Yep that’s us! More to come in wedding posts!
I wrote last time that we faced some backlash for getting married so young. While we were making the decision, we wrote up a document that eventually became known as The Marriage Manifesto, that listed our reasons. While the title is somewhat joking, the content is not. Take a look, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
THE MARRIAGE MANIFESTO
This is a covenant we desire to enter into with the support of God, family, friends, and those close to us. It is important to us that we make this commitment in a community, and therefore wish to obtain the support of our community before engaging in this endeavor. We have been blessed with a number of examples of solid marriages. We hope to emulate their strong, stable marriages and intact, nurturing homes.
We believe that love is a choice, and that our actions are a manifestation of that love. We are called to treat each other with love and respect. Additionally, we don’t believe that love is an accident, and we have chosen to love and honor each other.
We believe that marriage is not necessarily about “soul mates”, per-say, but about a couple choosing to love, honor and respect each other, regardless of other circumstances. We believe that the God-designed institution of marriage transcends the brief flush of emotional intensity at the beginning of a relationship, instead enduring trials and providing loving practical and emotional support.
We make no pretense of entering this commitment with comprehensive knowledge of what the future may hold, but we firmly believe that God will equip us for what comes our way.
We acknowledge our age may seem to some an insurmountable obstacle. Statistics would seem to support that assumption. We, however, contend that marital successes and failures are likely due more to maturity, or lack thereof, rather than chronological age. Maturity is a nebulous quality that can be difficult to directly ascertain. Do we feel that we are all we can ever hope to be? Of course not. We accept that we don’t know everything that will happen. We accept that we have quite a bit of room to grow in maturity. However, we also accept that marriage will challenge us, stretch us and grow us.
We feel that we have attained the maturity necessary to commit to this sacred bond, strongly supported by having developed realistic expectations. We are ready to accept the responsibility of a lifelong commitment.
We believe that we are called to a godly marriage, and as Christians, we find it important to avoid dead-end relationships and pursue marriage intentionally. We have observed that it has become fairly commonplace to postpone marriage for a variety of reasons, from wanting to “experience life” to concerns about the high divorce rate. We believe that to view chronological age as an impediment to marriage would be a grave mistake. We also have worked hard to maintain standards of purity in our relationship, and recognize the further difficulties that would accompany a longer dating period. Additionally, we are not concerned about losing independence or freedom, but rather overjoyed at the prospect of gaining all that marriage has to offer. We believe in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord”. We enter into this covenant with an emphasis on what we give to each other, rather than receive from the marriage.
We feel no need to delay marriage and its accompanying responsibilities in order to satisfy cultural norms of later marriage that our society has adopted in the last few decades.
We do have the option of delaying our marriage for a year or several. Admittedly, if we did so, our first years could potentially be easier, financially and in other respects. However, we feel that we are called to grow in Christ, which is certainly rarely easy, and we believe that in the example of Ephesians 5, we are called to emulate Christ in the selfless love that marriage demands. We wish not to become stagnant in a protracted, unnecessarily prolonged dating relationship, and in fact believe that waiting longer would cause far more harm than good.
We believe that dating should be conducted with a specific purpose and goal in mind, that of marriage. From the beginning of our relationship, we were open to marriage, and both believed in the importance of ending the relationship should either of us believe that marriage between us was impossible. We believed that we should only engage in a dating relationship if we viewed marriage as imminent. We believe that as Christians, if not called to celibacy like Paul, are called to marriage. We believe that marriage is more than a lifestyle option, but a calling for Christians. While we could have postponed this decision, we did not feel that it was appropriate to date for an extended period of time without marrying. While it may seem strange to discuss, we do believe that we were blessed with a God-given desire for intimacy that was designed to be fulfilled within marriage, and that it was our responsibility to pursue that commitment without engaging in unnecessary temptation. In I Corinthians 7:9, Paul confirms that “it is better to marry than burn with passion”, which we feel provides marriage as a natural solution to our God-given desires.
We believe that we date, not until we are sure we can have a perfectly perfect marriage with perfectly perfect people, but until we are sure that we can commit to loving each other sacrificially. We understand there is no way to know for sure everything about the other person, and dating is not necessarily an evaluative process in which we compare the other person to a mental checklist until we find they meet some arbitrary set of rules. Instead, we “walk by faith and not by sight”, and use the minds and hearts God gave us to evaluate ourselves and our relationship to determine if we can commit to that sacrificial love. One of us may have an extremely annoying toe-nail clipping habit, or it could be much more serious than that. Regardless, we are both committing to sacrificially loving each other, both sinners, with God’s help, despite any imperfections we may discover. We do not expect perfect godliness from each other, but rather, in determining our readiness for marriage, we desire a pursuit of godliness from each other. We date not to find someone who embodies perfection but who submits to God in their life.
This may not sound terribly romantic. There has been no mention of chemistry or compatibility. We believe those are rather nebulous concepts that don’t truly reflect what we have in mind. Yes, of course, in any romantic relationship, there needs to be a certain level of attraction, but we acknowledge that attraction ebbs and flows. We may feel more in love one day than another, but that feeling is not what will sustain our marriage. We firmly believe that it is the commitment and desire to honor God with our relationship that will sustain us.
We wish to forever share our life experiences, to support each other’s endeavors, to grow together in faith, maturity, and as a family.
We desire to honor God in our actions and intentions. We wish to follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love. We believe that the essence of marriage lies far beyond the human institution, instead filled with spiritual significance and constantly serving as a tangible reminder of God’s glory.
Therefore, we unequivocally declare our intention to pursue the God-ordained institution of marriage. We revere the sacredness of this covenant, and wish to fulfill God’s desire for us.
Serious hat tip to Boundless for encouraging us this way. Also, check back soon for our “How We Met” and our progression to the altar!