Early marriage might not be a problem; instead, it might just be a solution. In Young and in Love, Pastor Ted Cunningham boldly suggests that early marriage is not as harmful as many believe and even offers the solution to staying sexually pure. He guides young adults through the arguments against early marriage and then reveals the secrets to creating a healthy, successful, and life-long relationship in early adulthood. Q&A with Ted Cunningham, Author of Young and in Love
Q: Over the past century, the national average for marrying age has increased and has continued to creep upwards. In the 1950’s, for example, marrying at 20 was the norm. Why are that many people waiting until they are older to marry?
The two primary reasons for delaying marriage today are fear of having a marriage like their parents and prolonged adolescence. First, mom and dad may have been committed but did not enjoy one another. Second, they grew up in homes where they were given too much privilege and not enough responsibility. They were not prepared or trained to be a husband or wife.
Q: Why has marriage become discouraged at a young age? Do you think the Bible encourages young love?
Young marriage is discouraged because parents and the young adults themselves know they are not ready for marriage. The Bible has two stages of life: childhood and adulthood. There is no in-between. When you left home, you cleaved to your spouse (Gen. 2:24). Marriage and adulthood are linked.
Q: Do you think the struggle our generation has with sexual impurity can be linked to the fact that marriages are being delayed? Do you think that young adults would be more sexually pure if they married earlier?
It would certainly give them more hope. After they reach puberty, we implore them to wait 15+ years. We teach them to delay sex until marriage. Most are having sex and delaying marriage.
Q: Why do you think that “purity” talks are failing with Christian youth?
We’ve been teaching them how to honor purity, not marriage. The Scripture calls us to honor marriage and purity is just one way to do that (Hebrews 13:4). We need to prepare them to be husbands and wives. Purity is a lifelong pursuit for all Christians. It is not an issue for singles alone.
Q: You were 21 when you first called home to tell your parents about Amy, who would soon become your wife. How did your parents respond to your news? Were her parents supportive?
Our parents were more than excited because they knew we were ready for the responsibility.
Q: At what age do you encourage marriage? When do you believe that someone is too young?
For starters, you must be a legal adult. The youngest couple I have ever married was 19. Their life circumstances forced them into adulthood at an early age and they understood and embraced responsibility. I’ve married thirtysomethings with less maturity than this couple. Again, the issue for me is not age, but maturity.
Q: Can you give us some examples of unnecessary and necessary delays for marriage?
Necessary delays would include finishing high school and seeking your parents’ blessing. Going after mom and dad’s blessing is a huge mark of maturity and a fantastic transition from childhood to adulthood. Unnecessary delays would include waiting for a fat bank account, finishing college or graduate degrees, getting settled into the perfect job or exploring an extended season of self-exploration (independence).
Q: Many people think you should be more financially secure, for example, because money is such a big issue in marriages. In this economy, that may not even be possible, but how big of an impact does that have on a young marriage?
Plan on a poor or modest start. That may mean coffee from gas stations, used cars and hand me down furniture. You may need to start with flip phones. Delay iPhones, iPads amd Macbooks, not marriage.
About the Author: Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. He is the co-founder of Two Ignite, a local church movement created to strengthen marriage through adventure. Ted is a speaker with the Smalley Relationship Center and has co-authored four books with Dr. Gary Smalley: The Language of Sex, From Anger to Intimacy, As Long As We Both Shall Live, and Great Parents, Lousy Lovers. He has been a guest on Focus on the Family, Life Today, and Moody Radio. He is a graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary. Cunningham loves seeing lives changed, marriages rescued, and families saved. He met his wife Amy on a blind date at Liberty University and determined to marry her that night. Although he didn’t ask her then, she said “yes” to his proposal a year later. Now married for 15 years, they both love taking road trips and boating on Table Rock Lake with their two kids who reside with them in Branson, MO.
Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunningham David C Cook/July 2011/ISBN: 978-0-7814-0447-1/224 pages/paperback/$14.99www.davidccook.com ~ www.tedcunningham.com