I am a 31-year-old single woman. I have a question on age differences. I have been talking online to a guy I know who is 19 (soon to be 20 in less than a month). He has shown some interest in me. He is a Christian man and we share the same beliefs. Would it be unbiblical or unwise to pursue this? I feel people would judge me, especially because about 3 or 4 years ago he had been a student of mine.
Unbiblical, no. Unwise, probably.
There is nothing in the Bible that forbids romantic relationships or marriage when there is a significant age difference, regardless of which one is the older of the two. Generally speaking, society tends to have more negative regard toward a female being the older one, but nothing in the Bible indicates that such a relationship is wrong. I have not been able to find a specific example in the Bible involving a marriage between a significantly older woman and a younger man, but Genesis 38:11 does give an example of Judah promising his widowed daughter-in-law that she could marry his youngest son when he was grown.
However, in your case it would probably be unwise to pursue this. First of all, wide age differences tend to become less significant when the people involved are older. For example, if the younger of the two is in his or her 30s, both will have achieved sufficient maturity to meet the inevitable challenges that are unique to marriages involving disparate ages. In your case, you have had years of experience as an adult, but he is just now entering adulthood. He does not have the life experiences and independent living skills necessary to become the head of the household, and he likely still possesses many adolescent characteristics. Therefore, you will likely find him to be too immature for you. Secondly, both of you will face criticism and disapproval from others, so both of you will have to have a solid sense of self-esteem and self-confidence to withstand others’ disapproval and negative remarks. It’s doubtful that a 19 or 20-yr-old has developed this level of maturity. Be prepared for the stiffest disapproval to come from his family, especially his parents. At worst, they may see you as the older woman who poses a threat to their son who is still a boy in their eyes, and they may try to break up the relationship. At best, they will be suspicious of your motives. Lastly, it would be unwise for the reason that you stated—you used to be his teacher. Even if you have not been his teacher for a few years and he is no longer a legal minor, you will still be the subject of accusations and disapproval. This could potentially have a damaging effect on your professional career. With all these potential pitfalls, are you sure you want to take the chance?
For further information on this topic, please refer to my post on January 4, 2011 titled “She’s Old Enough to be his Mother.”