Will you marry me? Yes, No or Maybe

The average age for first marriages is older than it has ever been in the United States.

This is not because young adults are no longer interested in romantic relationships. Instead, cohabitation has become a popular alternative for couples under 30.

The U.S. Census Bureau claims that the number of cohabiting partners increased by 88 percent from 1990 to 2007. Couples who choose to cohabitate share property, mortgages and even have children together.

The institution of marriage has been devalued in today’s society as other life factors, like independence and career, take top priority.

Certain Christian communities have been criticized for encouraging early marriage. However, what many do not realize is that young adults are already entering into pseudo-marriage relationships, but are refusing to take the next step of commitment and legalization.

God created humans with the need for intimate romantic relationships. He also created the institution of marriage and even compares it to Christ and the Church.

Even secular sources have recognized that marriage is extremely beneficial. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “…in comparison with unmarried persons, married persons tend to exhibit greater physical, emotional and economic wellbeing…”

Also, the Bible specifically condemns impurity and sexual immorality. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

Throughout history, early marriage was the norm. Even in the 1960s in the United States, the average age for first marriage was 20 to 23 years old. Now, the average age is between 26 and 28 years old.

As a community, the Church should encourage early marriage among serious couples because it is healthy and the secular alternative leads to an unbiblical lifestyle.

Additionally, early marriage has not been proven to be linked with divorce. In fact, it is the couples who have lived together before marriage who are most likely to divorce. A study published in The Journal of Family Psychology points out that couples who live together before marriage report less satisfaction in their marriages.

In today’s world, the choice doesn’t seem to be between marrying or remaining single, but rather between marriage and cohabitation. While early marriage may not be the right choice for everyone, it is clear that the Christian community has the responsibility to protect the institution of marriage and to promote marriage over cohabitation.

Young adult Christians should be aware of the facts relating to marriage and cohabitation and should be wary of criticizing peers who chose to marry young.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db19.htm

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