About a year and a half ago a concept was brought to mind that I hadn't considered much and that concept is marrying young. It was introduced to me by a wonderful Monk who talked with the teen girls at a homeschool event about how blessed it is for them to be young women and purity and...marrying young. When people ask my children what they want to be when they grow up my eldest has always answered "a wife and mother". She generally gets that blank stare or the long pause waiting for the "and" followed by the important profession she's supposed to desire. She even started making up a false answer to satisfy friends and family members.
After the teens left I had an opportunity to ask the Monk more. He told me about Monks. What on earth can Monks have to do with marrying young or marriage at all? Well...when an older man becomes a Monk he is faced with challenges a young Monk may not experience in the same way. An older man has already had many life experiences and tends to be set in his ways. He feels challenged or becomes defensive when presented with new ways to do things or new lessons. A young man, on the other hand, may have some big ideas but without the life experiences to act as cement he tends to be more open to the new ways of doing things and grows in the process and often this growth produces great fruit and deep relationships with his fellow Monks.
All marriage is a challenge and truly a martyrdom as both husband and wife learn to die to self and live for the benefit and edification of the other person. There is potential in all marriages to live selfishly. My eldest daughter asked me that day if we would allow her to marry at 17. I said yes. Now don't freak out! Let me "splane"..."no that would take too long. Let me sum up". Christianity today said "Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed. " and "... the focus of 20-somethings has become less about building mature relationships and fulfilling responsibilities, and more about enjoying oneself, traveling, and trying on identities and relationships. After all the fun, it will be time to settle down and get serious." Marrying young presents a wonderful opportunity to learn early the joy of martyrdom. I don't mean the self proclaimed martyrs, but rather the joy of hard work and the benefits of working out ones salvation with fear and trembling as you grow along side another. It can be a wonderful "formative institution". It can be a wonderful place to learn selflessness early and about the "bigger picture".
Now I'm not foolish enough to say that we should turn our 16 year old daughters out into the arms of the first seemingly kind Christian young man that comes her way. I'm not suggesting we force them to feign interest in homemaking alone as if that is all they're good for. I don't want my sons running off and marrying with no plan and vision for the future. Or place them into a relationship with some unsuspecting young woman so they will have the chance to grow up and get a life. But I am saying that there can be wonderful benefits. If I can prepare my daughters to seek the Lord and not become easily offended... If I can challenge my children to embrace purity both physically and emotionally... If I can encourage my sons, even at this young age, to see the value of women and take pride in caring for them and honoring their unique God given function... If my daughters can learn the value of biblical submission (not read as doormat but rather as unto the Lord) and understand their amazing worth in this Holy calling... If both my sons and daughters view marriage as a worthwhile challenge and blessing... I will be overjoyed and open to whatever age the Lord opens the door for marriage.
In our walk with the Lord great faith is required, fear of the Lord, the seeking of His wisdom even if it is in conflict with worldly wisdom. Our walk is step by step and we can not see the future but we should be ready for it nonetheless.
I have no particular plans concerning a specific age I hope my children to marry. My only hope is that they follow the Lord completely. Whether they are young, old or God leads them to remain celibate I pray that their lives are spent in His service running with perseverance the races the Lord has set out for each of them. I do not presume to know where their individual courses may lead them, but I can be their faithful coach as I run my own race.
May the Lord have mercy on us all :)