Among my young female peers, marriage is often labeled an oppressive social construct, sexist, or just plain unnecessary. With this lack of interest in marriage comes a lack of respect (and understanding) in the concept of holy matrimony that I’d like to explore a little more here.
An article published by Pew Research presents not entirely surprising numbers on the current generation’s marriage rates.
In 2012, one in five American adults ages 25 and older had never been married compared to the year 1960, which showed only 1 in 10 people in this age range had never been married. Further, about 67 percent of people from ages 18 to 29 agree with the viewpoint that “society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”
So many of the young women I am surrounded by, as well as myself, have been conditioned to believe that our happiness is what is most important in our relationships. While happiness is a temporary benefit, what should be reaped from God-given holy matrimony are lasting things such as mutual joy, commitment, loyalty, and spiritual growth.
Our generation has twisted the concept of being in a defined marriage. The cultural distortions of human sexuality and gender as a self-identity have only weakened matrimony, not strengthened it.
With the feminist movement influencing so much of what is happening in the present day, anything that comes with the word sexist or traditional attached to it immediately creates wariness in many young women and even young men.
Cosmopolitan magazine released an article titled, “Don’t Ask Your Girlfriend’s Dad If You Can Marry Her” in late August that advocated for exactly what the headline begs of its readers. The author issues warnings about the sexist customs of a traditional marriage. She writes:
There’s a lot about American marriage traditions that are sexist, and a lot of sexism that gets rewritten as romance. But perhaps second only to women overwhelmingly folding their names and identities into their husbands when they marry is men asking their girlfriend’s father for permission to marry her. Which is why those of us in feminist relationships should reject that norm – or at least understand that by partaking in it, we’re reinforcing a deeply sexist practice.
My generation has been geared to strive for our own personal success above all else. Millennials, including many young Christians, buy into the notion that society will deem us less driven people if we put family before careers. The goal is to avoid being trapped into marriage and family that will put limits on our personal happiness and success, or so we’re told.
The data tells us a different story. Family first lends to a more stable socio-economic standing, according to a study by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The study found, “Young adults who put marriage first are more likely to find themselves in the middle or upper third of the income distribution, compared to their peers who have not formed a family and especially compared to their peers who have children before marrying.”
Beyond stability and success, marriage is first and foremost about honoring God in our relationship. Society’s permission or acceptance is irrelevant when God joins husband and wife.
I’m sure marriage isn’t without its challenges, even for the Christian couple. But when a marriage is built and maintained on the foundation of God, it seems to me that husband and wife are on the road to success. His or her aspirations, talents, and passions are combined with another’s and are intertwined to create a unification of God-given abundant life.
To all the young women who refuse to think about marriage or to allow themselves to succumb to the idea of being a wife, let go of the stereotypes. Allow yourself to view marriage as a God-given, beautiful gift that exemplifies the very relationship between Christ and His church, as described in Ephesians 5. I’ve come to believe holy matrimony is anything but a worldly institution that elevates sexism. Marriage is a sacrament, a visible sign of the inward grace of God.