My son is eighteen and headed to college.
In my humble (but accurate) opinion he is dating a diamond. His girlfriend is an amazing, strong, secure, faith-filled, and beautiful young woman. Major thumbs up on my side. But before we do a deeper dive into his private life let’s be clear: I am not a meddler in their connection. They have a great foundation in God, they openly discuss things I didn’t touch ‘til my thirties, and they are as realistic, hopeful, and cautious as any young adults can be about the future. They don’t need me at this point but they involve me in their relationship. I can’t imagine that ever happening with my dad back when I was dating Ryan’s mom in college. Different times, different father-son connection, and different family cultures are to blame for that. So, it’s working out for me. I am close to this evolving relationship trying to stay objective and properly attached. It’s a new consideration for me: what do I want for my son and this relationship at the ripe old age of eighteen?
WANTING THE RIGHT THINGS
Presently, I would put these desires for his relationship at the top of my list and into my prayers:
- Purity Sexually
- Faith Driven
- Growing Honesty On All Levels
- Mutual Encouragement
- Increasing Clarity Toward Marriage
That last one draws the following responses (perhaps even from you) in favor of delaying the need for clarity on marriage:
- “He is just a kid.”
- “He is still learning who is.”
- “Let him finish college first.”
- “He needs to be financially more prepared.”
- “He needs to date more girls than just one.”
- “His girlfriend needs to be independent first before marriage.”
- “They are still learning who they are.”
- “They need to establish other friendships first besides their own.”
- “They should not get married just for reasons of sexual purity.”
Here’s the thing – I don’t disagree! However, it’s a fine line for me and here’s why.
THE FINE LINE
I may not meddle but I do ask questions, I do advise, and I do encourage this connection whole-heartedly and without hesitation. I am, above all, a trusted mentor, fellow adult, and faith-based brother to both parties committed to their success in God. To that end, I ask myself the following questions to shape my approach: What does God say in the Scripture? What is his mind? Does he say, “Now let’s be practical here?” Is he overly pragmatic about this whole thing?
And as I ponder the cosmic implications, my son is waiting of his own accord, is content, has identified strong boundaries, and is hanging out a ton with his buddies. That said, it is still there. His sister and his cousin are already “there” and verbalized to me the other night: “We think they should get married.” In fairness to him, I am thinking it through way more than he is at this point because he trusts my opinion, weights it heavily, and I want to be ready! I am proactively observing a young man battling to honor God physically and spiritually, putting the progression of the relationship in God’s hands daily.
It’s a fine line right now.
The only sure thing I know is this: the core of who we are desires connection and a mate. The core of who we are is not to get an MBA. The core of who we are is not to “get established.” The core of who we are is not to live life powerfully and independently alone. God’s Word and the trajectory of the human soul declare that the core of who we are longs for fulfillment through relationship. The meaning and context of our lives is rooted in the mysterious magnet between men, women, and the families they create as described by Jesus: “And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” The core of who we are is oneness with our Maker and with a physically and spiritually compatible mate discovering God’s purposes together and advancing them together.
The fact is that my son is definitely bumping the perimeter of the marriage zone. When it comes to his relationship with the “diamond” girl I will tell him a few simple things. First, I will explain that God’s not wearing a stopwatch. He’ll know. Feelings will deepen and progress or not. Second, I will tell him that Scripture never identifies a specific age or circumstance that’s wrong or right. He can wait or not wait. Third, I will tell him one thing is for certain: marriage is a vital part of the purity process. Specifically, I will be encouraging it strongly in the days to come versus prescribing the pragmatic and prescriptive wisdom of economics, independence first, or playing the field. I am elevating it, endorsing it, and impressing its virtues.
Why? Because it is the core of who we are and why God made us.
Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in California, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men’s ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men’s ministry. Watch Kenny’s teachings at EveryManMinistries.com.