Puritan Calvinist has beat me to the punch in panning an article which appeared in this month's issue of Christianity Today about marrying young. I saw the hard copy at work earlier in the week, and like I told PC in the comments section of his blog, I was a bit dismayed when I looked at the front cover of the magazine and saw the title emblazoned there. My fear was that Christianity Today had drunk the Kool-Aid of the Marriage Mandate Movement.
I am in strong agreement with PC on one point: Unmarried people can live without sex (and that without too much effort). Any suggestion to the contrary flies in the face of the clear teachings of the Word of God, which sufficiently addresses the issue of choice and sexual responsibility (1 Thess. 4:3-5). My readers can attest that I have been quick to lower the boom on any statement asserting that "men can't live without sex, blah, blah, blah." That said, I can see some of the point made by Mark Regnerus, the author of the article in question, about the challenges of staying pure. The hoops we make people (especially men) jump though in order to get married well is, at best, an unnecessary barrier to promoting sexual morality.
Here is what the church should do: It should support a social trend towards making the goal of marriage obtainable, but nonetheless optional, for young people. Unfortunately, what some religious pundits seem to be doing is making the goal of marriage unobtainable by upholding unrealistic social expections (chiefly the ones they pile on men), and yet making marriage mandatory at the same time. This latter course of action is irresponsible, unscriptural, and downright stupid.
In his comments about Christian men, Regnerus drops the ball. Like so many other commentators, he can't resist the temptation to paint single women as victims and men as immature playboys. He also can't resist the temptation to overstate the benefit of marriage to a man's development as a human being. Ignored are the social realities of "lifeboat feminism,"shrinking economic opportunities for men, unrealistic expectations of men by women, the objectification of men as success objects, the Cinderella Paradox (where the increased socioeconomic status of hypergamous women collides with the decreased ability of men to be desirable mates for said women), male-bashing, the divorce industry, the domestic violence industry, the sexual harassment industry, our therapeutic culture's focus on making women happy above all else, and the simple plain fact that men don't need to marry if they don't feel like it (oh, and did I mention lifeboat feminism?).
Yet as much as I may disagree with some of the key points of the article, I though this line was pure gold: "In societies like ours that exhibit lengthy economic prosperity, men and women alike begin to lose motivation to marry and have children, and thus avoid one or both." Believers need to keep this in mind the next time they are tempted to blame the New World Order, environmentalists, Democrats, slacker dudes playing video games, or the such like for people not wanting to "play house."
At any rate, read Regnerus' piece with a large chunk of salt.