Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Abstinence is hard to market, it's not sexy.

Bonny suggested today's blog title as we were discussing this article at lunch this afternoon. ("The Case for Early Marriage" is the article for those of you not into clicking links.)

Excerpts include:
"Virginity pledges. Chastity balls. Courtship. Side hugs. Guarding your heart. Evangelical discourse on sex is more conservative than I've ever seen it. Parents and pastors and youth group leaders told us not to do it before we got married. Why? Because the Bible says so. Yet that simple message didn't go very far in shaping our sexual decision-making.
"Sex will be so much better if you wait until your wedding night," they urged. If we could hold out, they said, it would be worth it. The sheer glory of consummation would knock our socks off.
The problem is that not all abstainers end up happy or go on to the great sex lives they were promised. Nor do all indulgers become miserable or marital train wrecks.
In a nationally representative study of young adults, just under 80 percent of unmarried, church- going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort."
And from there, the article goes on to ponder "Where are all the Christian Men?"
"The ratio of devoutly Christian young women to men is about three single women for every two single men.
Given this unfavorable ratio, and the plain fact that men are, on average, ready for sex earlier in relationships than women are, many young Christian women are being left with a dilemma: either commence a sexual relationship with a decent, marriage-minded man before she would prefer to—almost certainly before marriage—or risk the real possibility that, in holding out for a godly, chaste, uncommon man, she will wait a lot longer than she would like. There just aren't as many serious Christian young men as there are women, and the men know it.

Men get the idea that they can indeed find the ideal woman if they are patient enough. Life expectancies nearing 80 years prompt many to dabble with relationships in their 20s rather than commit to a life of "the same thing" for such a long time. Men have few compelling reasons to mature quickly. Marriage seems an unnecessary risk to many of them, even Christians. Sex seldom requires such a steep commitment.

As a result, many men postpone growing up.


The focus of 20-somethings has become less about building mature relationships and fulfilling responsibilities, and more about enjoying oneself, traveling, and trying on identities and relationships. After all the fun, it will be time to settle down and get serious.

Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed."

Did you read all that? Do you have an opinion?

I do.

I always do.

I think it's totally OK for responsible 20-something year olds to get married. Yeah, sure, they're still young and figuring things out - but why not sort through financial issues, educational goals, maturity challenges together? First years of marriage are hard, regardless, even if you both are set in good careers and have gotten "traveling" out of your systems.

I should probably add that I think young married couples need older mentors investing in their lives. Wise young couples would embrace a mentoring relationship.

(Can you tell where I work. Jeesh. Before Arrow, I don't think I'd ever used the word "mentor".)

And one more thing that I humbly submit as a good idea is that I think every couple should spend at least as much on marriage enrichment (counselling, marriage retreats, books, etc) as they do on the wedding. The wedding is Just One Day. Marriage is forever. Invest in it already. One way might be to see the pastor who married you/did your premarital counselling every year on your anniversary and give him permission to ask tough questions about how things are going. If you deal with major issues at least once a year, they won't fester for 15.

I got side-tracked didn't I?

Listen to me dispensing marriage opinions like I have a clue.

I probably should comment on the whole dilema of the lack of 'young serious Christian men'. (Seeing how as there are 3 potential ones in my house, it's a little hard for me to say anything that won't be reflective of them.) But here are my thoughts on that subject:

If we're going to comment on the lack of YOUNG Christian men available today, then we should probably acknowledge that there is a lack of MATURE Christian men as well. (The male to female ratio in any church is always 3 females to every 2 males.) It isn't a new phenomenon that there aren't enough "good" men around. And I'm not commenting from a mature single woman's perspective. I'm commenting from a mother of three boys point of view. Young men don't mature into strong Christian men all by themselves. They need to have role models, they need to be inspired, encouraged, challenged ... they need mature Christian men to lead the way. If we want the young men our daughters marry to be strong men of God - then we need to be walking alongside them in their spiritual growth.

The next generation? Both men and women? Need us to invest in them. And keep on investing in them. Our grandchildren need us to.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Good lunch time conversations. Don't you wish you were there? (On our way back to our desks, we talked about movies. And I mentioned how motivating Julie and Julia was for me. Denise wondered if I was going to 'cook and blog through' the Company's Coming Cookbooks this year. Can you IMAGINE how big my rear would be after that?)

2. While driving Clint and Drew to Flip City tonight, I mentioned to them that there would be a meteor shower tonight. "Do you remem..." I started to ask Clint.

"Yes. In the field at Nan and Bups's. I liked those candies."

"Candies? I remember sunflower seeds. And the big stump."

"It wasn't a stump- it was a big rock. In the back field."

"Back field? We were in Blair's field - beside the green barn. Cows. Do you remember the cows coming up and checking us out? Max was scared."

"Max was there?"

Well, the details are fuzzy - but Clint and I totally remember watching a meteor shower late at night back in '92 with candy and cows.

3. Tank tops.



Anonymous said...

I read that article too and thought he brought up some good points. Thanks for posting on this as I've been thinking about it quite a bit and talking with our kids(when they're around.) I think the Christian community, as a whole, tends to simplify things waaay too much and doesn't deal too well with the nitty-gritty realities of life so that when our young adults face issues that aren't black and white and don't fit neatly in the box they were expecting it to, the tendency is to disbelieve everything they were taught. And something needs to change with that approach.

You mentioned mentoring for young couples. As the mom of an about-to-be married daughter, let me put a plug in for Paddy & Carole Ducklow's home-based marriage mentoring program. If your kids can find a church that offers this kind of pre-marriage counselling, grab it. Tenth Ave. Alliance is one and I wish there were more. My daughter & future son-in-law have absolutely LOVED this approach (how many of us can say that about our pre-marital counselling experience?)

And you're right too Jane, that we need to keep investing in those coming behind us. What could be more worthwhile? Thanks for letting me put my 2 cents worth in - I obviously have opinions on practically everything too!


Rebekah Joy Plett said...

Jane, it's been awhile since I've been to your blog and I think I landed here on a perfect day.

My first opinion is that the Bible says a lot of things and what they all boil down to is do this or don't do that because it will lead you closer/father from God. Some people need to do drugs and lose all their loved ones in order to be closer to God, which isn't ideal for anyone. So maybe instead of chastising young people for thinking about sex before marriage, those young people should be encouraged to put their faith in God work on being closer to Him, then all the rest follows.

About young people getting married: my parents had all their kids by the time they were my age. I think what has changed from then to now is that the sacredness of marriage has become so casual that a person gets married with an escape route, these days. "Well, I can always get divorced." Maybe if a couple is only married for a short time before getting divorced they should be flogged and hanged by the toenails. I don't know.

Yes. Invest in your children! One of the many great things about my mom is that she is willing to bring up difficult topics with me and uncomfortable subject matter in order for me to grow as a person and take a good hard look at the decisions in my life. Parents shouldn't be so sensitive to their children, and children shouldn't be so sensitive, period. It's like we all want to live our lives with rocks strapped to our backs so we can hide when ever something becomes uncomfortable.

This comment is too long. So thank you for letting me put all my words in, Jane. I'm glad you posted about this.

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