Monday, April 14, 2008

Marriage is at a Hundred Year Low

"Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage."

According to a recent study out of Great Britain love and marriage don't necessarily go together like a horse and carriage. Love seems to be riding solo, and marriage has dropped to a 110 year low in Great Britain. The Office of National Statistics reported that only 2% of single men got married in 2006, the lowest rate since recording began in 1862.

According to The Guardian, the average age of first marriages for men was 32 and 30 for women in the United Kingdom. In the United States the average age of marriage for women at 26 and the average age for men 27.

Jill Kirby, director of a policy studies center, commented that this is not surprising because the government policy has not been encouraging of marriage. But the government is not the sole cause for the lack of marriages. When the Church is silent on these issues, then the government and surrounding culture establish the worldview.

We are living in a pro-adolescent culture. Men are not encouraged to grow-up, but are expected to behave like boys and seek the next thrill, toy, or woman. Women are not encouraged to desire marriage, but are rather pushed to climb the corporate ladder and be independent. Suddenly we have adults living like kids while wielding the income and resources of grown adults. But it's not like these "kidults" are void of relationships. Instead of settling down and getting married, these up-and-comers are living together and putting off marriage. Thus, we see a downward spiral of the marriage institution.

The statistics might give us insight to the culture, but what about the vast singles culture within our churches. Are we faring any better? I praise God for the singles groups in churches that point their singles to Christ and exalt marriage. But unfortunately there are some singles groups that are more like a Friends episode then a story out of the Bible. These singles are not being prepared for marriage, but rather delayed adulthood.

Though men and women in churches may not be living together (though it is not uncommon), there is another predicament-men and women as best friends. It is the intimacy without the marriage. I have known many women who have hoped in the close friendships with male friends only to be disappointed when these men never reciprocated the feelings, but still always wanted to "just hang out."

The Church must talk about marriage like the Bible does. Marriage is not just good for the economy, or society, though this has shown to be true. Marriage is good because it was designed by God to point to the Gospel. When a godly man lovingly leads his wife, and when a wife joyfully submits to her husband's leadership, the beauty of Christ's relationship with his Bride is reflected.

Marriage can't be reduced to "the best option." God is not pleased when we choose another "option." The very fact that marriage is at such a low in England, and in the United States, is not because we aren't choosing good options, but because our churches are not speaking candidly and boldly about God's design for marriage. Ultimately, it's not about the economy and society being strengthened; it's about the glory of God being displayed in marriage. And that is what we lost when we gave up marriage.


Chelsea Bass said...

This is great, Courtney. I am wondering, though, if you would write a post on practical applications for singles ministries. Our church has a strong "college ministry," but there are a lot of post-college singles who seem to have trouble fitting in.

cdt said...

Thank you for your suggestion, Chelsea. I think it is great! I will work on the post and hopefully have it up soon. Do you have any suggestions?