Not only do some people think that only men and women can have valid, happy, successful marriage, but that really, truly the only thing that matters is the gender of the partners. For real. You don’t need to have shared history or interests, have similar goals and plans for the future, be compatible in any of the standard ways. There are now advocates for a style of marriage-making that go beyond kissing dating goodbye and are even more extreme than courtship – modern day betrothal.
That’s right. Betrothal. An arranged marriage. You too can have a marriage just like Mary and Joseph! Advocates quote Martin Luther on his advice about marriages:
To sum the matter up: whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at; then let him strike out in God’s name and get married. A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen; that’s when they are still in good health and best suited for marriage. Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them. Should he fail to exalt you and them here on earth, then take satisfaction in the fact that he has granted you a Christian marriage, and know that he will exalt you there; and be thankful to him for his gifts and favors.
In the several articles I’ve read under the tag “True Love Doesn’t Wait,” not a single author has tried to walk Luther back from the precipice of statutory rape. I realize times were different then, that people lived considerably shorter lives and that pregnancy and childbirth were so little assisted by medicine that only young women could be counted on to be healthy and strong enough to survive. But none of that is true today. Fifteen year-olds are children, hell, twenty year-olds are often still children. Proponents of such early marriages want parents and church leaders to choose marriage partners then send them down the aisle lickety-split. As in days. Neither men nor women should pursue each other because only God creates love and marriages. Marriage is God’s buddy-system. Just pair up! You’ll learn to live with each other eventually.
Listen to some of this utter insanity:
“Arranged marriages”? Yes. Or that is what the world would call it. Arranged betrothals. Thousands of them. Tomorrow. *
Our young people are supposed to be marrying young, not mature.
What would be the implication if our families and churches were to teach, in as big and bold a campaign as ‘true love waits’ that ‘true love marries’? (or, better, ‘better to marry than to burn’ or ‘rejoice with the wife of your youth’) What message would that send to our young people, their parents, and their pastor/elders? How could they justify their sitting on their hands and ignoring the Scriptural mandates? *
I should say this, some of the reasons that the author gives for this type of marriage aren’t crazy. He argues that people are waiting for the perfect husband or wife to come tap them on the shoulder and, shockingly, getting disappointed that this doesn’t happen in real life. Spouses aren’t perfect. It isn’t “settling” to marry someone imperfect. Everyone is imperfect! There are issues that couples won’t really get ironed out until they are doing “being married” in day-to-day life.
But my small agreements with the author don’t undercut how very intensely (excessively even!) distressing I find this. Fifteen year-olds should not marry. FIFTEEN YEAR-OLDS SHOULD NOT MARRY. The church should not be encouraging statutory rape (and very possibly regular, non-consensual rape of children too young and sheltered to even understand the sexual commitment they are making). THE CHURCH SHOULD NOT ENCOURAGE RAPE OF ANY KIND.
Why do these things need to be repeated so often? Why would you let someone who believed these atrocious things give you advice about your own or your children’s love lives?
People be crazy.
* Edited slightly for grammatical clarity and spelling. This article is where all of these quotes have come from. All the quotes are from the author in the comments section.