Does the Bible Set Limitations on Age Differences for Men and Women Who Want to Marry?

The Bible doesn’t offer any specific guidelines stipulating the age differences appropriate for marriage, but some things are implied. It is hard to imagine the lovers in the Song of Solomon being of widely disparate ages; and Proverbs 5:18, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth” seems to imply the marriage of a young man to a young woman. Yet the marriage of an older person to a much younger one is not forbidden by Scripture; and since Scripture doesn’t forbid it, such marriages would be within the realm of Christian liberty.

Yet there usually is something unsettling about the marriage of two people separated by many years of age. The greater the age difference, the more it seems likely that there might be an unhealthy motivation for the marriage. Does the older partner hope to recapture his/her youth through union with the younger spouse? Is the younger spouse seeking the security of a parent figure rather than risking a relationship with a peer? Are there selfish sexual or financial motivations?

Further, there are the consequences of such a marriage. If a young man marries an older woman, he may never experience the joy of fatherhood. A young woman married to an older man may find when her children are teenagers that she is closer to her children in temperament and attitude than with a rapidly aging, possibly infirm, husband. There are too many negative consequences—both possible and certain—to list here.

The basic principle of Christian love should be the foundation of any Christian marriage. Anyone who marries a much younger or older person with the wrong motivations will not escape the negative consequences. The greater the disparity in age, the harder it may be for others to believe that love is the motivation, and a married couple of widely different ages will face a greater challenge living a full life of testimony before a cynical, unbelieving world.

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