## Do The Math

It seems as though too many people in our culture are not able to do the math when it comes to the following simple word problems:

If Person A doesn’t get married and have a child until 30-35 years of age, and then that child also waits until 30-35 years of age to marry and have a child, just how old will Person A be when he/she becomes a grandparent? How old will Person A be when he/she can actually have a meaningful conversation with said grandchild?

Now, let’s change the numbers a bit:

If Person B gets married and has a child at 18-22 years of age, and then that child also gets married and has a child at 18-22 years of age, how old will Person B be when he/she becomes a grandparent? How old will Person B be when he/she can actually have a meaningful conversation with said grandchild?

Maybe it’s not that people are incapable of the simple math required to figure out the answers. Maybe it’s something else. Perhaps it’s that we are thinking wrong about the problem to begin with….or we aren’t thinking about it at all.

For generations people met, married and started their families at a young age. It has only been since the 1970s that the age of first time marriage and subsequent childbirth has continued to climb to nearly 30 years of age. And make no mistake; many people are waiting even longer.

Some want to marry, but haven’t been able to find the one to get hitched to…that’s a whole other discussion for another day. What I am speaking of, is people who intentionally wait to pursue a relationship and marriage until they are 30, 35, 40 or more years of age and then try to start having kids.

The sad truth that these people face is that many will never become parents because biologically speaking, they can’t. Infertility rates climb with age. By the time a woman is 30, nearly 90% of her viable eggs are gone. (See Countless numbers of couples will spend small fortunes trying every procedure known to doctors trying to get pregnant at a later age, and many will never succeed and remain heartbroken along with bank-broken.)

Those who do manage to get pregnant will face higher birth defect rates and complications due to age (of both mother and father) and from the fertility treatments. The fact is, your body doesn’t care that you wanted to wait until you had your career established and money in the bank. Sperm, eggs and biology have no respect for your wishes to buy a nice house and have the bigger car and travel the world or date around before you decide to employ them for procreation. (FYI sleeping around also increases your likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted diseases which can also impact your ability to conceive.)

Let’s revisit our original math problems, shall we?  Obviously, by simple addition we find that Person A will not become a grandparent until 70 years of age if they and their child both wait till 35 to have a baby. By the time that child is 10 years old and the grandparent can really talk to the kid and sow into his life, Gramps will be 80.

How much strength, energy and money do most 80-year-olds have for a 10 year old? What is the health like of most 80-year-olds?

On the other hand, Person B will become a grandparent at 44 years of age if both of them and their child give birth at 22. Now, when their grandchild is 10, Grandma is only 54 and, in most cases, has greater health, wealth and energy to give to the kid.

In some cases, when that grandchild graduates from high school, Gram and Gramps A will be about the same age as Parent B is when his own child graduates! Can you imagine sitting at the commencement ceremony and someone leaning over to ask you, “Which one is your grandchild?” Your answer would be, “Oh, no! He’s my son!”

Why the wait, people?

For amassing more wealth? Wealth you may spend just trying to get pregnant?

To “play the field”, or see the world, establish a career and collect things? I promise you that no number of sexual partners, trips, jobs, cars, TVs or other toys will ever compare in value and importance to your children and grandchildren.

I don’t know anyone who would lay their life down for their “stuff”, but they would for those little ones.  And a special note to Christians: Our time and purpose here isn’t about materialism anyway.

This is a message that the Christian church must get hold of and buck the thinking of the world on. In this area, we truly have become much too much like them.

Think it through, do the math and give some thought to the way you are thinking about this. If you can still act on the math or teach your own kids to marry and have kids younger, do it. Let’s prove to the world that Christians can still “do the math”.

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### 67 Responses to “Do The Math”

1. Jamie says:

I love this and I’m so glad someone isn’t afraid to share their opinion on it. My husband’s mother was furious that we got married before my husband was out of debt. Many people thought I was crazy to get pregnant within our first year of marriage at the age of 24! They thought I was too young. I wish I would have started sooner as I have never found greater joy in anything but my daughter. It has caused my husband and I to relate to each other on a deeper level and have a commitment to not only each other but our family.

Thank you for always being so brave with your words!

2. jubilee says:

Hi, Mark:
I have married at 30 years old and have a girl 17 years old. My husband is in his late 60s but as healthy as a 40 year old with 5 daughters–he is the grandfather of 12 & great-grandfather of 5. My daughter was an AUNT before she was born.
One of the reasons i’ve waited was because my sister, who was 17 years older than me had married a jerk who beat her.
Another reason, we because my dad came from a divorcd home; my grandparents divorced in 1922–my grandfather cheated & grandma wanted out. Mom & dad had 50th anniversary though.
Other than that, you are RIGHT about marrying young; keep up the good work on that one. A problem though: many GUYS dont care about being educated or start to grow up, and these silly girls will sleep with him, so he doesnt have to grow up anyway
We have to scare these girls into not sleeping around, besides it hurts the 1st time she does it.
In some parts of the ghetto, they have outright HAREMS of women..one woman could have 6 kids by 6 different men!
This is WORSE than jimcrow! Blacks had too much dignity in the past–i’m black thats why i know this–I’m glad you are puerto rican–and LOVE YOUR HUMOR!

3. Lee says:

I’m 33,a believer and follower of Christ; and yearn for marriage and motherhood. Please can u share your writings to those of us who haven’t “found the one” yet believe for partnership and remain hoping in God’s provision for this need.

• Mary says:

Hi, same here Mark, just turned 36 “I thought I would never say that”!
I prayed, I’ve search…just don’t find the guy that I can be myself with…
you know that guy whom I can say is a friend without feeling like have to
compete with the Jones. Or to extreme of baggage + baggage …Is there
a single, never been married, self sufficient, spirit filled man out there!

4. Carrie says:

I just read “Start Your Family” which Mark Gungor is quoted in several times. It’s all about this topic. You’re all hitting the nail right on the head! It’s a sad day when people look down on young married couples that choose to start their family early. It’s more socially acceptable to be a single mother with no intention of marrying and have a child.

Oh well. Thanks for all your advice! My husband and I just celebrated our third anniversary last month, and welcomed our first baby, a beautiful little girl, into the world in January. There’s nothing that puts you in a better position to be selfless and Christlike quite like marriage and child-rearing!

5. Laura says:

I completely agree. My Husband and I were very young when we got Married. 20 and 21. I also think the benefit to marrying earlier is that you have a little more time to spend together to get to know each other before having kids. We waited 5 years and now have a beautiful 2 year old and hope to soon have another and we are both under 30!

6. Chris Dixon says:

Why not do both? Have kids when you’re young, and then another batch when the first ones have left home. They will keep you young, and you’ll be more experienced raising kids the second time around. And the first batch will see how to do parenting well.

7. Paul H. Byerly says:

Mark,

Thanks for taking a stand on this! You are 100% right, and I know you will get yelled at for stating the truth. Why do we think we can do it the world’s way and still get God’s blessing?

Paul

• Chrissy says:

do you know how old Sarah and Abraham were when they had their son Isaac? how are you saying it is the “world’s way” to have kids when we are older – when Sarah and Abraham are right in the beginning of the Bible in Genesis?
Please tell me the Bible verses that direct us to get married when we are young, and start having babies when we are young? and where are the Bible verses that say it is against God to get married when older and have kids when we are older?
So, were Sarah and Abraham blessed by God, or cursed ?

• beigitte jones says:

That biblical example was not endorsing choosing to have children late in life on purpose. Sarah and Abraham were keen to have had a child much much earlier like others. They didn’t try anything artificial or seek magical spells to have children.
It’s a symbolic story of a merciful G-d ‘s capacity to trancend general mortal limitations creating a miracle within his plan for righteous people.The whole point is the miraculous aspect as it doesn’t normally happen, they were an exception for some reason, nor did they pray or request anylonger at that point, accepting by then Sarah’s apparent baraness Furthermore, the symbolic aspects include ages, life spans on the early parts of old testament that don’t correlate to real life ages.

The only aspect I’d accept is that when a late age conception occurs in a woman naturally, unexpectedly and not through irresponsability resulting in a healthy baby it is an unusual blessing to be welcomed, yet never an endorsement for intentional efforts of late aged procreation.

8. Josh says:

Great post! My wife and I agree completely. We’re all engines go at this point; I’m 26, she’s 23 and pregnant with our third kid. We’re hoping the math works to our advantage

9. Rhonda says:

Thx Mark & all the ppl who advocate for young marriage & parenthood. I know there are some circumstances where ppl r not able to do that, but otherwise, older parents w/young kids look ridiculous. I’m sure I’m 1 of the many ppl who r never sure what to say when you see that, because u don’t know whether they r the parents or grandparents of the kid. My heart does go out to ppl who r not able to do it young, as it took my mom 10 yrs. to conceive me. She was 32 when she had me, which in the 60′s was considered ancient to have a baby. Her 1st was born when she was 18 & the 2nd when she was 21, unfortunately he didn’t make it. She bacame a grandmother at 40 & a great grandmother at @ 70. Young is the way to go & don’t look down your noses at them ppl.

10. absalom says:

okay, this is hileriously mind awakening, i loved the part of where someone leans over & asks their neighbour about which kid is their grandchild and they say it’s their son lol! That was funny but very serious.

11. Muffy says:

Absolutely true. My husband and I didn’t find each other until I was 26 and he was 30, and the babies started coming when I was 29. I was 37 by the time we had our 4th child, and both of us really felt those sleepless nights that time around! We wish we could have started earlier and simply cannot understand why anyone would WANT to be an older parent. Except that when you are young and the world is your oyster, you really don’t “get” what having kids is all about, not do you listen to anyone’s advice. Well, maybe some will listen… keep sharing your thoughts!

12. Ashley says:

I agree.

My dad’s side of the family is really young. My Grandmother was 35 when I was born (her first grandchild).

It’s pretty cool that at 26 my grandmother is only 61. Now she’s getting to play with two grandbabies and who knows how many more on the way.

On the other hand, I’m glad I didn’t get married young… all the guys I dated were horrible! I married at 26 to a wonderful Christian man and can’t wait to add on to our family!

13. Amy says:

It somewhat pains me that my feelings after reading this are more of disappointment rather than full-hearted agreement. I do understand the main point you are trying to make in this post: speaking to the trend of putting off marriage for either career goals or a selfish and immature lifestyle. I honestly wish you would have written more to that type of behavior, and heart issue, rather than lump every older parent into a category of not living according to God’s best. I feel that your “do the math” illustration takes the focus away from the root issue and places too much emphasis on what is a more appropriate (in your opinion) age to get married.

I got married in my late twenties, and it wasn’t because I was selfishly laying up treasures on earth and not pursuing marriage. Everyone has a story, and we can’t/shouldn’t go around building platforms on when people should or shouldn’t get married. We should spend our time dealing with the main issue…the heart of the person. Some people simply aren’t ready to get married at 21. My husband and I have counseled our fair share of couples both who who got married very young and much older. The issues are the same: immaturity and selfishness.

Personally I don’t believe there is a right or wrong age to get married and start a family (granted, the older one gets the more challenging it can be to conceive). It’s really in God’s hands, right? And God is not looking at how old you are going to be when you are a grandparent. He is, however, looking at your heart, your soul, your devotion and obedience TO HIM…whatever your age.

• Ellen says:

Can’t agree more with you dear Amy…as christians we should be more concerned about what pleases God the most ie the state of our heart in relationship with Him.After all serving God is not about being married talk less of how early one does it, Paul is a great example. It’s more about personal choices and moreover everyone’s circumstances are different. The church should stop giving the impressions in most instances that one is not whole unless you are married and that as early as possible. Also, does success in marriage have anything to do with the age at which one gets married?..well, I’m curious to know.

• Guy Mansbridge says:

Amy, you have articulated each thought very, very well and I wholeheartedly agree with these statements. Thank you for writing.

14. jess says:

i love this!!! i got married at 21 and had my son at 22. my momm about had a fit because we were not financially stable and hadn’t been married for a year yet. but its been an awesome year and im thinkin its about time for another one. my sons aunt is only 12 i think its great!

15. Andrew says:

Hi Mark,

I’m 22 years old, as is my wife. We have been happily married for…drum role please…2 months! I like your message. My wife and I both discussed this before deciding to get married, and it was a major factor in our decision.

After my wife and I got engaged, all of our friends were happy for us, but were very quick to say that they would never consider getting married that young. Older adults, even the ones that got married YOUNGER than 22, seemed to think we were “awfully young” as well. My wife and I knew that we were following God’s plan for us and we never let these comments bother us.

My wife and I are very happy with our decision, but we are concerned about our friends. I have many friends my age that have never even had a serious girlfriend! Some think that 22 is too young to be “tied to one person”. Others think that you have to have your life figured out before getting married, and their parents AGREE! My parents, good Christians who attend church every Sunday, also had this attitude. They thought we should have steady jobs and live together for a while before getting married. They came around very quickly and have been very supportive, but their initial reaction to our engagement plans made me realize that this issue starts with the parents.

In my parents 40 years of attending church, they hadn’t heard a message like this. I must say that I’m very happy to see that there are pastors who believe that this is an important message for parents to hear. Mark, you certainly have been blessed with the ability to point out problems in society and challenge Christians to be aware of these problems. I pray that you will continue to be successful spreading your message and that more Christians will “Do The Math”.

God Bless!

16. Danielle Montoya says:

This is an amazing thing. I always have wanted to wait to get more “established” in life before having a family. Luckily my husband changed my mind and we now have a wonderful family of 5 with a dog! God has blessed our family more in the last 4 years with everything we need and most of our wants then we would have had if I would have waited to become “established”.

17. Stephanie says:

My husband and I completely agree with Pastor Mark on this! He is 21 and I am 23; we have been married for 3 months and we are expecting our first baby next spring! Lord willing, many more babies will be following in the years to come! We had plenty of people telling us to wait to be married or, at least, wait for a while to start having children. I think its great that my parents will be grandparents in their early 50s! His parents are in their 60s (and not in the best of health), because they waited until their 30s to be married and 40s to have children.

18. Tara says:

I completely agree with your conclusions. My husband and I are 24, have just celebrated our 2nd anniversary and have a six month old son. I can’t tell you how often people say to me, “You’re so young to be married and a mother.” My response is always, “I was the oldest bride in my family.” I am 24, my mother is 47, my grandmother is 67 and my great-grandmother is 85. My husband is 24, his mother is 55 and none of his grandparents are still living. I love that I have a young family and that I had the opportunity to really get to know and have a relationship with not only my grandparents, but my great-grandparents as well. I even met my great-great-grandfather who died when I was 3 years old. Now my son has that same opportunity, whereas my husband only ever met his grandparents a handful of times. We dated for three and half years before getting married, and I have occasionally wished that we didn’t wait even that long. What is amazing to me is that my family, who married “early” themselves, discouraged us from getting married when we did do to our age and relative lack of financial wealth. We chose to take a leap of faith and trust that we were honoring God by marrying and that He would provide for us and meet our needs, and so He has.

19. Jacqueline says:

I’m a 45 year old woman who believed so much of what the church has told me in the past decade about “waiting on God” and “praying to God” to “bring me my husband.” Then I got tired of waiting and tried meeting people all kinds of ways – Internet dating (which isn’t bad – I’d try it again), meetups, the grocery store. In the 12 years I’ve been a Christian, I haven’t met anyone who has wanted to marry me who I’ve wanted to marry, or vice versa. I didn’t wait to marry until my career took off, I didn’t wait until I established myself in anything, I didn’t even WANT to wait – when I became a Christian, I KNEW I wanted to be married. But I received NO encouragement or help or guidance about my desire for marriage beyond “wait on the Lord and pray” and “just serve the Lord and your husband will find you serving” in the churches I’ve belonged to. In fact, my desires for marriage were practically frowned upon. So here I am at 45, entering into perimenopause knowing that my child-bearing years are drifting away, still desiring marriage. I’ve grown tired of the Christian church treating singles, especially older single WOMEN, wanting marriage as if we’re pursuing something unGodly, viewing being proactive and intentional about dating for the purpose of marriage as something sinful (“…because there’s no Biblical basis for dating” is what I’ve always heard), and not having a place, a SAFE place, to express my feelings and desires and yes, even frustrations. I would have loved to have married a decade ago under the right circumstances (emotional and spiritual maturity surrounded by a loving and supportive family and community of believers), but that’s not my life. It’s not the life of LOTS of older single Christians.

I don’t mean this to be a gripe, it’s just what’s in my heart: where’s the compassion and the understanding for us.

20. Liz says:

I have to agree with Amy and Jacqueline. I also had a bitter taste after reading this. My mum had me at 33 and both my parents are strong,beautiful and young-minded so really, it doesn’t matter. Having children while we’re young is not the main point of our existence either. You write like a smart man, but a man with a narrowed vision and no empathy.

21. Karen says:

In April 2013 my husband and i will be celebrating 2 years of marriage at the age of 25, and even though we encountered opposition i’m glad we got married young because it gives us time to spend with each other before we decide to have kids. Marriage shouldn’t stop us from achieving our goals and dreams, i was able to graduate from college while married AND land a great paying job, my husband was able to achieve his goal of going up in the company he works at. Marriage gave us a reason to work harder at our dreams and goals and not because we wanted it ourselves anymore but because each of us wanted a better life for each other. I do feel bad for the women who’s life’s didn’t turn out to be like others who got married younger, but this article wasn’t aimed at them or meant to make them feel bad. I think those who INTENTIONALLY wait to get married later should think twice out that decision before it is too late.

22. ender says:

uhh… stupid question, what if you start trying late? Do you still qualify for this? I’m 18 years old and I have just started to have a realistic hope that i can get married. does it mean I now HAVE to marry in my thirties due to procrastinatio/Lack of faith?

23. Jason says:

Hi Mark,

You make some good points but who do you address the criticism too?

Many churches today will blame the guys but at least for something like this the girls set all the he’s that the guys respond to and set the expectations. They will marry when the girls signal they are ready to marry, and it is the girls who are getting the degrees and other feminist merit badges. They guys “man up” when the signals are given. They start families when the signals are given etc.

We can save the generally poor quality of a late twenties/early thirties “reformed party girl” and how bad a prospect for marriage she is for a later discussion.

24. Warren says:

Hello from Auckland New Zealand. I just turned 40 last month. This year my wife and I will celebrate our 19th Wedding Anniversary. Being married was and is a lot of hard work. It takes time and effort to keep the romance alive but after almost 19 years we’re more in love now than ever before. The conditions for marriage will NEVER be perfect. There’s no such thing as the perfect man or woman. But I do believe in the perfect heart… someone who is teachable and always willing to work on themselves. Part of being married is growing up TOGETHER, learning TOGETHER, discovering TOGETHER… I mean, who wants to marry someone who’s a “KNOW IT ALL” anyway? You may have a better life at 40 but it’ll still take the same amount of time (years) to get to know your spouse fully and become one. After almost 19 years I’m still learning new things about this wonderful woman that I am married too. We also have four beautiful children. Not only does having children young give me more time with them but it also gives them more time with me and my wife. My Dad is 62 and I am so glad that he and Mom had me while they were young. If he had waited til he was 40 he’d be 80 right now with not many years left if any. This wouldn’t give me or my kids much time with him at all. Having kids early isn’t just a blessing to the parents but the children as well. Anyway, great marriages are NO ACCIDENT people… so have a great day MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE AWESOME!

25. Kevin says:

I’m 40 and I’ve only been married for about a year. I don’t regret waiting this long because my wife is an incredible woman.

But I do understand the point of this post and I generally don’t recommend others wait until their 30′s or beyond (especially for women who wish to be mothers).

26. Bev says:

I so agree with Mark re having families early….. my heart aches for my friends who are still waiting to be grandparents and they are in their 60′s and we have just had our 28th grandchild (some of our children were adopted – so having 10 children did help increase our chances of having lots of grand babies). Grandchildren are such a blessing and it makes me so sad when young folks today are putting off having their family just to get a career and have “Stuff”

27. Karin Etarukot says:

First of all i love your straight forward talk. No fear to step on one feet. I got my own children on an even later age as you suggest in your blog and see of course the challanges that you mention. So I indtend to be the good grandparent for my own children since I am now so much more calm, have so much more time and patience compared with when I was young. ( was a workoholic then).
I think when a women is ready to have children its a right time to have them. To have them out of rational maths is not my way. I live in Kenya Africa and here its a must for a women to have a child when she is about 25 year latest….if not there is something seriously wrong with her. Yet she also wants to persuit her carreer. The result is that the kids are raised by the Nannies and see their parents hardly. ( leaving house at 6 to go to work, after that to go to university to further study and returning at 9 pm when the kids are asleep)
I am not sure if that is the way to deal with kids.
I am happy i waited and can be now the good granny for my kids, a bit a joung one I must say ( kids are 8 and 10 and I am 48 ) but I am hip to them and they think its cool.
Looking forward to your next block.
Much love
Karin Etarukot

28. Bianca Strauss says:

Hi there, I am 21 years old my boyfriend 24, we have known each other our whole lives and are in a committed relationship for 3 years. We really want to get married, but I’m still studying. So we don’t have two stable incomes to afford a home and a wedding. What to do?

• beigitte jones says:

Congratulations, you are excellently on track.

Reasonably well adjusted people capable of partner bonding do get together with a suitable partner in their late teens to at most by very early 20′s.That’s when this kind of healthy person is ready to bond and the pool of persons is at it’s greatest, as all still available.Plus if your mate is local you know lots about them and their background.

What counts and normally follows is the commitment and sound plans you both work together for and can be on the way to having a couple of kids from 25yrs old to 30 yrs old.

While it might suit some to get hitched and breed asap, it can be less stressful to get some basics established. Finish course, get into a job, wedding, deposit on a first home, in a position to get maternity leave and get job back , work a bit more, then nexr kid maternity leave and get job back.

Having the kids from 25-30 yrs old means you’ve a good chance that the kids grandparents are fit enough to help with some childcare when you work and yet old enough that some may not need be too much in the workforce themselves and more available.

By 25yrs old you ought to have enough of a start up so job security and finances are adequate enough not to be destroying your marriage over monetary stress if budgeting sensibly and accepting to gradually upgrade materially.

Number one is: like you to have partnered at the right time and way. Number two is: capacity to make sound plans with appropriate time lines re goals.
Number three is: an ongoing priority to sustain excellent interpersonal communication skills and committment.

29. Toni says:

Yes and AMEN! On a practical note, there is great value to building a home and growing up together by getting married young. I think it creates strong building blocks as life gets harder if you have invested in each other at a young age.

This blog post hurts like a knife in my heart. Reason, I am 32 years old, had 2 (duration of each 2years)bad relationships. Once cheated on me and the other well, has addiction to weed, pornography and anger issues. I started dating when i was 22years old, also bad relationships. Is it me who is attracted to the wrong guys. At some point it hurt me, as i left 1of these individuals and 3 of them left me(the addicted/cheaters) So here i am single, panicking about my status quo and feeling more sobbed by the hurt of the “DO THE MATH” I watched Marks programme for the first time yesterday. And found his reasoning profound, when he said that we should use our brain to make a decision and not ASK GOD all the time. Well, i did just that and hence my singledom. However, i was really dissapointed in the point made that WE SHOULD NOT WAIT ON GOD TO SEND US A MAN! Its like the reality that cinderella dont exist fell upon me. So why do we pray for God to send us someone? Why do we have to pray at all? My ex of whom we broke up..7days ago…i was praying all the time, as the addiction and anger i could not forsee in my future as a marriage partner. God answered my prayer by making it easier for him to break if off. So here I am, biological clock ticking, cant pray to God! Lost of a course in life and being judged by my married friends!

• beigitte jones says:

You obviously made some very ridiculous choices to give such men the time of day much less attempting a relationship with them. Sadly you didn’t have the insight to recognise long ago that you needed counselling, education regarding interpersonal relationships, appropriate behaviours by others and towards you. How when people are CURRENT addicts, it precludes their capacity to relate effectively. You’ve ended up with some areas of personal deficits, suseptabilities that leave you vulnerable. It would be very beneficial and personally liberating for you to get counselling so you could get to live a more enriched happy life first and then be in a position to look at the potential of partners of where they do or don’t fit in your life.Plus if you were ever to become a parent you need to have addressed such things to be able to guide their lives.

31. Karen T. says:

32. Karen T. says:

Should have read “Our daughter has teamates THAT ARE CHILDREN OF THE KIDS THAT went to school with our older children.

33. Chuck Emenaker says:

Hi,

You are quite right and the numbers do apply in most cases. However, for those pursuing a PhD in a challenging area like mathematics, it is next to impossible to earn the degree and be married. Over the years, I have watched quite a few studetns start the doctoral program and drop out due to the demands of a spouse and/or family.

Without the PhD it is not possible to get a job in a university, which is clearly where God wants me. The fishing for souls is great here!

This clearly applies to a very small portion of your listeners, but does apply. Just a thought!

Chuck

34. Chrissy says:

today’s “Do the math” really saddened me I know what you intended with your article, and overall I agree, but my husband and I are currently trying for our first child, and he is 40 and I am 36yrs old – not one single thing you mentioned is why were are old and just starting to try to have a baby. Not material things, saving money, travelling the world, or anything else selfish that you listed – I would have married at age 18 if I’d found ‘him’, but I didn’t – and divorce is too common this day to just settle for someone so I could have been married young and have kids young – so instead I found my husband when I was 33years old – and now we are trying for children. You don’t think I wish I had found my husband earlier and have 3 or 4 mid-age kids running around us? of course I do!! but are you suggesting I teach my kid that to get married young, like you suggest, that they just marry the first guy that might seem right for them? come on Mark!!! you preach on successful marriages, but you just contradicted yourself with this article UNLESS you had emphasized that you were only addressing people who intentionally wait to get married or have kids – I think you’d find that there are not many christian women who ever dreamed of being 36years old and finally trying to have a baby with their husband. I thank God I have what I have now, instead of never, and I wonder why it took so long to find my husband – but I will never regret rushing into marriage at age 25 just to be a young mom, as you are encouraging – and knowing I’d have a higher chance of divorce, when I knew none of those boys I dated 10years ago, were christian husband material.
I normally love your articles – this one not only hurt my feelings, and made me feel less as an ‘old mom’, but I believe can negatively influence young women to marry younger JUST to make sure their kids’ grandparents are old enough to relate to them. Bad reason to get married and have kids
Again, I understood your overall intent – but I am living proof of a beautiful, successful, christian woman who had suitors at my door for years in my 20′s, but didn’t marry just to be married – but knew for the marriage to succeed I needed to be matched well with my husband – it took alot longer than I prayed for, but here I am happy, loved, and glorifying God at 36 years old.
‘old mom to be, I pray’
Chrissy

35. Lynn Olkives says:

I am a 45 year old Grandma of three beautiful granddaughters ages 8, 5, and 3. I love, love, love being a young grandma! So in that respect I agree with you, “why wait?”. It is good to have young families. However, there is a down side and it’s the lack of maturity and lack of committment in one or both people.

I was engaged to be married at 17 (too young to be making that big of a life choice on a whim) Since we were engaged, I consented to have sex before marraige (thinking it would take a while – guess what, it only takes once!) I got pregnant at 17, had my first child 9 days before my 18th birthday, got married 3 months later. 1 month later, my cronically dishonest husband decided that he didn’t want to be married and have children, well too late buddy, you already are and have a child. I refused to give up on the marraige so quickly for my daughters sake, until I finally realized it was a futile effort. I was a Single Parent at age 19. Not what I had in mind for my life. I felt unworthy of church & stayed away for a while, met a man who was good in his heart and loved my daughter, got engaged, got pregnant just about the time I was starting to realize this good hearted man had issues with staying out of jail and being responsible. My son was born nearly 5 yrs after my daughter. Tried to work on this relationship for two more years for the sake of the children, finally went back to church and found a wonderful single parents support group, 3 years later I met my current husband who had a son 6 months younger than mine. We are still married despite the trials of blended families, military deployments, becoming grandparents before our time, and finally the empty nest.

My daughter gave birth to her first daughter half way through her first year at college, age 19. Unmarried & in a bad relationship, she repeated my story despite the lessons I tried to teach her. We had teenage son’s at home and I was gearing up for some fun teenage boy years and having 5 more years of of a teen activities and smelly boys in the house when everything changed. So you see, as much as I love, love, love, my granddaughters and wouldn’t change it for the world. I was not expecting to become a grandma at 37 years old and like you said, many of our friends have children the same age as our grandchildren.

I wouldn’t change my life, but I can also see how much harder things were for me and my children because of my lack of maturity when I thought I knew everything, I made decisions that ultimately made my life harder. Even though I wouldn’t change my life, I would caution others to become mature adults, truly evalutate yourselves and your future spouse before making a decision to enter a life long marraige, which for me in my first marraige, did not last a year.

36. Patricia says:

It’s one thing to get married young, another thing to stay married. I’ve read where the statistics for Christians and non Christians are about the same! Now that’s a sad reality. People these days tend to get married, have kids, and don’t have a clue what marriage is or how to raise kids. Each generation gets worst. Yea, you can get married and have kids right out of high school. Odds are, you won’t stay married and the kids will be raised by a single adult………..something all too rapid these days. I appreciate this article, Mark, but can’t say I agree totally.

37. Stasi says:

I agree with Amy. This post hurts because I believe the focus is placed in the wrong direction. I got married in my mid 30′s. Not because I was storing up treasures and getting ahead in my career. I had some VERY bad experiences in college I would wish on no one. As a result, my my, body, and heart was not ready to date let alone marry at a young age. God blessed me with the right person to marry later in life. My husband was very patient and understanding with me. He knew my history when we started dating and eventually got married. He never pushed, but we both knew we wanted to have a family together. We tried for several years and finally was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. I agree it is harder to deal with child rearing later in life, but sometimes people don’t become parents later in life for the reasons you think. I agree with Amy that it’s really in God’s hands. And God is not looking at how old you are going to be when you are a grandparent. He is, looking at your heart, your soul, your devotion and obedience TO HIM…whatever your age.

38. Lourdes Marino says:

Well, I waited forever to get married. I started dating at 30, got married at 35 to my 2nd boyfriend. Got pregnant at 36, had him at 37 which I am now. He is 9 months old today and Im 2 months pregnant again. The reason so quick is because of my age! Im done after I have my second thats for sure. My mom became a grandma at 70! Yeah I might have waited a little too long, but I have a college degree, great paying job, just bought a beautiful home, have a luxury car… I can concentrate on my kids now and not have to worry financially. My plan worked great for me…….

39. Becky says:

It isn’t about math it is about God’s timing. I was 20 when I got married and had my first child at 23. Both my daughters married in their twenties but were not able to conceive as soon as they had hoped. Both had their first child at 30 and 31. Sometimes it isn’t about waiting to acquire things or travel or whatever. Sometimes it is about waiting on The Lord.

40. Erin says:

I don’t know that Sarah and Abraham (see Genesis) would necessarily agree with your interpretation of when God supposedly wants his followers to bear children…

41. Josette says:

42. Anita says:

I completely understand the age thing and having kids. I was 30 when I had my first; my husband was 38. We were 36 and 45 when we had our second child. We are now 42 & 50. Our boys are 12 and 6. We started dating when I was 17; he was 25. We waited until I finished college and got a job to marry. We were 26 and 34. At the time, it wasn’t known if I could even conceive since my appendix had ruptured when I was 23. We did birth control the first 3 years of marriage b/c we didn’t want a child that soon into our marriage just in case. But then went off birth control and decided to let God do His will. I can’t say we waited so late to marry and have children so we could date around and acquire wealth. For most I know, that is not the reason they marry late in life. I have more than a few friends who married late, hurried and had a child, and all of them … ALL of them are now divorced. I believe that each couple is different and should take things as they feel is right for them. I do know we enjoy our kids more than if we were in our 20′s when we had them b/c we were a bit more financially stable. But, being our ages now, and having to keep up with the activities of a 12 and 6 year old, we are feeling it! You give and take with either choice you make. And I know for our family, we made the right choice. I do pray I see grandkids one day, but if the Lord came back before, that would be wonderful too!!

43. Brittany says:

Wow, it’s very true. My parents were married at 17 and 20. They started off having kids right away now 10 kids later and soon to be 8 grandchildren. 3 of my siblings were married in their early to mid-twenties. But that wasn’t the Lords plan for me, I married last year a month before my 28 birthday. My husband was 24 when we married and wanted kids ASAP. I really felt like we needed to wait at least a year, to let our marriage gel a year and us get used to being married before we bring another person into the mix. We prayed about it a lot and really didn’t use birth control other then the NFP method. Now 6 weeks away from our first anniversary we are expecting our first. I feel like I am old, but that what God had for me so I hope and pray we are able to have heathy, strong children.

44. Miriam Ilgenfritz says:

As the mom of 16 children, I applaud your post – hardly anyone is “preaching” this mind set. Our oldest son was engaged when I found I was expecting our youngest -who is now 5. WHen I called and said, I’ll be pregnant at our wedding, his response was:”That’s awesome, Mom.” Now his kids are only months younger than my youngest . He has 4, ages 4 and under and one on the way. He did this while attending Med.school and his just about to graduate residency. We call it biological evangelism. I hope it helps change the world. If my 16 trust God for the children He has for them and they each have 10, and then the next generation averages 10, and so on imagine what an impact that could be if they all serve the Lord.

45. Mary says:

Think about it…perhaps a person has not met someone until later in life. Most of the young parents are too immature to raise a child, anyway and usually the grandparents raise that child. Also, more young people having children early are on welfare. Think about that…There is something about having children that are “wanted” later when one is mature enough to handle that responsibility.

46. Julie Gall says:

Marrying and being married is such a personal thing that, at times, it seems we try to box in the idea that one format applies to all successful marriages. It so good that you share your thoughts and researched based evidence concerning the quality years of childrearing and the possibilities for what can be the best in raising our future generation/s, however, I am totally aware that not everyone finds themselves in the most suitable circumstances when it comes to marrying at the ‘Right Time’, to the ‘Right Person’and for the ‘Right Reasons’. Oh that it would be so! Nevertheless, it’s great that we can encourage people to pursue ‘with wholesome motives’, the absolute best for themselves and their family, from whichever point they are at along the journey. It is a very sensitive and quality life decision area. Thanks for giving us lots to take into consideration!Fully trusting God, lining things up with His word and keeping your heart open and in a ‘tender’ but steady state while the plan unfolds…is really crucial I believe. I love being married and I love watching my family grow and ‘do life well’!v Such a privilege!

47. Tami Brucks says:

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Mark for this common sense message! Since the Protestant church (except the Presbyterians which I am not) has refused to teach its members God’s first command to man “Be fruitful & Multiply,” birth rates & births at younger ages have fallen to mimic culture. It has greatly frustrated me to talk with woman in their 20′s at church that refuse to provide children to their husbands “because I couldn’t do MY ministry for God!” How twisted is that when your FAMILY is supposed to be your most important ministry for God? I’ve also have listened to the heartbreak of Christian women in their late thirties waking up & realizing they want more children & should’ve started earlier (one my own sister) & in one case, God actually gave a friend the vision of another daughter she would’ve had if she had not had permanently infertilized herself on purpose for fear that her husband was getting too old for more children. Why do we call it getting fixed when we are actually breaking a productive function in our body? But we don’t talk about such things in the Protestant church because it is not politically correct. I experienced great pressure from Christians for conceiving our fifth child & giving birth to our first son at 39. Some actually said things to me like “Are you crazy?!” No, in the Protestant church, their is also an acceptable number of children for each couple to have & 4 seems tone the Max. How we limit God! Now I have sick pregnancies & colicky babies & for that reason have had pressure from both sets of Christian parents to have no more than 2 children. But who are we to obey? God or man? Seriously Church, We need to get over our selfish thinking & sincerely start asking God how many children he wants us to have on his time table!

48. Larry Perkins says:

I absolutely love Pastor Gungor’s perspective on marriage; most times, I enjoy his delivery thereof as well.

For those individuals who are delaying marriage because they want to achieve a certain level of “self fulfillment” or because they wish to “be settled in life” or who give most of the other reasons the good pastor cites, he definitely hits the nail with his head. He is absolutely correct: If couple intends to have a family, they do themselves, their present and future family, and their community a disservice by waiting. There are all sorts of psychological, as well as physiological, sociological and theological reasons why this is true. I have both heard and spouted this argument on a number of occasions; Gungor’s “math” simply illustrates it better than most presentations.

On the other hand, there is a large (and growing) group of people who simply are not ready, physically, emotionally, or spiritually to get married in the age range that Pastor Gungor is advocating. They simply are not “grown up” yet. That does not mean that Gungor is “wrong” about the correct age to marry; he is absolutely correct!

What I am saying is many of us, as parents, are not doing our job! We are producing “children” or “kids” instead of raising “men” and “women.” It is getting more and more rare to hear the term “young adult” because, in part, many (if not most) young people are anything but adult.

The saddest part of this, if you measure parenting skills on a scale of “poor” to “average” to “excellent,” is that the poor child rearing performance of one generation tends to become the “average” baseline of the next generation and the “excellent” level of the third. You can call this the parental equivalent of “grade inflation.” Perhaps an example will help.

When I was 10, I started hiring out to neighboring ranchers at the end of Fall Round Up. I could not go as a “drover” because I had to attend fifth grade during the week. But, on weekends, I could go out and gather in the strays their regular crew had missed. Because I was too young to legally drive, I would ride to their range if it was close enough; or, in most cases, my Dad would haul my horse and gear and me “up the mountain” to save time. The rancher usually had a good idea of how many head had been left behind; so, I’d go out, and stay out, until I had accounted for the missing critters.

I tell this to people today and most of them don’t believe me. I tell them the kind of work my wife and I had our kids doing: similar responsibly at a similar age; and they do not believe me – until we dig out the family videos. Sadly, I only have one short 8mm movie clip of my work from that age.

When I tell someone that my Dad “grew up” a lot earlier than I did; that at age 6 he was hiring out to plow his neighbors’ fields (with his own team), their incredulity meters peg. Unfortunately, there were no home movies in 1905. — And it’s not that they do not believe it was done, the do not believe that it CAN be done!

The point is, my Dad was shouldering what we would consider “adult” responsibility at 6 years old. When my turn came, 63 years later, I took similar responsibility at age 10. My boys did not “pick up the traces” until around age 14 or so. (By that time, even at the “advanced” age of 14, we could have been “turned in to CPS” for mistreating our children because we asked them to work at too young an age.) Obviously, each generation “slipped a bit” in its expectations, while the world around us slipped a LOT in its knowledge of what is possible.

Now, what does all this have to do with marriage? Well, I am not advocating the hard work in and of itself (though that has some value, too). It is shouldering of the associated responsibility that counts. The whole process of being handed as much *adult* responsibility as you can handle (and, maybe, a wee bit more) at as early an age as you can handle it, is what makes good preparation for engaging in other adult activities – such as marriage.

When you look your neighbor in the eye, agree to retrieve the 19 head of stock his crew left behind, and shake hands, you’ve just taken on a big responsibility: you’ve given your word. Your neighbor is depending upon you. He may only run a couple hundred cows – which means ones you are going after (10% of his herd) are his “profit margin” for the year. You know this because, for the last couple of years, you’ve been helping your Mom keep the books for your own ranch. At age 10, you feel the weight of this responsibility.

Experiences like that at age 6 or 10 (or even 14) prepare you so that, at age 18 or 20, you can look your Bride in the eye, hold her hand, and give your word “till death do us part.” You will still feel the weight of that responsibility, but having held someone else’s livelihood and family future in your hands, multiple times, over the previous 8 or 10 years makes taking responsibility for God’s valuable gift of marriage into your hands is a lot less daunting.

Today, the most valuable thing most 18 or 20 year olds have held in their hands is a iPhone for texting or a steering wheel for driving (and some hold both at the same time). While they may, indeed be taking someone else’s life into their hands, neither one of these experiences makes them “grown up enough” to marry.

In such cases, even if the math works, the poor preparation does not.

• Julie says:

Wow! I really loved your post, and I am taking to heart what you said. Raised on a farm in outback Australia my upbringing was very different to my hubby’s and my kids… I’m about to start lifting the bar… For their own good, they are about to start getting more involved with our business! Thanks be to God for leading me to read your reply all the way through.

49. Leah says:

i BECAME A cHRISTIAN AT 24 AND FOLLOWED hIS LEAD FROM THAT POINT ON. i DIDN’T PLAN MY LIFE i JUST LIVED WITH MY PROVISIONS FROM THE lORD. i MET MY HUSBAND WHEN i WAS 38 AND I JUST FIGURED i WASN’T MEANT TO HAVE CHILDREN. i WAS 40 YRS. OLD WHEN i FOUND OUT i WAS PREGNANT AND THAT WAS ONE OF MY HAPPIEST DAYS( I JUST FELT CHOSEN BY GOD ) AGE DOESN’T MATTER TO GOD .hER NAME IS ANGEL AND SHE IS OUR MIRACLE!!!

50. Julie says:

I couldn’t gree more! I used the same maths on my husband to be, but we “compromised” at after i waited 6 years for him to be ready…. we were 30 when he finally felt ready… But my body broke down after only 2 kids, and we wanted 4!! I am now the age my grandmother was when I turned 1. I am telling my kids to stay connected to God. Let him lead them to a good person, make sure they know this person very well, get married and have kids…22-25 is perfect I think…

51. Deb says:

It’s not about the math, it’s about when God decides and if He decides to bless you with children. I don’t agree we should be seeking first a relationship with others, we seek God first and He provides the rest and if during that period you are going to school, learning what you have to offer in work, learning who you are – before you find someone else, that isn’t a bad sequence. And if you don’t find that someone until you are 30 or older, that isn’t non-Christian or even inherently wrong. You assume in your article that late children are a result of seeking material things first – is there a study or some statistics that you used to back-up that assumption? Did you ask why people waited? And for those who marry young and have children, that is great – but I don’t believe they were thinking of the math when they decided to be committed in a relationship. I have no problem with young marriages because I believe God has His own timing and for some it will be young and for others older. Finally, if older persons were not capable of meaningful relationships, then why are so many grandparents successfully raising their grandchildren today? I am 58 with my youngest now 20, my sister in-law is 60 and raised two grandchildren now 20 & 17 years old, she married at 17, I at 27. It seems God gave us the same math as far as children and how young we were, made no significant difference.

52. Claudia Martinez says:

As an “OLD” mother (My daughter was born when I was 34, I am in favor of having children after you are over 30. By the time my daughter was born, I had traveled, gone to parties, finished my master, worked for almost 10 years, gone to family and friend meetings, read a lot, and lived my early youth freely and without family obligations. When my daughter was born, I did not feel that having a family was a heavy burden but a welcome and loved step in my life. I have the patience and joy for everything that happens with my loved, blessed, heaven gift kids. I have the time for my kids. I have the experience to deal with everyday problems. I am not a young woman mad at a family duties. My kids enjoy of their big grandparents and at the same time learn to respect, care and love elder peolpe.

53. Dexter Garrison says:

I am 39 years old and a father of 6 kids. One of my greatest joys is to see my kids light up with excitement and joy when I come in to the room. My dad use to tell me, as his father told him, “You just don’t know how good it feels to see your children grow and do God’s will.” Now that I have kid’s, he tells me, “You just don’t knowhow good it feels. . .” I look forward to seeing what he’s talking about in due season. Children are truly “an inheritance from the Lord”. Psalm 127

54. Bitsy says:

I think a lot of the issues at this time about the math is not necessarily that we wait until we’re that age but that there are very few people out there who share the same spiritual values. I have a friend right now who would make a cracker Jack of a wife but she is 29 and only one person has been interested in her and he wasn’t a good match because she didn’t live up to what he wanted in a woman. She has some learning challenges but she is very fun to be around, can cook, clean and is very good with children along with loving them and wanting some of her own. (Unfortunately it’s been hard to maintain her friendship because she struggles so much with wanting a family and I have one.) She is not the prettiest thing and she has some weight issues but she is sincere, loving and very giving.

I was 25 when I met my husband and the person who was interested in me at the time, turned out to have a hard time keeping faithful to me even with him just being interested in me. (Not to mention the embarrasment that him announcing he had been with several women while interested in me had to do on my poor virgin mind.) This is becoming more and more of a problem in the christian world and the regular world. I think a lot of us women would love to get married younger. My mom married exactly a month from her 18th birthday (Her parents had to sign for her.) She had me when she was 20. I wanted kids young so that I had the energy to keep up with a 2 year old. I am 29. I have a 2 year old and possibly another on the way. But I wasn’t willing to settle for just anyone to father my kids either.

My husband is a wonderful man. He has his issues but we all do and I think he puts up with more from me than I have to with him. He is very loving, compassionate, caring and loyal. We have our times of conflict but for the most part (and what I have seen in the marriages that surround us) we have little conflict with each other.

Our son is a wonderful little guy. Very busy!!! But very smart and affectionate. He truly is a blessing to us.

Please give me some advice as to how I can help my friend with her struggle for wanting a family and not having anyone interested in her.

Thank you,
Bitsy

55. Bobbi says:

As the daughter of “older parents” I totally agree with Pastor Gungor. Looking at it from the child’s point of view, it was hard having older parents. I missed out on so many things my friends were doing with their younger parents simply because my parents were too old and were too tired to do things with me. (My parents were the same age as my friends grandparents.) And forget about having a relationship with my grandparents.

I started my family young, in my early twenties. I LOVE being a young mom. I love being able to really run around and play with my kids. I don’t just sit on the park bench watching them, I am able to kick the soccer ball, swing the bat and bounce on the trampoline with them. It is so important to me to be able to do those things and make those memories with them. I don’t have those memories with my parents. My kids also have the relationship I didn’t have with my grandparents with their father’s parents. My parents are now gone. My children never knew their grandfather and they just lost their grandmother. My youngest kids will never remember her. How sad is that that they will miss out on all of those memories of their grandparents simply because they wanted to wait? I love my parents dearly, but I think that waiting to have children until later in life is extremely selfish.

56. Dina says:

Hi! I think people underestimate the influence grandparents have on their grandchildren.
I am an almost young mother . I married at 23 and had my kids at 26,27 and 29. My parents were 21 when I came along, so my kids have pretty young grandparents and I love the way my kids and my parents interact. My oldest son (now 9), has a very close connection with my mum and he tells her everything, (also the imbarassing things his mum does…) and I am very happy he has someone to open up to and that he has someone who can influence him in a way I am not capable of. He just takes things from her as if he hears it for the first time, even if I have tried to get it in his head a million times before. My dad has long bikerides with the kids, goes to the woods and climb trees and choppes wood with them,… The favorite thing for the kids he does with them is read to them. My dad has a very inspirational way of reading to the kids. It’s hilarious to listen to!
A very different presentation I see with my parents in law. They are about 10 years older than my parents are, and that still isn’t all that old compared to the example in the article, but I see the lack of energy and flexibilty in them. They are pretty tired after they had one or two of the kids, let alone all three of them. They also don’t do the energetic things with them, though the kids do have a great time, but much quieter .
The very best thing I think grandparents can do for their kids and grandkids, is pray for them. And I here also like doing the math… the younger people are becoming grandparents, the longer they can pray for their kids and grandkids