Twenty years ago, the average marrying age for women was 24. Now, it’s 26.5.
While those figures consider the entire population, many evangelical leaders consider it an accurate reflection for the Christian population.
A recent article featured in World on Campus states that while many women are choosing to spend time establishing a career and enjoying a bit of independence before settling down, Christian women who do want to marry young consider “perpetual adolescence” among adult men to be a prevailing problem.
Perpetual adolescence, which is considered an issue beyond the Christian population, is the idea of someone who behaves like a teenager or a college student well into adult life. They are typically unmarried, with no children; working at a low-paying, nondemanding job; spending their income on having a good time now rather than saving for the future.
The article goes on to indicate that while the lack of marriage-ready men can be somewhat attributed to social changes, it’s not an even playing field for singles.
Women looking for relationships encounter difficulties partly because they outnumber men. It also suggests that women outperform men in ministry. For example, regular attendance, volunteer events and small groups seem to indicate a remarkable female majority in ministry.
Some local 20-something Christian singles did not entirely agree with the assertions put forth regarding the challenges in developing solid relationships.
Claire Lewis feels it is only in Christian subcultures that you find this rush to the altar.
“It’s laughable,” she said. “Most of my friends aren’t married and aren’t social pariahs or lamenters. At the same token, the myth of Christian courtship has seriously done a disservice to both Christian guys and girls who would like to pursue a relationship.”
A young single Christian man, Michael Stark said he would not defend perpetual adolescence among some of his peers but noted that wasn’t the only issue.
“If the general consensus amongst Christian women is the thought ‘All the good Christian men are taken,’ then I will make a similar generalization that can deflect attention solely from men,” he said. “Both men and women need to realize that their ideals may be more fantastical than realistic. I do not want to say that people should compromise on their values but that the exact embodiment of their wants may not be met.”
Stark said he rarely goes on dates, but when he does, it doesn’t take long to discern how he’s being portrayed.
“If I even dare challenge an evangelical norm, then I usually begin to get the vibe of judgment along the lines of ‘He’s not a strong Christian man.’ Perhaps it is true, but the questions I may ask and the challenges I bring forth are necessary for my existence,” Stark said.
Plus, with the rate of divorce at a high level, some young adults insist they would rather take their time before marrying in hopes the connection will last.