Last Updated on March 11, 2024

“Sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal. The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues. Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognize the benefits of a revitalized sex life outside the home.

I didn’t write those words. They are from an article endorsing a new moral code on affairs, and is just a taste (no pun intended) of the kind of movement our culture is experiencing in an effort for the Sexual Revolution to transcend the wedding ring.  Just consider the $1 million “ransom” offered this past spring for any woman who could provide undeniable proof that she’s had sex with football’s symbol of integrity Tim Tebow. That wasn’t just about Tim’s virginity. It was about very married, non-virgins being lured into equally sordid relationships. Set by a website that matches partners looking to have adulterous affairs—think eHarmony but minus the harmony—it was really nothing but a cheap publicity stunt.

The argument being made by those advocating a new moral marriage code is that British and American divorce rates are higher than anywhere in the world, and the problem must be the lack of freedom to experience excitement in the bedroom. What a logical fallacy that is! And if we’re to maintain the holiness of God’s wonderful picture of Christ and the Church we’d better be able to dissect it as bad thinking and replace it with something better that will, in fact, reduce divorce.

I think a better solution is to encourage our kids to get married earlier! Yup, I just typed one of the most politically incorrect things a modern mom can think up. To honor marriage to the point of actually wanting, desiring, hoping for, and planning for it with your kids is completely behind the times. (I mentioned my prayers for my 22-year-old son to find a wife to someone recently and she asked me why I wanted him to get married so young.) I think it’s very much in line with God’s wonderful plan to hope your children find their perfect match. God says that “two are better than one” and “marriage should be honored by all.” Do we express that adequately to our children when we place greater emphasis on their career path than the road to marriage?

For one thing, the incredible sexual pressure we place on our children in delaying sex (when a young woman’s biological clock is ticking and a young man’s sexual desire is at his peak) makes it really difficult for them to wait.  A lot of them won’t. And in having sex with someone before they are married, they have proven to themselves that they are fully capable of having sex with someone they are not married to. What’s the difference after a ring?

Many parents cave in to myth that marrying young will increase the risk of divorce. But research conducted at the University of Texas and Penn State University reveals that the age-divorce link is most prominent among teenagers (those who marry before age 20). Marriages that begin at age 20, 21 or 22 are not nearly so likely to end in divorce as many presume.

The average age of first marriage has risen from 21 for women and 23 for men in 1970 to where it stands today: 26 for women and 28 for men. That’s five additional, long years of peak sexual interest and fertility that we’re cheating our kids out of when we pressure them to wait. If I haven’t convinced you, read Mark Regnerus’ article entitlted “The Case for Early Marriage” before you write me off altogether.

As for me, I’m going to encourage my kids to find that special someone and spend their twenties eating hot dogs and beans to make ends meet rather than bar-hoping like those so set on delaying the commitment that comes with a ring. Maybe we could decrease the numbers of divorce by increasing the number of people who really, really love marriage!


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  1. I have an extremely great marriage. I was married when I was 19 years old and My husband and I have been married for 19 years now. We owe our happiness to the fact that we were dedicated to a happy marriage BEFORE we were even married. If we would have lived selfish lives before, we wouldn’t have prepared ourselves for the unselfish service that the very essence of marriage is. Let’s follow after the Savior and be willing to live for something greater than ourselves; our marriage and family! Thank you for this reminder! I am with you!

  2. Dannah, I am so glad you said this! I was 20 and my husband was almost 22 when we got married over 8 years ago. We committed ourselves to purity until marriage and we were in love and so ready! We went through premarital counseling and read books on marriage together. I think there were probably a lot of people who expected us to fail because we were so young…but I think it only solidified our relationship as we grew up together and developed our routines and habits TOGETHER. I’m not sure why there is such a push to marry later in life, but all I know is marrying so young was one of the best things for us!

  3. Woo hoo! I must say I agree, though I’m sure many will be horrified by your “marry young” statements. Of course if they don’t want to marry young or haven’t found a suitable partner, no, but I’m not opposed to the thought of early marriage (21+) at all. I love the statement (and completely agree with!)- rather struggle to make it together than bar hop. I’ve told my kids everyone needs those early struggle days, at least a little, they are good stories to look back on, and build so much into you as a couple. There is such sexual confusion out there…it’s getting crazy. One partner, one marriage- let’s shoot for the ideal!

  4. Well said. We can all point to successful or failed marriages from two people married young as evidence for our opinion. However, when we point to the Scriptures we see evidence that God’s plan is good and right. My husband and I spend way more time discussing marriage with our children and very little time discussing careers, just as God does in His word. He values marriage and it is a gift. We would support our children getting married before completing their formal education…..and we value education! Why withhold a blessing from God?

  5. Dannah, I so appreciate your opinion on this. My husband and I were both 20 when we got married and we’ve been married almost 2 years now. We have a great marriage. I’ve been told numerous times “we’re too young to be married”. Once I even had a Christian lady who works at a Christian college tell me she would NEVER let her daughter get married that young, that no one’s mature enough at that age. She didn’t even bother to ask anything about us, she just assumed that we weren’t mature enough. My husband and I were together 3.5 years before we got married, as God had led us to do. God blessed me with the oppurtunity for my daddy to walk me down the aisle before he ‘lost’ his battle with cancer. I have been so incredibly blessed by following God’s timing, especially in regards to marriage, I don’t care if it’s popular or not. I will follow Him.

  6. Great words. My husband and I were 19 and 20 when we said “I do” over 12 years ago, and it was just what God wanted for us. Now I pray for our four kids to have the character and circumstances to marry early…glad I’m not the only one out on a limb. My kids’ integrity and the health of their marriage is a big motivator for me to ready them for a mate early in life.

  7. Melissa Hutsell says:

    I have had this EXACT thought for one of my sons who I KNOW will struggle with purity if he lingers too long in a relationship. My goal as they are young teenage men is that they will avoid girls altogether. Why play with fire? THEN…when they are in their young 20s, I hope they will meet wonderful women and get married young. Might as well start working at a good marriage young! I know my man and I married at 21 and have been at it for 19+ years! God is faithful…marriage is hard…God is faithful!

  8. Awesome stuff, Dannah. My husband and I got married at 21 and 22, and I feel this was the very best time for us. We did get a few people wondering if we were making a mistake. My favourite (keeping in mind that my family aren’t Christians), was when my grandmother voiced concern to my mum that we were getting married “so young,” and my mum reminded her that my older sister, who had gotten married that same year at 26, had moved in with her (now) husband at 21, and said “The way I see it, the only difference is that they’re skipping a step!” (my mum is awesome for being so supportive). The thing that I find most interesting is the difference in maturity between my 24 year old husband and his friends who aren’t married yet. Especially now that we’re expecting our first child, the focus in his life is just so different.

  9. I am 24 years old and am both a single woman and a virgin. I haven’t had a serious relationship ever – just haven’t met someone yet; my last date was over a year ago. I would really like to be married young. I just don’t see it happening (who ever does?). It’s very discouraging because I am fully aware that the way I make decisions is utterly selfish, and I don’t think that’s a very good thing. Sexual desire is not a fleeting thing and is definitely enhanced by this sex-idolizing culture. If I give in and have sex before marriage, even that will likely be extremely selfish.

    When I do eventually get married, how many years will it have been since becoming an independent adult that I have been alone and making choices based on me? On the other hand, there might be other factors that just might make the marriage potentially stronger – but I wonder what those are.

    My parents have never pressured me to either go for a career or go for marriage; they simply support what I do and encourage me in small ways. I don’t have anything hindering me from getting married except the one minor detail that there is no man to marry. Regardless, I don’t have a companion and leader, and I’m not having sex. What good news do you have for those of us who are simply waiting and looking; what can we do to prepare ourselves for the different types of challenges from a later-in-life marriage?

    1. Hi Laura

      I got married with 33 years and now with 39 I just had my second child. As I look back I can say I would not have been ready for marriage before 25. But at that time I thought differently. I have learned some very important lessons around that age. But that is me. When I read your post my first thought was: Don’t just wait. Enjoy the season of life you are in at the moment. Enjoy the freedom to make decisions on your own. God can use you so well because you are free. I used to travel a lot. I had many different types of friends and had actually the time to invest actively in friendships. I was very active in church. Taking up time consuming jobs. I had the money to support people in the mission field or what ever God wanted me to do with it. These are things I can’t do at the moment but I am glad I did. There are challenges are in every marriage. I don’t think you can prepare your self, except being close to God.

  10. I wish you could have been there the night the Holy Spirit instructed me to prayer for our children’s spouses. The quiet shock in the room was felt with my eyes closed! Funny, but after all that laughter by these innocent children, an amazing sacred Biblical discussion about God’s will for their marriages and families was sparked …been praying out loud ever since. Ages 13, 11, 9…Pray for success in Christ as we entreat married couples on marital principles in 9hrs…Thank you Bob and Dannah!

  11. I totally agree with everything you said. My oldest is 18 and I am praying that he meets someone and marries before he is 20. He has stayed pure and I feel like the longer he waits, the harder that might be to resist. I also believe that since he is now in the military, he needs someone alongside him. Anyway, great blog!

  12. Dana, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Why do we encourage our sons and daughters to wait for marriage? What kind of message are we sending to our youth when we tell them to go out and live life, and wait to get married? We are promoting the world’s “me first” mentality and encouraging selfishness in the heart’s of our children rather than encouraging them to satisfy their need for companionship and sexual pleasure within a marriage covenant. We are fooling ourselves to think that our sons and daughters are immune to the temptations of this world, especially during their late teens and early twenties when those hormones are raging. Why not sing the praises of marriage to our children rather than speaking of it as something to put off until all you’ve had all you fun adventures. Marriage IS an amazing adventure, and we need to show our children how wonderful it can be. They should be longing to find that spouse to share their lives with, and they should desire to begin this adventure before patterns of selfishness and lust are allowed to develop.

  13. Hope Taylor says:

    I don’t agree with the case for early marriage. Marriage is way more than just the sexual aspect of it. It is hard-work and takes a tremendous amount of energy and commitment. I think a lot more needs to be said for learning self-control. It’s not easy at all but can be accomplished with prayer and a very close walk with God. It’s all about priorities. So, instead of promoting early marriage just for the sake of staving off sexual desires, I say much more emphasis needs to be placed on self-control. I also believe premarital classes should be mandatory for everyone before they are issued a marriage license. All aspects of marriage should have to be covered in these premarital classes as well. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m not against marriage but I am for being completely honest. I think too many people walk into marriage blindly and don’t realize what it takes to have a healthy, happy marriage. There are many reasons why people seek divorce and it isn’t always about boredom in the bedroom, sometimes it is about issues of much greater importance. So, I respectfully disagree with the idea that marriage at a young age should be promoted.

  14. Great words of advice! Thanks. I’ve already tried to reform the way I talk to my daughter about marriage and higher education. I tell her she might meet someone when she is young and decide to get married earlier than I did, and that’s OK. She and her hubby might have to work their way through school a little longer. That’s OK too.
    I’ve also talked to her about the different ways some of her friends parents have lived (some of them married quite young and worked each other through school). The point I want her to see is that we all have arrived at about the same place, so there is no shame in marrying young. (How strange to even say that, but I think it’s kind of true these days.) Thanks again!

  15. It is encouraging to read this! I got married five months ago at 21, him at 22. We’re in our senior year of college, and thankfully, all of our immediate family is supportive. I hadn’t intended to get married so early! I think that when you meet him, go ahead and get married, whether that’s when you’re 20 or 35. We shouldn’t try too hard to slow down what God is naturally letting fall into place.
    Of course, getting married just for sex is a really bad idea–but people can do that at any age. My husband and I made sure we went through counseling, received our parents’ blessing, and tried to put ourself into maturing situations to make us better spouses before we got married.
    While I will encourage my friends and children to consider getting married younger, I also don’t want to make others who just didn’t find anyone until they were 30 feel judged, as I do for marrying young. God has given everyone their own unique timeline.
    I am very glad to be married now! Marriage is so less stressful than dating ever was!