‘Marry Younger To Avoid Premarital Sex’

"Southern Baptist leaders ... have identified a cure to both the marriage problem of less people tying the knot and the drive toward sexual temptation. Get married young." Marry Younger

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Jim's picture

My own views on marrying young:

  • Me: Married at 25½ to a woman 23½: 1974 ... now 40 years into the marriage journey
  • I personally was not settled in life to have married earlier. At 25½ I was able to buy a home and had a steady job.
  • Many young adults today seem to be not ready for the financial responsibilities until much later in life
  • Anecdote 1: a young woman (early 30s) in our church asked my advice about a potential suitor. I asked the woman this question: if you got pregnant on your wedding night, would he be able to provide for you and the child. She passed on that guy and about 2 years later married another. They are new parents. He works. She cares for the child at home. 
  • Anecdote 2: a young couple in the church were wedding planning. I asked the young man: Are you able to provide for your intended wife? It was clear to me that he was not. Less than 6 months later the woman's father asked the man the tough questions about his inability to barely provide for himself. The woman broke off the relationship. Today nearly 3 years later, he is still floundering in his career. She made the right choice.  
Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The article almost certainly has the facts wrong on several points.

You know a piece has bias problems when it has sentences like... 

"Much of the justification for avoiding premarital sex comes from the Bible, particularly ..."

Justification?!  The writer is clearly not aware of where western culture stood on this for dozens of centuries until the 60's and 70's... practically last week.

Bert Perry's picture

Jim's comment suggests to me that the real problem confronting the young is not when they consider getting married, but rather when they are ready in terms of economics, character, and the like.  One pastor I know--Tim Bayly in Bloomington IN--actually has a boot camp for young men in the church he pastors where a key point is to wean young men off an over-addiction to sports, video games, and the like.  We might consider something similar.

Personally, I married at 27, and would have loved to have gotten married earlier, but quite frankly must admit that I was pretty immature earlier.  God spared my wife some misery (not all misery, sigh) by making me wait a bit.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

chaynes84's picture

Isn't this general principle of 1 Corinthians 7:2? It seems like some people are so focused on getting their life together before marriage, but courting, then marrying, a good spouse would go a long way toward getting one's life together.  Maybe I'm oversimplifying this, but God brought a wonderful, godly woman into my life and we married when I was only 21 and about to start my senior year of Bible college.  We're about to celebrate our tenth anniversary and I wouldn't change a thing about the timing of our relationship or marriage.

josh p's picture

IOW how much income is truly necessary to support a family? We married young and although we never had much money we were never poor. A hard worker with a decent job and some good prospects should be able to support a wife IMO. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I was engaged at 17, married at 18, and we're still married. Everybody told me I was "too young." Well, we survived, we're still surviving, and I got married young enough so that I'll still be under 40 when my oldest son heads off to college. 

My sister, on the other hand, waited until 31 to get married and just had her first child this year.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

josh p wrote:

IOW how much income is truly necessary to support a family? We married young and although we never had much money we were never poor. A hard worker with a decent job and some good prospects should be able to support a wife IMO. 

Josh, it occurs to me that the highlighted portion of your comment is why you & Tyler (and a lot of others) were able to marry young, and others really should not.  Most of the guys that really ought not marry that I can think of show it in their work ethic, which shows itself in their career prospects.  Losing a job isn't a big issue, but long term unemployment, credit issues, and the like may be.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Lee's picture

It is beyond me what appears to be a dominant thinking being presented on this thread.  It probably wouldn't have struck such a cord except that In my own personal experience dealing with literally scores of marriage age young people I find the same perspective from the youth, parents, and churches in most cases.  That perspective is that marriage is a less important factor in life or in the cause of Christ than is financial stability, education, career, goals, etc.   

As important as all those may be I find no biblical justification for making those the priorities for determining when to marry. 

I do find lots of biblical reasons for marriage.  This article was about one of them--immorality. I cannot over-emphasize how important it is since Scripture puts the emphasis on it for us.

"...Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body....to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband (I Cor. 6:18-7:2)."

"Flee" is not a word that the New Testament uses flippantly (there are only 4 elements that are commanded such flight); the danger of immorality is too great; and the answer is as plain as the nose on your face--get married.

When should a person get married? A primary, if not the primary, factor is when not to would result in no longer fleeing immorality.  It is not a matter of self-control, or financial stability, or finished education. Immorality is the problem and marriage is the biblical solution.

I'm not even sure why it is a matter for discussion.

 

 

Lee

TylerR's picture

Editor

I never considered my job prospects when I got married at age 18. It never entered my mind. It wasn't a factor. Whatever I ended up doing, I knew we'd make it work. It just simply wasn't a factor that entered into the decision to get married. I suppose it is a factor for many people, but I'm not sure why, really. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

you to marry them, but my main reason for not getting married until I was the ripe old age of 25 was that I hadn't found a woman who would!

 

I was saved right around my 19th birthday. Before that I had many female friends, but I was the classic "friend but not boyfriend". Once I was saved EVERY CHURCH I attended had plenty of single guys but no single women (or at least very few). The single women that were there already had a child... Not what I was looking for. So, it wasn't until later that the Lord brought my wife into the picture... supernaturally in my opinion (but hey, I wouldn't want to disagree with most of you all who simply chose your wife from the many options you had) Smile

JC's picture

If you are ready to sleep with her, you are ready to marry her.   

All the pathetic excuses such as - I am not in the best financial position, or I need to establish a career first etc etc are tricks of the devil.

Jim's picture

JC wrote:

If you are ready to sleep with her, you are ready to marry her.   

All the pathetic excuses such as - I am not in the best financial position, or I need to establish a career first etc etc are tricks of the devil.

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1 Timothy 5:8)

sdersch's picture

Seems to me we're caught in a false dichotomy, and over-generalizing the issue. Paul's commands and advice regarding this issue (esp in 1 Cor 7) makes clear that one of the functions of marriage is to prevent immorality. 

Nonetheless, prudence would dictate most 14 year-olds are not ready to be married, regardless the struggles they may be having with sexual urges. 

Both marriage & self-control are the answers. After all, the need for sexual self-control does not end once one gets married, as I suspect nearly all married men will attest. 

In defense of the authors of this article, I suspect their target audience (always an important thing to keep in mind when communicating, or interpreting someone else's communication) has been delaying marriage out of economic concern, perhaps out of a misplaced emphasis on financial comfort, both on their & their parents part. That is to say, we as Americans tend to consider many comforts to be "needs" & therefore "I can't marry until I am able to meet our needs." 

So perhaps what is needed is a re-alignment of American Christian thinking to Biblical priorities. Perhaps that what these authors were trying to get at. 

Lee's picture

sdersch wrote:

Seems to me we're caught in a false dichotomy, and over-generalizing the issue. Paul's commands and advice regarding this issue (esp in 1 Cor 7) makes clear that one of the functions of marriage is to prevent immorality. 

Nonetheless, prudence would dictate most 14 year-olds are not ready to be married, regardless the struggles they may be having with sexual urges. 

Both marriage & self-control are the answers. After all, the need for sexual self-control does not end once one gets married, as I suspect nearly all married men will attest. 

In defense of the authors of this article, I suspect their target audience (always an important thing to keep in mind when communicating, or interpreting someone else's communication) has been delaying marriage out of economic concern, perhaps out of a misplaced emphasis on financial comfort, both on their & their parents part. That is to say, we as Americans tend to consider many comforts to be "needs" & therefore "I can't marry until I am able to meet our needs." 

So perhaps what is needed is a re-alignment of American Christian thinking to Biblical priorities. Perhaps that what these authors were trying to get at. 

I believe you are likely correct as to the target audience and target reasoning.  And lest we border on the absurd in our "how young are we talking about" scenarios (and I'm with you that 14 is too young) let us remember that the very first criteria for marriage readiness is "leave his father and his mother."  While still somewhat ambiguous I'm sure we can all agree that it is substantially less ambiguous than "should a hot and bothered 14 year old get married?"

Point being, when a young person, particularly male, is ready to move out from under dad and mom, biblically speaking marriage is a greater priority than is the current societal financial/educational  obsession which permeates many churches.  Scripture no where implies that "he that findeth a stable career with good benefits findeth a good thing."

Lee

Greg Linscott's picture

I work with a fairly large number of Karen refugees from Burma. Some of them get married pretty early compare to their American counterparts. I don't see them living on particularly different wage and lifestyle scale than their elder counterparts, and more often than not live slightly better.

We were young when we were married (Jennifer was 19 and I was 23). We celebrated our 20th anniversary this past February. It wasn't conventional, but the reality is that each of us would have worked ourselves through school each on our own if we hadn't been married. As it was, we helped each other (I worked her through to get her bachelor's before I completed mine), and we had been married 3 years before we had our first child (though we had two by the time I had my undergrad completed... Smile ). We focused our Bible college years on volunteer church ministry together and far less on school and social activities, and I think we were better for it. It might not be the course everyone should take, but I think it's more doable than a lot of people assume it will be. I'm not sure how either of us would have been any further ahead financially or career-wise had we gone it alone.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jim wrote:

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1 Timothy 5:8)

THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^

As the father of two college daughters, I can tell you that my criteria for marriageable young men include the quoted reference, and (sorry Lee) do not include "can't control themselves."  Of course, my daughters are old enough to make their own choices now, but I very much hope I've been enough of an influence on them that they choose good reasons for getting married and not just "it's better to marry than to burn!"  And yes, it is better to marry than to commit fornication, but if that is the only reason my daughters would choose to marry, then I would believe I had failed in my responsibility to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and in the whole counsel of God.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

....we ought to parse out exactly what we mean by having a degree of financial stability.  I don't think anyone referencing 1 Timothy 5:8 is saying that a man needs to have a three bedroom ranch paid for with a bimmer in the driveway and a quarter million in one's 401k before proposing.  However, I think that the clear witness of Scripture is that a man ought to be able to pay for a basic apartment, basic transportation, and basic insurance before marrying--really things that in many areas can be had for about $1000-$1500/month.  To draw a comparison, 160 hours@month at $8/hour, just a touch above minimum wage in most areas, gets you this amount.

I would agree in part with both sides.  I've seen too many young people going on Medicaid because they married before they had any semblance of gainful employment going, and people waiting to earn "their first million" before marrying.  Both end up badly.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

What a newly married man should be able to provide:

  • Housing NOT in his parents' basement
  • Should have some steady job (could be grease monkey at Jiffy Lube!)
  • Ability to provide for wife if she becomes PG

In my case # 2 referenced above (being somewhat not-specific because of privacy): Today he barely provides for himself at the age of 30ish. He has a college degree from an unaccredited institution with a major that he is not likely able to leverage into a job (vague enough!). And sadly he really has little ambition. 

dmyers's picture

I'm in favor of marrying young for a couple reasons.  First, I married young and, while she divorced me 29 years later, marrying young obviously wasn't the reason.  We were both 21; we married two days after graduating from BJU, having known each other/dated/been engaged for most of our four years there.  We rented a furnished apartment in Greenville for $90/month and I had a summer job to tide us over until I started law school in the fall.  We drove an old car gifted from my parents.  We lived off her $600 (gross) monthly salary as a Christian school teacher (paying $200/month to rent a one-bedroom basement apartment in a friend's house).  All our furniture consisted of gifts or loaners.  We ate a lot of generic canned vegetables from Aldi's (bleh); having my dad visit on some of his business trips and providing orange juice and cereal for his breakfasts was a budget buster.  We knew it wasn't always going to be like that, and it wasn't (my summer job for a public interest legal foundation after my first year of law school paid $250/week; we felt rich, even though my peers were making $900/week at their big firm summer jobs).  But we had nothing like the financial means that couples (young women?  their fathers?) treat as mandatory today.

Second, if you know you want to live a married life rather than a permanently single life, the best time to do it is when you're young.  You have significantly more exposure to other singles of your age and station in life than you ever will again.  And yes, sex is a significant factor.  Christian young men have both Christian and non-Christian girls practically (and often actually) throwing themselves at them.  (The federal judge I worked for told me this about his two college-age sons years ago; years later when my own sons were in high school, college, and after, it's even worse.)  You can talk about self-control all you want, but why torture yourself and subject yourself to constant (and strong) temptation if you don't have to?  Unless a Christian young woman has somehow faced an actual desert of eligible Christian young men her entire high school and college years, it's unwise and ultimately counterproductive to insist on having several years after college to get "established" in her career before she marries.  By the time she looks around and decides it's getting a little late and she really needs to get married so she can get started on having kids, she's past her peak in both her physical attractiveness and her fertility.  Plus, she's spent years communicating to the Christian young men around her that she's more interested in herself, her girlfriends, and her career than in getting married.  In the meantime, if the young men are smart and have the opportunity with another woman who's less career oriented, they'll have already gotten married.  Or, if they're not married, they are highly likely to have succumbed to the temptations heaped upon them, in which case the career Christian woman will rightly think less of them (assuming she hasn't succumbed herself).  This is when you start hearing the complaining about the absence of "good men."  She didn't want them when there were more of them available, but now she's surprised that there are fewer available.  And she probably still insists on a level of attractiveness, leadership, money, etc. that isn't realistic given whatever level her own characteristics are (and she probably is carrying student loan debt that she'll want him to absorb).  Of course, unrealistic expectations can and do go both ways, but women are actually encouraged to aim high while guys are frequently exhorted to man up and marry those girls.  Also in the meantime, the young men may well have figured out that marriage under our legal system, even to a "good Christian girl," presents them with significant risk -- she can leave anytime she wants for virtually any reason she wants and, completely contrary to the treatment he could expect if he did the same thing, she'll still have the kids and a significant percentage of his resources for alimony and child support.  It's a legitimate question for him to ask whether the risk is worth it, at least until he meets a woman who can persuade him otherwise.  Incentives and disincentives matter.

As other commenters have indicated, character and work ethic are much more important than current resources.  If you have those things plus attraction, don't put it off chasing establishment in your career or more resources -- pull the trigger and make it work.  But for God's sake, do a prenup that voids any property division or alimony if she files for divorce for anything other than specified biblical reasons.  (You can't limit child support in a prenup.)