Is Early Marriage Really THAT Counter-Cultural? I Think Not – Re: Christianity Today Editorial by Rebecca Brewster Stevenson
So, I saw this headline from Christianity Today.
This seems to be an annual thing with Christians.
At least once a year, I see a major Christian magazine or blog publish some kind of article lamenting the declining marriage rates, or the rising age of first marriage, and that also push the idea that people should marry before they hit the ripe old age of 22.
Here we go again. Yet another one. (There will probably be another one in 2019, and one in the year after that, and so on and so forth.)
I notice that often times that the people who write these types of articles admit to having married pre-age 25.
I take it that the REAL motivation is that these people feel defensive about their life choice – they feel as though culture is “looking down their noses” at them for marrying young because most people today are not marrying at all, or not until they get to age 30.
The thing is, though, nobody cares that they married when they were 21! These sorts of articles are largely unnecessary.
If anything, the opposite type of editorial is needed, because authors like this one shame or judge people for not marrying young, or for not marrying at all. Christians continue to push marriage and baby-making as the “norm,” when the Bible does no such thing.
I will excerpt the editorial then comment on it below:
Excerpts from that editorial:
In a world of hookups and cohabitation, he took a leap— and made an act— of faith.
by REBECCA BREWSTER STEVENSON
…Then in 2013, the Knot Yet Report revealed that those averages are higher still: Couples now are postponing marriage to age 29 for men and 27 for women.
Why Millennials not getting married may be a good thing
Video on page:
The reasons millennials give for not marrying, according to this video:
Not financially ready, haven’t found what they’re looking for (the right person), feel too young.
The video also discusses other issues surrounding diminishing marriage rates and so on and so forth.
More Women Having First Baby Over Age 40 And Out Of Wedlock: 2018 Pew Study
…And not as many women are waiting for marriage to have those babies. By 2014, 55 percent of mothers ages 40 to 44 who’ve never said “I do” had at least one child. In 1994, it was about 31 percent.
Researchers noticed a trend across all races and ethnicities: Women as a whole have started delaying motherhood. This includes millennial moms — the report found the median age for first-time mothers is now 26, while back in 1994, it was 23.
Women are also putting off motherhood until after higher education.
Selvarani Kanagarasu, a daily wage labourer from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has shunned marriage so that she can take care of a prize-fighting bull. BBC Tamil’s Pramila Krishnan talks to her about her life.
Ms Kanagarasu, now 48, was only a teenager when she decided that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who raised bulls that competed in the state’s traditional bull taming contests known as Jallikattu.
Hollywood Movies: Affirming that Friendship or Platonic Love is Just As Good As Marriage
Certainly Hollywood – like Christianity – has been guilty for years of promoting marriage as being better than singleness, in that they often teach you are nothing and nobody until someone else loves you (romantically), and that you need someone else to “complete” you (and again, it has to be a romantic partner).
However, I’ve seen Hollywood knock out a handful of movies in the last decade that affirm singleness and friendship above marriage.
I mentioned one such movie in (Link): this post.
In the past two weeks, I’ve seen two movies on cable television that affirm friendship as being, just as important, if not more so, than marriage.
One of the movies was first released to theaters in 2015, the other in 2009. Both movies emphasize that marriage may not make your life better or happier.
Joanne The Widow Lady Wants to Know Why God Didn’t Answer Her Prayer to Keep her Husband With Her
Several months ago, the viewer question segment of the 700 Club’s show was called “Bring It On,” but for whatever the reason, they changed the name of the segment to “Your Questions, Honest Answers.”
On today’s (January 3, 2018) program, a woman named Joanne wrote Pat Robertson with this question (video below). I will type up a transcript of her letter (which was read aloud by the lady co-host) and then I will opine about the letter below the transcript:
Viewer Question Transcript:
My husband and I were happily married for 37 years. Every single night I prayed to God thanking him for my husband and the life we had together.
I asked God to never take him from me, for I had hoped that we would grow old together.
Then one day out of nowhere, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. I was devastated and I felt like my sincere prayer must not have meant anything to God.
Six New Things Researchers Found Out About Single People in 2017 by B. DePaulo
(Link): Six New Things Researchers Found Out About Single People in 2017 by B. DePaulo
… The ensuing decades have done little to dissuade social scientists of their certainty that single people were doing themselves a disservice. Until now. In 2017, it was that conviction that got wrecked.
As a psychologist, I study single people – their lives, their happiness, the stigma they face – and I can say that this has been a banner year for the publication of massive studies challenging what we thought we knew about their supposedly inferior life voyages.
New insights just kept coming: on sex and dating, on self-esteem, on what it means to be an adult. And they came just in time: In recent history, there have never been as many unmarried adults as there are right now. Here are a half dozen of the coolest discoveries about single people from the year 2017.
Demographically, single people are more powerful than ever before.
In 2017, the Census Bureau reported that a record number of adults in the U.S. were not married.
More than 110 million residents were divorced or widowed or had always been single; that’s more than 45 percent of all Americans aged 18 or older.
And people who did marry were taking longer than ever to get there. The median age of first marriage rose to 29.5 for men; for women, it reached 27.4. (These trends are likely to continue: A report from the Pew Research Center a few years ago predicted that by the time today’s young adults reach the age of 50, about one in four of them will have been single all their life.)
Why Is There Shame Around Being a ‘Relationship Virgin’ by B. DePaulo
I was engaged in my early 30s, so this isn’t wholly applicable to me.
I did have an internet friend who, when I was around my late 30s, she was in her early 30s, and she confided in me that she felt bad about herself because she had never had a boyfriend or been on a date or anything.
I don’t know if this would mean anything or not to the person who wants a significant other but can’t seem to get one, and who’s never had one, but – it’s not what it’s cracked up to be if you’re with the wrong person. I was engaged to a few years to a guy, but he was so self-absorbed and had so many other flaws, the relationship brought me misery.
In my view, it’s better to be single, or to be of a “never was in a relationship” status, than to have been in a lousy, non-satisfying relationship. The only thing I can say about my ex is “hey, I was engaged once.”
And that’s about it.
My ex used me, he was awful. I didn’t gain anything good out of our relationship, except experience and a resolve to never allow myself to be mis-treated by a guy ever again.
by B. DePaulo
I knew something was up when I got five emails in one day from people I didn’t know, all telling me they were “relationship virgins.” The impetus, I soon learned, was an (Link): essay in the Guardian about a woman who “managed to get to 54 without ever having had a boyfriend.”
…At the heart of this story were this woman’s attempts to answer the question: “What’s the matter with me?” Was she too awkward? Too desperate? Too insecure? Some of the people who wrote to me were grappling with the same question. My best guess is that nothing was wrong with them.
America, Home of the Transactional Marriage by Victor Tan Chen
by Victor Tan Chen
The country’s exceptionally thin safety net prompts residents—especially those with less-steady employment—to view partnership in more economic terms.
Over the last several decades, the proportion of Americans who get married has greatly diminished—a development known as well to those who lament marriage’s decline as those who take issue with it as an institution.
But a development that’s much newer is that the demographic now leading the shift away from tradition is Americans without college degrees—who just a few decades ago were much more likely to be married by the age of 30 than college graduates were.
Today, though, just over half of women in their early 40s with a high-school degree or less education are married, compared to three-quarters of women with a bachelor’s degree; in the 1970s, there was barely a difference.
Flying Solo in a Family-Centered Church by Joy Beth Smith and Gina Dalfonzo
(Link): Flying Solo in a Family-Centered Church by Joy Beth Smith and Gina Dalfonzo
Gina Dalfonzo shares an insider’s perspective on the frustrations of long-term singleness
This was never the life I imagined. My friends and I often sit around wondering how we got here. What boys did we pass up? What mistakes did we make?
What routines did we neglect, leaving us sleeping alone while the ticking of our biological clocks lulls us into fitful dreams? I don’t feel equipped for singleness.
All the youth group dating advice was predicated on the idea that marriage was in my future, that if I made all the right choices, kept myself pure, and sought after God, he would reward me with a husband. I’ve only recently gotten to a place where I can ask myself, But what if he doesn’t?
I’m In My 40s, Want To Marry, But Never Like A Guy More Than A Year (Letter to Advice Columnist)
(Link): I’m in my 40s, want to marry, but never like a guy more than a year. (Letter to Advice Columnist)
Prudie advises a letter writer who is fortysomething, wants to marry, but never likes a guy for more than a year.
Q. Uncertain: I’m in my early 40s, never married, no kids, but always wanted both. I’m in a relationship of 10 months. The guy could not be sweeter or a person of better character.
He loves me and treats me well. I was so in love the first six months but he is increasingly getting on my nerves—he is a bit quirky and goofy. And I don’t always find it amusing; increasingly I find it irritating.
Single Workers Aren’t There to Pick Up the Slack For Their Married Bosses and Colleagues
(Link): Single Workers Aren’t There to Pick Up the Slack For Their Married Bosses and Colleagues by B. DePaulo
Too often, employers believe that single, childless people are emotionally untethered and financially untroubled, which means they ought to be free to stay late, travel on weekends, show up on holidays, and take whatever vacation slots married employees haven’t already claimed— all of which puts singles in a highly unfair (not to mention undesirable) position. It’s time that employers stopped taking advantage of single employees—and started recognizing the truth about their lives.
Single people have important ties to friends, family, and community
Negative stereotypes about single people hold that they are isolated, lonely, and focused only on themselves—perfect candidates to come in to work, or to stay there, when no one else wants to. But research shows otherwise.
…In fact, single people do more to maintain their relationships with their friends, neighbors, siblings, and parents than married people.
…Single people are rooted in their communities and towns in significant ways. They participate in public events more often, and take more music and art classes. They volunteer more than married people do for a wide variety of organizations.
…The financial fragility of people who are single
Years before my employer mindlessly presumed that I had no one to support, my mother was widowed. But he never stopped to consider whether she needed my financial support. Other single people are providing support in other ways—for example, quietly accumulating college funds for their nieces and nephews, or welcoming them into their homes when times are tough.
She Was Basically a Slave in America And Never Married or Had Sex
This was a very long, sad, and interesting read.
The woman who was basically kept a slave her whole life in the United States never married, never had sex – she had those choices taken from her, in a round-about way. Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido, but the family that used her as a full-time, live- in domestic help called her Lola.
(Link): My Family’s Slave
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.
by Alex Tizon (who passed away in March 2017)
….During the 12 years she [Lola] lived in our house, I asked her questions about herself, trying to piece together her life story, a habit she found curious. To my inquiries she would often respond first with “Why?” Why did I want to know about her childhood? About how she met Lieutenant Tom?
I tried to get my sister Ling to ask Lola about her love life, thinking Lola would be more comfortable with her. Ling cackled, which was her way of saying I was on my own.
Women Who Stay Single or Get Divorced Are Healthiest
I can tell you that my fellow conservatives won’t like this news at all. Neither will the Christians who are into complementarianism and who like to shame singles for being single, who like to promote the studies that say that staying single will cause a person to be miserable or die younger.
(Southern Baptist Al Mohler loves to push those views (Link): on his blog. It’s sickening.)
Anyway, here is this from B. DePaulo:
(Link): Women Who Stay Single or Get Divorced Are Healthiest by B. DePaulo
A (Link): new study, soon to be published in the Journal of Women’s (Link): Health, provides fresh evidence that people who stay single instead of getting married, or who get divorced instead of staying married, are especially likely to be healthy.
….Here’s what changed when unmarried women (whether divorced, separated, or always single) got married:
- After they got married, their BMI (body mass index) increased.
- After they got married, they drank more.
- After they got married, their systolic blood pressure increased.
- Diastolic blood pressure decreased over the three-year period for those who stayed single and those who married, but it decreased less in those who got married.
Here’s what changed when married women got divorced or separated, compared to the women who stayed married:
- BMI (body mass index) decreased for the women who got divorced.
- Waist size decreased for the women who got divorced.
(( click here to read the rest ))
‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ TV Show Scene Perfectly Sums Up What It’s Like To Be Single at 40+ When You Had Wanted to Be Married
I just re-watched a re-run I had forgotten about. It really resonated – maybe not so much at the time, when I was in my 20s when it first aired, but now that I’m in my 40s and still single, like the character in the skit is, I totally relate.
I will embed the scene below in this post, that someone posted on You Tube (I so hope the video is never pulled down. Sometimes, videos are removed due to copyright infringement claims.)
“Everybody Loves Raymond” is a television situation comedy show that started around 1996. I used to watch it every week and still remember the characters and one or two of the episodes.
This show takes place, starts out, in the late 1990s, before many Americans had the internet – dating sites were still a good ways away, and cell phones didn’t really catch on until around the year 2,000 or a bit later.
Even when dating sites first came out and caught on, many singles did not want to use them.
Even up to around 2005 or so, there was a stigma attached to dating sites. If you used one at that time, you didn’t really want anyone to know, because they might think you were desperate or a loser.
I started watching “Everyone Loves Raymond” again in re-runs about two weeks ago – it comes on some of the local cable channels. If you’re like I am – single over the age of 35 and had expected and wanted to marry – you might really relate to the embedded video in this post, too.
To set it up for you if you’re not familiar with the show:
The show is about a guy named Ray who is married to Debra. Ray’s parents, Frank and Marie, live across the street from Ray and Debra.
Ray’s older brother, Robert (a.k.a. “Robbie”), is a police officer who lives with his parents – the guy was married to a woman name Joanne(?), and if I remember correctly, she won the house in their divorce. Joanne dumped Robert for a guy Robert arrested.
For a long time, Robert was too broke and too depressed to live on his own, so he lived with his parents. Eventually, Robert meets Amy, and they get married. But for a good long time, Robert, who is in his early 40s, is single, can’t seem to meet the right woman, and hates being single.
America’s Lost Boys by S. D. James (Why Men Are Not Marrying)
I don’t know how much of this I agree with, but it does pertain to topics I blog about frequently, so here it is.
I keep seeing conservative Christian men blame feminism for delayed marriage among men, and at least one Christian sociologist blamed Christian women for declining marriage rates, because he feels that single Christian women are unwilling to marry Christian male porn addicts – he argues they should marry porn addicts anyway (for real; see this post).
Yet another article I (Link): linked to previously blamed porn addiction – that men are getting their kicks from nude women online, so they don’t feel the need to date real life women.
This article is citing immaturity for why so many men are not marrying (the single men supposedly want to play video games all day long).
An older article on my site that I linked to (Link): blamed the poor economy.
(Link): America’s Lost Boys by S. D. James (Why Men Are Not Marrying)
Where have America’s young men gone? According to Erik Hurst, an economist from the University of Chicago, they haven’t gone anywhere—they’re just plugged in.
In a (Link): recent interview, Hurst says that his research indicates that young men with less than a four-year degree (according to virtually all data, that’s an increasing number) are spending their days unemployed and unmarried, but not un-amused.
“The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one-for-one with leisure time,” Hurst reports. “Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of twelve, and sometimes upwards of thirty hours per week.”
Hurst goes on: “These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they [are] quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, [such as that] they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games.”
Five Things Every Married Man Should Stop Obsessing Over Around Single Women by J. Kamps
Thank you, Jean Kamps! Kamps is one of the very few married (Christian) women I’ve seen who comprehends how terribly Christianity, especially married Christian men, treat single women – the way most to all married, Christian men ASSUME (wrongly!) that all single women are minxes out to bed any and every married man we come across.
(These married Christian men must have some ego to assume I find them attractive enough to want to boink. I don’t. Women are visual too and have sexual desire, but we don’t want to sleep with any and every man we come across.)
Often times some of the assumptions Kamps is addressing here in an article by a married Christian man, are taught under the BGR “Billy Graham Rule.” I have blogged on this topic many times before. I will put links to some of those posts at the bottom of my post, under “Related Posts.”
How Do We Solve a Problem Like the Singles? by Rachel Kilgore
Before I get to the link to the essay by Kilgore, which is hosted at MOS (Mortificiation of Spin / specifically, Aimee Byrd’s blog, ‘Housewife Theologian’):
For years and years on this blog, here on “Christian Pundit” blog, I have been explaining over and over again that most evangelical, Baptist, Reformed, and Fundamentalist Christian denominations, churches, and groups IGNORE adults singles – the older a single you are, the worse it is – the more ignored you are.
I have also commented on other people’s blogs under the Christian Pundit blog name, and under other names, alerting Christians to how horribly American Christians treat adult singles. I have Tweeted about it.
When Christians aren’t ignoring us older singles, and they do manage to notice our existence, many Christians shame us for being single. They insult us. They try to make us feel like we are losers (seriously, see (Link): this post, (Link): this post, (Link): this post), (Link): this post – I could cite many more examples from my blog of anti-Singles bias by Christians, but that should suffice.)
I used to be what is called a gender complementarian. I am not interested in spending a lot of time explaining what that means.
I am no longer a gender complementarian.
I am linking you here to a post about adult singleness at a blog (the one by A. Byrd) owned by what I would term “soft gender complementarians.”
“‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ [Book] Told Me to Stay Pure Until Marriage. I Still Have a Stain on My Heart” – Regarding: Dating Book by Author Josh Harris (with other related links about the IKDG book) and Criticizing “Purity Culture”
August 24, 2016 update: I added a new link at the bottom of this post: people continue to attack the idea of sexual purity by publicizing backlash against the Harris IKDG book.
I myself have never read the IKDB book, which was written by Harris. I have read about the book on other sites in the past, and it is my understanding the book discussed how to date, and other such topics, and is not strictly about sex or virginity.
The author uses this review of the IKDG book to bash “purity culture,” and in so doing, touches on the topic or staying chaste until marriage.
I am in the middle of this debate. I cannot completely agree with all the critics of “purity culture,” depending on what they are criticizing about it and why.
I believe that the Bible teaches both male and females are to sexually abstain until marriage, so I don’t believe in tossing out this teaching all because some young women feel they have been hurt or oppressed by it.
On the other hand, how some Christians have taught about sexual purity has been lop-sided – males are typically not addressed, only females – and Christians could do a better, or more sensitive job, in how they present the concept of remaining a virgin until marriage.
With that introduction, here is the link, with some excerpts (and note, I am not in complete agreement with all views in this piece; however, I’m not a supporter of a lot of Christian dating advice. Christian dating advice tends to act as an obstacle to singles who want to someday marry):
In 1997, Joshua Harris published “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” a book that was in part a warning about the harm that relationships before marriage could cause. Harris evoked images of men at the altar bringing all their past partners with them into the marriage to reinforce the point that love and sex before marriage took pieces of your heart and made you less.
At the time, Harris was just 21, but he was already a rising star.
…He [Harris] was what we, as young evangelicals, wanted to be. And so we strove passionately to attain the ideal of premarital purity he laid out for us. Now, almost 20 years later, even Harris appears to be questioning whether his advice did more harm than good.
…But Harris’s book was hugely influential.
…On the surface, I am a purity-culture success story: I am a heterosexual woman, a virgin until marriage, now with two small children and a husband I deeply love. We attend church. We believe in God. And yet, for me, the legacy of purity culture is not one of freedom but one of fear.