At Adam‘s recommendation, I read an article in Christianity Today entitled “The Case for Early Marriage.” I’ll admit I was blown away because I had never seen anyone offer this justification for getting married early (by “early” the author means “early 20s”):
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.…While our sexual ideals have remained biblical and thus rooted in marriage, our ideas about marriage have changed significantly.
I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this article (after reading it all the way through, please). Do you agree with the main premise? Why or why not—and how does it line up with scripture? Could the article have used more nuance?
Here are my initial thoughts:
- The main idea behind this article is spectacularly true. God clearly designed us to get married a lot younger than young people in our culture decide to do so. Sex drive is like a giant billboard from God screaming to young women and especially young men, “Grow up, stupid!” Rather than trying to block out our sex drives, perhaps we should pay closer attention to what they’re saying. God wants us to stop being adolescents and start growing up!
- Our culture is super bizarre. Historically, people got married young—even in their teens—because they had to grow up. There was no such thing as extended adolescence (or adolescence at all, for that matter). It’s extremely foolish to think that our cultural practices are somehow “normal,” and we should think carefully before conforming to them (Romans 12:2).
- We absolutely must pair abstinence teaching in youth groups with teaching on marriage. Biblical instruction on marriage must begin early (following the example of the book of Proverbs). How can we continue teaching young people to “put off” sexual sin without “putting on” proper marital relationships (à la Ephesians 4)? And how ridiculous is it that we think a few sessions of premarital counseling is anywhere near enough to prepare young people for marriage—especially in a culture bombarding them with false teaching on marriage and sexuality? We need to foster godly character and a biblical worldview in our young people so that they can get married early.
- We need to be concerned about the fact that young people are trained to worry about career long before worrying about family. And we wonder why so many marriages are sacrificed to people’s careers.
- This is a great quote: “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.” And as any believer knows, that won’t happen in this life.
- I appreciate that the author takes time to handle objections to his view. From what I’ve seen, most people who discourage younger marriages do so on the basis of their own experience, projecting their former selves onto the people to whom they gladly dispense their advice. However, there are difficulties that arise from younger marriages that do need to be recognized.
- Younger marriages are in great danger if they are pursued in isolation from community. Without encouragement and instruction from the church, two relatively immature people who get married are in big trouble! With this encouragement and instruction, their marriage can be a terrific way to be conformed to the image of Christ. I’m grateful for the marriage mentoring ministry that has begun at Kossuth, and I’m looking forward to seeing it reinforce marriages throughout our church.
- I wish the author had been more precise when discussing the idea of marrying an immature person. There is a big difference between someone who is spiritually immature but growing and someone who is spiritually immature and unwilling to grow. The former can be a good candidate for marriage; the latter shouldn’t be let anywhere near the altar.
I’m sure I will think of more things to say later. What do you think?