True love waits. Guard your heart. Establish boundaries.
Young Christians today have heard them all . . . all of the “purity” sayings, that is. We have heard sermon series in church, women’s retreats, and Bible studies that advertise these slogans, and many have purity rings with their famed words engraved. It’s been the answer since the Bible commanded followers to remain pure until marriage, and it continues to be the answer today: sex.
I've even known Christians to get married very young because of outside pressure that I believe was based on this mentality. If a couple has no intentions of getting married after only a few years (or even months!) of dating, “obviously” they are having sex. There’s no way people who are “in love” can wait that long to have sex, right?
Hopefully, by now, you know that I’m being sarcastic, that it is possible to wait -- yes, even when you’re in love with someone. While I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying that it’s possible. I’m also saying that sex is only ONE part of a complicated relationship called marriage and that the honeymoon stage only lasts for a short time.
So while I do believe sex is an incentive to get married, I also believe there is an underlying factor, a factor that makes it very appealing for a young woman to get married right out of college: security, especially financial security.
Picture this. The employment rate is a little over 8 percent. One in two new graduates is jobless or underemployed. Parents, who once paid for college tuition, food, and rent, are now “cutting the strings.” College is over. Getting a graduate degree is too expensive and requires more studying.
What’s a girl to do?
Get married, of course!
I am still a student. I have a couple of years until the terrifying nightmare of finding a job in the broadcast journalism world becomes a reality. So perhaps I am not one to judge. However, I do believe there is an advantage of placing oneself completely out of one’s comfort zone. Why? Because that is a time God can use to work in a person’s life.
Emily Colson once said in an interview about her book "Dancing with Max," “Your faith is really anchored when you’re caught in this tension of not knowing how you’re going to go on and knowing you’re not going to quit. And so right in that space, between those two points, is where the only thing you have to hold onto is God.”
I think young women see early marriage as a perfect way to escape that space, to escape the fear of being independent. This is an unfortunate situation because this possibly unsure and unpredictable time after college can be crucial in a woman’s life, a time when she can find God and discover that He provides. It may not be easy, but it may very well be worth it. At some moments, the only thing to hold onto may be God. Although scary, what an incredible and faith-increasing experience!
Pastor Wicker of First Baptist Church of Naples, the church I attend, once said in a sermon that he advocates for “long courtship and short engagement.” Courtship, he said, allows time for knowing the other person in all kinds of moods, seasons and challenges. However, I believe Christians are now adopting the mentality of short dating and even shorter engagements.
However, Pastor Wicker also said that Christians must ask the question, “Will it bring glory to God? Once you know His will, why delay the glory?”
I agree with his statement. But I also think that young women should be careful not to use the glorification of God as a copout. Engagements should not be the result of fear and doubt, and should not come about because we don’t trust God’s timing or His ability to fulfill both our financial and emotional needs.
So while some (not all) Christians are using the famed “sex excuse” as a reason to quickly get engaged, I think that, for some people, there may be an underlying reason, a reason that may be even more shameful to admit than the purity scapegoat: insecurity and fear.
As a woman, I am encouraging other women to not feel pressured to get married right out of college or even after only a few months of dating for security reasons. Use that time of independence to build trust in God and listen to His plan. We must learn, as all Christians must learn, to find our worth in Him.
Image courtesy of College Cures.
Megan Schultzis a student of broadcast journalism and political science at the University of Missouri.
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