Young Men: Preparing for Marriage
Courtship is a four-part harmony, which is most joyful when each player is fulfilling their God-given role. I will discuss the first part of that harmony in this chapter: the role of the young man. The role played by a husband in marriage is distinct, therefore his preparation for marriage must also be distinct. It is very important that young women also read this chapter for at least two reasons. First, this chapter will give young women a clear idea of what a young man prepared for marriage looks like. Second, certain aspects of preparation (such as spirituality, purity, positive view of parenthood, and having a servant heart) are similar for both young men and women. Therefore, for the sake of avoiding major repetition in the next chapter (preparation for young women), I will simply refer back to parts of this chapter that make the necessary point.
The focus of this section revolves around the minimum requirements for marriage preparedness as expressed in chapter two. A young man is not ready for marriage until he meets these minimum requirements: spiritual maturity, purity, ability to financially support a household, has a positive view of fatherhood, rudimentary financial skills, and is prepared to lead as a servant. Let’s look closer at each of these minimum requirements.
- Spiritually Mature
When a marriage is formed the young man becomes the spiritual head of his household, whether he wants to be or not (Ephesians 5:23). If he is prepared, he will bless his wife and all that eventually come under his leadership. If not, those under his leadership will suffer. Young men who have an appropriate level of spiritual maturity will be able to lead in establishing a Christ-honoring and pure home that is characterized by love and service. Young men who are either non-Christians or who have only a nominal commitment to Christ, will establish homes characterized by worldliness, selfishness, and based upon false thinking. A strong spiritual foundation will establish a household that will endure, a weak foundation will cause the house to fail—sooner or later (Matthew 7:24-27).
A young man must go beyond nominal Sunday answers and grow up to walk steadfastly in the ways of Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15). Until a young man seeks the Lord steadily from his own initiative, he is not ready to marry. More than this, the spiritually mature young man will be known for the increase of his knowledge, character, and godliness. He will seek to become a leader in the church through pure actions, steady service, and godly devotion (1 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 5:11-6:2; 10:24-25)
Spiritual maturity is much more than simply making a profession of faith. The genuine nature of anyone’s confession will be proven by the fruit of their life (Matthew 7:17-20). The prepared young man must display the genuine nature of his belief in Christ by living a pure life which is marked by service. The prepared young man should demonstrate an ongoing development of the fruits of the Spirit. There should be a forward motion to his life that demonstrates he is well down the road of discipleship and sanctification and has no intention of turning back. The “nice guy” who will not regularly attend church, even when invited, is not ready for marriage. The young man who suddenly makes a profession of faith after meeting a beautiful Christian woman needs to be given time to prove the genuine nature of his confession.
The Christian young man who has never taken the claims of Christ seriously needs to commit himself afresh to the study of Scripture, purity, and service in the church—proving himself ready to lead a new family in a corrupt world. Young men must pray for God to develop the fruits of His Spirit within them – especially love (Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 5:25). For a husband to love his wife, as God requires, he will need the empowering of God’s Spirit. For a father to love his children as he ought to, he will need the empowering of God’s Spirit. Though every husband and father will fail in many ways, love will cover and make up for a multitude of failings (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8).
Finally, every young man needs a mentor. God uses faithful older men to train and guide younger ones. Every young man, especially on the pathway to marriage, needs an older man to disciple him through this transition. Ideally this would be his own father or the father of his potential wife, as we will discuss later. But if neither of these are possible, a godly church member should be sought out. Discipleship is not a path that can be walked alone. Marriage is most basically two people entering a sacred covenant relationship before God. Those who do not know Christ as Savior and who have not reached at least a basic level of maturity in Christ, are not prepared to enter such an important covenant.
Marriage often fails as a result of those entering the marriage relationship not taking seriously the vows which they are making before God. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 should not be overlooked, “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” In this passage “paying a vow” refers to upholding a promise that has been made to God. Those who are not prepared to keep vows should not make them. Those who do not prepare to keep their vows of marriage do not understand the gravity of entering a covenant with God as a witness. Those who are not prepared to keep their vows are not yet ready for marriage.
2. Pure in Body
God cares about your sexual purity. Many today are pressing to have sexuality, in general, considered a non-moral category. But the Bible is clear that God has reserved sexuality for the marriage bed only, and that bed is to be kept holy. Sexuality outside of marriage is highly destructive and ultimately unfulfilling. In the opposite manner, sexuality in the context of a loving Christian marriage is highly constructive and deeply fulfilling. Since it is of such great importance, I will spend more time in chapter eight discussing physical purity at length. The temptation toward failing in this area is extremely high during young adulthood, and especially in the months leading up to marriage. A young man who is sexually active outside of marriage is not ready to marry. Likewise, a young man who is regularly viewing pornography is not ready for marriage.
Both of these sin patterns display a lack of self-control in the life of the young man, as well as an enslavement to the pleasures of the flesh. Young men who are not able to abstain from fleshly pleasures before marriage will not be able to abstain from them within marriage either. Sinful desires cannot be fulfilled with pure objects. The pure sexuality of marriage will never satisfy the wicked lusts of the flesh. This is especially true with pornography. Those who have developed a perverted concept of sexuality through a habit of viewing pornography must cut out the cancer of pornography from their lives and redevelop a right understanding of married sexuality from Scripture. The wicked lusts of the flesh must be mortified, so that pure desires may flourish (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).
[[NOTE: Many reading this book know that God calls for strict sexual purity, but for whatever reason have already compromised themselves sexually. Many readers may even now be involved with sexual sins. Those in this position should take their sexual sins seriously but should not despair. You feel guilty before God because you are guilty. Sexual purity is non-negotiable. You cannot live under the blessing, peace, and joy of God while also living in sexual sin. If you have defiled yourself sexually you need to take three basic steps.
First, you must stop whatever sexual sin you are involved in, and fully back away from sexual promiscuity. If you are having sex with a girlfriend / boyfriend, it must stop—now. Also, you must fully back away from all intimate touching that directly arouses sexual desire. It will accomplish nothing to commit yourself to sexual purity if you do not also commit to avoid behavior and environments that will lead you toward that which you hope to avoid. Please read chapter eight concerning physical purity, and prayerfully take the steps outlined there.
Second, you must confess to God that what you have done is sinful and wrong. It’s not enough to recognize that sex before and outside of marriage may be personally destructive. You must go further to confess before God that you have sinned against His perfect will. 1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God will not grant forgiveness or cleanse your conscience until you confess your actions as sin and forsake them. However, those who seek mercy and restoration will find it. Jesus has come to seek and save the lost, not to condemn and destroy them. If you will recognize sex outside of marriage as the sin that it is, God will forgive your past sins and set your feet on a new path of purity.
Third, you must walk in new ways of purity. For those who failed in this once or twice, this may not be a serious redirection of life. But for others who have been sexually active for years, this will be a radical redirection. Either way, it will only be possible by the power and grace of God actively working in your life. We should never forget that self-control is a fruit of God’s Spirit at work in our lives. The ability to control yourself sexually can only come from on high. Those who set out to walk in new ways of purity will have to daily ask for God’s grace and power to walk according to a path of purity. However, with God all things are possible!
During our first year of marriage Maria and I met a young couple that lived below us in the same apartment complex. They were both in medical school and were living together with vague plans to marry at some point in the future. They were living in sexual sin. During our year in that complex God did a great work in their lives. For some time they had been attending a local church that held the line on sexual purity. From the witness of that church and our reinforcement, this couple came under strong conviction that their sexual relationship outside of marriage was sinful.
Over the next year Maria and I rejoiced as this couple made the serious step of moving into separate apartments to end their sexual relationship (incurring difficult extra expense in order to honor God). They confessed their sin for what it was and committed themselves to walking a new path of purity. They set a wedding date, married, and then moved back in together—this time under God’s blessing. It was a beautiful example of repentance, confession, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration.]]
3. Able to Support a Household
Throughout Scripture husbands are framed as those primarily responsible for the financial provision of their household. A man who cannot provide for a wife should not marry. Men who marry so they can mooch off a hardworking woman are disgraceful. Men should also develop prospects for increased earnings in anticipation of supporting children when they come. If a young man is working an entry level job and has no other skills by which to increase his earning power, he is still not ready to marry. Further job skills must be gained.
Supporting a family is not an easy task. It only comes through constant hard work and wise decision making. As a part of the curse of sin God told Adam up front that he, and all his race, would only live by hard labor (“By the sweat of your face,” Genesis 3:19). No matter what profession a young man may enter, to succeed will require dedicated labor. Young men who are not willing to press hard to establish financial independence, that is independence from their parents, are not ready to marry. This is not a cruel statement but a realistic statement, and it is better to face the harsh realities of life before marriage than afterward. That said, no one should develop a “Scrooge complex.” If you remember the progression of Dicken’s famous character Ebenezer Scrooge, he started out poor but with solid job prospects. Scrooge also met a wonderful young woman. Their love grew and they made plans to marry when Scrooge was able to financially support them. But as Scrooge grew in wealth his love of money displaced his love for his fiancé and his contentment with a simple life. Making money should never be the end goal, but merely a means to the better end of establishing a loving and stable home.
Do not mistake the requirement to provide for a home with becoming wealthy. For Maria and me, our first “home” was a tiny one-bedroom apartment, but I could pay the rent and we were happy as larks. I would urge all young men working toward qualification in this area to remember two Proverbs. First, Proverbs 12:11, “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.” This Proverb warns against pursuing “worthless things.” There are many things that young men enjoy doing that have no worth in establishing their ability to earn, and thus live as independent men. For a young man in his late teens or early twenties I consider activities like video games, messing around on the internet,
1Those interested in more information about the epidemic of young men never becoming independent from their parents or setting out on their own should read chapter six of Leonard Sax’s book, Boys Adrift. [Leonard Sax, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 117 – 161.]
reading lots of novels, and excessive interest in sports to be worthless activities. Why worthless? Because all these activities are entertainment oriented, and a boy will not become a man through entertainment. These “worthless things” will be pushed to the back of the line by the maturing and godly young man. Instead, apply your strength and time to fruitful study and labor that will build your character and create marketable skills that will allow you to succeed in the competitive marketplace of life. This Proverb is so important that it is repeated in Proverbs 28:19. Listen up!
Second, Proverbs 30:8-9 frames what our goal should be concerning economic status, which is to have “neither poverty nor riches.” The goal of every young man should be financial independence from his parents, but in this to live at a basic standard. Regardless of what many “health and wealth” preachers may declare, it is not God’s will for all people to be economically wealthy. Jesus instead taught his disciples to pray for their daily bread, or a basic portion to live upon for that day (Matthew 6:11).
The issue at stake here is where the burden of financial provision rests. This burden must rest squarely on the shoulders of the husband. A young man must be absolutely determined to provide for his wife and possible future children before entering marriage. It is almost certain that every married couple will go through rough financial times, often early in marriage, but the young man must commit to being the primary financial provider of the home. When I say primary financial provider, this simply means that he is responsible to cover the essential financial obligations of the family. Too often today if there is a financial shortfall in the home, the burden—and it is a very real burden both mentally and physically—falls upon the wife. She is expected to pick up the slack and take an extra job while also fulfilling all her duties in the home. This should never happen in a Christian home. A wife is certainly free to contribute to the financial needs of the household as she is able, but it must never be her responsibility to do so. She should not have to bear this burden. It is the husband’s burden, and God will give both strength and opportunity to any man willing to bear it.
One of the problems facing young men today, related to this issue of preparing to support a household, has to do with the sheer number of potential career choices that face them. Young men are often told, “You can be anything if you set your mind to it.” This may be a generally encouraging statement, but it is not true. Each young man is given a certain set of gifts and abilities by God, and no person can do everything. “Everything” also leaves a paralyzing number of career choices on the table. Too often today young men flip and flop all over the place before they ever settle on a profession, and sometimes they never settle—they just give up. One of the very serious side effects of this is that while focused young men are honing their skills and building their credentials, the undecided are wandering. Very few passionate and diligent people will begin and complete college if they begin in their thirties. In like manner, very few will commit the years necessary to become licensed master tradesmen if they do not begin early in life.
There are countless ways that one can earn a living, but it is helpful to break these down into four basic paths that any young man can take to achieve financial independence. If pursued with diligence and skill, all four paths will lead to solid earning power and all are needed to maintain a balanced society. All four paths are honorable and praiseworthy to pursue depending on a young man’s talents and personality. The four paths are: professional, company man, tradesman, or entrepreneur.
The Professional: By a “professional” I mean some job that requires a bachelor’s degree. For example: a doctor, a teacher, an architect, a veterinarian, a lawyer, an engineer, a pharmacist—to name a few. Many of these positions require not only a bachelor’s, but also master’s and doctoral level degrees. If a young man is interested in pursuing a professional job, he should become aware of the schooling commitment and pursue the end with diligence. It is foolish to go to college with no purpose or goal in sight. Such aimless students often come out of college with little more than an enormous and life crippling student loan debt. Also, young men and their parents must be realistic. If a young man struggles deeply to excel in the high school classroom, the reality of him excelling in the professional world is slim. This does not mean that such a young man is a failure, only that he has not yet found a good career fit.
The Company Man: The second route to financial independence is the “company man.” This route is a variation on the professional. It often requires a bachelor’s degree concentrated in some particular discipline but does not require further graduate degrees. The bachelor’s degree typically serves as basic training or as an entry pass needed to enter the world of corporate and/or government jobs. Examples here may include human resources, bookkeeping, marketing, middle management, and a wide variety of government jobs. These jobs are situated somewhere between the professional and the tradesman in the typical urban work environment. They are jobs that usually come with benefits and present opportunity for advancement. They are often jobs that have a high degree of regularity but a low degree of freedom. For many young men this dependable and directed work environment is perfect. It is steady work for a steady man.
I put military and police work in this category. Neither of these fields are traditional “company” work, but are jobs that are worked out within standardized government structure. These careers appeal to many young men with a sense of justice, adventure, and patriotism. These good steady jobs can be worked out for a career or become a gateway to later advancement and change. Police and military positions are God-ordained (Romans 13:1-7) and to be applauded by those who have the courage and character to pursue them.
The Skilled Tradesman: The third major path to financial independence is that of a skilled tradesman. This category encompasses skilled jobs that require significant training to achieve necessary licenses, but do not require a bachelor’s degree or additional graduate school degrees. One need not go to college to enter these job fields. In fact, in most cases entering the trade field after going to college puts a young man behind his other peers who have been building their trade skills and experience while he has been taking courses that are irrelevant to the job he hopes to secure. These jobs tend to be hands-on but are distinguished from the common laborer in earning power and security because of advanced skill. This is a very broad category, but some examples include: master electrician, general contractor, master plumber, registered nurse, certified IT / computer specialist (there are many certifications available here), certified HVAC technician, ASE certified mechanic—to list a few.
What sets these jobs apart are their licenses and certifications. As an example, you might be great with electricity, but the difference between a licensed master electrician and a non-licensed electrician is tens of thousands of dollars more per year. Stated simply, a licensed tradesman can demand a higher payer because of his recognized credentials. Also, a licensed master technician has opportunity to advance and can move into any number of work environments. Whereas the non-licensed tradesman will always find himself at the bottom of the employment food chain. The non-licensed tradesman will always work for the licensed tradesman. The key here is skill through disciplined practice. The world will always need skilled tradesmen and will therefore be willing to pay such people for the benefit of their skills.
As a culture we must reassess the value and earning power of the skilled tradesperson. For example, consider a young man who assesses, with the agreement of his parents, in his late teens that he is skilled at working with his hands and has no professional aspirations (as defined earlier). I argue that this young man should not be pressured to attend college but should focus on attaining skill and license in his trade of choice. Entering an apprenticeship with a trusted local trade school is his formal education. This apprenticeship should involve the appropriate classes and testing to achieve the highest level of certification the young man can achieve. This scenario places the young tradesman in a position of financial independence to marry, where unskilled labor does not.
Part of what I am arguing is that going to college should be an intentional choice that harmonizes with the talents and aspirations of the young man, not simply because everyone else is doing it. It is time for us, as a culture, to reassess our valuation of skilled laborers and our need for them in every aspect of society. No parent should feel that their child has not reached their full potential if they choose to become a skilled tradesman.
The Entrepreneur: The fourth general career path is that of the entrepreneur. The successful entrepreneur is one who can join an intensely independent spirit with visionary ideas, a good business plan, and the skills to turn ideas into reality. Every society needs entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are those people that will take risks to start their own business or introduce a new product or service into the marketplace. This independent spirit helps all society move forward. However, this path is not for the faint of heart and combines aspects of the other three categories. Sometimes young people just seem to be born with a combination of industry, good business sense, and skill. Such young men should not be pressed into corporate or government jobs.
2For a thorough critique of the actual value of a bachelor’s degree consider the arguments made by Charles Murray in his book, Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality.
I think of a man named Bill, who was a deacon in a church I once served. Bill started a lawn business as a teenager. He soon hired helpers, and then hired multiple crews, then branched out into extensive landscaping services. As a young man Bill married and his wife helped in the office. Together they continued to expand the business until they were also selling landscape supplies and had their own greenhouse facilities to supply their own plants! Bill sold the business for a large profit before he even reached his thirty-fifth birthday and went on to pursue his next business interest. Bill embodies those with natural entrepreneurial spirit and the focused abilities needed to sustain it.
Others who choose to go through college, trade licensing, or graduate school may eventually use those skills to start their own business, but the point here is that young people who have a bent toward independence should carefully consider how to harness that disposition for good. Independent minded young people will either grow up to be those who are fired over and over again, never able to advance, because of continually insisting that things be done their way when they do not have the authority to make that call. Successful entrepreneurs have independent and visionary attitudes, but that independence and vision must be balanced by industry and skill.
My maternal grandfather is an important example of this. He and my grandmother were very poor during their early years of marriage. They both worked as hourly wage earners in two different basic labor jobs. However, in his mid-thirties my grandfather was given the opportunity to become a life insurance salesman. This was an independent sales job, where his salary was based 100% on sales commissions. For the young man with a steady “company man” disposition, interested in clocking in and out after an eight hour day, this job would have been a terrible fit. But for my grandfather, a focused, energetic, self-starting, and highly independent man, this job was the opportunity of a life-time. Through tenacious industry and God’s blessing (He will tell you it was all God’s blessing!) my granddad soon rose to the top of one of the largest life-insurance companies in America. He had the entrepreneurial spirit pent up inside, and when it found its outlet financial independence soon followed.
These four avenues represent four basic career paths which are defined to help young men assess possible paths to financial independence in light of their talents, skills, and desires. I realize, as I stated in the beginning, that there are countless ways to earn a living, but these four categories should help both young men and their parents think more clearly about potential job paths. Young men who have trouble self-starting and enjoy structure should gravitate toward company / government and trade jobs, where they can work for someone who will direct them. Young men who demonstrate self-starting initiative and independence should gravitate toward professional and entrepreneurial jobs so their independent spirits can be put to good use.
Regardless of what profession a young man may enter, what must develop is a strong work ethic (Proverbs 6:6-11). All successful young men will be characterized by a determination to work hard. Laziness and an aversion to work does not produce anything positive. Parents must train their young men to work. Wise young men will accept the work God has for them as a major part of His good plan for their lives, eventually learning how to incorporate work into the basic flow of a complete life lived unto the Lord.
The wise parent will help bring these avenues into focus as a boy passes through his late teen years (age sixteen to eighteen), so that after he passes his eighteenth birthday he can embark with purpose into manhood. Young men err by not considering their job prospects for the future as they first enter manhood, and parents err when they do not help their sons make wise and forward-looking decisions. These four categories represent choices that should be made with purpose, not wandered into. Every year millions of young men enter college and the work force with no purpose or direction. These wanderers have no goal for establishing homes, no goals for spiritual growth, no plans for achieving financial independence—often no plans at all beyond the weekend.
4. Positive View Concerning Fatherhood
The fourth part of a young man being prepared for marriage is that he must have a positive view of fatherhood. No one is ever really prepared for their first child, but at the same time no young man is prepared for marriage who does not want children. The sexual reality of marriage is that a young man can potentially become a father within nine months of marriage, regardless of what choice is made concerning birth control. If a young man is not spiritually, emotionally, and financially prepared in a basic way to become a father he is not ready for marriage. When I was married, I had no idea how to change a diaper and little understanding of how to hold or care for a baby, but I had a positive mindset toward children. Maria and I wanted children in due time. The decision concerning how to approach birth control is a serious one, but before this decision comes the basic choice to have children or not. God has designed the sexuality of marriage to produce children, and it is wrong to fully inhibit this design. Whether a couple has a few children, or many is largely a matter of conscience, but those who are resolved to have no children because of a negative mindset toward children are not prepared for marriage.
After a young man has come to the realization that children are good, and the decision to marry has been made, the discussion of birth control inevitably enters the conversation. In order to not derail the direction of this chapter, but recognizing what an important decision this is to every young couple considering marriage, this discussion is taken up in Appendix A and is addressed by my good friend, Dr. Cameron Mouro. In summary, let us hear the Scriptures and believe that children are in fact a blessing and heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5).
5. Prepared with Basic Financial Skill
Many young men lack basic financial discipline and skill. Young men in their twenties must grasp the realities of on-line banking, credit scores, compounded interest, loan amortization, the basic way in which the stock market works, and more to be prepared for manhood. Financial illiteracy will generate struggle in marriage. On the other hand, there are young men who understand these concepts but lack the basic personal self-discipline to avoid driving themselves deep into personal debt through the abuse of credit cards and consumer lending. Many fail to practice even the most basic financial disciplines such as checking their monthly bank statements for errors, regularly setting aside funds for retirement, having an emergency savings account, or may regularly overdraw their accounts from a failure to track basic expenditures. A young man who cannot keep up with his expenditures, does not save, and cannot avoid debt is not ready to marry.
When irresponsible young men become husbands, these problems are magnified. When both a young man and a young woman are financially illiterate and irresponsible, their union will be a disaster in the making. Financial illiteracy and the lack of self-discipline is so widespread among young Americans that it’s no wonder financial stress regularly tops the list as the number one stress leading to divorce. The bliss of early marriage quickly turns into a swamp of anxiety when bills go unpaid, but with proper preparation this need not be the case.
From early on young boys should be taught basic financial realities. Parents should not buy their children anything they want. Children should be trained in contentment, generosity, and delayed gratification rather than covetousness, self-indulgence, and avarice. Young boys should be required to save to purchase only those things they can afford. This requires them to choose between options limited by the resources available. This discipline will carry into young adulthood. Generosity and indulgence should be carefully differentiated. Generosity shows love in a time of need. Indulgence reinforces irresponsible behavior, and often shields a young man from the struggle necessary for growth in character.
Generosity is displayed by the parent who pays college tuition for their focused and industrious young student. Indulgence is displayed by the parent who pays off hundreds of dollars in parking tickets because their son will not abide by basic traffic laws. Generosity is displayed by parents who equip a budding tradesman with his first set of tools. Indulgence is displayed by the parents who payoff the credit card debit of their spendthrift son, rather than making him pay for his own frivolous spending. Parents who do not educate their children concerning the basic financial realities of the world often also indulge the bad financial habits of their children. Sometimes this stems from a reflection of the parent’s own ignorance and lack of discipline, other times it flows from a misplaced concept of what it means to love. Either way, young men who do not grasp basic financial concepts and do not practice basic financial self-discipline are not prepared for marriage.
6. Prepared to be a Servant
No young man is ready to enter marriage until he understands what it means to be a servant-leader. The best marriages are marked by mutual loving service of one spouse to the other. This must be a central focus of Christian marriage because it’s a central aspect of the attitude of Christ, whose example we are called to walk in. Philippians 2:3-5 states, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” These verses are very plain. Stop living a self-centered lifestyle. Instead, do nothing from selfishness, but with humility consider your needs and desires secondary to those around you. This means that godly young men, who are prepared for marriage will live lives marked by service and humility.
They will be the ones holding the door and the umbrella in the rain so that others are dry. They will be the ones that show up and work all day for volunteer events. They will be known for their patience with difficult people and their kindness toward the orphan and widow. Many indicators will reveal whether a young man has a servant heart, but one trumps them all. No young woman should marry before carefully observing how a young man interacts with his mother. How a young man treats his mother will largely transfer to how he will treat his wife. If he treats his mother with arrogance and disrespect, he will almost certainly carry this same attitude into marriage regardless of his attitude during courtship. If he treats his mother with love, respect, and service, then this same disposition will also carry over. These are his true colors.
Husbands who love their wives will go out of their way to serve them in every way they can. I grant that this grows over time along with spiritual maturity, but the astounding level of selfishness displayed by many young men today is a serious reason why many never marry, and if they do marry, why they soon divorce. Young men are not prepared for marriage until they can gladly sacrifice what they want for what their potential spouse needs. As both the young husband and the young wife grow in their understanding of self-sacrifice, a beautiful mutually sacrificial marriage will grow, rather than an ugly and increasingly isolated individualism.
Young men who have the blessing of being raised by godly parents may well exceed some of these minimum requirements by the time they are able to financially support a household, but others contemplating marriage may not meet any of these basic standards. Those who are behind should not compromise the minimum standards, thinking that they can be worked on during marriage. If any of these qualities are lacking at the beginning of marriage, it will result in significant stress in the relationship that will create other problems. It is more difficult to mend a broken marriage than to prepare a solid foundation for a healthy marriage. For example, a young man that enters marriage without basic financial understanding or discipline can quickly mire his household in debt, which will cloud the marriage for years until the situation can be corrected.
When smart business owners open a new location, they wait until everything is in place so that the first day of business is a success. Would you return to a restaurant that opened for business before they had time to finish the kitchen or clean up the construction debris? Rushing into marriage half-prepared doesn’t benefit anyone. Instead, those who are of age, but lack basic aspects of preparedness, should hold before themselves the “carrot” of marriage as an incentive to focus and bend all their energies toward preparation. Most people are surprised how much progress they can make in a short period of time when they are totally focused and highly motivated. Go for it! God will speed your progress!
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