Do evangelicals place a high priority on marrying young?

Many of my evangelical friends were already engaged at 19-20 and got married while still in college. It just seems a little sudden. sure there were a few who dated in high school ,but quite a few met in college and were engaged pretty darn soon, and it isn’t for any sinister reasons (i.e. pregnancies) they seem to love each other. Anyway, do evangelical churches place more of a priority on this. I know a few people who are my age or a bit older (i’m 23) who are evangelicals and already worried they won’t find someone. In contrast, while I do have a few catholic friends who got married at 22 23, i know a lot more catholics who are single until their late 20’s while i can only name one evangelical i know personally who is over 25 and not married and he’s going to be a missionary in China so he is concerned, but is putting it on hold

It certainly seems as though they do, from my experience/observation only.

Some of this mindset comes from the “Bible Colleges” these kids go to. “Bible Colleges” are not places of higher learning, but places in which fundamentalist philosophy is disseminated. Many come away from these “Colleges” just as ignorant as they went in. They are mainly places for men who want a “degree” to be preachers.
I have no clue why a woman would want to attend these schools, since the only thing offered to them is “secretarial studies”, home economics, or teaching.
In many respects it appears to be a place to find a husband.
I know a couple of girls who have gone away to a particular Bible College. They informed me and my wife that two thirds of the graduation class are already engaged to be married.
Some of the guys do enter the ministry, some go back to low-paying jobs. Either way they (husband and wife) have huge loan payments to make for the rest of their lives.
One of the girls has told me that to many at this school, it is just a very expensive dating service.
I find it disturbing when a young man or lady goes away to four years of College, and is forced to work at Wal-Mart to pay off a loan payment when the only thing they received at the college was a spouse.

I had a former shipmate say a College education could be called Free Love, except the tuition is so darned expensive!:blush:

You know, it is strange I heard a lot of cru people/ evangelicals talk about how a lot of times parents would send their kids to christian schools to find a spouse, but most kind of laughed at it. However, even at my small state liberal arts college I attended this happened a lot (although most of the women did better than just getting wal mart jobs. One of my better friends is going to enter ministry, but his fiance wants to be a classroom teacher, and many of them had jobs in things as diverse as sports therapy, business etc.) It just seems wierd though that people get engaged that young. Granted at our Newman center 4 couples did get married right out of college, but there still were enough singles, and it’s one thing to get married out of college. I knew one couple who got married as juniors and returned to school for 2 years. You’d think they’d want to establish themselves

This is simply not true. In fact, I consider this post scurrilous.

Here is a link to the list of majors at an extremely conservative Bible college:

It is obvious that there are more majors for women than secretarial studies, home ec, and teaching.

Even if a woman chooses to major in secretarial studies or teaching, there is no shame in these majors, and they can and do lead to excellent jobs that provide a decent salary . As for home economics, there are jobs available, but many women who choose this major do so because they are convinced that their calling is to make a home–what’s wrong with that?

One of my friends graduated from this small Bible college, and she was a pretty sharp woman.

As for the OP, I really couldn’t say. I converted to Catholicism from evangelical Protestantism, and many of us did marry fairly young. But there was never any pressure to marry young. I keep up with several evangelical periodicals, but I haven’t read anything from any teacher urging Christians to marry young.

Some evangelicals get married young when they are determined to go to the foreign mission field because there are often age limits that the various mission agencies have for those wishing to serve overseas.

I hope that the OP doesn’t have a problem with young marriage.

Dr. Janet Smith has an excellent talk on “Young Marriage” ; this is the same Dr. Smith who speaks so wonderfully extolling the advantages of NFP. Many Catholic women cite her as a reliable source of information and encouragement.

Nowadays, I think that many young people are being pressured by the world, not their church, to wait to get married until they have their college degrees, advanced degrees, a thriving career, all their debts paid, and half of their retirement saved up.

This is all fine and well, but it means that a woman will be getting married when her fertility is starting to wane, and this can mean heartbreak when the couple decides to start a family.

There are a lot of advantages to young marriage.

I agree with you on this Bible College thing, but the curriculum at many of them is not as sexist as you’re making it out to be. My girlfriend is a senior at one such college… The motto there is “Ring by Spring!” I hear that or something like it every time I fly to visit her. I saw them playing a school-sponsored dorm game where you can take a fake wedding photo with whomever you like. And over the past year four of her friends (some of whom are insanely young) are engaged… One of the couples has only known each other for six months.

So while I don’t think the place has an overtly sexist agenda (my sweetheart is a
business major), there is a very clear early marriage culture that is perpetuated by the students themselves and student activities.

Having attended a public university I find these places to be very odd indeed :stuck_out_tongue:

The college I went to, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, had a far wider range of studies for women than others. Many of the mainstream denominational colleges do also.
In fairness, my wife often talks about many of her former classmates at the University of Pittsburgh who seemed to major in Husband 101. :smiley:

Do Catholics feel a need to delay marriage?
Why is marrying in your early 20’s considered marrying young?

AFIK the fellow evangelicals I know have seemed to have gotten married when they were ready to get married.

There is no standard Catholic age of marriage, I’m sure it varies from culture to culture. That said, in US culture I tend to feel that most college-aged individuals have yet to reach “adult” maturity, and many do not yet hold any “adult” responsibility or possess the means to financially support themselves.

This is of course a generalization, but it is true of many young couples I have seen get engaged.

I don’t think the OP was implying that this is somehow religiously wrong in any way, but it is a noticeable trend. I think he was posing an open question as to why this is and whether it is actively encouraged in evangelical communities.

EDIT- I have also noticed that many young single evangelicals are morbidly concerned over whether or not they will ever find someone. In my experience there are very real social pressures that lead to this mindset, and I do think that this is harmful.

Haven’t seen such, in fact now young people are getting married later than ever before. My niece just got married and she is 23 and catholic so it’s just not evangelicals. I was Evangelical and did not marry till I was 26, I still feel I waited to long but God still gave me the wife He had for me. :slight_smile:

Anecdotal evidence seems to par for the course in this forum.

The only Catholic girl I know was married to a 21 year old when she was 19. I suppose that blows the thing out of the water doesn’t it? :wink:

edit add - She was and is a US citizen.

In context they are not strange

If you don’t believe in premarital sex, then encouraging early marriage is logical.
Thus, I think it was the cultural norm for all faiths of students to get married in college, up to the 70s.

I believe evangelicals are maintaining a practice that others have abandoned.

And remember, love is a verb. It’s not about waiting to meet a perfect mate. Stats show waiting doesn’t improve marriage durability


Again, I don’t think he was trying to PROVE anything, I think he was posing a general query. It could be equally applied to many Catholic communities as evangelical I’m sure, but my own personal experience is that it occurs mostly in Protestant undergraduates.

I of course confess how limited of scope I have personally experienced, but I found the “ring by spring” concept to be rather startling. Again, no one is trying to prove anything, just seeing if there are evangelicals (or anyone else) who actively encourage this behavior.

The thread is formed as a question after all.

A Mormon girl I knew in high school moved out from Florida all the way to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. She had no career aspirations, in fact she told me quite honestly that she was going to meet her future Mormon husband.:slight_smile:

I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, in fact I think it’s a great idea for Christian colleges to foster the idea of marriage among the college-aged population. But as you said, the problem is whether or not they end up getting a return on their tuition investment.

There’s no Catholic doctrine that advises one to delay marriage, but as another poster said, I think it has more to do with the culture. Catholics living in 3rd-world countries, for example, would have younger marriage/baby ages than those in the US and other developed countries. Chalk it up to materialism/individualism, perhaps? I’m just guessing here, but I think the reason some evangelicals are able to circumvent the cultural trend to delay marriage is because they put a much stronger focus on networking/socializing than Catholics. It’s harder for Catholics to consider marriage at a young age when there is a significantly smaller pool of social activities for young people to engage in where they can meet a variety of like-minded people.

I’ve always thought this emphasis on camaraderie was very smart of the evangelicals.:thumbsup:

I don’t think this is a fair statement. I am an evangelical. My highest level of education is a master’s degree, but I hold three different degrees–one of them in practical theology from a “Bible College.” I did not marry until I was almost 32; my husband was approaching 35. I knew quite a few students at the Bible college I attended who graduated from the school single and unattached.

Sure, you will find Bible colleges where a portion of the students are there to find a spouse. The administration at some schools may even promote it. But I don’t think it is fair to put this stereotype on Bible colleges or Bible colleges students. In my experience at a state university, there were plenty of women who were looking for husbands there, too.

I also think it unfair to say that Bible colleges are primarily for men who who want a “degree” to be preachers. My Bible college had plenty of women. The degrees offered there included missions, music ministry, youth ministry, pastoral ministry, children’s ministry, deaf ministry … as well as a number of other programs. Our strongest and largest programs were in missions and music ministry.

See, I guess with me i find it a little strange, especially since one of my better friends is in a situation like your girlfriend (he met a girl last july and proposed to her by thanksgiving, I mean thats a little fast). I guess i’d take it slower, but then i haven’t had that experience so i don’t know. I just think its dumb to go to school just to get a spouse. I always saw it as education fist and if I got a gf then that was a side benefit.

I agree with you. There is a great variety of Bible and small Christian colleges. I am not sure if they were thinking of Bob Jones University. But in reality, there is nothing wrong with getting married in your early twenties. it should be the norm and not the exception.

This is really my only regret, that my wife and I didn’t find each other earlier and have children at an earlier age. Chasing kids is a young-person’s sport. The problem in our age is that we make people stay in school until their early to mid twenties before they are “qualified” to work. If evangelicals have figured out as a group how to get married earlier, so much better for them.

Well, at least kids keep you younger!:slight_smile:
Marriage makes one grow up and realize that life is not just about you. There is no blanket age that is right or wrong. In my late parents day, early twenties was too old. Sometimes I think that the longer people wait, the more temptations they have as well as the inability to settle down, grow-up and start families. The older one gets, the harder it will be to adjust and grow in married life. If evangelical young adults are starting to get married against the late 20s trend, then really good for them. They probably have less time for fall into sin and “live together”. Maybe if a number (not all) of our Catholic colleges would act and teach from the heart of the church and emphasize the importance of the sacrament of marriage, we might see the same trend.

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