FamilyLife Today® Podcast

*RTR Preempt–Having a Marriage Without

with | June 22, 2004
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Do you want to develop greater love and intimacy in your marriage? Learn how by joining us today on "FamilyLife Today" when internationally known Bible teacher Kay Arthur talks about the goal of marriage and the unique roles of a husband and wife.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Do you want to develop greater love and intimacy in your marriage? Learn how by joining us today on "FamilyLife Today" when internationally known Bible teacher Kay Arthur talks about the goal of marriage and the unique roles of a husband and wife.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

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*RTR Preempt–Having a Marriage Without

June 22, 2004
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Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  Can I play a tape for you today?

Dennis: Are you talking about here on FamilyLife Today?

Bob: Yeah.  I brought in a tape of a message that …

Dennis: … but I have something to say.

Bob: Do you want to talk about something else?

Dennis: Well, I might.  We've never done this in over almost, what, now, 12 years?

Bob: Yeah.

Dennis: You're just bringing a tape in to play for me and let a few million listeners …

Bob: … listen in?

Dennis: Listen in?

Bob: It's pretty interesting.  I was listening to a message from Dr. Al Mohler.  You know Dr. Mohler, right?

Dennis: Right, right.

Bob: The president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He spoke, back in January at the New Attitude Conference that Josh Harris does for singles, okay?

Dennis: Right, I'm familiar with that conference.

Bob: And he spoke on marriage, and it was a great message, and I was listening to it, but right near the end of the message, he started getting a little controversial, a little counter-cultural, and I thought, "Well, I wonder what Dennis -- I wonder what he thinks about this?  So I thought, well, I'll bring the tape in one day and depending on what you've got – I mean – if you've got something better that you want to talk about …

Dennis: … Bob, you and I usually share tapes off air.

Bob: But I wanted your instant reaction.  I didn't want you to have time to think about this, sleep on it.  I just wanted to see instantly how you would react.

Dennis: That's pretty dangerous.

Bob: I know.  So can we do this?  Can I play this tape?

Dennis: Yeah, I'm game.

Bob: All right, this is a message on marriage.  It's actually just a portion near the end of the message.

Dennis: I want the listeners to know the reason I'm doing this is not because I trust Bob Lepine.

Bob: I was just going to say, "You trust me, don't you?"

Dennis: No, no, I trust Al Mohler.  Al is a good guy.  I mean, he is faithful to the Scriptures so, truthfully, the ability that I have to follow along with this experiment, this sociological instant experiment, is solely upon my trust of Al Mohler.

Bob: Yeah, all right.  Well, let's listen together.  Here is Dr. Mohler near the end of a message on marriage from the New Attitude Conference here a few months ago.

(taped segment)

Al: In the year 1900, the average boy reached sexual maturity at about age 15 and married, generally, by 20.  The average girl reached sexual maturity at about 14 and married somewhere between 18 and 20 or somewhere thereabouts.   The average age for a first marriage of a white male in America, according to the 2000 census is 27.5, and updated data indicates that it's now over 28.  The average first marriage of a white female, just looking at this statistical data, is about 26.4.  Now, what have we done here?  We've created this incredible span of time where sexual passion is ignited but there is no holy means for it to be fulfilled.

 Now, some of you are immediately doing a calculation saying, "He's asking us to marry at 16."  No, but I want to tell you, I think that in a world that was much less confused and a world that ordered itself according to biblical priorities, we would have a world in which people could marry much younger – much, much younger and have the full support of the society which would see the holiness of marriage as the central crucible for adult-making.

 But we don't live in that world.  I'm going to speak of the sin that I think besets this generation.  It is the sin of delaying marriage as a lifestyle option among those who intend someday to get married, but they just haven't yet.  This is a problem shared by men and women, but it's a problem primarily of men. 

 We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.  Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead; to take responsibility as a man to be a man in every way before God that we are called to be.  Does that mean having a job?  You bet it does.  Does that mean being productive?  You bet it does.  It means also taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as husband and, by God's grace, we pray, eventually, as father.

 Sometimes this sin is shared also by women who think if they will put off being a wife and a mother until they can establish their professional identity – "I want to do this for myself before I would turn to marry."  I would beg you to rethink all of that.  What is the ultimate priority God has called us to?  In heaven, is the crucible of our saint-making going to have been through our jobs?  I don't think so.  The Scripture makes clear that it will be done largely through our marriages.

 The corruption of delay, the injury that comes by delay is multiple.  You see, if we claim for ourselves, either as men or as women, the right to define ourselves as adults who will get married when we get to it, we're defining ourselves in pretty specific terms.  Let me be clear.  The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage.

 The more you, as an adult, define yourself as an "I," the longer you do so resiliently the harder it's going to be to become a "we."  People who marry into adulthood, God's grace can often build there a wonderful marriage, and if you were in that situation right now, then be determined from this very moment to fulfill God's purpose and calling in your life to find that spouse, if you're a man, to take the lead, to find that woman God has for you and to marry her and to say from hence forth and forevermore a stake in the ground, a line on the calendar, a mark in my life indelibly that from this point on, we're not going to seek in every way to fulfill God's maximum glory in marriage.

 But if you are yet young, I want to exhort you to think of marriage, not as something that's out there somewhere on the horizon, but it's one of the nearest responsibilities you now face.  Some will rebel at this thought, some parents would be angry at what I say. 

 I was preaching at a conference for John Piper.  The college pastor was there with whom I shared a meal, and he told me, "I want to tell you the most heartbreaking thing that happens to me."  He said, "It happened just last week, and I was about ready to cash it in."  He said, "When I went to this particular college, they were running about 17 people in chapel attendance.  Now we're upwards of 400 and 500," and he said, "Just before Christmas we had a massive response to the Great Commission call.  We had 30 young people commit to missionary service.

Right after the Christmas break," he said, "I got called in by the University president"  -- Christian university, Christian college.  "And when I went in there was a set of parents, a father and a mother of one of the students.  And this man, who was an elder in his church was introduced to me, and this youth pastor, this college minister said – this man turned to me and said, 'I didn't invest $60,000 in my daughter's education for her to go to Botswana and waste her life.'" 

 Tragically, there are a lot of people who just think like Canaanites rather than as Christians.  When it comes to marriage, it's a very important reality.  I want to be as candid as I possibly can.  Guys, you know how tough it is to live with this.  From the time you were very, very young, when sexual maturity came to you, there is in you a drive and a passion that does not long sleep.  It's either going to be for you an occasion to send or an occasion to get serious about getting married. 

 Now, if you're 13 or 14, don't go to the middle school and pop the question.  But where in that young man's life is there someone to say, "I'm in there with you.  God is calling you to be a husband.  God is making you to be a father, and let's figure out, by God's grace how to get you there holy."  And if you're 17, 18, 19, 20, in your early 20's – what are you waiting for?  I don't mean to get married this weekend.  I mean to look for the spouse God has given you.  What are you waiting for?  Do you think, all of a sudden, you're going to be 25 or 26, and you're going to get a telegram from heaven – "By the way" –

 Do you think Ed McMahon is going to show up at your door or something like that?  It's not going to happen.  You've got to be urgently seeking as much as you would seek what God would have you to do vocationally; as much as you would seek what God would have you to do in terms of your mission for life – understand that you must be looking, guys, for that wife of your youth and whom you can find such fulfillment when the "we" is created, and a one-flesh relationship is given, and you grow up together in the faith and in the Lord and in your adulthood. 

 I had a guy come up to me when I was speaking at a college not too long ago, and he was what my grandfather would call "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed."  He had love written all over him.  He came up to me and he said, "I don't know how to ask you this," and eventually I was about ready to just throw cold water on him and say, "Ask."  I thought he was never going to get there, and he finally said, "I – I – I'm in love with this girl."  Duh.  His friends from the dorm are standing behind him going, "hmmm," they'd heard this before.   And he said, "How do I know she's the girl I'm supposed to marry?"  I think every night he went to bed, "Lord, let me wake up with a telegram."  Or "Just let me go to the cafeteria line for breakfast and have this person I don't know say, 'Marry her.'"  What is he waiting for?  He said, "I can't figure this out."  And sometimes we have this idea that God's will is this hidden secret treasure that we've just go to find, not understanding that according to Romans, chapter 12, verses 1 and 2, "A living sacrifice living out daily holiness is going to prove the will of God."  It is not hidden from us.  It's there for us to find, day by day, as we follow God's will, obey His laws, live by His grace.

 So, very quickly, what I said to him, I said, "Well, let's just figure this out from a biblical perspective.  Is this a person you should marry?  Number one, you are a man, right?"  He said, "Yeah."  I said, "So we know, from God's Word, infallibly, that you are to marry a woman."  I said, "She is one, right?"  He said, "Yeah."  I said, "Born that way, right?"  I mean, these days you can't take anything for granted.  He said, "Yeah."  This isn't a recent development.  I said, "Good.  Okay, so we got that down.  You are a man, she is a woman, we're headed into positive territory here."  I said, "All right, are you a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?"  He said, "Absolutely."  I said, "Well, Scripture absolutely forbids that you marry anyone who is not.  Is she a follower of Jesus?  Does she have about her the signs of regeneration?  Does she love the Lord?" and he said, "Absolutely."  I said, "Boy, we're really into positive territory now, because you're a man, she's a woman, always has been, she's eligible to be married, she hasn't been married before, she's not married now, and neither are you.  You're eligible for marriage, she is eligible for marriage, we've got the heterosexual thing down, and you're both believers.  We are headed home, right here."

 And I said, "All right, now" …

[someone shouts from the audience]

… that man needs a quarter for a phone call.

[applause, laughter]

 "Well, what else?  Are you compatible?"  What does the world mean by compatible?  Well, that you look cute together, you know, that you both like fondue or what?  I don't know.  But there are biblical standards of compatibility.  Number one, there is a portrait of biblical womanhood.  Does she fit that pattern?  Do you fit that pattern of biblical manhood?  What about the body of Christ?  How do your closest Christian friends who know you – people of Christian maturity – they know you and they know her – do they see you bringing out the best and the godliest in each other?  Do they see your relationship as a holy thing?  If so, that's a real happy thing.

 What about your parents?  Do you have godly parents?  He said, "Yes, I have believing parents, so does she."  I said, "Well, that's really important.  Nobody knows you, right now, better than your own parents.  No one knows her better than her own parents.  And as they come to know you, and as your parents come to know her, do they see her bringing out the very best in you?"  And he said, "Yes, my parents are excited about, her parents are excited about it, all our friends are excited about it."  "Well, go get her, you know, sign the papers, what is it you have to do?"

 Bless his heart, you could see what he was dealing with, and it was how am I going to know?  This is such a big step.  I've got to have everything documented, and I've got to know that this is the right person.  Folks, understand that by God's grace you'll be led.  Guys, by God's grace, you are supposed to take the lead.  That's not just a social pattern.  I believe that's God's design.  And, ladies, be praying for the right kind of husband.  And to both men and women, associate with the kind of people you marry.  Why would you waste your time – you must not waste your time, you must not waste your emotions, you must not waste your witness seeking a wife or seeking a husband in the wrong kind of places among the wrong kinds of people.

 Get serious about this.  Understand it as a matter of accountability.  Understand the delay can equal disobedience and claim God's grace and provision, both men and women, for fear and trembling seize the responsibility.  Go for the maximum display of God's glory.  Do not be satisfied with anything less. 

 What about an action plan for God's glory in this generation?  Stay pure 'til marriage; trust God in all things; honor marriage in every respect; let the marriage bed be undefiled; live out God's passion as married couples, men and women in the covenant God has given us; show biblical manhood and biblical womanhood to the world; grow in grace by the mercy of God; show God's glory in marriage.

(tape ends)

Bob: There we go.  That's Dr. Al Mohler from the New Attitude conference.

Dennis: I told you you could trust him.

Bob: So what do you think?

Dennis: Yeah, I liked it.

Bob: You haven't heard it before, right?

Dennis: I had not heard it.

Bob: Okay.

Dennis: I have several thoughts, though.

Bob: Yes?

Dennis: First of all, well, truthfully, I'm glad he said it was both a male and a female problem.

Bob: The need to get this thing going?

Dennis: Right.

Bob: Yes?

Dennis: Because I believe it is.  I think that the sexes, male and female, have been feeding off of one another.  I think he's right.  There has been some passivity among men and there have also been some women who have just decided to go off and live their lives and decided they're going to reject God's design for who they are as women.

Bob: They're putting it off, they're delaying, they're saying, "I'll do that later," and Dr. Mohler is saying, "Forget that.  Hurry up and get it done now."

Dennis: There is a second thing that he didn't say, but that I'd like to say.  I think today that the church probably has the largest spiritual nursery that it's ever had in its history.  And a spiritual nursery, I believe, is believers who need to grow up.

Bob: Well, he made the point that getting married is one of the ways God grows you up, and he was saying a lot of guys need to pop the question so they can become men.

Dennis: Well, I was excited for my sons when they popped the question, because I knew life as about to begin in earnest.  And then when they became a daddy, I thought, "Now it redoubles, or it is X-squared at that point." 

 I have five points I want to make about what Dr. Mohler said here.  First of all, the issue is God's will.  We're not telling all singles, "You know what?  You ought run off and get married, no, but what we are saying here is, for the most part, God calls singles to marriage.

Bob: That's going to be the pattern for the majority of folks listening – the vast majority, right?

Dennis: It's been the pattern of God throughout all of history.  The Bible starts out with God commanding two single people to leave, cleave, and become one.  I don't find anything in the Old Testament or the New Testament to rescind that command.

 Now, there is a recognition that there is a type of single person who does receive a gift, but it's such a select spiritual call that no way could it be said that that gift of being single is normative for single people.  Secondly, passivity is sin.  It's especially sin in men.  1 Corinthians 16, verse 13 and 14 says, "Be on the alert.  Stand firm in the faith.  Act like men.  Be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love."  Bob, there's not a single thing in that passage of Scripture right there that's passive.  To operate in faith means you have to reject passivity, and you have to exercise your faith.  And to act like a man – it means you have to know what one is and you have to do what a man does.  Third, conformity is a sin.  What does Romans 12, 1 and 2 tell us?  "Be not conformed to the world."

 You know, I haven't heard much said about this, but I wonder if, for women today, if a fresh reading of that passage would be appropriate.  Where does the Scripture tell a woman she is to put her first and primary focus – well, it's on her relationship with her God – wholehearted commitment to Him.  But, beyond that, where does it tell a woman to focus?  Upon her husband, upon her children, upon the younger women, to teach them how to love their husbands.

Bob: Titus 2, right?  That kind of lays all this out.

Dennis: That's exactly right.  But what do we have today?  I believe we have the largest wholesale sellout within the Christian community that has ever occurred among females who are selling their lives out to the corporate mandate – go find the power.  Go maximize your life.  And, in the process, many of the most talented, most gifted, who need to be called "Mommy," who need to be a wife and get alongside a man and build her life into his, and to call him up to be God's man.  Well, it's not happening, and I think Al Mohler calls us to do that.

 Fourth, 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 9 tells us, "It is better to marry than to burn."  It's very clear that God gave us a sex drive, and the Apostle Paul said it's better that you go ahead and take a wife, take a husband, than continue to battle lust.

Bob: Yes, Dr. Mohler says it's there for that reason – to drive you to marriage.

Dennis: Exactly, and I think singles – well, they need to recognize the drive for what it is, as he so poignantly put it here just a few moments ago.  Finally, I think, fifth, one of the reasons why marriage has fallen out of favor among singles is it has not been protected by the church.

 Frankly, Bob, I'm a little put out by the silence of the Christian community when it comes to protecting marriage, both in its definition and in its permanence.  The time has come for the next generation of single people, if they are to have the hope that they need to have to venture off into marriage and to think about a marriage that goes the distance, to have a Christian community that celebrates and enforces and calls married people to go the distance in their marriage.

 I think today, more than ever, we need to be equipping single people, engaged people, married people, to make their relationships work practically.  Resolve conflict, know what a covenant looks like, know what it is to promise and make a vow in the fear of God to another human being, and if the Christian community does not make that a priority, I'm going to have to ask you who will?  Do you think the judges will?  The Supreme Court?  Politicians?  It is our mandate as the salt and light of the world to make this a priority.

Bob: I'm going to do this more often.  I'm going to bring these tapes in and just let you listen to them, because when I get you right off the bat, you just kind of – you've got a little passion about this, don't you?

Dennis: Well, Bob, do you know what he's really talking about here?  And keep in mind, he was speaking to a group of single people.  I think what's happened is, I think we have a group of singles today who are confused.  They are really desperate for someone to stand up and say, "There is absolute truth – unapologetically, don't water it down – there is a standard.  There is a God, He has spoken, follow Him.  Life's too short.  Get with it.

 And I think many times we've sold them short.  We've not challenged single to, I think, the godly call, the godly standard.

Bob: Well, I'll tell you what – Dr. Mohler challenges them in this message, and we've got the entire message.  We just played a portion of it on FamilyLife Today.  We've got the entire message available on CD.  If you'd like to get a copy, contact us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and we can pass the message on to you.

 We also have, in our FamilyLife Resource Center, a workbook for couples who are headed toward marriage.  It's called "Preparing for Marriage," and it's designed to supplement your premarital counseling.  We've got a book for couples who just got married called "Starting Your Marriage Right," that provides a once-a-week devotional for couples to do for the first year of marriage.  And a lot of other stuff – we've got Weekend to Remember conferences taking place this summer in cities all across the country.  If you'd like more information about any of the summer Weekend to Remember conferences, again, the info is available on our website at, or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.

 I think the point is, wherever you are in the spectrum, we've got resources and events that can help you grow and move toward oneness in your marriage relationship.  Contact us at 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at for more information about any of these resources.

 Well, tomorrow we're going to introduce you to a young woman who experienced some real challenge, some real trauma in the early years of her marriage and didn't know how to deal with it.  In fact, the things she did to try to deal with it weren't working very well.  We'll find out what the ultimate solution for Nancy Murphy was when we meet her tomorrow on FamilyLife Today, and I hope you can be back with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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