If you have a chance, take a look at the cover story in the August issue of Christianity Today, called “The Case for Early Marriage” in which the author Mark Regnerus urges Christians to consider marriage in their early twenties rather than their late twenties or early thirties. (He is careful to distinguish what he calls early marriage from teen marriage, which he does not recommend.)
He has good reasons. He considers it better to marry early than sign chastity vows that might (easily) be broken. He feels the church should spend less time teaching abstinence (though a good thing, as far as it goes), and spend more time preparing young people for marriage at a young age.
Young Christians are often urged to put off marriage for several reasons. One compelling reason is that their parents insist that they be financially independent when they marry, finished with college and employed. That can be a heavy burden, and a long-term engagement is like a sexual pressure cooker. He argues (and I agree) that parents should be willing to help out their married children as much as possible until they get established.
The second reason against marrying young is that though young couples may be in love,Â they are immature and inexperienced. Regnerus says that even if that is true, it doesn’t mean they are “intrinsically incompetent at marriage.” Being young and inexperienced may actually be a pro and not a con, for they may be more teachable than the older unmarried folks who have become set in their ways.
The third reason some oppose early marriage is that young people need more time to make a good choice, to find the perfect match. But here he argues that “successful marriages are less about the right personalities than about the right practices.”
Fourth, some think that the young are marrying with a shallow view of marriage, thinking that it is only about “the promise of long-awaited, guilt-free sex.” If so, Regnerus says, “family and freinds ought to do their best to help young couples discern whether there is more to their love than sexual desire.”
The final objection, he says, is that young adults sometimes look to marriage with unrealistic expectations.Â But this is why they have to “learn marriage” like they learn about about other things like child-rearing.
We sometimes joke in our congregation that announcing the new engagements is part of our liturgy. We have many young people, and we have many marriages. But that does not mean we don’t need to encourage better thinking about it all. Thus, the plug.