Evangelical leaders have devoted a considerable amount of attention to the institution of marriage, often heralding it as the solution to many of our personal and societal ills. It's not surprising, therefore, that Christian singles have been egged on and admonished to embrace matrimony as their likely fate. Some writers have even gone so far to suggest that single Christians be invited into the homes of married people to help them appreciate the blessings of marriage.
Well, I think it is time for those who have such an elevated view of marriage to, pardon the pun, put their money where their mouth is. There is an old proverb about a sermon lived being better than a thousand preached. I hereby issue the 4ok Challenge. What is it? Simple. I want those who hold to the "normative expectation of marriage" for believers to provide me with some success stories of marriages that meet the following criteria:
1. A couple must have 2 or more children (because we hear so much about how couples need to embrace parenting and how a "quiverfull" is a blessing, etc.).
2. A couple must ideally depend on one income. Let's give the traditionalists the benefit of the doubt and put the financial burden on the man.
3. A couple must have been married more than 7 years (because we need time for the honeymoon to wear off and for reality to set in).
4. A couple must be happy and feel blessed by their union. They should have no second thoughts about their marriage. They should be able to draw from their own experiences in recommending marriage to single people.
Okay, we've got a slew of examples lined up, right? Well, hold on, because I'm not done ...
5. The household income of a couple must be $40,o00 a year or less. It must be for a family living in the United States. After all, not many of us can emigrate to other parts of the globe where the cost of living is lower. I think my 40k figure is reasonable. It's close to the median personal income of all men 25 years or older (the target group of the marriage pundits).
I want to see beautiful, glossy photographs of these people. I want to see their testimonials in the family bookstore aisles. Do we have any takers? Seriously, I'm am open to an attitude adjustment on this matter. The religious relationship experts out there surely have something to say about this. Click the e-mail icon at the foot of this blog post and send a message to them! Let them respond! In a society characterized by consumerism, income disparities, a high cost of living, and a lack of social support for families, I suspect that happy marriages are fast becoming a luxury reserved for yuppies and the such like. But, go ahead ... prove me wrong, dear readers.
Edit: The 40k figure must be what a couple is currently taking in as a household. I am not interested in how a couple lived when bell-bottoms and Shaun Cassidy were in style.
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