happen in present time.
Can I decide who should marry whom? What if a person is marrying an elderly person to be able to give him/her support; who am I to disrupt that type of marriage? Age should not be a problem in marriage, as long as the people are not minors.
If they are adults with one being 50 years and the other 20 years, it is their own responsibility, once they have agreed. That is why people should not be forced into marriage.
Once there is consent and freewill then they should be wedded. Even if one of the intending couple is 120 years, so long they know the implication of the engagement and all; they are free to go ahead.
For instance, in the Catholic Church, marriage is indissoluble unless from the beginning there was no proper intention. Once the marriage is established and the couple have gone through the normal process and the marriage has been consummated, it is indissoluble.
Catholic couples know this and so, they have to be as patient as possible. They have to be tolerant, accommodate and have respect for the other person. Above all, they have to accept that their spouses are their equals. There must also be fidelity.
It’s one man, one wife and not one man one and half wives, or concubines here and there. These are the principles we teach couples as they go through the process of marriage.
God Chooses The Marriage Partner, Not Age’ (Rev. (Dr.) Samson O. A. Ayokunle, President/CEO Nigerian Baptist Convention/National Vice-President, Christian Association of Nigeria) TO me, God chooses the marriage partner and not age.
However, Adam was in the Garden before God formed Eve and brought her to him, as such we can say that Adam was older than her in a way. On the other hand, it may not be theologically sound to say that Adam was older than Eve because she was with Adam from the beginning because the bone God used to create her was taken from Adam.
It may be more accurate then to say that they were companions. The age difference between the man and his wife has to do with culture. In some cultures, especially our own part of the world, the husband is preferred to be older than the wife. We have, however, seen it even here that some wives that are older than their husbands enjoy good marriages.
At the same time, many marriages have broken down, where the husbands are older than their wives. To me, doing God’s will when choosing a marriage partner is the most crucial thing. It may seem more acceptable in our world for the husband to be older to get respect from the wife.
However, respect for the husband and having a sense of responsibility does not come automatically from the husband being older than the wife, they are things of the heart. They are virtues that must be cultivated by both for the marriage to succeed.
In choosing a marriage partner, the following are important: knowing God’s will, Agape love and Economic maturity on both sides, especially the husband who is the bread winner.
Both must be born again. An unbeliever is not mature for marriage because marriage is first of all a holy institution and secondly a divine gift. Only those who have a relationship with God will be able to operate God’s manual for marriage for it to succeed.
Intending couples are expected to pray fervently before choosing life partners. ‘Emphasis Should Rather Be On Maturity, Character’ (Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc./Senior Pastor, Church of the Anointing, Warri, Delta State) THE role of the church in marriage begins with teaching and counselling.
Many times, the church simply advises the individuals but the final decision lies with the intending couple. We teach and guide them by using scriptural examples and instructions.
The church also avails young people the benefit of its experience and learning. There is no verse in the entire Bible that indicates that a man must be older biologically than his intended wife. We can only infer that Adam was created before Eve and, therefore, seems exemplary. But the New Testament removes every gender barrier, as ‘there is neither male nor female in Christ.”
Age consideration should rather be emphasised in the case of maturity, character and walking with the Lord. Firstly, both individuals must be mature in thinking and behaviour, as well as in being able to cope with the challenges of life. I have seen successful marriages where the woman is older.
I have also seen cases, where the younger woman finds it difficult to submit and becomes controlling. I do not think this is a case of one-rule-applies-to-all. The minister, however, draws the attention of the intending couple to the fact that women age faster and if the wife is biologically older, she might end up looking much older after a number of births.
Once this is settled, they can get married. In choosing a life partner, young people should try to discern if the person in question really cares about them and treats them with love and respect in private and in public.
Young people should only marry evidently God-fearing persons having a testimony of salvation and consistent godly living. ‘If The Age Gap Is Too Much, We Discourage The Marriage’ (Pastor (Dr.) Jacob E. Umoru, President Lagos Atlantic Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Church) AGE should not be a barrier, but it depends on the age gap, because of the sociological development of the man and woman.
If a man is two years younger than a woman that is okay and a marriage could be allowed. Even if it is three years, there’s no problem, but by the time it’s going to five years, it becomes an issue because of the sociological problem.
They will not enjoy themselves. And when there are some health challenges and all that, the marriage will be in trouble. When we see that the age gap is too much we discourage the marriage. But aside this, so long they are interested in each other, love each other and fear God, we will encourage them to be married.
As a matter of principle, we do not teach that age should be a barrier in our church; we only counsel that if you are getting married to somebody you should ensure that the gap is not too much so that they can enjoy their marriage.
For instance, if the man is 10 years older and vice versa, we don’t prevent them from marrying. We only tell them of the emotional and social implications. It is worse, if the woman is five years older, as there will be issues after.
God has given us intelligence and power of choice and it is left for us to apply that intelligence. The first thing to consider in marriage is the faith of the intending couple: Do they fear God? Can they live with each other? Is s/he open to reason? Does this person have the potential to take care of me? Can this person lead me heavenward? Will this relationship lead me to eternal life? If the answers are positive, then you can go ahead. ‘
The Lord’s Will Has Nothing To Do With Age’ (Pastor Faith Charis Ajala, Lead Pastor, Special Treasure Covenant Church, Lagos) AGE cannot stand as a barrier between a man and woman. I believe the uppermost thing is genuine love and knowing each other, which begins with courtship and ends in marriage.
All I’m after in marriage is the Lord’s will, which has nothing to do with age. I have seen women that are older than their husbands and who are enjoying a good marriage.
Age does not play any role at all in ascertaining the genuineness or establishment of a Christian marriage. Once a relationship is genuine and God is in it, age shouldn’t be a barrier.
Maturity is important, but not applying the age factor. The gap in age is a personal thing. It becomes an issue maybe when the man starts thinking that the woman might dominate and not listen to him.
That is why we must always go to the Bible to see what it says about marriage. Sarah called Abraham ‘my Lord’ but if based on worldly thoughts and deeds, then one can begin to say ‘oh, this woman is five years older.’ That’s not it. What matters is getting the right person. Once this is done and God approves it nothing else should matter.
After this, maturity, wisdom, love, behavioural patterns and the upbringing can now come into play, but not age. The uppermost thing in marriage is the Lord’s will, not the appearance of the man or woman and money, but finding the right person based on the Lord’s will. God is the greatest matchmaker, and I’m sure He cannot approve of someone with no character, which determines destiny.
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