"For Love of Neighbor" is a new documentary film offering a hopeful vision for Christian engagement in politics. Click here to learn more.

Why We Aren't Married (Part 2)

Often, when I or a friend complain about some misfortune or evil and ask “Why?” my husband will half-humorously reply, “Sin.” Of course, sin is the source of all social and moral sicknesses, but merely stating that fact is the first step at diagnosis.

In this, our second part of a series considering why you ought to be married but probably are not, we will look at several ways sin manifests in our culture and prevents or mucks up our attempts at happily ever after.

1. Finances. Before we get to more ethereal barriers, it’s easy to recognize that money can significantly delay marriage. This barrier has always existed (Fiddler on the Roof, anyone?), but has gained bulk in recent years with modern trappings – or entrapments – in the form of bulky and growing college loans, the ridiculous cost of weddings (averaging $26k!) and foolish, materialist choices we are more likely to make in an era where middle-class living equals a six-figure salary and God help us if we don’t get our daily Starbucks. In all these cases, the true lack of money is not the barrier, but the covetous perception of having less than someone else. People with $30,000 in college debt usually have jobs and could, like we did, knock that bugger out in a year and a half with some self-control and focus. And there is nothing shameful about cooking your own wedding dinner the day before (possibly a wiser choice than paying $15,000 for catering).

In most cases, some self-aware decisionmaking could easily eliminate financial barriers. But we’re used to extravagance (yes, indoor plumbing is an extravagance, by any historical standard; so is a car, and America’s poor have both). It used to be tradition for newlyweds to be happy and dirt poor, a rite of passage. Now it’s an outrage, not to be borne. The foolish ideal of “absolute financial security as measured by a law partnership and 401(k)” before marriage is not only unrealistic, it’s burdensome. The best security in a husband or wife is good character. Hard financial times can hit anyone, but you’re doomed if you marry a weakling.

2. Apathy/wussiness. Speaking of bad character, let’s speak about the national deficit – of manliness, when Christian men would rather have a root canal than ask a girl out, of femininity, when women decide to forego husbands and family during their best childbearing and worst career years (the 20s). Of course, we all know the problem with secularism’s “Try before you buy,” (besides the fact that cohabitation doesn’t work and is akin to modern concubinage) but many are also, well, just not trying at all. Marriage, as the center of stability, society, and culture, just ain’t that appealing any more. That’s not just because we have less proper shame attached to adultery, homosexuality, and shackin’ up, which trivialize, distort, and crudely caricature marriage, but also because law and society has devolved to allow no-fault divorce and other easy ways out which destroy the sanctity and covenant of marriage.

3. Selfishness. This, of course, overlaps with No. 2, but deserves its own category. Look, I understand. It’s way easier to be single. It’s way easier to be married with no children. I haven’t gotten a night of unbroken sleep for about 10 months now, post-baby, and it makes me crabby and desperate and unsure of my own bold assertions here. Nathaniel and I would definitely have more sex and brunches if we didn’t have baby. But either we  and our peers believe that the hard road of discipline will yield great rewards for us and society later, just as God has promised, or we seek our own momentary self-satisfaction. Our generation’s worries about divorce, “finding the perfect partner,” and “settling down too early” are no excuse for dithering on the first command God gave humankind.

As I bow out until next week or so, let me again state that I’m not judging every unmarried person. Sin also stymies even the mightiest attempts at marriage by malforming many people to the point of unmarriageability, blighting cities with social scenes less than conducive to introducing marriageable singles, etc. But, because of Christ, sin is not an excuse (though possibly a lifelong barrier). More on that next time, when we discuss the societal implications of this trend.