Why You Should Be Married (But Probably Aren’t), Part 1
Back in my instigating post, I said Part 1 would outline reasons why young Christians should, really, be married, with few excuses. Before that outline, however, I’d like to share a bit of backstory.
Looking at my evangelical and Catholic peers, I find a good deal of us already married or desperately trying. So why the need to convince the same audience of something we already seem to accept? Because, while I’ve remained in this target group since adolescence, marriage and children seemed a bit horrid, if unfortunately necessary: an impediment to my career, an insult to my trim little college body, a whole lotta struggle with no glory.
Of course, I’m one of those cold women who glared at children in the supermarket rather than rushing over to pinch cheeks. But, since marrying and a child “surprise” soon after, everything has changed; and observation has taught me at least a few could benefit from rethinking the same poisonous thoughts I and young Christians in general often absorb from culture—such as Cameron Diaz’s recent “shocking” characterization of marriage as “a dying institution.”
So let’s sketch a basic framework of why young Christians (let’s say 20 and up) should generally be married.* In a nutshell: because marriage stabilizes you and society. It does this (and feel free to expand or suggest other categories) in roughly three ways.
1. Marriage circumvents sexual sin and its consequences. We all know the meaning of sexual sin: sex with someone you’re not married to. Humans have natural sex drives, and it’s stronger in young people. The sooner you marry, not only the sooner do you have the proper outlet for this happy endeavor, you also protect the world from illegitimate children, aborted children (including the embryos killed by chemical birth control), getting hooked on lust and desecrating ourselves and others, et cetera. The outcomes of premarital sex devastate the individuals involved and, ergo, society, as well.
2. Marriage promotes good character and its consequences. Many Facebook respondents to my first post complained, “You can’t say that marriage necessarily equals maturity.” I never intended to say that. I can, however, fairly claim that marriage does tend to strengthen, beyond measure, the first sprouts of maturity most decent people have (or ought to have) by age 20 or so. And it does this unlike any other social structure because it is unlike any other social structure. Only in marriage must you daily, momentarily sacrifice your needs and preferences for other people who, really, cannot live properly without you doing so. If loving your neighbor as yourself is the outward core of Christianity (and, thus, good character), nothing better inculcates this habit than marriage and children.
3. Marriage trains humans to serve our neighbors. This is a pretty simple extension of the above argument: that once we have learned the habit of serving our mate and immediate family, it walks out the door with us into our neighborhoods, churches, and cities. This is not mere assertion—it’s the most rock-solid social science (start about 15 minutes in for a primer). Married adults offer their communities the most social capital—we coach Little League teams, babysit for the sick mom next door, visit grandma, pick up trash in the park. Not that singles don’t do such things, but that singles as a group can’t hold a candle to marrieds as a group in terms of community investment.
And we haven’t even begun to argue how marriage not only, well, makes society by its function of creating and nurturing children, but also enhances the world mightily through this essential, creative gift. Marriage doesn’t just happen to have these consequences; God designed it to function this way. So why aren’t more young people married in bliss? We’ll talk about that next time.
*Look, I know there are about two exceptions to this generality: 1) Those celibate to fully dedicate themselves to pastoring or missionary work, as Saint Paul discusses, which is a pretty rare condition; and 2) Those doing their darndest but, because we live in a broken world, simply haven’t a mate yet. I can’t see your motives, and I’m not here to discuss these exceptions or judge the unmarried. I’m here to converse about Christian marriage and its necessity for nearly all people.