Were We Created to Marry Young?

Were We Created to Marry Young?

Guest Post by Celina Hernandez

Not long ago it was the norm in America (and still is in a good part of the world) to be having sex (and having children) at sixteen years old. Our grandparents (or great-grandparents for the younger ladies) were married with several children by the time they were 19-20. And so it has been since the dawn of time up until about 50 years ago.

Awhile back, I was thumbing through my mom’s senior-high yearbook from 1959. These high school seniors looked like 30 year old women. And they acted like it too in many ways. Our immediate foremothers displayed maturity and skillsets in terms of resourcefulness, frugality, wisdom, and homemaking abilities at age 18 that the modern 35 year old American woman would be hard pressed to display. A lot has changed in a short time.

I do not believe that God made a mistake when he designed our bodies to mature fully by the mid teens. This is when we were designed to meet the person we were to marry and begin life together and that has not changed despite our culture changing. The undisputed optimal age biologically for a woman to have a baby is around age 16. This age demonstrates the very best outcomes for mother and baby. Yet we now have women having their first child at age 35 and the age is getting pushed back further and further. And now the expected age of emotional maturity in American society is also being pushed back further and further with “kids” in their 30’s living in their parents’ basements and the inability to launch into adulthood altogether.

Also, the oh-so-common phenomena of the “teenage years” is unique to America and NEW – originating in the last 50 years- referring to the time of intense clashing between parent and child. It has originated because at this age the “child” is not meant to be a child anymore.

It is extremely unnatural to NOT begin having sex at 16 according to the design that God Himself created. We are the ones who have created the crisis of teen sex outside of marriage. We minimize the legitimacy of teenage love/ attachment and label sexuality as something that must be resisted, with no viable alternative of marriage at this now unacceptable age. Teenage love is tritely coined as “puppy love” and when these relationships inevitably end and the teen is utterly devastated we pat them on the head and explain that this heartbreak is a rite of passage. It is not. The love that occurs between two teens at 16 is real and powerful because it is meant to stick for life because God originally designed it that way.

It’s time for us to treat our young people as young adults and acknowledge that they are no longer children when we see them maturing physically and displaying independence. We must guide them to godly independence, encouraging and acknowledging rather than denying. We must raise our expectations of them to their capability, which is far higher than we give them credit for.

The American culture of late age (if any) marriage with impossibly long courtships is a sure recipe for fornication for even the godliest of people. It’s unnatural and nearly impossible. I will be encouraging my children to find godly mates young.

There is nothing wrong with having sex at age 16 if you are married. It is not the age that is the problem. It is that we have stigmatized young people to believe that they are incapable of commitment. Society sold the lie to “live it up” first and not get tied down young. Yet we can look to our grandparents lives – many married at 16 and married for 65 years, and their parents before them and so on. They lived and loved fully and richly, and worked hard, giving their lives beauty and meaning. Instinctively we (society) sense they had it better somehow- that they were more fulfilled despite having less materially and having to work harder- but the “why’s” are elusive to the majority, even to those in the church.

We need to return to God’s order.

Luckily, the “pendulum swings”.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
Jeremiah 6:16

22 thoughts on “Were We Created to Marry Young?

  1. I have prayed my sons would marry young rather than late. However, they are now 27 and 29 and not even a girlfriend in sight. They would love to have a Godly wife but the pool seems to be loaded with feminist and short on Godly women. Still praying and even begging God for Godly wives for them.

    1. I know how you feel-it seems where we live everyone is so college/career driven and the young men don’t want to put the work in to have a serious relationship with a godly young woman who wants to be a wife and mother. They just want the “fun” part of the relationship without the commitment of having a family by God’s design. (This is coming from the other side-we have a grown daughter who has known since was 11, and hasn’t changed her mind, that she wants to be a wife and mother. The young men around here are not interested In that. It’s all about the fun stuff. 😕)

  2. You’re spot on, Lori, on all of your points here. I heard a speaker several years back say that in earlier times, puberty and marriage were within a year or two of each other – but nowadays, with bad hormonal situations due to hormones given to livestock, plastics, etc., we’ve pushed puberty to much earlier ages, and also pushed the age of marriage out to the late twenties or thirties. Thus, we’re in a nasty situation – unbelievers go for sex outside of marriage, any time, and believers expect twenty years of an adult sex drive to go unfulfilled. Both are bad situations and just lead to sexual sin. Thanks for writing on this!

  3. Thank you for your post. I was a virgin teenager when I married my husband and had my son. While I agree that women can bear children as teenagers, the time to marry and have children is a choice that God gives us. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matthew 19:12)

  4. It is.
    In many societies (India and many African countries, for example) women get married in their teens and men in their early 20s. It’s normal to have some age gap between spouses, since men and women sexually and physically mature at different times.
    The key is the patriarchal, multigenerational family. A young couple are not supposed to raise a family on their own. Rather their family is built on the basis of the husband family, tasks and responsibilities are gradually passed from the older parents to their children. Grandparents, uncles and aunts support raising children and mediate between any difficulties between spouses. You are never on your own. Families either provide a bride price (paid to the bride family) or a dowry (paid to the from family) and they pay for the wedding, too. So the new family is also financially supported, since they cannot count on the government.
    In the West, preindustrial and industrial society have clearly divided family (at home) and work (somewhere else). Workers are paid a wage for their contributions, so every one is on their own. This has inevitably pushed forward marriage age (together with education, compulsory military service and the disappearance of dowries). You might want to have a look at Wikipedia about the late marriage (read age 24/25) pattern of Northern Europe for some explanation of this trend.

    1. I am well aware what it’s like overseas but I’m talking about America. Not cultures that are not our own.

      My children are not my own once they are adults. They are not under my patriarchal rule.

      1. In America not really, because American culture is based on British culture (see the Wikipedia late marriage patterns information). However, the notion of romantic marriage started in the western world in the beginning of the 19th century. Before that all marriages were somewhat arranged, if only because marrying somebody your family disapproved of meant risking being cut off and thus not supported in times of need. Marriages were seen as alliances between families and the multigenerational household was the most common living arrangement.

        The transition from an arranged marriage to a romantic marriage is very well shown in Jane Austen “Pride and prejudice”. Reading between lines, while she doesn’t approve of marriage as a pure financial/practical transaction (Charlotte and Mr Collins) she doesn’t approve a marriage purely based on a romantic feeling (Lydia and George Wickham) either. In practice, the romantic marriage became dominant in the beginning of the 20th century, although I think that practical considerations were still playing a very important role.

  5. I just want to back you on this one. With a very small amount of research, it is clear this has never been the case in the USA.

  6. Having a young girl, it is scary to think of her getting married by age 16 (it seems like so few years away). But my husband and I always said we will be open and encourage her to be as well, to whatever the LORD has planned for her life, whether to marry young or to live in our home as an unmarried woman for life. As a side, that is another issue for us. We do not believe that it is God’s design for families to kick children out of the house (especially girls) when they turn 18/21/etc. We have always told our daughter that she will be welcomed in our home, under her father’s care and protection until she gets married. Our son too will be welcomed but will be expected to help contribute financially to the household.

    My husband and I got married “young” (21 and 23) for today’s culture. Many were so shocked (as we were in college/grad school). We were encouraged to wait to have kids (BIG mistake). Looking back we are so glad we got married when we found each other did not wait until the time many in the world are waiting (we wished we wouldn’t have listened to bad advice about not having children).

    1. I completely agree – most especially we do not believe that girls should live outside the family environment before marriage.

  7. I can add nothing to this post except a hearty “Amen!” I am one of those people who lived an extended unmarried life, certainly not by choice. The dangers and vulnerabilities to which women are exposed in such a situation…I could write a book. I often encountered the “fun” mentality a couple of the earlier comments mentioned, even among full grown adults.

    Celina Hernandez, thank you for writing! Lori, thank you for publishing!

  8. This was a mixed post. Some of it twaddle, some of it logical. People marrying at 16 happens. But its rare. I have heard from different areas that Mary, mother of Jesus was 13 when she had Jesus. Thats possible. But no evidence to support it. Its largely a catholic idea. I would support someone marrying at 16, depending on the circumstances.
    I have had seasoned midwives tell me that the teenagers that have babies handle it 10x better thsn the middle aged first time mothers. The teenagers havent established a business mindset. And have not been in established careers. The middle aged women have spent years in the business world. And when that mindset is forced to change, they cant cope.

    As for arranged marriages,statisticly, they last longer. However, when a dowry etc is involved, the bride often feels like nothing but a comman animal being bartered for at market. I know, ive talked to a woman that is in an arranged marriage. And a dowry was given.The caste system is also devestating.
    Teenagers can have babies thats for sure, but many with devrstating results. Particularly in countries where proper medical care is hard to come by. Many of them end up with fistula’s and are banished from their community. And thats if they dont die during the birth process. While i understand the authors reasoning, ill have to disagree with some of it at this point. A little dissapointing.

  9. This isn’t too related, but a person on the Facebook comments (Myka or something) just posted that a 12 year old girl, by that age, is “hungry for a male”. Please review that comment and delete it. I am positive that is NOT what you advocate.

  10. I too am wondering where the proof is to back this up. At age 71 I have lived long enough to know that this was not the norm. Neither my parents, great or great – great grandparents married at 16 and had many children by age 20. Nor could I find anyone else in my family tree going back to the early 1800’s that this article fit. What I do see are young women dying in childbirth along with their newborns. And many young men having the sorrow of burying more than one wife and more than one child.

    Looking back as a child of the mid 40’s to mid 60’s there was no way I would have been prepared to marry at 16 and have a child at 17. Nor were my peers ready. We needed time to make the transition from childhood to adulthood, from being dependent on our family’s provision to being able to provide for ourselves, to learn firsthand from experience what it meant to depend upon the Lord apart from our parents.

  11. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I just got married two months ago at age 34, and all I kept thinking since then was ‘I wish I could’ve done this 15 years ago!’ Hubby agrees. We met two and a half years ago. The only reason why it took us so long to get married was because it we lived in different states.

    I remember how tough it was to keep your integrity intact at age 16 when everyone else was experimenting with sex. Whenever a boy got the hint that I wasn’t going to give up the goods without a commitment (marriage), they immediately lost interest. I had some intense pursuers over the years too. A couple even got angry or pretended they were okay with me being a virgin, while they decided to look elsewhere. Once they found someone to crawl into bed with them, I was dropped like a hot potato (this one in particular truly broke my heart).

    I’m glad I held on until I found my husband, but I’m unhappy at the fact that our drives are not what they were in our teens and 20s. There’s also the possibility that we might not have children. It stinks to watch those that conformed to culture getting a chance to experience these things long before I got to, though I wouldn’t want to live through the fallout many of these people reap. They don’t learn from their mistakes, but they keep insisting (sometimes aggressively) that their way is better. It hurts to also hear it from family members who even tried to put me in precarious situations to change me. It made me feel like I was somehow broken and needed fixing.

    I do blame the change in culture. My mom and dad knew each other since they were 16 &17 years of age. They only waited four years to get married because of certain circumstances beyond their control. Both of their mothers were married at 15. Their fathers were only a couple years older and already working or going off to war. I often dreamed of finding someone around that age when I was young and thought that everything else would eventually fall into place. I’m sort of in a similar situation now where getting married was a high priority and we would figure out things later, but it should’ve happened in my late teens, not early 30s.

    The huge delay did open the door for other temptations which both of us are fighting to correct now that we actually have someone to be intimate with. Part of it is dealing with rejection that taught us to emotionally shut down when around someone we were attracted to. When I first met my now husband, he said he didn’t know if he was really capable of love. I myself wondered if love was just a fancy word for ‘horny’ because my feelings were heavily connected to my drive. You get the message from both the culture and believers that this is a bad thing, and you learn to just disconnect. Then you become lonely. You can’t trust your feelings anymore. If you do feel anything good at all towards someone, you immediately start to berate yourself for daring to have any of those feelings.

    It was much easier to let myself feel those things when I was young. It isn’t so easy now. I wanted what my parents had. They practically “grew up” together. It would’ve saved me and my husband a lot of heartache if we had gotten married young. So many broken dreams. We’re lucky to have someone help pick up the pieces and make something out of them. Others aren’t so lucky.

    Lily

  12. I enjoyed this post. I would never condone one of my children marrying at 16, but you are right that our culture has gone SO FAR away from what is natural and biological. We absolutely put people in a position to sin. I met my husband when I was 16 and he 19. We have been together 22 years now so I really relate to your description of teenage love. I did not even consider marrying him in my teens because I thought it was “bad” “wrong” whatever. So we got married when I was 23. At age 18 I began having dreams at night of babies. It was the strangest thing. I wasn’t even the type to WANT babies and here I was dreaming about them at night and then waking up feeling like I needed a baby. I knew what the issue was: I was in love, we had been together for two years, and it was my deepest biological self speaking to me. Soon after that I begged my dad to let me get a cat. He never knew why I wanted a cat so bad, but that was it. And then I begged for another cat. Two cats to assuage that feeling that was inside of me. When I moved out of the house, I left those two cats at my dads, and got a new kitten for my new apartment. When my husband and I finally married and he moved in, I had gotten another kitten. So between the ages of 18-23 that’s 4 cats. As soon as I had my first daughter I couldn’t stand my cats anymore. (I still treated them well, pet-policemembers-out-there.) All this to say, I relate to this post very much. I am 38 now, and my oldest is 12. In my mind, the youngest I will allow a child of mine to marry is 19. But I do support young marriage if one of them has a mature spirit and finds the right person. I hate when people say they will not let their daughter even consider dating until she is 30. I think it is such a stupid thing to say.

  13. There are several issues here. Firstly the wrongheaded emphasis placed on career, over family and motherhood encourages women to marry much later than they should and the promotion of contraception which (aside from being against God’s design for marriage) actively promotes promiscuity and allows men to get all the ‘fun’ (for which read fornication) of marriage without the commitment.

    God’s plan is different for everyone but I think he really means us to marry as young adults, not as teenagers and not too late.

  14. I believe the comment on Patriarchal Societies is missing a key biblical principal. That a man should LEAVE his father and mother and cleave to his wife. While I was married at 18 and my husband 21, we had some very difficult years. I believe these cultures in which this happens (purely opinion) seem to be in places where the lifespan is shorter due to lack of medical care, or where there seems to be someone going off to war with little hope for five years from now. (Even I married with partial reasoning of my husband being deployed very soon thereafter.)Self – control is also something to be practiced, and how can we practice Self – Control of the body without the desires placed on the body. Not the first desire is to then be given into. Paul also encourages singleness as to the work of the Lord. I do believe singleness can also be the Lords will until 30’s or 40’s or later while still at some point blessing you with a spouse. If I had married the first person I fell “in love” with I think I would be in an entirely different place as much of it was based on physical attraction and not the heart qualities of the person.
    I would never encourage my daughter to marry simply because she was physically a woman. Even the Bible does not consider a child an adult until the age of 20, based on the children of Israel who got to go into the promised land.

  15. I met my husband at 14, he was 17. I would have married him at 16 if my mom would have signed the papers. I married him when I was 18. Many, many people said we were too young and it wouldn’t last. Well, 22 years later and I love him even more now (if that is possible) and we are still together. I was told that I shouldn’t get married because I was “too smart” to not go to college. Had a family member even offer to pay for it if I would go. For me, it would have been the biggest waste of money because I know I was meant to be home and take care of my husband and our son. I know if I would have went to college, I would have become someone that couldn’t look at herself in the mirror. You see, I know my place in this world is supporting my husband— obeying him, honoring him, respecting him. All those things that people in the business world tell women they shouldn’t do. I did work for a little while and I was miserable because deep down in my heart, I knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

  16. I wholeheartedly agree! As a Registered Nurse with 22+ years of Labor and Delivery experience, I can tell you, that no 16 year old, or even 17 year old, has ever handled labor well. While they may indeed be physically/biologically able to conceive and bear a child, they simply are NOT ready emotionally for labor, or even raising a child.

  17. I was sixteen years old and a virgin when I married my husband, he was 19. We didn’t have our first child until I was 35, he was 38 (we just couldn’t have any babies and I had 2 prior miscarriages). We have been married for 31 years and love each other very much. No one can turn my head like he does. He is truly the love of my life. No regrets.

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