Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

20 August 2009

The Case For Early Marriage

This Saturday Krissy and I will celebrate our 11th Anniversary! Yeah for us! We were young, head-strong, unaware... and we knew 3 things for sure.

  1. God was the going to be the central focus of our lives
  2. We wanted each other in every way
  3. Those two had to happen in the fullest possible way NOW or we'd explode.

So August 22nd 1998, at the age of 21 in a pink Pentecostal church... we got gussied up and made an ancient, profound covenant with each other to the backdrop of a buffet lunch in a church gym... then drove to Muskoka and explore the bit s and pieces of point number 2.

This morning I read an amazing article by Dr. Mark Regnerus (author of
"Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers") in Christianity Today called "The Case for Early Marriage... Amid our purity pledges and attempts to make chastity hip, we forgot to teach young Christians how to tie the knot.".

You can read the full article here but I'm going to copy a great deal of it here in this blog post because it has some excellent things to say about sex and marriage.

"Just under 80 percent of unmarried, church- going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort. I'm certainly not suggesting that they cannot abstain. I'm suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don't and won't.

The nearly universal hostile reaction to my April 23, 2009, op-ed on early marriage
in The Washington Post suggests that to esteem marriage in the public sphere today is to speak a foreign language: you invoke annoyance, confusion, or both. But after years of studying the sexual behavior and family decision-making of young Americans, I've come to the conclusion that Christians have made much ado about sex but are becoming slow and lax about marriage.

Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s.Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It's battling our Creator's reproductive designs. The data don't lie.

Unfortunately, American evangelicals have another demographic concern: The ratio of devoutly Christian young women to men is far from even. Among evangelical churchgoers, there are about three single women for every two single men. This is the elephant in the corner of almost every congregation—a shortage of young Christian men. Evangelicals make much of avoiding being unequally yoked, but the fact that there are far more spiritually mature young women out there than men makes this bit of advice difficult to follow. No congregational program or men's retreat in the Rocky Mountains will solve this.

Given this unfavorable ratio, and the plain fact that men are, on average, ready for sex earlier in relationships than women are, many young Christian women are being left with a dilemma: either commence a sexual relationship with a decent, marriage-minded man before she would prefer to—almost certainly before marriage—or risk the real possibility that, in holding out for a godly, chaste, uncommon man, she will wait a lot longer than she would like.

Still, the data from nearly every survey suggest that young Americans want to get married. Eventually. That makes sense. Our Creator clearly intended for male and female to be knit together in covenantal relationship. An increasing number of men and women, however, aren't marrying. They want to. But it's not happening. And yet in surveying this scene, many Christians continue to perceive a sexual crisis, not a marital one. We buy, read, and pass along books about battling our sexual urges, when in fact we are battling them far longer than we were meant to. How did we misdiagnose this?

The answer is pretty straightforward: While our sexual ideals have remained biblical and thus rooted in marriage, our ideas about marriage have changed significantly. We advise our children to finish their education, to launch their careers, and to become financially independent, since dependence is weakness. "Don't rush into a relationship," we caution them. "Hold out for a spouse who displays real godliness." "First loves aren't likely the best fit." "You have plenty of time!"

Consequently, the focus of 20-somethings has become less about building mature relationships and fulfilling responsibilities, and more about enjoying oneself, traveling, and trying on identities and relationships. Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed. Increasing numbers of young evangelicals think likewise, and, by integrating these ideas with the timeless imperative to abstain from sex before marriage, we've created a new optimal life formula for our children: Marriage is glorious, and a big deal. But it must wait. And with it, sex. Which is seldom as patient.



Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed. Increasing numbers of young evangelicals think likewise, and, by integrating these ideas with the timeless imperative to abstain from sex before marriage, we've created a new optimal life formula for our children: Marriage is glorious, and a big deal. But it must wait. And with it, sex. Which is seldom as patient.

many young adults consider it immature or humiliating to rely on others for financial or even social support. They would rather deal with sexual guilt—if they sense any at all—than consider marrying before they think they are ready. This cultural predilection toward punishing rather than blessing marriage must go, and congregations and churchgoers can help by dropping their own punitive positions toward family members, as well as by identifying deserving young couples who could use a little extra help once in a while. Christians are great about supporting their missionaries, but in this matter, we can be missionaries to the marriages in our midst.

Americans have become well acquainted with the cultural notion that getting the right fit in a marital partner is extremely important. Chemistry is the new watchword as we meld marriage with science. There is no right answer to such questions, because successful marriages are less about the right personalities than about the right practices, like persistent communication and conflict resolution, along with the ability to handle the cyclical nature of so much about marriage. While it may be nice to find an optimal match in marriage, it cannot hold a candle to sharing a mental and spiritual commitment to the enduring covenant between God, man, and woman. It just can't. People change. Chemistry wanes. Covenants don't.

Today's young adults show tremendous optimism about their own personal futures, leading many to sense they are entitled to a great marriage that will commence according to plan, on their timetable.

So enough of the honeymoon banter: insiders know that a good marriage is hard work, and that its challenges often begin immediately. The abstinence industry perpetuates a blissful myth; too much is made of the explosively rewarding marital sex life awaiting abstainers. The fact is that God makes no promises of great sex to those who wait. Some experience difficult marriages. Spouses wander. Others cannot conceive children.

In reality, spouses learn marriage, just like they learn communication, child-rearing, or making love. Young adults want to know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it. Abstinence is not to blame for our marital crisis. But promoting it has come at a cost in a permissive world in which we are increasingly postponing marriage. While sex matters, marriage matters more. The importance of Christian marriage as a symbol of God's covenantal faithfulness to his people—and a witness to the future union of Christ and his bride—will only grow in significance as the wider Western culture diminishes both the meaning and actual practice of marriage. Marriage itself will become a witness to the gospel.

Time and again, I've listened to Christian undergraduates recount to me how their relationships turned sexual. One thing I never ask them is why. I know why. Because sex feels great, it feels connectional, it feels deeply human. I never blame them for wanting that. Sex is intended to deepen personal relationships, and desire for it is intended to promote marriage. Such are the impulses of many young Christians in love. In an environment where parents and peers are encouraging them to delay thoughts of marriage, I'm not surprised that their sexuality remains difficult to suppress and the source of considerable angst. We would do well to recognize some of these relationships for what they are: marriages in the making. If a young couple displays maturity, faith, fidelity, a commitment to understanding marriage as a covenant, and a sense of realism about marriage, then it's our duty—indeed, our pleasure—to help them expedite the part of marriage that involves public recognition and celebration of what God is already knitting together. We ought to "rejoice and delight" in them, and praise their love (Song of Sol. 1:4).
"



The woman I loved led me to Jesus so I haven't been a single Christian a single day. I'm not sure how I became "that guy" who never had to struggle to find a Christian mate... but it is what it is I guess. I always say that God KNEW I couldn't be trusted to even be by myself for a day.

But we did choose to get married at 21. And sex WAS a major factor. I had a year left of college and would have had to rent another room... and live with a dude (a nice dude but a dude none the less). So our choices were... wait a year and struggle daily with varying degrees of success to suppress the sexual desires God had put in us... and be apart.

Or live with the girl I wanted to be with for the rest of our lives, explore the full extent of the passions inside us (and honor God while doing it), and add an extra year of marital stories to the collection our grandchildren will retell one day.

I'm committed to have a legendary marriage with my wife. She knows it... and it WILL be. I think it already is in some ways.


Bookmark and Share

2 comments:

somecallmekropp said...

Congrats on your marriage! It's great to hear the success stories. Keep at it! Thanks also for visiting my blog. Hope to hear from you again.

marriage workshops said...

11 years and keep it coming. It is good that your marriage turned out to be a success story so that people can learn from it. God should always be at the center of a marriage.

I would urge all those who would like to get married immediately to first seek pre-marriage workshops and counseling so that they know what they are really getting into.

Related Blogs

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...