True Love Waits... But What About Dates and Marries?

Many of us remember the days of True Love Waits conferences, purity rings, and appeals from speakers and church leaders to commit to the Virgin Lips movement, saving first kisses for the alter. But how often was this message paired with encouragement to actually get out there, get married—and do so at a youthful age?

Rarely.

For many of us, the true love waited and waited and waited. For some its still waiting and waiting and waiting; and unfortunately, for others, true love gave up.

Mark Regnerus takes this issue to task in his article The Case for Early Marriage, explaining that we don't need more teaching on abstinence, but rather we need to start encouraging marriage and at younger ages.

In light of recent studies that indicate 80% of "unmarried, church- going, conservative Protestants" are engaging in sexual activity of some form, Regnerus says:

What to do? Intensify the abstinence message even more? No. It won't work. The message must change, because our preoccupation with sex has unwittingly turned our attention away from the damage that Americans—including evangelicals—are doing to the institution of marriage by discouraging it and delaying it.

...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?

Concerned about the risks associated with marrying young? Don't worry. He covers that, too, reminding us:

First, what is deemed "early marriage" by researchers is commonly misunderstood. The most competent evaluations of early marriage and divorce note that the association between early age-at-marriage and divorce occurs largely among those who marry as teenagers (before age 20)...

Second, the age at which a person marries never causes divorce. Rather, a young age-at-marriage is an indicator of an underlying proclivity for marital problems, the kind most Christian couples learn to avoid or solve without parting.

He then breaks down the typical problems, illustrates how these problems can develop character strengths, and challenges the church to support young couples through these potential difficulties in their early years. For those details, check out the article for yourself.

Though I am now married, as someone who is part of the generation that dealt largely with this strange dichotomy of knowing it was right to wait, but generally not being encouraged to look to marriage as a healthy and biblical solution, I'm thankful for Regnerus's bold assertions. May my younger brother and sisters benefit from such a change in the purity message.


callie m.


Good Resource:
Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus

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