KEYWORDS: teens, marriage, lord, maria, parents, months

Teen Marriage Rules

David Berg

DO 2589 9/89

—More on How to Make It Work!

1. I think we need to start having some more discussion & counsel‚ & maybe even a little more arranging for our teen marriages! I definitely think the parents ought to have some say-so about who their own children marry! (Maria: I agree that we should certainly try to make sure that our teens are well matched.) Right.

2. (Maria: If David was going to get mated with someone, I would go primarily by their spiritual condition, how strong & stable they are spiritually, & how much they love the Word & go to it for their strength.) You can often tell a lot about someone by knowing those who have been primarily responsible for their care. Often they won't be very strong spiritually unless those who have trained them are strong spiritually. A lot depends on how they've been brought up & by whom.

3. But what most determines their spiritual strength is what stand they themselves have decided to take as responsible adults, how much conviction & determination they have to yield 100% to God's Will & go all the way with Jesus. No matter what kind of weak background they've had, they can rise above it if they really desperately & wholeheartedly want to.

4. (Maria: When they've made a firm decision to put Jesus & His Work first in their life, & they've consistently manifested that commitment by responsible & loving behaviour & actions for long enough to prove to themselves & others that they can continue in it no matter what tests or obstacles arise, then they might be ready to think about taking on the added responsibility of a mate.) Right!—Not just because they happen to like each other, but because they could be a team who are ideal for their job for the Lord! (Maria: Not just because they happen to have some kind of big emotional "crush" on someone, but because they feel a sincere love & concern for them & feel they could do better in their work for the Lord together than apart.)

5. If someone is always falling head-over-heels in love with one person after another, I certainly wouldn't recommend that they try anything permanent. They say women are fickle, well‚ men can be too! And somebody who just hops from flower-to-flower, I don't consider they would make a very good mate, certainly not a lifelong mate. (Maria: That kind of behaviour just signifies that he or she is not yet ready for marriage, until they find someone in whom they take a lasting interest. And that's why there needs to be an extended time period between the beginning of the interest & the actual marriage, to see if it's the real thing.)

6. So I think the parents need to have more say–so in their own children's marriages, & really try to influence the marriage when necessary. (Maria: I agree. And any parents whose kids are somewhere else definitely should at least have pictures of the prospective mate.)—And a rundown on who & where their parents are‚ as well as what the prospective mate is like.—What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What have they done? What talents do they have? What kind of recommendations from others do they have? What kind of jobs can they do?


7. Before our Family teens marry‚ I think there should be some kind of a general agreement. At least their parents, as well as their local leaders & even as high up as perhaps the NO should all be in agreement that it's a good match that will be useful & helpful & fruitful to the Lord's Work.

8. I think we ought to make that a rule, that there should be no teen marriages in the Family unless they are approved by the parents & the Home Shepherds & other over-Shepherds who know them! (Maria: I think that's more or less how it's been working, but I agree that it would be good to establish this as an actual rule.) I really think so.

9. And if it's just a matter of infatuation, a "crush," or just for sex, it should be discouraged if they don't make a good team for the Lord! I remember preaching this as far back as TSC! We had a lot of teens then in the form of our new disciples, & we'd hardly let'm think about marriage unless we first put them together to work & live together in the same Home‚ although not in bed sleeping together. In fact, we would forbid them to sleep together. But we insisted they live in the same Home & be with each other most of the time before we'd allow them to mate.

10. I know that in an earlier talk (see No.2433:58‚104-107) I suggested that 15 years old was the age our teens could start their serious dating. But in light of World conditions, we might be wise to up this requirement—until our teens are each at least 16 years of age. Although the Lord made girls able to have children when they are much younger, it's a case where all things are lawful but not necessarily expedient under present conditions, & we may have to curtail our liberties a little in order to peacefully coexist in today's society. (1Cor.6:12, 2Cor.6:3)

11. I don't want these teens marrying just because of sex or crushes or infatuations which are very common at their age!—Or just because she's pretty or just because he's handsome, blah blah blah. The leaders of their area should agree that they are a good match as a team for the Lord's Work! They're not to marry just for desire or infatuation or a crush, all of which are usually very temporary. Such people frequently wind up flitting from flower to flower afterwards.

12. I want to know that they are marrying for the sake of the Lord's Work & for the glory of God, to make a good team who are putting the Lord first!—And that the match has the Lord's approval, as well as all of the leaders' approval!

13. I could almost add, regardless of whether they like each other or not!—Like the old Oriental custom. (Maria: Yes‚ that's true, but when they don't even like each other, it can really be Hell.) That's right, & that's why I'm not saying it. Of course, they should like each other. But they don't have to be crazily "in love" or super infatuated or have a great big crush & all that sort of thing.

14. They should at least like each other enough to be able to live together & labour together to do the Lord's Work, praise God! They should work together well & make a good team with talents that complement* each other.—And I don't mean by that that they should just go around complimenting* each other all the time! *(complement: to complete or fill up; compliment: express admiration or praise)

15. The one half should have what the other half needs, & I'm not just talking about sexual organs! They should make a good match‚ a good team, & they should certainly like each other, & even better still, they should love each other! They should be an effective team for the Lord's Work‚ & their leaders should all agree that it's a good match & give their approval & blessing.

16. We are like a tribe, & in all tribal cultures, such matings usually have to have the consent of the tribal chiefs, particularly of the parental chiefs. In our Family a lot of people are the teens' parents, in many cases their Shepherds even more than their natural parents. I would say their chiefs are their Shepherds at various levels, right on up to the NO. So I don't think they should allow any teen matches, couples that are planning to be permanent mates‚ unless they have all of those qualifications & all of those recommendations of the various leaders who know them & in whose area they live & work.

17. Let's institute it now & start tightening up & enforcing these restrictions on teen marriages. I have encouraged young marriage, I have encouraged teens mating. But it certainly ought to be under tight restrictions & meet all of the requirements:

18. First of all, are they going to make a good team for the Lord's Work? Is this match going to be good for the Family? Do they have enough maturity, love, obedience & yieldedness to work well together in their jobs for the Lord? Are they qualified for them?

19. We shouldn't start just marrying off our teens who have never even worked for the Lord yet. That's how the World marries theirs! In the World a lot of them get hitched without ever even having a job!—And they're not even able to take care of themselves, much less anybody else! Well, we don't want teens like that marrying, teens who haven't even learned how to take care of themselves spiritually & to learn a ministry that qualifies them for the Lord's Work!

20. (Maria: Yes‚ & no matter how strong one of the team is‚ if the other isn't strong, they'll drag the stronger one down.) Yes, they'll just drag them down every time! (Maria: Then they won't be able to accomplish anything.) They'll just be a burden instead of a blessing. Even if just one of the team is unyielded, they'll be having constant problems all of the time, problems, problems, problems, having to be dealt with & having to be helped & having to be counselled.

21. I don't want anyone in our Family to be responsible for allowing teens to mate or marry unless they're truly qualified for it, mature enough for it, & have proven themselves capable spiritually & even physically, you might say, for working together for the Lord.—And all of this should be proven by the recommendations of their leaders who know them.

22. I would certainly discourage the union of any teens who want to get married who don't get satisfactory recommendations! (Maria: One of the biggest jobs our older teens have right now is to help shepherd & care for the younger teens & children. So one of the most important qualifications is that they be relatively free of problems, & be fairly strong & stable spiritually.) They need to be good samples!—Good examples to the other teens.


23. We certainly don't want one of our good strong teens marrying a bad apple.—Or worse yet, two bad apples getting together! In fact, we don't even want any bad apples period! If there are bad apples who absolutely refuse to change & make progress or get victories‚ then I'd rather have them out of the Family!—Because teens can be the worst, the very worst cases when it comes to learning discipline & responsibility & real spirituality, & they can exert so much bad influence on their peers.

24. The World is producing absolute demons now, demonic children because their parents were unsaved & so unreliable & unqualified for marriage or producing children‚ that they've produced demons! And just think, the System has taken God away from them in the Schools! Whew! Wow! They've substituted Evolution for Creation, & the Devil & demons for God! So it's no wonder the System is one horror of a Hell-on-Earth mess!

25. So God forbid that we should allow any of our teens to get married who are going to be nothing but a problem case! In fact, we shouldn't even have any problem teens, period! Of course, they can have a certain time limit of mercy & tolerance, just like God gives us time to straighten out. But He says, "My Spirit will not always strive with Man!"—Gen.6:3. If we have any incorrigible bad apples, God help us to get rid of them before they marry one of our sweet girls or get her pregnant or something!—Or marry one of our fine boys & drag him down.


26. Even in the World it's the custom of the man to ask for the consent of the girl's father. In our culture it should be a practice that the two who want to get married should at least have the consent of their elders, their officials, their Shepherds, from Home Shepherd level to the NO before they get married. (Maria: And they should certainly inform their parents.) Absolutely! (Maria: If they're apart from them, they could at least write them & announce their intentions.) Yes, absolutely!

27. They should at least inform their parents that they are getting married.—And it shouldn't be some kind of an after-the-fact letter or something saying that it's already happened, & the parents weren't even given a chance to be notified & informed beforehand, & to approve of it.

28. —And by informed, I mean informed a little bit about the person their son or daughter is marrying!—Who she is, what she is, what she can do, even who her parents are!—Or his. Well, I hope that will go down on the record as a Family rule from now on.


29. Even from our earliest days clear back to TSC we told'm‚ "No, no, you don't get married quite so fast! You don't sleep together yet, you don't even have sex together until you're of age & have worked together for 6 months straight, living in the same Home & getting to know each other really well!" (Maria: I think we're still doing that. That was more or less the idea given in the "Make It Work" Letter where we told them to have at least 3 to 6 months of "Marriage Prep" or "Trial Period" before Marriage.)

30. That was a Family rule long‚ long ago, clear back at TSC! We made it clear to our adults interested in marriage that they were not to even sleep together or have sex together until they had worked & lived together in the same Home. Then after 6 months, if they had worked closely together & it had worked out well, they got along together well & they'd worked together well & they still even loved each other after all that, okay, they could get married.

31. Some of them‚ after living & working together constantly with their proposed mate in the same Home, came out almost detesting each other!—They'd never really gotten to know each other before that, & were merely infatuated. They'd never lived or worked together‚ they'd just glimpsed each other's beauty at a distance & decided, "Aah, that's the one I want to love & get married to & go to bed with & have sex with!—Oh, I'm in love with her!"—Or, "I have a crush on him!" Blah blah blah!

32. Let me tell you, if they can't live together in the same Home for 6 solid months & work together & get to know each other well‚ & then still love each other & still want to get married, forget it! If after 6 months it turns out that they're just a big problem together, & they didn't even know each other well enough to know whether they really wanted to be together permanently or not, then they'll be very thankful they waited before going so far as getting mated!

33. If it was merely some kind of a "love at first sight" thing‚ which can be as thin as the paint on a table, one little scratch to that veneer & they're finished with each other, you won't have to tell them not to get married! They will have already found out themselves that they shouldn't!

34. That's why I made that rule: Live & work together 6 months in the same Home.—Not in the same room or in the same bed, but in the same Home, before they're allowed to get married.

35. Well, I certainly think it's worth waiting 6 months for. (Maria: System kids wait like that all the time. Usually they won't fuck because they're scared of the consequences.—Or at least they used to be, now they use condoms. They used to abstain‚ even though they'd do everything else but fuck. But they'd go years without fucking, because they were scared to death that she'd get pregnant. So if System teens could do it, our teens ought to be able to contain a little bit.)

36. St. Paul certainly preached containment, but then he finally yielded & said, "But if they insist, let them marry‚ it's better to marry than to burn."—1Cor.7:9. He obviously had the same problem with some of their teens! Don't tell me teens didn't have problems then!—Just like they still do!

37. Of course, we love them & are happy to put up with them, unless they become just too bad to even have around. Then we have to kick them out, out of the Tribe. Let's face it, we have a tribal culture, & there are lesser chiefs & higher chiefs & finally the Chief Chief, who, by the way, in most tribes is usually a king. Even amongst the tribes of Gypsies there are Gypsy kings, the old grandfather of the entire tribe.

38. And the children are taught to show respect & obedience & compliance with the rules & the customs of the culture. We have a tribe, a kingdom that has its rules & its mores & its taboos & regulations, & very strict obedience to the rules is expected. Amen? (Maria: Yes, Sir!) We're a strict outfit.

39. So I'll tell you, just as we're strict in the training & disciplining of our teens, we should be even more strict in their marriages, & not allow any of them to just run off & say they want to get married etc. without the consent of all of the people involved!—Particularly all of the Shepherds who know them, from their parents & Home Shepherds up to the NOs of their area. They should all agree to it & recommend it. And if any of them have any doubts about either one of the teens, those Shepherds should voice it. Maybe the Shepherds should even consult together about the teens, without the teens present, so they can freely speak their minds about what they think of them & their problems etc.

40. They should all consent to it & agree, or certainly at least a strong majority should. It would be best to have it be unanimous‚ but you might sometimes find some people with a grudge against them or something.—Maybe they didn't get along with them when they were in their Home, they had personality clashes or something. So I think at least a 2/3's majority of those recommendations from their leaders should be favourable.


41. (Maria: By the time they're ready to go steady, by the age of 16 or older, it should be pretty well known & established whether they're spiritually strong or not. We can probably give most of them up to the age of 16 to try to get all their major problems straightened out, but by the time they're 16 or over, their Shepherds should pretty much know how they're going to do in their spiritual lives, if they're going to be strong enough to handle the responsibility of marriage on top of everything else.)

42. I'll tell you‚ when I was 16 I was already driving my Mother around the country fulltime & working with her in the Lord's Work & singing & being her song leader. I would say that by the age of 17 I had certainly proven myself.

43. Before marriage they can always do what the System calls "getting engaged," or what some of them call "going steady." We've called our marriages "betrothals" to avoid certain legal technicalities. But whatever we call it, I definitely think that they should abide by that 6-month trial period rule.—Which means, & again I repeat:

44. They should live in the same Home.—Not in the same room or in the same bed, but in the same Home where they will live together closely & work together closely, & really get to know each other closely. I'd suggest that at least for the first three months they refrain from having sex, so they can first of all learn how to work together. Then if after the end of the six months they still want to get married & their leaders think it's a good idea, we'll consider it. OK?

45. (Maria: Yes, & another adaptation we could consider would be if they're doing pretty good together, but not quite ready to get married, maybe we could extend the trial period for another few months until we feel they are really ready. That way we don't have to just break them up completely if they haven't quite made the grade yet. Maybe they just need a little more time in some cases.) Since "Betrothal" usually means marriage to us, let's call the trial period their "engagement." They can have another few months of engagement.

46. In other words‚ it's a "proposed marriage" in preparation‚ or "going steady."—Six months of going steady or engagement, including living together in the same Home‚ working together & getting to know each other very well. Then at the end of six months if they still want to get married, it must be with the combined approval of their leadership.


47. (Maria: One other thing I want to suggest is that the teens be required to read and study not only the MO Letters on Marriage, but the "Marvellous Marriage" book that's coming out as well.) Oh, good night, yes! (Maria: It should be required that they should read it, study it and discuss it before they get married.) Yes, it should be just like a Marriage Course, and they shouldn't be allowed to get married even with leadership's consent and agreement and the trial period of living together until they've read it!

48. During their six–month trial period they should make that a Reading Course, a Marriage Course, along with their other regular teen training duties. (Maria: Yes, & that book also gives the references in its Study Helps to the MO Letters on marriage & all kinds of other articles on marriage.) Let it be so! Amen? Praise the Lord! Thank You Jesus!

49. All right, Lord, in Jesus' name, help our leaders to realise the importance of these matters, & the teens themselves to realise the great urgency of & need for these rules & requirements & final agreements & recommendations & all the rest before they are allowed to get married or mated in the Family. Help them to willingly & cheerfully comply with these rules.—To know that they can get married only after finishing the Reading Course of the Marriage Book & the Letters on the subject, & obediently waiting out their six months, & with the consent of their parents & leaders.

50. Lord, do bless & help them, the teens themselves, to abide by these rules & realise the importance of them, the necessity of them. Help both the teens & their leaders to do that, in Jesus' name! Help them, Lord, to be able to contain themselves & be patient as Thy Word teaches, until it is all settled & confirmed & we can all be fairly well assured that it is going to work.—Knowing that it's a union that's going to be good for Your Work, Lord‚ as well as for themselves.—In Jesus' name. Amen!

51. "And ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the promise!"—Heb.10:36. (—Amen!)


  1. Both potential partners should make the commitment that the person they desire to marry is the one that they love & want to take care of for the rest of their lives‚ God willing!
  2. The prospective couple's motives for marriage should be to become an effective & fruitful team for the Lord & His Work!—And not merely infatuation or a "crush"!
  3. The match should have the Lord's approval, confirmed through His leadership.
  4. Leadership should agree that the prospective couple is truly qualified for marriage, which means they are spiritually mature enough & have proven themselves capable.
  5. If apart from their Family parents, teens should at least write them & announce their intentions & send photos, informing their parents about the person they wish to marry; who they are, who their parents are, what their talents, gifts & strengths are, etc.
  6. Teens wishing to "go steady" should first apply to their Home Shepherds, & begin a six-month trial period. At the end of this period, the teens can then apply to get "betrothed,"providing they are both at least 16 years of age. If, for any reason, the leadership does not feel they are yet ready, the teen couple's period of "going steady" can be extended.
  7. Area Shepherds (including Home Shepherd & NO) & parents should approve of the prospective marriage. (At least 2/3 majority)
  8. In addition to their regular teen training, the couple should undergo six months of "Marriage Prep," as outlined in "Make It Work" (#2433).
  9. The couple should live together in the same Home, working & serving the Lord together for at least six months before being allowed to marry. (They should learn to be close friends & co-workers, working very closely together for six months before marriage.—To make sure that it's real love & God's Will for them to marry!)
  10. The prospective couple is required to read & study the "Marvellous Marriage" book, as well as the most relevant MO Letters on the subject of marriage.
  11. Each prospective marriage partner should be at least the minimum age to get married with parental consent. (In unusual circumstances, exceptions to this may be granted by the NOs.) In some cases, they could be 9 months younger, so that if the girl becomes pregnant‚ she is of age by the time she has the baby.