Though the sermon “Long Range New Covenant Thinking: Early Marriage” by Ovid Need available at SermonAudio.com does a commendable job of explicating the passages regarding dominion over creation and of expounding the need to train children for family life, it uses these passages as cover to impose personal opinion as revealed doctrine.
According to Need, the sincere Christian desiring to fulfill God’s will weds at an early age. As proof, Need cites the passage in Proverbs 5:18 saying, “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” and notes that in Bible times often people were married by the age of eighteen for boys and sometimes as young as thirteen for girls (he conveniently fails to point out the abysmally low life expectancy prevalent in ancient times).
Part of the reason for this decree in favor of adolescent matrimony (perhaps not that young but one must wonder if Need is going to suggest we slavishly adhere to ancient Judaic practices and in his own comments insinuates 30 is too old to have not yet wed) is to curb the evil tendency in the male towards (ominous drum roll, please) --- INDEPENDENCE. Heaven forbid one enjoy a period in life without nagging.
In the sermon, Need criticizes those with a more “dispensationalist” perspective for overlooking those passages of Scripture that do not mesh with their own diminished theologies. One might argue he himself is guilty of the same shortcoming he warns against.
For while there are passages mentioning marriage in youth, there are just as many examples of those in the Bible marrying in “old age” (as Need might categorize the period in the figure’s existential chronology in which the figure entered matrimony) or outright warnings against marriage. For example, Isaac was forty when he married and Boaz insinuates that he is no spring chicken when Ruth comes onto him.
Other passages indicate one is better off remaining single than to marry the wrong person and end up with a shrew of a mate. Both Proverbs 21:9 and Proverbs 25:24 (thus indicating the importance of the warning if God is going to take His time and mention it twice in the pages of holy writ) intone it is better to live on the corner of a roof than in a house with a brawling wife (and it is just as true with such a husband).
Yet another interesting passage can be found in Matthew 24 which extols, “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” While no man knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return, only a fool would deny that things are not waxing worse and worse in accord with II Timothy 3:13, thus making it so difficult to raise a family in such a setting that it might be best if people not marry all together if they believe that to be the prudent course of action.
However, as a Postmillenialist, Rev Need cannot afford to admit that things are getting worse as his eschatological hermeneutic compels him to believe that things will be getting better and better as Christ cannot return until after the Church ushers in the Kingdom of God here on earth. Frankly, such a development would itself be a nightmare as mankind is not able of implementing a perfect anything; the best we can hope for is a setting that attempts to create an equilibrium between individual privacy and the common good with the realization that the institutions used to uphold the common good are capable of undermining the very liberties they were intended to uphold.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.