If you’re Christian and there is a pretty considerable age gap between you and your partner, you may wonder if there is a biblical or acceptable age gap that should characterize a Christian marriage or dating. While the Bible offers specific guidance when it comes to making important life decisions, the difficultly comes when there is no specific guidance from the Bible at all. Unfortunately, when it comes to this question, there is no prescribed biblical age gap.
The Bible rarely gives us age examples in regards to marriage. We do know that Abraham was 10 years older than Sarah. The Bible tells us, “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” (Genesis 17:17). While we are given this example, there are no other examples in the Bible where both individuals’ ages are given. It is often assumed that Joseph was significantly older than Mary. However, there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that indicates this. It can also be inferred that Boaz and Ruth had a significant age difference in today’s world standards.
“Then he (Boaz) said, ‘May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich” (Ruth 3:10). In searching the Bible for documented marriages, we don’t find any that can sway us into an accurate direction or give us an idea as to what God may be leading us to.
While the Bible doesn’t explicitly give guidelines when dating with an age difference, there are a few things you should consider:
Understand Your Reasons
Before you begin a relationship with someone who is much older or younger than you, it’s important to make a careful assessment of your motivations. Love knows no age, but if you date only people who are members of a different generation, it might reveal something about your approach to relationships. While people who date only people much younger or older than them owe no one an explanation, it may be helpful to know the underlying reason.
Some who date only much older people may be seeking a parental figure more than a romantic partner. They may be insecure about finances and because of that want to be with someone established in his or her career. If you have a history of dating people who are significantly younger than you, you may feel like your partner admires your experience, or perhaps you’re just not physically attracted to other people your age. A significant age difference doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong, but a long-standing pattern may be worth examining.
Know When the Difference is Too Large
A large age difference can undermine the long-term viability of your relationship. If you want to have children, you’ll have to consider whether fertility will be an issue and whether you or your partner will be around long enough to raise your kids. Age differences can also mean pretty significant differences in lifestyles. If you have an established career but your partner is still living with his or her parents, you could be in for quite a ride.
Be Prepared to Handle Generational Differences
No matter how understanding you are, it’s very likely that you’re going to bump up against some generational differences. This can show up in many forms including having different political views. You may find each other’s music obnoxious, friends irritating, or have no understanding of historical events that profoundly influenced your partner’s viewpoint. On the other hand, a big age difference provides you with valuable opportunities to learn about alternative perspectives and experiences.
Know How to Handle Criticism
While age differences can create some challenges in your relationship, focusing too much on that can backfire. Although you should have a good understanding of generational differences, blaming every disagreement to your partner’s age can leave you both feeling self-conscious and misunderstood. If you frequently tell your partner his or her age difference doesn’t matter, your partner might end up feeling like age is in fact a significant issue, or even that you’re in a relationship specifically because of the age difference. It is true that sometimes a significant age gap makes a relationship impossible, but age shouldn’t dominate your relationship and should only be addressed when it’s relevant.
Age can be an important factor in a marriage, but it is a far less important than other issues like salvation, spiritual maturity and compatibility. As people get older, age difference means less and less. For example, a 40-year-old marrying a 20-year-old will be questioned by many, but people may not think twice when an 80-year-old is marrying a 60-year-old. The only warning regarding age in marriage is to avoid marrying someone young for lustful purposes, and avoid marrying someone older for money.
The best way to determine what God wants for you in your relationship life is to seek Him. Pray to God for wisdom concerning your marriage. The only way to determine if you’re making the right choice is by aligning yourself with the One who created you. Only then can you understand what God wants for you. No one else can tell you what is best for you than God through the power of the Holy Spirit.