wait, who’s older?

Over the past few years I’ve met women who have challenged my long-held conviction that when it comes to marriage, the man must always be older than the woman. No, he couldn’t even be a day younger!

This belief did not evolve in a vacuum. Rather, it was seeded by lectures during Sabbath afternoon youth programs at church, where we would learn from the wisdom of our elders. Things to look for in a potential spouse and where to look to find that spouse, were among the practical topics addressed. With respect to the latter, the high school boys were informed that their wives were still in elementary school.

Men mature slower than women, we were told, so a woman could not find fulfillment in intimate interaction with a younger man. Men are just big babies, I’ve also heard – which, by the way, I think, is a little disrespectful (but then, who cares if he’s younger than his wife if he’ll always be a baby anyway, right?)…

My indoctrination had me believing that any marriage between an older woman and a younger man was doomed for failure. So, shock and consternation as I met one couple after another where the wife was not just a day older than her husband, but sometimes, five or six years older! How could it be? And their marriages seemed, by whatever standard, flawed or otherwise, I may be using, happy.

But why not? Which Bible verse requires the man to be older than the woman in a marriage?

It has become abundantly clear to me that maturity is not linearly related to age. You would hope that a 38yr old would be more mature than a 23yr old, but how often have we seen the converse? The principle, I believe, is to look for a mature spouse, with a good head on their shoulders and a sense of direction as guided by God.

From my understanding, while it may be true that girls tend to demonstrate maturity (as we choose to measure it) from a younger age than boys, there comes a time when that gap narrows to oblivion. The mere fact of your gender will not, as an adult, determine your maturity. So, we need to quit calling men babies and let men be men – no matter their age.

Every single woman who has confided in me that she is married to a younger man has sworn me to secrecy. No matter their age, race or culture… Every single one of them! What are they afraid of?

They are afraid that they will be accused of robbing the cradle. Because somehow, while the man gets props for scoring an older woman, the woman is derided for “debasing” herself. Yet, what is so debasing? Gross generalizations and stereotyping that lead to unfair treatment of women who have dared to do the unacceptable…

This blog was inspired by the silence of all those women I’ve spoken with on this matter. When you shared with me that your husband was younger than you, I couldn’t console you with the story of another woman whose husband is younger than her because she too had sworn me to secrecy. You are not alone. And in my opinion, you should not have to keep the conformation of your ages a secret!

There is no moral, ethical, or medical imperative impeding a younger man from pursuing an older woman, and no restriction, for the sole reason of his age, to her accepting his proposals.

the numbers gameSo at the risk of this blog post being misconstrued as a mere preemptive justification for possible future behavior, I figured somebody had to say something! For my part, I pray that by God’s grace, I will not judge a man, suitor or no suitor, by his age. Let the mind be the measure of a man, or rather, His walk with God. And likewise for a woman.

how do you mentor a mentee who doesn’t want your mentorship

One of the greatest gifts that experience brings is the opportunity to mentor the less experienced. So in light of my 30yr status, I’ve been doing some reflecting on how I responded to mentorship in my youth. Sad to say, on many occasions, I have been far from the model mentee. One example comes to mind:

Several years ago, a pastor asked me to preach at one of his churches. He had heard me speak once before and said, “Will you preach that same message to this church?” Had he stopped there, my response certainly would have been consensual. But he went on to add, “…because I know that’s one sermon you can preach…”

In retrospect, I realize that it was my pride that was hurt by that remark. What? he did not believe I was capable of preaching more than one good sermon? Did he not trust that my preparations to speak were made prayerfully for guidance from the Holy Spirit in what to say? I felt slighted and underrated.

So, as any humble Christian would do [ahem] I entered into no small controversy about it with him. I would preach what I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to preach. Never mind that the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks through others. Never mind that he knew his church and wanted to make sure my first visit with them went well. He could not boss me around like that – no, not me!

With the gift of perspective now, I look back at the younger me and shake my head. How arrogant, conceited, and completely lacking in Christian humility of me. To presume to know more than a man of many years experience in pastoral ministry made full sense to me at the time. Who did he think he was, telling me what to do?

Thankfully, this pastor showed humility where I lacked it. “Of course you should preach what you sense the Holy Spirit leading you to preach! But if you find you need a message to fall back on, that one sermon I heard would be a good fit!” Perhaps it was my pride as I prepared the message that prevented me from discerning God’s leading me to preach that one sermon that time. But guess what; at a future occasion, that was the very sermon God put on my heart to preach to that church!

So there’s a lesson on what not to do as a mentee and how mentors can deal with punks like me.