"The Christian church is there to remind people, young men included and perhaps even first and foremost, that they have a woman to find, a garden to walk in, a family to nurture, an ark to build, a land to conquer, a ladder to heaven to build, and the utter, terrible catastrophe of life to face stalwartly in truth, devoted to love and without fear." -- Jordan Peterson

"To sum the matter up: whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at; then let him strike out in God's name and get married.” -- Martin Luther


This post is some advice to young men seeking to get married.

In the beginning, on the sixth day of creation, as recorded in Genesis 2, God created the man (Adam). The man was given a mission; indeed, we might say he was created with a mission already built-in. This mission was multi-faceted. He was to guard and cultivate the garden. These were priestly duties, but they also entailed broader tasks of protecting and providing. He was was given the task of naming the animals, which exposed the fact that he did not have a companion. Of course, it is implicit in the opening chapters of that the “creation mandate” of Genesis 1 — the call to rule and subdue the earth, to multiply and fill the earth — already belonged to him at the very moment God gave him life. All of this taken together shows he had a mission, but he also could not fulfill the mission on his own. When Genesis 2 calls attention to the fact that Adam was alone — “it is not good for the man to be alone” — the point is not so much Adam’s psychological loneliness, but the fact that he cannot fulfill the mandate he’s been given unless God gives him a helper. 

So what happens? God puts him into a deep sleep. He goes through a kind of death and resurrection, but through it God builds a helper fit for him from his side. In other words, God sacrifices him and as a result gives him a bride. She will be his fitting helper -- and his glory.
Now consider: The creation mandate of Genesis 1 belongs to the whole human race, but obviously when Adam was the only human it belonged only to him. It was “not good for man to be alone” because he could not fulfill the mandate alone. He needed a female companion, a wife, to be his helper, in the mission. She is called to be in sub-mission to him, helping him fulfill the mission.

Most Christian young men realize they will need a helper — a wife — to do and be what God wants them to do and be. Some men deny this, and stunt their own development and maturation because of it. (Granted, a few are called to a life of singleness/celibacy.) This rejection or unnecessary delay of marriage is all too common in our day, as many men “fail to launch.” But even as confused as we are about sexual matters today, most Christian men realize they will eventually need to get married. There is all kinds of counsel that can be given to men when it comes to preparing for marriage (e.g., avoid porn, remain sexually chaste, etc.). I want to focus on one particular aspect of preparation.

It is important for a young man to understand how his mission/vocation relate to his desire to get married.

Note the way I have described the creation and calling of the man above: In the detailed account of the creation of man and woman on day 6 of the creation week in Genesis 2, the man is made first. And God gives the man a job before he gives the man a wife. Adam has a clearly defined vocation BEFORE he gets married. This makes sense. He is to be her protector and provider. He is to be her head and leader. He is given a task/mission and then the woman will be given to him to help him in that task/mission. For men this is always the pattern: he defines his mission, then gains a wife as a helper. For men, it is work, then wife; it is mission, then marriage. For men, you find a vocation, then you find a woman with whom you can build a household. Luther put it this way: As soon as a man realizes he will need to get married, he should "see to it that he has something to do." And once he is established in a vocation -- a mission -- he should "strike out in God's name and get married."

The rest of Scripture, insofar as it addresses this issue, teaches the same pattern. Think of Proverbs – the whole book is a father passing on wisdom to his son, to enable his son to fulfill the original vocation of ruling and multiplying. Proverbs is all about a man’s work and a man’s wife. But in Proverbs 24:27, the father says, “Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for yourself in the field, then build your house.” What does this mean? What is the sequence prescribed for the young man? The man should get skills and get a job first. He should find a productive vocation. Then he builds a house – which means getting a wife to help him and having kids with her. Again: For men, the order is dominion, then multiplication; work, then wife; mission, then marriage; clear your field, then build a household. While this may not apply in a rigid, clear cut way in every case, it is certainly helpful as a guide or rule of thumb for young men. Any young man who dates a woman with a view to marriage will most likely have to eventually deal with her father and one question he is going ask is, “How can you provide for my daughter?” In some cases, the young man may have to point more to his preparation and potential rather than anything he has actually accomplished, but the pattern holds true. He needs to be on a vocational pathway that will allow him to fulfill his marital duties. He may not have arrived yet, but there needs to be a trajectory, there needs to demonstrated potential, there needs to be a vocational goal in view.

Obviously, we can nuance this to fit the modern world, e.g., I do not necessarily believe a man has to be making a certain amount of money per year before he marries. He may even still be in training for his vocation, e.g., graduate school. But he needs to have a clearly defined pathway – a “cleared field” in the language of Proverbs 24 – before he marries. He needs to know what his vocation will be, even if it will change later in life. The pattern is mission before marriage. An aimless, directionless, missionless man has no business trying to get married. Besides the practical difficulties involved, how can he expect a woman to follow him if he is not going anywhere?

So what does this mean for young men? I would tell young men to focus on three things before seeking a woman’s hand in marriage. First identify your personal mission in life. Michael Foster and Bnonn Tennant’s book It’s Good to Be a Man has some very helpful thoughts in this area, so I will point you there. Essentially, you have to figure out what you can do that other people will value enough to pay you a living wage for doing it. Second, develop a work ethic. Lazy men are repulsive to other men, and ultimately to women. Learn how to put in a full day’s work. Learn how to work hard and work smart. Proverbs is full of warnings to slothful young men because this is a particular temptation to men. Third, develop skills. Skills and competencies are a key to wise dominion. You should develop as wide a range of skills as possible, but you should also home in on a few areas where you can develop real expertise. It is hard to be “renaissance man” in the modern world, but give it your best shot. Skills not only increase your range of dominion, they also build your confidence, and confidence is crucial for a man. Manual skills and intellectual skills are both useful. Robert Heinlein wrote, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” I do not necessarily agree with his rejection of specialization; most of us will need to find a specialization to make a living. And perhaps his list could be improved upon (Hank Williams, Jr. had his own list in the song "A Country Boy Can Survive"). But the point is that as a man, you should seek a high level of mastery over the piece of the creation and culture God assigns you. This will not only increase your wisdom, it will make you very marriageable.