Marrying later in life has been identified as one of the factors contributing to an ongoing decrease in divorce rates. But, according to Southern Baptist leadership, people should actually be marrying younger rather than older.
Leaders of the country’s largest Protestant denomination have a message for millennials: get married already.
The Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention and its nearly 16 million members continue to resist societal trends like gay marriage and cohabitation. They also want to go against the grain on the rising marital age.
Why? Well, at least in part to solve problems the church has created.
Andrew Walker is out front on this issue, working for the denomination’s public policy division. Married at 21, Walker sees a sinful side to waiting. For one, it makes the church’s expectation of virginity, in his words, “impractical.”
“The reality is, starting at the age of 12, 13, boys and men, growing up into maturity, are hardwired for something that God gave us a desire for and an outlet for,” Walker says. “And so to suppress that becomes more difficult the older you get.”
Religion constructs an “impractical” ideal for human sexuality and burdens people with ideas of sin if they fail to live up to its mandates on the topic… and instead of reexamining the impractical rules, their solution is to add new ones.
Of course, it would also benefit churches if young people spent their early adulthood locking themselves into religious marriages, communities, and possibly new families, just as they were reaching a level of maturity and curiosity that might lead to questions that would prove uncomfortable to religion… particularly when such questions might imperil those new relationships.
When it comes right down to it, though, rushing into a lifelong commitment in order to avoid premarital sex seems like a terrible solution to a non-problem. It’s just more bad advice meant to mitigate the impact of previous bad advice.
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