Forget Chastity: Marry Earlier, Say Evangelicals

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2009 6:47 PM CDT
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(Newser) – The evangelical stress on abstinence until marriage is fantastic, writes Mark Regnerus—himself devout—in Christianity Today, "but promoting it has come at a cost." Doing so has "turned our attention away from the damage that Americans are doing to the institution of marriage by discouraging it and delaying it," Regnerus writes. We tell our children to work toward a career, be independent, and battle their sexual urges, "when in fact we are battling them far longer than we were meant to. How did we misdiagnose this?"

“When people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex,” Regnerus writes, and it's a message that's spreading to the broader evangelical community. Though many hurdles can face young couples, "the data suggests that marriages that commence in the early 20s are not as risky as conventional wisdom claims," he notes. The institution is so helpful and central to the faith that congregations, instead of discouraging marrying young, should let kids “know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime.”