It Goes In Cycles: Push For “Early Marriage” Makes the Rounds AGAIN Lately, Because of Marriage-Idolater, Singleness Shaming Brad Wilcox (Feb 2022)
Late night talk show host Johnny Carson used to have this joke that there’s only one fruit cake in the United States, nobody wants it, so they pack it up and mail it to another family the next Christmas; it’s the same fruit cake, in endless circulation.
I was reminded of that Johnny Carson anecdote when this odious Brad Wilcox penned piece on early marriage popped up a couple of months ago, was picked up by Wall Street Journal, then made its way ’round conservative Twitter.
As I said in older posts about conservative dating books aimed at women, like here or here, (where women are told, “You’re still single because you’re not Codependent enough! Stop following liberal, feminist advice, and ditch the self confidence and boundaries, and start acting like a Door Mat again, because MEN ARE ATTRACTED TO DOORMATS, being a doormat is feminine!”), topics like that one runs in cycles.
Every few years, you can count on conservative women releasing new “anti-feminist” dating advice books chock full of codependency marketed as being a sure-fire way of getting a husband, and you can also count on conservatives every so often, either releasing “pro early marriage” books and articles, or, with every news release of birth rates falling, or declining marriage rates on the increase, more of their fear mongering, anti-singleness articles.
So this newest crop of conservative sites eagerly repeating this latest Wilcox “Get married really young!” propaganda is no surprise.
I am going to guess that is what happened, that Brad Wilcox, of National Marriage Project, released an initial commentary, or one of his wonky “studies,” and then, other Christian, marriage-worshipping outlets (such as “Christianity Today” magazine) pick up on it and run with it, so pretty soon, for about a week, you start seeing all these “Benefits of marrying young!” headlines sprouting up all over your Twitter feed.
It’s so barfy.
It’s not just online magazines and newspapers publishing these “pro early marriage” editorials, but your Christian “nobodies,” (some of whom work as preachers), who tend to lean “complementarian,” have been tweeting about the topic, and shaming single women into marrying and marrying young.
They show no regard for 1 Corinthians 7, which states it’s better to remain single than to marry, nor do they seem to recall that Jesus, the founder of their faith, never married and never had (biological) children, nor do they show regard for the quotes by Jesus which presented “spiritual” family to be on par with, or more important than, biological family (see those towards the end of this post).
I will see if I can round up some of the tweets, articles I’ve seen lately about this and put them in this post.
This entire situation is just so bizarre, for several reasons.
In earlier commentary, I’ve seen some of these marriage-pushers seemingly upset by news reports that more and more young people (and some older adults) are NOT having sex prior to marriage any longer!
Conservatives, whether secular or religious, used to respect and defend the concept of remaining a virgin until marriage, but no more.
Here’s a rough time line, as it seems to me, of the conservative abandonment of defending sexual purity:
In the last 15 or so years, the Christian conservatives gave in, recognized that a lot of singles are having pre-marital sex, so they quietly accepted it, so they began to writing all these noxious, “well, that’s OK, God will forgive you of fornicating!” articles,
to when the progressive Christian women on Twitter started bitching a few years back about how horrible they found “purity culture,” Christian pastors and authors moved on to actually appease them by downplaying the importance of virginity and celibacy (see, for example, Tim “We’re All Virgins Now” Challies), to lately, they’ve even been out right expressing sadness or frustration that single Christian women don’t want to knowingly marry a porn addicted Christian man to sadness or upset that adults aren’t having sex prior to marriage as much any more.
It’s also weird how these obscenely pro-marriage conservatives and Christians will grasp on to any little, tiny sliver of where they perceive pro-marriage points to be made and then hammer people over the head with them.
For example, in this latest “study,” Wilcox and others of his ilk grabbed tightly on to some study finding that people who marry young but who DO NOT cohabitate first are likely to stay married longer and not divorce.
So… out they trot these breathless think pieces stating,
“Hey, look, young ‘uns who marry young but who don’t live together prior to marriage stay married longer! So do it, young people, do it – get married now, now, now, now! Just don’t share an apartment together first!!!”
A conservative lady on Twitter, Allie Beth Stuckey (tweet link), said in regards to this report:
My favorite thing is when researchers “discover” things the Bible has been saying for thousands of years
— end quote —
I do think the Bible teaches that pre-marital sex is sinful, but no where does the Bible imply or suggest that it’s a command of God for all people to marry and at what age if they do.
I have more commentary way below all the links and excerpts below, so please read on (or at least scroll towards the bottom, thanks).
I think this is the piece that got excitedly commented upon by all the marriage-worshipping conservatives that started it all; published Feb. 5, 2022 (note the authors):
Research shows that marrying young without ever having lived together with a partner makes for some of the lowest divorce rates
(Link – Christianity Today magazine): Research: Religious Americans Less Likely to Divorce
Recent data suggests that faithful young adults can marry in their 20s without increasing the risk of separation.
by LYMAN STONE AND BRAD WILCOX | DECEMBER 14, 2021
(Link): Marry Early, but Don’t Live Together First by John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander – article originally published at BreakPoint
Feb 23, 2022
By John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander
New data is poking holes in what’s become a prominent cultural myth. “When it comes to divorce,” write Brad Wilcox and Lyman Stone in The Wall Street Journal, “the research has generally backed up the belief that it’s best to wait until around 30 to tie the knot.” This is because the divorce rate is generally lower for those who wait to wed.
However, according to the National Survey of Family Growth, there’s an interesting exception to this modern-day rule of thumb. Couples in their 20s who don’t cohabitate first have some of the lowest divorce rates of any group. Though it’s not exactly clear, from the research anyway, as to why this is the case. This particular cohort is disproportionately religious, something that is linked to lower divorce rates across the board. Even so, the data sheds further light on the relationship between cohabitation and marriage in American society.
Decades of studies have led sociologists to broadly conclude that cohabitation leads to higher rates of divorce. In general, living with a partner, even one that eventually becomes a spouse, is associated with a 15% higher chance of splitting up. One Stanford study indicates that the rate is twice as high for those who cohabitate with someone other than their future spouse.
“We generally think that having more experience is better….” says University of Denver psychologist Galena Rhoades, “but what we find for relationships is just the opposite.” More partners mean more comparison, she argues, which can make it harder to achieve long-term contentment. Cohabitation also teaches couples that one can always head for the exit when problems seem too daunting, instead of pressing in and sticking it out. As a result, while marriages, in general, are more stable at 30, marriage to one partner is better, even if at a younger age.
…Though the data about marriage is overwhelming, fewer and fewer are choosing it.
— end excerpts —
Yes, the reality is, fewer and fewer people are either choosing to not marry or are finding themselves single by circumstance. I don’t see all these “hey, get married now, folks!” propaganda pieces changing that. You marriage-pushers need to accept reality as it is, support single adults in their singleness, instead of trying to shame or guilt them into marriage.
That article above by Stonestreet also says:
Limitless sexual experience, self-actualization, and the freedom to leave don’t actually produce relational happiness in the long term. In fact, they damage it.
— end excerpts —
Okay, just so you’ll know not all single adults are sexual libertines. I remain a virgin into my 50s. Staying single this long is not about being a “party animal” and banging as many people as I can.
There’s nothing wrong with “self actualizing” and finding out who you are before you marry.
I’m not the same person I am now at age 50-something as I was when I was 20, which is not a bad thing.
Had I married at age 20 – 40, it would’ve eventually ended in divorce, more than likely, because, back then, I made fear-based choices, lacked boundaries, self esteem, and didn’t know who I was (all this ironically is thanks in large part to the garbage Christian gender complementarianism my parents and Southern Baptist churches raised me to believe in).
Stonestreet also says in the article,
Christians know why. Marriage is a part of the created order.
— end excerpt —
Singleness is also part of the created order. Jesus of Nazareth remained single his entire life. 1 Corinthians 7 says it’s better to stay single. Jesus said there will be no marriage in Heaven (you’ll be single in the afterlife).
Though some marriages will tragically end for various reasons and others may want marriage but struggle to find it, the Church can provide vital community for all of its members, while still promoting marriage for the God-given good that it is
— end —
Yes, churches can provide “vital community” (the Bible in the New Testament actually instructs them to do so), but they refuse to do so.
Most American churches are focused on The Nuclear Family and do not give a rat’s ass about never married, divorced, or widowed adults over the age of 30. Most churches already focus on marriage too much. Every third sermon is about how great marriage is.
Churches don’t need to promote marriage more – they have been overly-promoting marriage going back decades now to the degree it’s alienating to single adults.
If I come across any more of these recent “get married young, just don’t live together first” editorials, I’ll add them to this post.
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me… (Matthew 10:37, 38)
See what Jesus said about marriage and biological family in Matthew 12:46-50 (partial quote):
“For or whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother””
Jesus speaking, Matthew 22:30:
Jesus answered, “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. In the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Instead, they will be like the angels in heaven.”
— end excerpt —
As you can see from the above passages, Jesus didn’t emphasize marriage, early age or no, or “the nuclear family.”
Jesus actually de-emphasized marriage, natalism, and parenthood, which runs counter to the many obsessively pro-nuclear family, pro-marriage conservatives I see online.
Am I against the nuclear family, parenthood, or marriage? Nope. Not at all.
I’m just opposed to the conservative tendency to place far more importance on “family,” natalism, parenthood, and marriage than is healthy, normal, or than even the Bible does.
(Link): “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site
(Link): Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems
(Link): Stop Believing God Told You to Marry Your Spouse by G. Thomas