A Christian mother and regular reader of my blog asked “Would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids?” To ask such a question in America in the year 2019 seems patently absurd. Of course, society would NOT be better off if girls could marry as soon as they menstruated! Before we go further to address the obvious absurdity of this woman’s question here is the full email from her below.
Here is the complete email I received from a woman calling herself Rebekah:
“Long time reader, first time writer. First, I want to thank you for your trenchant insights, observations, and monologues. It’s great to find a man with such a passion for Christ and a traditional way of life. I’m a married mother with 3 daughters (12, 13, and 16) and (15) one son and my hubby and I are raising them to be good Christians and to abide by traditional gender roles.
I recently had a discussion with my husband about the expectation for marriage and we wondered, would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids? My two eldest daughters are certainly capable, and they are very motherly already.
What is your opinion?”
Why do such statements as the ones above evoke such a sense of righteous indignation from most of us in modern America and Western culture? We will discuss these reasons next.
Why Modern Society Disapproves of the Pubescent Marriage of Women
Ancient and medieval historical records can attest to the following statement that was made in an article entitled “Child Marriage – Rationale, Historical Views, And Consequences” :
“Child marriages involving only one marriage partner below the age of 18, usually the female, are also quite common. Throughout history till the 20th century, child marriages were the norm in most parts of the world. With the average life expectancy during such times being only 40 to 45 years of age, child marriages were the faster way to reproduce. Girls were usually married off as soon as they reached puberty or sometimes even prior to that.”
In the same article they mention in addition to shorter life expectancies that there were often economic reasons as well:
“Over the years, a large number of reasons have been suggested as triggers behind the practice of child marriage. Economic problems have been one of the primary factors that have forced parents to marry off their young girls. The system of dowry prevailing in many countries where parents of girls have to bestow hefty sums of money or expensive goods and ornaments to the in-laws’ families of their daughters have led to the consideration of the girl child as a burden in such households. However, the high demand of young girls in the marriage market have helped parents marry off their girl child to an older man, often receiving money in return, allowing them to overcome the burdens of dowry and even economically benefiting from the process.”
But in the same article we then find the reasons for our modern Western society’s disapproval of marriage for women of pubescent age:
“Child marriage is associated with scientifically established adverse effects to the young female child’s health. Pregnant girls below the age of 15 have a 5 to 7 times higher chance of dying during childbirth as compared to pregnant women in their twenties. Child mothers are also more susceptible to develop obstetric fistula, cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and other health problems. Infant mortality rates are also 60% higher in case of children born of mothers who are below the age of 18 years. Child marriage usually deprives the female child of educational rights, leading to the loss of financial independence of the child in her future. Child brides are also susceptible to domestic violence, marital rapes and sexual abuse as they are not mature enough to protest and not independent enough to escape adverse situations in their conjugal life.”
So young mothers under 15 having 5 to 7 times higher of a chance of dying from their pregnancy should be enough for all us to oppose pubescent marriage for young girls, right?
And then what about the fact these poor young girls may be deprived of education rights which will lead to a loss of financial independence from their future husbands? And their higher susceptibility to tolerate future abuse from their future husbands?
Is this not an open and shut case against the marriage of pubescent age women?
Well before we can totally wrap up our conclusion, we need to tie up a few “loose ends”.
Putting Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates in Perspective
Two of the “loose ends” we need to tie up are maternal and infant mortality rates. Previously we were told one of the reasons we should oppose the marriage of pubescent age women is because women in this age group have higher chances of dying from child birth and their infants have a higher chance of dying after birth within the first year.
The maternal mortality rate (MMR) is the number of women who die each year at any stage of pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization(WHO) 211 million women get pregnant each year.
The sad news for us as Christians and those who value human life is that 46 million of those pregnancies are ended by the murderous act of abortion. That means 165 million women continue with their pregnancies. Of those 165 million pregnancies, 123 million will be “successful”, meaning that the mother gives birth and the child survives.
Of the children that survive in these 123 million births, 2.51 million, or 2 percent, will die before reaching their first birthday (this is the global infant mortality rate).
About 302,950 women die each year worldwide from pregnancy. That means women worldwide have a 0.2 percent chance dying from pregnancy related health problems or on the other hand they have a 99.8 percent chance of dying from pregnancy.
To put these numbers further in perspective, of those 302,950 women who die from pregnancy each year 99 percent of pregnancy related deaths occur in the developing world. And even in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest MMR in the world, only 500 women out of 100,000 died from pregnancy related complications.
The key numbers to take away from this section on maternal and infant mortality rates are that in total 0.2 percent of women who get pregnant and do not murder their unborn children later die as a result of their pregnancies. A total of 2 percent of infants worldwide will die before they reach their first birthday. And statistically speaking the vast majority of these deaths that occur in both these categories occur in Africa. The saddest number of all these numbers is of course the worldwide purposeful murder of 22 percent of children in their mother’s womb by the act that modern civilization calls abortion.
The Societal Impact of Economic and Social Independence for Women
Another “loose end” we need to tie up has to do with women’s social and economic independence from men. After all that is good thing, right?
For most of the history of mankind, with few exceptions, women were economically and socially tied to their fathers or their husbands and were considered the property of their fathers or husbands. Women could not own property and if they did inherit property it would come under their husband’s authority upon marriage. In divorce fathers retained full custody of the children.
The fact that women could not own property, could not easily divorce their husbands and when they did divorce, they had to leave without their children and without any property or income was a strong incentive for women to stay with their husbands.
This all changed in the mid-19th century with the rise of feminism. It began with women suing in the courts for the right to own property as men did. Then in the late 19th century the historic custom of fathers retaining full custody of their children was reversed and full custody was given to the mother. Fathers did not gain back at least joint custody rights until almost a century later in 1960s.
Now the incentives that brought women to marriage to men, and kept women in marriage to men had been all but destroyed.
It was also during this time that women began to throw of the authority of their fathers in courting and began the new practice of “dating”. Men and women entering marriage based on the historic principles of faith, duty, honor and economics gradually was replaced with men and women entering marriage simply for “love” – which was really just infatuation.
And since women had come to gain alimony, child support, and property rights there was little incentive for them to stay in marriage to a man once the infatuation wore off. This caused divorce rates to sky rocket from 3 percent before the rise of feminism in the mid-19th century to 13 percent by the time woman’s suffrage was ratified in 1920 in the United States.
Anna Howard Shaw, one of the champions of first wave feminism made the following statement in the February 25th, 1915 edition of the New York Evening Post:
“I believe in woman suffrage, whether all women vote or no women vote; whether all women vote right or all women vote wrong; whether women will love their husbands after they vote or forsake them; whether they will neglect their children or never have any children at all.”
Anna Howard Shaw summed up the goals of the political feminists’ movements of the 19th and early 20th century. The total liberation and independence of women from men no matter what the costs to society. Country, marriage and motherhood and children could all be destroyed to meet their goals. The only thing that mattered was women having complete and utter control of their lives.
And what cost did we pay as a nation? Well Anna Howard Shaw’s words came true. Women gained the right to vote and even gained the right to force men to hire them for any positions they wanted. And in 1973 they gained the right to murder their unborn children under the guise of total bodily autonomy.
The social and economic independence of women in America has directly led to rampant sexual immorality, the decline of marriage, over 60 million divorces and over 60 million abortions.
The Arguments Against the Marriage of Pubescent Women Are Faulty
Well it seems that in our effort to tie up loose ends regarding opposition to pubescent women marrying we have instead unraveled the entire ball of yarn.
Before I show how the arguments against pubescent women marrying are faulty, I want to explain some terminology I have been using. The way we label something or someone can very much affect how we view that something or someone. For instance, those of us who oppose abortion as a right for women call ourselves “prolife” while those who believe abortion is a right for women call themselves “prochoice”. Prolife advocates such as myself call the child a “baby” from the moment it is conceived while Prochoice advocates will refer to the child based on his or her biological stages of development with such words as “zigote” or “embryo” or “fetus” in an attempt to dehumanize the human being growing inside his or her mother’s womb.
In the same way when having this argument about the age of marriage for women those who oppose marriage for women before the age of 18 will call all marriage before the age of 18 “Child Marriage”. But is 16 or 17-year-old female or male human being for that matter, a child? The answer biologically speaking is no.
Human beings go through a transition phase from child to adult and this transition phase is called puberty. Children are human beings in the prepubescent stage of development. Adolescents are human beings that are at some stage of puberty. When the changes of puberty are complete the human adolescent becomes a human adult. Girls typically start puberty around the age of 11 while some start as early as 9 or 10 and they typically complete puberty by the age of 14. Boys start a little later than girls typically around the age of 12 and they finish puberty around the age of 16 or 17.
Those who say a female human being who has experienced the major changes of puberty which are the development of breasts, pubic hair and the start of menstruation is a child are stating a biological falsehood. Such a female human being is no longer a child (prepubescent human being), but rather she is either an adolescent (pubescent human being) or an adult (postpubescent human being).
This is why I have consistently referred to this argument as one being about the “the marriage of pubescent women” because a female human being who has experienced the changes of puberty is no longer a child.
When we acknowledge the fact that worldwide a total of 0.2 percent of women die from pregnancy related deaths, and that includes pubescent mothers, then the even if they represent a higher proportion of that 0.2 percent it does not make a strong case against pubescent women marrying. Instead we can respond with that fact that at least 99.8 percent of pubescent women worldwide will survive their pregnancies.
When we acknowledge the fact that only 2 percent of all infants worldwide die in the first year of their life and even if children from pubescent mothers make up more of that 2 percent than children from postpubescent women, we can rightly say pubescent mothers have at least a 98 percent chance of their children surviving their first year of life. A difference somewhere within the 2 percent range between two groups of women having their children survive is not a strong argument against pubescent women marrying.
Some may respond that these are numbers that mix the developed world and undeveloped worlds. But let me remind you of the WHO numbers which stated even in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest MMR in the world, only 500 women out of 100,000 died from pregnancy related complications in a given year over the last decade.
Then we come to other social reasons for opposition to marriage for pubescent women.
One of those reasons is that these pubescent women will have a “the loss of financial independence” from their husbands most likely because they do not finish high school and the college and get careers before marrying.
But based on the stats I just showed which correlate the granting of economic rights to women with the destruction of marriage by disincentivizing women to seek and stay in marriage to men is “the loss of financial independence” for women a bad thing? The answer if we believe that lasting marriages form the bedrock of a stable civilization must be NO.
And finally, what about the assertion that pubescent brides are more “susceptible to domestic violence, marital rapes and sexual abuse as they are not mature enough to protest and not independent enough to escape adverse situations in their conjugal life”? Is this a strong enough argument on its own for us to oppose pubescent women marrying?
Are there some men that truly do abuse their wives, whether they enter marriage as pubescent women or as postpubescent women? Absolutely. But again, we must put things in perspective. Just as we cannot toss out women getting pregnant because a tiny fraction of women may die from pregnancy so to, we cannot throw out marriage for pubescent women because of the sad fact that a higher fraction of a tiny percentage of pubescent women will be truly abused.
Now that I have shown the arguments against pubescent women marrying to be faulty and weak, we will now present strong arguments for the marriage of pubescent women.
Why We Should Support the Practice of Pubescent Marriage
I have previously shown from a biological perspective it is incorrect to refer to a human being that is going through puberty or one that has finished puberty as a child. Therefore, it is utterly wrong to label it as “Child marriage” when a pubescent woman enters marriage.
Before the last century human societies recognized three primary social classes of human beings. Men, Women and Children. Once children entered puberty, they were basically considered either men or women. The concept of a “teenager” is a more recent invention over the last century.
Boys were considered men around the ages of 12 to 13 and this is why it was the norm for these young men to begin their trade in their early teen years so they could save their money, buy their own land and build a home. Once they did this, usually by their late teens or early 20s, they would seek out a wife for marriage. For girls, as soon as they developed breasts and began menstruating, they were considered women and ready for marriage and child bearing.
Many will argue that just because a young woman is biologically ready for marriage and child bearing, does not mean she is mature enough mentally for marriage and child bearing.
So how do we answer the question of when a person is ready for marriage? Is it by looking to how civilizations have done things in the past? Is it by looking to current studies?
The answer, first and foremost for us as Christians, is to look to the Word of God.
“But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.”
1 Corinthians 7:36 (KJV)
The phrase “the flower of her age” refers to when a woman has her period. The Apostle Paul is telling us here that the minimum of age of marriage is when a woman has her first period.
However, we must take the complete witness of the Scriptures together to determine when is the acceptable “time of love” for a young woman – as in marriage and sex.
“7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.
8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.”
Ezekiel 16:7-8 (KJV)
So, it is not until a young girl demonstrates all the signs of puberty, the growth of breasts, pubic hair and having a period that she is ready for marriage. With most young women, their first period comes after the development of their breasts and pubic hair while in some rare cases the period may come first. But the Scriptures show us that all three of these elements are required.
In fact, in another Scripture we read that if a woman was completely flat chested and had no breasts, she would have a difficult time marrying (even if she had her first period):
“We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?”
Song of Solomon 8:8 (KJV)
The point here is that God tells us when a woman develops breasts, grows pubic hair and has her period she is ready for marriage by God’s law.
But we must also recognize that God gives a father discretion as to when his daughter is ready for marriage:
“Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.”
Jeremiah 29:6 (KJV)
“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”
Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)
The passages above show us that fathers have the responsibility to prepare their daughters for marriage and be looking for suitable husbands for their daughters while at the same time they have the right of refusal for their daughter for marriage as well.
Early Teen Women Are Very Fertile
Carolyn Butler wrote an article entitled “Ovaries have not adjusted to many women’s decision to delay having children” for the Washington Post back in 2010. In that article she stated the following inconvenient biological facts for women:
“The biological reality that female fertility peaks in the teens and early 20s can be difficult for many American women to swallow, as they delay childbirth further every year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In the District, the average age of initial childbirth was 26.5 years in 2006, up 5.5 years since 1970, the highest jump in the country…
“While we may not be mature enough to conceive at a young age, nor should we, that is still when the body is most adept at conception and carrying a baby,” says Claire Whelan, program director of the American Fertility Association. “Our biological clock has not kept pace with our ability to prolong our life spans.” Stillman agrees, pointing out that research about advanced maternal age and motherhood today is clear: The older you get, the more difficult it is to get pregnant and the higher the chance of miscarriage, pregnancy problems such as gestational diabetes and hypertension, and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, among other concerns…
“Society has changed, ” says Stillman, “but the ovaries will take another million years or two to catch up to that.””
Notice how she has to preface her acknowledgement of the biological reality of when women are “most adept at conception and carrying a baby” with her value judgment that “While we may not be mature enough to conceive at a young age, nor should we”.
As Christians we know that the Bible says in Genesis 1:27 that “male and female created he them”. And we know God is not going to change a woman’s ovaries to match our societal changes.
Instead our society must turn back to God so that our society matches the way he designed us as males and females both physiologically and psychologically. And the way we begin that change is in one Christian home at time.
Early Teen Women Are More Moldable
In the Scriptures we read the following passage from the Book of Jeremiah:
“1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
Jeremiah 18:1-6 (KJV)
In the above passage God is speaking to Israel as his wife. The phrase “O house of Israel” is used in other passages like this one below when God refers to Israel as his wife and he as her husband:
“Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.”
Jeremiah 3:20 (KJV)
Just as God sought to mold his wife Israel to be the person, he wanted her to be, so to for a marriage to be successful a woman must be very moldable just like clay in the hands of a potter.
When women are in their early teens, they typically are more moldable but as they get older into their late teens and especially early 20s, they become much harder to mold or change in their person and habits.
And make no mistake this is EXACTLY why most people today oppose women marrying very young because they know they are so impressionable or moldable at that age. They don’t want men being able to mold young women so they want to delay marriage as a long as possible pushing it into the early and mid-20s.
Christians who follow this false philosophy that young women need “find themselves” and “be their own person” before marriage are going against God’s design.
Remember that God says marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. Does Christ mold his church? You bet he does. And he tells men to love their wives as he does:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
We are often told today that if a man attempts to mold or change his wife’s behavior at all that he is “controlling” and this bad. We are told that if a man truly loves his wife, he won’t try to change anything about her.
Well I can tell you based on the authority of the Scriptures above that if a man does not attempt to mold and shape his wife to present her to himself and to God as a glorious wife in the same way Christ does his church then he is not loving his wife as Christ loves the church.
And yes, it takes a sacrifice on our part as men and courage on our part as men to “rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19) our wives as Christ does his churches. But when done in the correct spirit, such rebuke and chastening by husbands is called “love”.
Rebekah so here is the answer to your question – “Would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids?”
The answer first from the Bible is “YES”. But the like many other times we can see how God’s design plays out when we follow it and also when we disobey it. No one can argue with the cold hard facts that giving women independence from men in general and their fathers and husbands in particular has been good for the institution of marriage which God designed.
By taking away women’s dependence on men we have allowed women to dominate marriage and our society. Society is now ordered around how people feel rather than duty to God, family and country.
And the invention of the “teenager” as an extension of childhood has not been good for our society. It has led to rampant immorality and a complete lack of responsibility among our young people today.
I don’t think you were actually asking if your husband could do this but just if society would be better if we all turned back to this custom of marriage for young women.
However, if your daughters have demonstrated the signs God says that mark “the time of love” for a woman in that they have developed breasts, pubic hair and have begun menstruating and if your husband feels they are mature enough and ready for marriage there would be no sin in allowing them to marry.
Believe it or not there are still 15 states that allow marriage below the age of 14:
Also, several states allow 14, and 15-year old people to marry as well.
You can find the complete list of marriage by age by state here:
Answering the Scoffers
One of my favorite scoffers, Suzanne Titkemeyer, wrote a piece the other day about my review of the Handmaids Tale. I always chuckle a little when I read her stuff.
I will cover just a few areas that I think apply to this article in regards to the age of marriage.
“Why is it always these creeps, like Vaughn Ohlman,imaging young burgeoning breasts and periods as a marker for readiness? Notice that none of them view young boys of that age as ready for marriage. When they talk of men marrying it’s always men over the age of 21, while saddling them with a much too young girl.”
Suzanne, it is not me imaging breasts and periods as a marker for readiness, but rather the word of God which clearly states it as I showed above from Ezekiel 16:7-8 and 1 Corinthians 7:36. You may reject the Bible but it is my basis for truth.
And before I knew and understood these Scriptures and studied the history of the world, biology and marriage I probably would have agreed with you that early teens is too young for marriage for women. But back then I would have been going by what you are – my feelings and my culture. Instead of looking at marriage first through the lenses of the Bible, then history and biology. All of which support young marriage for women.
Also, on your view of boys. I don’t think they have to be over 21, although I think in most cases it would be wiser for them to wait. Why? Because they have to lead a woman and their family and they have to be able to provide for and protect their family. Especially on the provision front, for most young men it takes well into their early or mid-20s until they are ready to provide for a family. My 19-year-old son who is plumber is an exception. He makes over 60 K a year and could support a family. But he has to get some other things in line first.
I know you struggle with this concept, but young men and young women are different. They are designed by God for different roles. A young woman does not have to lead a home or provide for one. She simply has to manage it, therefore she can marry much younger than a man. Besides it is a biological fact as I showed above the early teens to the early 20s are “when the body is most adept at conception and carrying a baby”. I also showed that studies arguing for higher pregnancy related deaths or other health problems are using statistically insignificant differences between pubescent mothers and postpubescent mothers.
“In the United States this age can come at a very young time in a girl’s life. Menstruation ages have dropped, meaning what Larry is proposing here is that girls as young as 9 could be married.”
No not really. I have said on multiple occasions that I like the Jewish rule of minimum age of 12. The truth is that is extremely rare for a 9-year-old to have a period but then you are leaving out several other key factors in order to build your straw-man argument. I said the minimum age of marriage requires ALL of the following things – not just a girl having her period. She must have developed breasts, pubic hair, had a period AND her father must determine she is ready.
“My own cycle started at 11 years old, and I can tell you I was nowhere near ready to marry. I was still playing with my Barbies, riding my horse, going to Camp Fire Girls meetings, and giggling over how cute Donny Osmond was. My only adult actions and responsibilities revolved around caring for my horse.
Little girls should be free to ride their horses, or play with their dolls and coloring books, not forced into lifetime relationships and sex. We’ve talked about this so much here that I’m not even going to cite the statistics again that show how early marriage harms girls in every way, physically, emotionally, financially.”
Do you know why you were no nowhere near ready to marry at age 11 including manage a home and take care of children? Because you were raised in a culture that has vastly extended childhood far beyond what cultures in the past did. If you were raised in pre-modern times, especially medieval or ancient times you absolutely would have been preparing for marriage at 11 and most likely be married by 12 or 13.
You see that is one of the many differences between your world view and mine. You believe the purpose of little girls and by extension women is to live for themselves. Have fun and do whatever makes you happy (at a particular moment, because we know that changes every five minutes).
But other people who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, such as myself, believe we were put here for more than riding horses and playing with toys. We believe life is about duty and honor and serving God. Sure, we can have happiness along the way, but if that is our central focus, we will not serve God.
And speaking of happiness. We understand a truth that utterly escapes most secularists and you as well. We understand that happiness is not simply a feeling, but it is also a choice. We can choose to be happy in whatever circumstances life brings us. This is special kind of joy that few people know or understand. We can choose to let God and his Word lead our hearts, instead of letting our hearts lead us.
I pray one day you will come to know these truths and accept Christ and his Word as they are and not as you would have them be.
49 thoughts on “Would Society Be Better If Girls Married as Soon as They Menstruated?”
To be better than we are now is a low bar to cross. It is not one or extreme or the other, there is a great deal of real estate between the positions of marriage at mensuration and delaying marriage to a few years short of menopause.
That being said, society would be better off if both girls and boys married younger than the current norms. So much evil could be retarded and family unity solidified if we eschewed the “you go girl” philosophy complete with its fornication and partying and instead instilled a multi-generational purpose. But alas, I am howling at the moon. Experiencing pleasure has replaced any other higher extrinsic purpose, frolicking and fornicating are now the signposts of female empowerment and family is but a temporary social arrangement to be severed at the first sign of female unhappiness.
Lord deliver us from this wicked and perverse generation!
I agree with Jonadab about the timing. It is all of the above, not the least of which is women spending their late teens and early 20’s preparing for “their career” instead of marriage. If I had a daughter, I would not want her to marry before 16, and I’d be more comfortable with 17/18. Honestly late teens, early early 20s are what I would consider ideal, assuming the right Godly man was in the picture which trumps everything. The big problem is that feminist society wants nothing to do with marriage unless it fully suits them, and even then I’m not so sure. The longer that men and women spend outside of marriage, the more likely they are to get set in their ways and accustomed to being by themselves. I’m also not big on large age differences, I would prefer 4 years or less with the man being older. Not picking on anyone outside that range, I just think that is more ideal. Could a young woman marry at 13 or 14 biblically? It would not be wrong, but I’m not sure that is as ideal as 16. Then again, if she has been brought up in foolishness and not taught anything good, she could be extremely childish at 25.
I would not have been comfortable with my daughter marrying at 13 or 14 either. But I think we need to recognize this is because of how we raise daughters in our modern culture. In premodern times and especially up until probably just 500 years ago if a young woman was not married by the time she reached the end of puberty(typically 14 for girls) this was considered outside the norm. Women marrying at 18 or 19 were considered old maids at that point. So really it is just a matter of perspective.
If over many decades or centuries feminism was eradicated and there was a return to patriarchy in western cultures it would not seem so strange for 13 or 14 year old women to marry.
Regarding your age difference opinion:
I have spoken about this a lot with my daughter who is 17 and within two years of courting. She will graduate at 19(she was held back in elementary school) and as soon as she graduates she and will be working aggressively together to find her a suitable husband. On the age issue I actually prefer that the man she marries is at least 3 to 4 years older than her but no more than proabably 7 or 8 years. The reason I prefer him to be somewhat older is because women have a harder time respecting and following men their own age or younger while it is easier for them to respect a man who is older than them.
Also I have another reason for wanting him to be 3 to 4 years older. I don’t want any man courting my daughter that is not well established in his career. He must be able to demonstrate to me that he can support her, not later, but now. That means ideally he would not be a freshmen or sophomore in college but instead he would be graduated and already in is career. Or if he has a skilled trade he has been in many years and established himself.
So the simple math is – if she is 19 when she graduates and can begin courting, then that would make him at least 22 which means he could have graduated from college and started his career.
From a pragmatic perspective, it is hard to see how girls today are mature enough for marriage at puberty, which by the way is occurring earlier than in previous generations. Some girls are menstruating at 10 or eleven years of age in the US (this may be due to the trace hormones in meats and dairy products they are consuming). Common sense needs to temper our reliance on the Bible.
You said “Common sense needs to temper our reliance on the Bible.”
What you and many others may be missing in this is that I have consistently said is that a woman being able to be married depends not just on a woman’s state in puberty, but it also depends on the authority of the father.
And actually this whole girls having periods at age 9 and 10 is a red herring. It is sort of like when abortion advocates run to women who get pregnant from rape or incest to try and attack the prolife position.
The fact is the overwhelming vast majority of women do not get abortions because of rape or incest, but rather simply because it is inconvenient at that time for them to have the child. In the same way the vast majority of women do not have their periods before age 11 and even then a majority have their periods past age 12.
I trust God’s design of the family and especially the father in relation to his daughter. I do not believe the vast majority of fathers would allow their daughters to marry at these young ages of 9 or 10 even if they were the tiny fraction of women who have periods at that younger age.
So I again I call “red herring” on those who use the rare exception of a young girls having periods at age 9 or 10 to discredit what the word of God says.
The reality is the truth that the average woman has her period around age 12 and if you have it early as some women do you are below the average age. And this makes sense then that ancient Jewish Talmud law placed the minimum age of women for marriage at age 12 whether they had their period earlier or not.
You know Larry, with all due respect, your lengthy reply above did not address the concern as to the maturity of a female child (at age 12.77 years if you prefer) for marriage. Let’s do a thought experiment here, and ponder how this might play out in the US today if practiced widely.
A younger age for marriage than is occurring today does make sense, but we might not want to go to the other extreme and be marrying girls off too young. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one..
I completely agree with larryzb, and I understand the distinction between what is right before God and what God allows vs. what is a good idea right now. I’m sure there have probably been fathers even in biblical times who judged their daughters ready or not based on their maturity as well. For this culture, if we could get back to teaching people what marriage really is, what the proper roles are, AND get people to take things seriously and be mature, 17-22 would be a fantastic starting point imho.
I think you have been misunderstanding my position as have many of my regular readers and I realize we may just have to chalk this one up in the “agree to disagree” column. However let me try one last attempt to clarify my position and then get your answer to a few questions.
1. Do you accept and believe that a person’s maturity is affected both by biology but also by environment? In other words, a 5 year old will never be a mature as 12 year old but the maturity of a 12 year is massively affected by how the environment and culture they are raised in?
2. If a young girl were raised in a cultural setting from the time she was born to expect to be married around the age of 12 or 13 and she was being groomed and prepared for this her whole life do you think that marriage at 12 or 13 for a young woman would still be immoral? And if you do think it would still be immoral then do you condemn all generations past that actually did this practice? If not why?
Having said that here is my final attempt(at least with you) to clarify my position on this issue of the age of marriage for women:
I do NOT believe that 99 percent of girls raised in the US would be mature enough from an emotional and mental perspective to be married at 12 years of age.
But I do believe is it possible that in some closed Christian communities in the US today that girls raised their whole lives for marriage in those communities could be mature enough for marriage at the age of 12 or 13.
I also believe that if over the next couple centuries that America left feminism and returned to a patriarchal society where the culture encouraged young marriage for women that most young girls could be ready for marriage in their early teens. And lastly, I am unwilling to condemn all the cultures of ages past, including the Jews, who prepared women for marriage at the young age of 12 or older and at the same time I do not think just because we have longer life spans that this practice should be abandoned.
And any of my other regular readers and others – I welcome your answers to the two sets of questions I have posed here.
I actually agree with you agreeing with Larryzb that “the distinction between what is right before God and what God allows vs. what is a good idea right now.” with the key phrase being “right now” as in 2019 America. But I would be curious what your answers would be to the two sets of questions I just sent him.
For all my regular readers who are struggling with my position on this issue:
Let me remind you that the question posed to me by a Christian mother was
“Would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids?”
What she is talking about in reality is a future society. Obviously neither she nor I think this could be imposed in 2019 America and obviously there would be exceptions for for girls who get their periods at far younger ages. But she was specifically referring to her 13 and 16 year old daughters and how mature she thought they were because of how they were raised and would it not be better to return to the old ways? That was her question.
So this is not about 9 and 10 year olds marrying and it not even about pushing for marriage of 12 and 13 year olds in America in 2019. It is about what would be for society in the future? Should we as a society change our norms in this regard? Sure right now it would not be too difficult even over the next 20 years to encourage more women to marry at 18 or 19. Few people in conservative circles would oppose that.
But what about in the next 200 years as opposed to 20 years? What if over the next 200 years conservative Christians outbreed everyone else changed the American culture and brought it back to patriarchal society. Would you oppose girls in their early teens being married if they were raised for marriage under those circumstances? If so why?
Maturity of character is not a fixed variable. We teach girls and boys to delay character-maturity while physical maturity appears to be arriving at younger ages. If the expectations were that upon physical maturity a girl was prepared emotionally and mentally be a helpmeet, a mother and wife then no doubt the age of character maturity would be less than now. Reality follows expectation and preparation.
Same for men. We in our myopia think college then job, but that is not necessarily the best path for most men. Learning a trade prepares a man faster than college, does not usually saddle him with debt and on the average pays better than most graduate degree positions. If we thought about it, there is no reason that a young man could not start trade school and apprentice at 14 or 16 and be prepared to marry at 18 – 20.
Our systems are broke, time to rethink the assumptions that keep us from returning to the Biblical blueprints for life.
#1 – I agree.
#2 – I don’t think it is immoral per God’s word, I certainly wouldn’t condemn anyone in the past for doing it. How old do we think Jesus’ mom was again?
With that said, just because something is at the “hard edge” of acceptable or right doesn’t mean that it is ideal, then or now. I think there are age ranges that are more ideal, especially now. There are a lot of factors at play besides age. It is wise to be more concerned with the right husband than the right age. I don’t say that to argue against what you are saying here, because biblically, I agree with you completely.
This is one of those issues that the enemy and his liars are able to easily deceive. It is a classic of finding one young woman who had a bad time and then blame her age at the time of marriage and instantly they create a belief that what God says is acceptable is now, according to them, not right. Then they use that agenda to push other deceptions such as women do not need men, they should be self reliant, they should not marry until they are out and established, and the list of falsehoods go on and on.
Also bgr, I know you are asking about a random someday society. I hear you, and I understand your hope for people returning to God and following His ways. We have talked about this before and I know you think it could be 1000 years before Jesus comes back. I agree that time can be long and a lot can change. I think society is going to get a lot worse. I’m not trying to be a pessimist, but people are working diligently to reach those who have not heard the Gospel in the far corners of the world and with the rate of human ability taking a vertical spike on the graph, it really puts God’s “nothing will be impossible for them” in perspective. I believe the end will come, longer than I probably think, but I doubt very seriously that it will be longer than 100-200 years. It could be any moment so we should be ready. My dream is that when Jesus comes and His will is done, that the terrible injustices of this world and time will be over, that His glory will be on display for all to see and those looking will be those who love and serve Him in joy.
If you are right about your statement that “I believe the end will come, longer than I probably think, but I doubt very seriously that it will be longer than 100-200 years.” then I agree there is little likelyhood of these massive changes occurring before then. However if you think about, massive changes can come in just a little over two centuries. Abigail Adams was preaching some of the tenants of feminism in the late 1700’s and her husband and others laughed at her thinking it would never happen. And if it did happen her husband argued, men would come under the “despotism” of women. Which actually has occurred now.
So just as all these massive societal changes happened in a little over 2 centuries, the could just as easily be rolled back over a period of 2 centuries. Economies collapse, diseases strike, natural disasters occur and revolutions occur that can cause these massive changes to take place. Other times they simply occur gradually – look at how it occurred for us – it was gradual over 250 years.
I am not a feminist. I believe men and women were created differently, and that those differences should be praised, not put on trial. I believe that wives should submit to their husbands as an authority over them.
However, I also believe that society benefits from educated and accomplished women. The Proverbs 31 woman was both of those things. It talks about how she considers a field and buys it.. She didn’t have her husband consider it for her. Her husband trusted in her. He wouldn’t have trusted her if she hadn’t known her stuff. She knew the field was good. She knew it was a good price. She bought the field. And then she planted a vineyard with her own hands. Now perhaps her husband had told her he would like her to purchase a field, or maybe she was given a certain amount of money a month and that’s what she decided to use it on. The context is never given. But that alone shows that she is knowledgeable and educated. In addition to that, it talks about her selling merchandise, aka contributing financially to her family. Also, it is states that she is praised for her OWN works at the gates… Not her husbands.
So often, when women get married underaged, they get the short end of the stick. They are pulled out of school, uneducated, becoming nothing more than breeding stock. She has no knowledge of how the world works. Taxes, real estate, budgeting, etc. She is told not only not to think for herself, but to not think at all. She is neither nurtured or cared for. The vast majority of societies that practice underage marriage have failed the women in their community.
Perhaps Christians can do it better, but I’m not certain they can. The idea of marrying women young because they are “impressonable,” is kind of sickening to me. If a man’s greatest concern is molding his wife to better please himself, honestly, that just sounds selfish.
It sounds like he just wants her to bare his children, make his dinner, and give him oral sex, instead of also being an educated, contributing member of society. Now, I’m not saying a wife shouldn’t do all those things. I do all of those things and more for my husband!
But I’m also educated. I also have other hobbies and interests than pushing babies out of my vagina or giving my husband BJs. Those things, while they do contribute to it, aren’t the only things I am good for. I am college educated, and work outside of the home. I volunteer for charities and love politics. I just also cook, clean, and take care of our household.
And before someone says it: no, I do not think women “can have it all.” Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone can have it all. But the virtuous woman woke up early in the morning, and didn’t go to bed till late that night. And if she can do that, then I can too.
I am not against women having any kind of education. But there are two extremes when it comes to women being educated. There is the extreme like that found in the Handmaids Tale that I just wrote a review on where women are forbidden from even learning to read or write. I think as Christians we can all agree that is wrong and as you correctly point out the Proverbs 31 woman could not do all the business en-devours she does like buying or selling a field or buying or selling in the market, nor could women teach or prophesy as the the New Testament says they can without having some degree of education.
But does a woman need a masters degree which would require her to have gone to school for approximately 19 years of education? Does she need a bacholer’s degree that takes approximately 17 years of her life? Does she need up to high school which takes 13 years of her life? Could she do with just a junior high education in most cases?
You see if we look at Proverbs 31 we see that her life’s focus is upon serving the needs of her husband and her home as it says in verse 27:
“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
So we must see her buying and selling of a field and planting it and her going out and helping with the poor as it states as things she does as time permits. These are not the major focus of her life, but rather service to her husband and her home is the major focus of her life and that is why the focus of the praise on her is from her husband and children (vs 28).
So yes I agree women can and should have a certain level of education as opposed to no education at all. And there is nothing wrong with a woman working in charities and helping the poor and needy. And I agree women are good for more than sex with their husbands, having babies, raising and caring for those children and caring for the domestic needs of the home. However I think where we will part ways on this is that in the Scriptures we find that the central focus of a woman’s life, unless she is called to celibacy for undivided service to God, should be on finding a good Christian husband as soon as possible in her best child bearing years, marrying such a man, bearing his children, carrying for them and carrying for his needs and the needs of his home. See these Scriptures below:
The Scriptures tell us why God created woman. She was not created to be a business woman, a politician, a community organizer, a scientist, an engineer, a doctor or any of these other occupations. She was created by be a wife(to marry), a mother(to bear children) and to care for the domestic needs of the home (guide the house).
What this means is a woman’s career should be her home. Anything else she does outside the home should come secondary to that purpose.
You say you don’t believe a woman can have it all, but yet that is exactly what you are trying to do. It is one thing if you going outside the home sporadically like Proverbs 31 wife does, but there is absolutely no way if you are working a full time career outside the home where you are gone 50 hours a week or more(with travel time and other work related things), plus doing volunteer and charity work on top of that which is probably another 10 hours a week that you giving your best to your home. The reality is your husband and children are getting your left overs. They are getting what energy you have left after working all day at your job outside the home and what you have left after working at your charities and other volunteer work.
Its just basic math. If you spend say 10 hours away from home each day with work, travel time to work and volunteer or charity work you do, plus you get even 6 hours of sleep per day(which is minimum to maintain good health and energy) how much of your time and energy is left for your husband, your children and your home? About one third of your time. And depending on how much mental or physical energy is required for your job that one third you have left will probably not be your best.
Again I am not against women doing things outside the home, but a woman must decide if she will dedicate the vast majority of her time to her husband, her children and her home or if she will dedicate the vast majority of her time to others outside her home. The Scriptures are crystal clear as to where the vast majority of womwan’s time should be spent. A woman’s most important impact on society is not what she does outside the home, but rather it is her service to her home that has the greatest impact on society.
And this is why our society is falling apart – because women have bought into the lie that they must make their mark outside the home and this is just as important, if not more important than what they do in their home. And they end up giving the vast majority of their time and energy to endeavors outside the home leaving their husbands, their children and their homes with just leftovers of what time and energy they have left.
I have a few comments for theeducatedwife. My wife has more education than I do. It is a benefit if husband and wife are equally yoked and truly enjoy each other as God meant them to, that is something that is more difficult to do if they are not well yoked. Do not be offended by a wife being impressionable, truly a husband and wife need to grow together which takes growth on all fronts, but a wife should be aligning her will to her husband which is easier to do before she gets accustomed to doing everything in life her way. I agree with you that I don’t want to see marriages where the wife is treated like her only purpose is A, B, and C. While those may be perfectly valid purposes, even primary purposes, a husband is called to love and know his wife which requires personal sacrifice and effort on his behalf. Something many men miss is that love is communicated with effort. With all this said, I think education should be done intelligently for both men and women. It shouldn’t be the assumption and everyone has to do it. It should be what is being paid, what is being learned, how will this help obtain a job, what will it pay. The problem for women is that their motivation should not be going out to get a career like a man, it should be looking for a Godly husband to be a Godly wife. What you are calling it out it sounds like are selfish husband marriages, there may be an intersection of those with younger marriages too, but there doesn’t have to be. My ideal for couples would be a man marrying at 20-24 and a woman marrying at 17-22. Young people need to learn what marriage is and how to do it so they can be successful.
What makes it difficult for me to converse with you is that in your first reply to my first comment above, you implied or inferred that my raising the concern for maturity was like using a wedge issue (as using rape or incest to legitimize abortion on demand. That kind of tactic is not sincere dialogue. I will ignore the slightly condescending tone in your latest reply. (Leaving in a few hours for a lengthy personal business trip, and this will have to be last comment here.)
As to your questions for me, are they really critical here? I made my comment from a pragmatic and a moral perspective. But, I will take you up on these questions briefly.
“1.. Do you accept and believe that a person’s maturity is affected both by biology but also by environment? In other words, a 5 year old will never be a mature as 12 year old but the maturity of a 12 year is massively affected by how the environment and culture they are raised in?”
Yes, even though when I was in university, in the social sciences environment was king so to speak, I do believe that both biology (including heredity) and environment help to shape and form a person’s character.
“2. If a young girl were raised in a cultural setting from the time she was born to expect to be married around the age of 12 or 13 and she was being groomed and prepared for this her whole life do you think that marriage at 12 or 13 for a young woman would still be immoral? And if you do think it would still be immoral then do you condemn all generations past that actually did this practice? If not why?”
I am baffled where this question comes from as I never mentioned morality of young marriage in my remarks. Again, a careful reading of my words will inform the reader that my concern was for what would be workable in contemporary society (in the US that is). If you are saying that marrying girls off at 12.77 years of age is moral, I will say that be that as it may, it is largely not workable. My perspective is not that of the idealist philosopher who perhaps spends too much time in his thinking in a normative, theoretical world.
There is another aspect here that we may be ignoring or glossing over. A father is responsible for raising his children (along with his wife, their mother). Is a husband to be responsible for helping to bring to maturity a child bride as well?!
Say, BGR, we agree on some things and we disagree on some other things. Now, my final statement may lead you to call me a heretic or an apostate, but I will make it anyway. In addition to referring to the Bible, God expects us to use our God-given reasoning ability to a constructive purpose. In this regard, in our post-Christian nation, too many people are slothful or intellectually lazy.
My final statement is that people need to govern their religious fervor with reason.
Thanks for final reply and I don’t expect you to respond any more on this thread if you don’t want to. I apologize if my “red herring” remarks were taken as condescending by you. I have received a lot of email on this topic and the “what about 9 and 10 year olds who have their periods” is what I have heard a lot. So that was me just in general addressing that and trying to direct the conversation more toward the 12 and 13 year old range as I was not talking about 9 and 10 year old girls marrying.
And as I responded to Anm1 I actually agree with you that that 12 and 13 year old girls is not workable for the most part in our culture except in very rare circumstances where a girl was raised in closed Christian community and prepared her whole life for it as young women in pre-modern times were.
But I do think we need to be both practical in what changes can be made in the present 2019 America environment, like encouraging women to marry between 18 and 20 instead of 26 or 27, but also ideological for future changes. We must remember that just over 200 years ago women owning property, having child custody, and voting were thought of as unrealistic ideological dreams that our founders laughed at when suggested. But now two centuries later they are a reality. So I maintain we can be practical for the present, but not loose our ideological and optimistic view for what could be in the future if we start incrementally now in the present.
And on the subject of the “H” word(Heretic), no I do not consider you a heretic. I think you and I have some strong differences on various subjects but nothing that rises to the level where I would label you a heretic. I know technically speaking heresy means “false teaching” so that could apply to absolutely any difference in interpretation and I know people who throw around the H word far too easily in my view. Instead I reserve the H word for especially heinous teachings like those who claim to be Christians but deny the deity of Christ or the Trinity, those who deny Christ is the only way of salvation and people who say Christ would have accepted gay marriage and we should accept active homosexuals as church members.
Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree, but I did want to elaborate something that might make my stance clearer. Certainly, nothing shohld be more important that a woman’s family. If my husband asked me (and he is actually quite pro-job for women), I would not work outside of the home. If we had special needs children that required 24/7 care, I would stay home. If we had young children, not yet school aged, I would at the very most work part time perhaps facilitating groups, or something of that nature (my field of work is human services.) Before my husband and I got married, we discussed at length out expectations. I was sexually abused, nearly till my eighteenth birthday. I have spent more time being abused, than not being abused.
I have a real passion to help other women and educate society. He knew that this was a goal of mine. I am not seeking out education or a career to make more money than my husband, or dump my home responsibilities on someone else.
I think it is the intention behind a lot of women’s “careers” that become the problem. Why is she seeking out this job or education? Is she doing it to be better than a man? Because she doesn’t want to “depend” on a man? Or is she doing it to help other people? To be a service to her community? I have a dear Christian friend of mine who is studying to become a lawyer. She is not yet married, but has every intention on being married. She wants to do so to help people, not because she doesn’t want to be submissive to a husband. In most cases, if women want to help people in this current society, some sort of college education is a must. Do they have to have college education? No, absolutely not. Everybody has a different calling and a different purpose in their lives.
On the topic of education, I believe a woman should have at least a high school diploma. To allow any less than that would be cruelty in our current society. It would be the bare minimum she would need to sustain herself or contribute financially if her husband lost her job, etc.
As far as the scripture you quoted from proverbs 31, a woman should certainly look towards her family’s need, but that scripture doesn’t say that is the only thing she look towards. Also, I think the argument could be made that a woman working outside her home to help society IS looking out for her household in a way.
The last matter we will certainly have to agree to disagree. My husband is always very honest with me, and he does not feel like my time is too split or that he is only getting leftovers. We met when I was only 19, and he is very proud of the accomplishments and steps I have to overcome what has happened to me. He is very supportive of me in that respect. There have been times that he has lovingly told me to slow down, and I have always listened to him on that. I always make sure the house is taken care of, because it is my priority. I love my husband dearly, and he will always come first to me. I am very blessed to have a husband that encourages me to be and do the best.
I also have more education than my husband, so I can relate to that aspect. Please allow me to clarify: there is nothing wrong with being impressionable, and I certainly didn’t mean that if that was what it seemed I was saying. I was only pointing out that it seemed selfish to me that a man would look to marry a younger woman simply because she is more impressionable than someone who is older. I hear that same argument from men who don’t want to marry young widows because they want someone “untouched.”
A good christian woman will certainly mold herself to her husbands tastes. There are certain foods I make more, certain lingerie I will wear, certain perfumes I will spray on, and etc. because that is what pleases my husband. But husbands do the same for their wives, albeit in different ways. For example, taking showers more often, wearing certain cologne, going to certain restraunts, and etc. Marriage required a woman to moldable, yes… But in many ways, both have to conform to certain things. It’s all a process.
As for women actively seeking a christian man to marry, I do agree that a woman shouldn’t not be looking.. But that doesn’t mean she should seek to force it on herself. God has a purpose and plan for each and every one of us, and some women just aren’t meant to marry right out of high school. I think the focus should be in finding the right type of christian guy, rather than getting married before a certain time. My sister got married right out of a high school. I got married at 21. We still both found the right type of christian guy. I was not an “old maid” because I waited longer. I knew who I wanted, and I knew I was going to have to wait to marry him. And so I did. And it was worth every last minute of waiting.
As far as a woman’s motivation for a job, I addressed that in my reply back to BGR if you want to know my thoughts on that 🙂
One last thing, I am also not ignoring your quotes from 1 Corinthians or 1 Timothy. I am in agreeance that women were made for men, which is why I didn’t comment on it. You actually used those texts to answer a question I emailed you a while back ago.
Also, I apologize for my typos… I am getting used to a new phone.
>But that doesn’t mean she should seek to force it on herself. God has a purpose and plan
>for each and every one of us, and some women just aren’t meant to marry right out of
1 Timothy 2:11-15 says: 11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
I really take especially the last verse to communicate that women will be on the right path if they are doing what God *calls and designed women* to do, which is be a wife to a husband. This is *why* she was created. I know this flies in the face of all modern thinking by the culture.
>I think the focus should be in finding the right type of christian guy,
>rather than getting married before a certain time.
>I was not an “old maid” because I waited longer.
I agree with this. Some Christian women may not find a husband until their 20’s, even late 20’s. None of that should be because she was on the *wrong mission* chasing her own selfish ambition during that time.
In my mind, beyond age, this is the bigger problem – women are not preparing for marriage, but life operating as a man instead. God did not call women to an either/or. He called them to be a helpmate to a man. I think that is obvious in the above verses and throughout the Word.
There is a purpose there. This is no “pick” on women either, men also have a purpose to bring glory to God by reflecting His nature. Both have purpose.
>As far as a woman’s motivation for a job
It depends on what her husband wishes and needs her to do, but there is an order and priority to things that should be kept in line.
Thank for your kind and respectful “agree to disagree”.
Good intentions does not make disobedience OK. Neither does getting permission from one’s authority to do something the Bible forbids make doing it right. For instance I know of many articles online where women claim it is OK for them to preach in churches because the male elders gave them permission to so and they have good intentions and no intention of usurping the men.
You said “a woman should certainly look towards her family’s need, but that scripture doesn’t say that is the only thing she look towards“. Sometimes when the Bible tells us to do something, it excludes all other things. When God told Noah to build one large Ark for all the animals and his family, God would not have been pleased if Noah built several smaller ships and divided his family among them to accomplish the same task.
In the same way when God tells women that they are to be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5) that excludes them from being keepers anywhere else. The idea of being a keeper of the home does not mean a woman is a prisoner in her home and may never leave, but it is one where the vast majority of her time is spent caring for the needs of her home. Nothing in the Proverbs 31 account contradicts with this principle. So the Bible does not have to say “women may only be keepers in the home and not have careers outside the home”, saying be “keepers at home” excludes everything else.
Now I have stated many times that I think the Lord understands when there is a situation of poverty or the husband becomes disabled and the woman is forced to work to help her husband and her home. But that was never her intention to purposefully leave her role as keeper of the home, she was forced to do so by things outside her control.
I can appreciate your passion to help abuse victims. But in the Bible women are offered a choice between two directions in life.
The default choice which is based on God’s first command to mankind is “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) which Paul explains to for women means “marry, bear children, guide the house”. The second choice which is God’s exception to his first command is celibacy “that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction” (I Corinthians 7:35). In other words dedicating your life in celibacy to God serving society and the world outside a home context.
But what many Christian women try to do to today, which is what you did and what your friend who is about to become a lawyer will do is you are trying to have it all despite your denial. You want to be able to spend the majority of your time outside your home, even if for a good causes the help people, only to give your family the lefts overs of your time. God tells women they have to make a choice, but you don’t think you have to.
BGR and Amm1,
Thank you for being respectful and kind to me. I always appreciate being able to discuss things civilly.
I believe, and so does my husband, that scripture should always be used in conjunction with each other. So I.e the virtuous woman is virtuous because she takes care of her household, feeds and clothes them, buys things, sells things, makes a profit, and reaching her hand out to the needy. You used the term “sporadically” doing things outside of the home, but the Bible never mentions how often she does these things, simply that she does them. That is where I find my beliefs differ. I enjoy your blog and podcasts, BGR. I really have learned a lot over the time I have read and listened. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day! I look forward to reading and listening to more articles in the future.
It seems the primary objection to young women marrying is that it’s seen as ‘creepy’ (your article quotes a woman who led with exactly that cheap and unfair point).
Here’s the thing – that’s a load of BS, and it’s based on a faulty and harmful stigma that sexual attraction itself is ‘creepy’, particularly sexual attraction by a male toward a female. It’s not. It’s perfectly natural, and it’s ok.
If we’re being honest (and nobody is honest in public about this), female humans become sexually attractive to male humans sometime in their early teens, and usually reach their peak physical attractiveness sometime in their late teens or early twenties. Take your pick whether this was God’s design or nature’s design, but it’s indisputable. Just carefully observe the eyes of other men on a city street 🙂
So if a woman is, let’s say, 17, and marries an older man who is sexually attracted to her, is that somehow wrong? Do his ‘impure’ motives invalidate the purpose of marriage? It’s ridiculous when you stop and think about it – of course a husband should be attracted to his wife. Sexual attraction is a good thing, assuming it’s not the ONLY thing going for the relationship.
To be somewhat blunt, isn’t it a waste for a woman to give her most physically attractive years away to a series of boyfriends, or to lock herself away during those years under the guise of ‘getting an education’ and ‘starting a career’ when she could be doing both while also sharing her youth with the man she’ll grow old with? Doesn’t she have her greatest choice of high-quality partners while she is still young?
Isn’t the gift of her twenties a wonderful thing to give to her husband?
This stigma, I believe, serves two purposes. First, the delegitimization of masculine sexual desire, and second, the devaluation of female youth. Why? Both are threats to women who seek maximum autonomy, but wish to keep men in their orbit to service them with attention and favors…(e.g. some feminists). They get to do whatever they like with their youth, and later, they expect the ‘good’ men will be waiting to scoop them up. Only the ‘creeps’ would be interested in those impressionable, younger girls. You know, the ones that are attractive, energetic, eager to please, and well-behaved? The ones with the tight bodies and without the jaded attitudes?
Guys who want all that must be real sick puppies!
First, a confusing typo. You said: “…or an adult (prepubescent human being).” Did you mean “postpubescent” instead of repeating “prepubescent”.
Second, the maternal mortality rate as a reason for not allowing teen marriages/mothers is a red herring. If you look at the actual studies – even in Africa – you’ll see that in the Maternal Mortality Rates in the 15-19 age-range are about the same as the for the 25-29 age range… and that’s in Africa. Further, the mortality rates only go up after 30. (source, about halfway down the page: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3629034/)
In the United States, the maternal mortality rate for women under 20 is actually LOWER than for the 20+ age range. The older a woman gets, the more likely she is do die from pregnancy. (source: https://mchb.hrsa.gov/whusa10/hstat/mh/pages/237mm.html)
If Maternal Mortality Rates were REALLY a concern, feminists would be pushing for marriage ages under 20 here in the States. Instead, they’re pushing for late 20s and early 30s, where the mortality rates really start to rise.
Thanks for that typo correction, I have made that change. And that is a great point you bring up about higher mortality rates for women older than 20+. They can kind of play with the numbers showing early teens having higher rates than late teens but then don’t talk about women later in life having more issues.
I agree that society would be better if the fertility rate was higher and marriages were more stable, and I understand your explanations on how girls entering marriage as soon as they menstruated could contribute to that. Yes, a thirteen year old girl is more moldable, and I also think that a thirteen year old will naturally not only look up to her husband more but also actually fear him more. Biblically speaking these are good traits to look for in a bride, but even in combination with a certain upbringing there still are natural processes that can’t be accelerated.
It might be up to a prospective bridegroom (and his father who knows about marriage from his own experience) to decide what the priorities are. So she already had her first period but she has no interesting curves yet. She certainly enjoys daydreams about attractive guys but her desire to actually have sex is weak. That’s no surprise since her cycle is still inconsistent and fertile days are rare. I’m not a man myself but I guess that men can sense such things, and as far as the curves are concerned they can also see it. I clearly remember how I shifted from daydreaming of boys to desiring young men when I was a fifteen year old girl. I started to look at men differently and I imagine that men reciprocated by throwing different looks at me, too. I suggest that these are natural reasons why we’re opposed to the idea of thirteen year old brides, it’s not just “cultural lenses”.
How much more interesting would a sixteen or seventeen year old bride be in comparison? She looks like a woman and desires men the way women do. The thirteen year old on the other hand will definitely be a board in the bedroom, flat-chested and stiff in his arms.
During the last three years of puberty the sixteen year old might have developed more opinions of her own, but she probably also developed a wish to leave her parents’ house behind = she’ll be far less homesick during the first few weeks of marriage than a thirteen year old bride.
But then some would also consider it a good thing that the thirteen year old will be more dependant on her new husband’s care in the strange surroundings. Is a young man much interested in such drama though? How much does he need for his wife to be more moldable? What kind of girl will be a greater help for a young man who establishes himself in his new role as head of the household?
Last year, J.T. Anderson and I did a study of “wife moulding” as a sub-topic of my writing project on “ discipline in marriage“.
We found that ideally, “wife moulding” should begin at an early age by the father, and the sooner the husband takes over, the better. However, the current culture encourages women to have a long period of independence between living at home with her father and being married. This “season of singleness” for “finding herself” is catastrophic to the stability of marriage.
Moreover, the whole topic of “wife moulding” is anathema to the philosophical foundations of feminism for several reasons.
1. It presumes that men and women are not fundamentally equal.
2. It presumes that women are not independent, nor should they be.
3. It presumes that women do not have free moral agency, but are subject to the decisions of men (father and husband).
4. It assumes that men have authority over women.
5. It posits that men determine a woman’s life course and purpose for living.
I’m surprised that my writings haven’t gotten any kickback (yet) from authors like Titkemeyer. I think this is because women know, deep in their hearts, that they are happier and better off with a man at the helm. It’s no secret that women constantly fantasize about being “ruled over” by a handsome, powerful, loving man, but they’re too proud to admit it. I covered this phenomenon under several posts listed in the second link above.
Guy here – I think all the points you’ve made are correct. The idea of marrying a 13 yr old, even if it were de stigmatized, for most guys would be unappealing for the reasons you’ve articulated. And I’ll add one more observation – the 13 year old who is mature enough to manage her own house is pretty rare… I think any benefit of being “moldable” is more than offset by the downside of being immature. On the other hand, 16 year old girls from good solid families are often quite capable of managing a house, finances, meal planning, etc., and have the strength and stamina needed for the early mom years. Of course this is sort of a sidebar, as the average age for marriage is something like 27 years old. I think there’s plenty at room to improve without even worrying about juniors. What about starting an intentional, appropriately supervised courtship period around 15-16, with the intention of selecting a worthy suitor and getting married at 18 or 19? Still a big improvement over the status quo.
Hello Old Soul, thanks for your reply from a man’s point of view.
You wrote “any benefit of being “moldable” will be more than offset by the downside of being immature” – that’s exactly what I think. I also agree that most thirteen year olds won’t be able to manage a household the way a sixteen year old with the same upbringing could. As I said though, the bridegroom will have to decide what his priorities are. If he thinks that his marriage will be off for a better start with a more dependant twelve/ thirteen year old bride then the Bible indeed allows him to go for it. He needs to be aware though that this will also take some great sacrifice on his part! He’ll have to comfort her very often, lower his expectations in the bedroom drastically, and drive her to the supermarket and everywhere else. As long as most men find this unappealing the answer is no, society would not be better if girls married as soon as they menstruated.
I want to say good job/thanks to the women in this thread, some great discussion and points/thoughts.
I would agree with you that from a purely sexual perspective a 16 or 17 old teen would be far more sexually interesting to a man both in her more developed curves(larger breasts, wider hips, more developed rear end and thighs) as well as she would probably more interested in sex. However – if we make immediate sexual attractiveness and interest in sex the most important factor in a man finding a wife I think that is a mistake. And it is a mistake men make often when it comes to choosing a wife.
From God’s perspective I believe what you said in the beginning of your statement is the most important:
The way men approached marriage in older times was more in line with the Bible. They were more concerned with being fruitful and multiplying(furthering their genetic line) and having a wife that was more moldable rather than having a woman that was older and more developed.
They knew that just as the woman would be more developed in her body, she would also be more set in her person as she got into the older teens and thus harder to mold.
So their reasoning when coming to a 13 year old girl was – “Yes she is not as attractive as 17 year old yet, nor does she desire sex in the way a 17 year old does, but she is moldable and fertile. And she will eventually grow into that 17 year old more attractive version and be molded by that point”.
Now again – I want to couch this with what I have already said that I do NOT believe most 13 year old girls who have been raised in our modern western culture would be ready for marriage at that age. But I do believe young women of the past were ready at 13 because they were raised very differently from young girls today(and for that manner boys were raised differently too). And as far as the concern of managing the house – remember these girls were raised from the time they were little being taught all these skills from their mothers. They were not like our young girls and teens today that spend all their time talking on the phone, going on Facebook or hanging out with girlfriends.
And I also want to reiterate that we can be both practical(as in what works in 2019 America for the immediate future) and what we want to strive for as a society over the coming decades and centuries.
I agree that sexual attractiveness should not be the most important factor in a man finding a wife, and I was actually thinking about it while I wrote my first response. Also a 16 yo bride who’s already equipped with more charms might be more tempted to sexually manipulate her new husband during the first years of marriage which is not good. These problems though can be prevented to a certain degree if both partners were brought up the way we’re talking about here. The same goes for “more moldable”, a 16 yo bride can still be very receiptive for her husband’s opinions if that’s how she was raised.
No upbringing however, not in the past, not now, not in the future could train a regular 12/ 13 year old to desire men for sex because naturally she’s not ready, and she’s not that fertile either. Likewise she can’t be brought up to prefer new surroundings over being with her mum and dad and siblings. Now what about the young husband with his new found responsibilities: His helpmeet has a cute face but is busy feeling homesick most of the time, in the bedroom she holds still at best, and she’s not even sexy.
What kind of upbringing would train him to deal with it, right in the beginning of his marriage when he’s still inexperienced? Why not go for a more mature woman he’d naturally prefer anyway?
Look, I believe that if the Bible allows it it can’t be immoral. I wonder whether this is preferable though. I’m not arguing that marriage should be postponed so that the bride can do all kinds of things in the meantime. But I seriously wonder whether this actually serves the interests of a regular young husband that much.
I appreciate men, if most men could say: “Yes, there’s a strong God given instinct in me that makes me want a wife who fits me like a glove, and that strong instinct would certainly motivate me and guide me while I bring up the patience and energy to take care of a twelve year old bride in the beginning of marriage” then I would trust that a twelve year old would be in good hands with him. If that’s not the case girls will be better off with their parents for a few more years.
>Look, I believe that if the Bible allows it it can’t be immoral.
>I wonder whether this is preferable though
This is what I have been saying, and I agree.
I think this conversation is going off a bit on the idea that a woman is not teachable unless she is very young. It is like there is some notion that a woman’s ideas are cemented at 18 or something, but this is completely untrue. Honestly, where a woman is at in this regard has a lot to do with how well her husband teaches her. Whether she is 16 or 26 or 36. If her husband is weak and is easily pushed around by her, it won’t matter what the age. If he is determined to be a Godly husband who takes responsibility and authority over his family, again it won’t matter what the age. This is more about how the relationship has gone than it is about age.
My thing about the age isn’t about pliability, but rather what is being learned in those age 16-23 years. That is far more important that a pliability difference in a few years age. If those years teach that she doesn’t need a husband, that she can do all she wants by herself, that she can live a selfish life, that she is in charge, that what she wants it all that matters, and so on, the this is the real problem with these years.
And yes, we all know it may or may not go well when a husband decides to lead if he hasn’t been, but again, this is not about age so much as it is about learning bad or wrong relationship and being stuck in those bad habits. For young couples, we should encourage them to know what good/proper/Godly relationship is from the beginning so they can do well with each other and escape all of that hardship.
It is true that a woman can be molded at any age if she surrenders her will to God and then her husband and she allows her concept of happiness to be shaped by Scripture and her husband. I see this in emails I receive from women all the time on this blog and I encourage older women who have never heard of Biblical gender roles to soften themselves and pray for God to change them. However there is a big difference between saying that a woman can be molded at any age and saying that women are just as easily moldable at at any age. The difficulty of molding a woman absolutely increases as she ages.
When I was going through my divorce care program during my divorce, about 11 years ago, one of the first things they taught us was that second marriages in our middle ages were horribly difficult. And the reason? Because people become more and more set in their ways as they age.
So yes while an 18 year old woman is far more moldable than 28 year old woman, the fact remains a 13 or 14 year old woman is far more moldable than an 18 year old woman.
This will be my final statement on this thread as I think we are getting to the “beating a dead horse” phase. While I don’t think every thing done in past generations of mankind or even in Israel was right, I am leery of doing what our society so easily does in thinking we know better than generations past how to better organize society. As I pointed out here and else where, most Historians and Bible scholars believe Mary was no more than 14 when she had Jesus and they also point out that was the norm in most cultures around the world at that time. If what they did matched with the Scriptural allowances, and it lead to strong families and strong societies, I am hesitant to say we know better now. I also am not completely convinced that young girls even of the early teen years were not mature enough for marriage, or that they did not desire sex more than girls of that age today because of their upbringing.
Proverbs 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
Notice that it doesn’t say “with the wife of your knowledge of a learned trade” or “with the wife of your understanding of the real world”. It says “the wife of your youth”.
Marriage is for the young. After 30, generally speaking, people shouldn’t get married, because their identities have calcified and they can’t adapt to each other as well.
Interesting point about the age of the husband. I was married in my early thirties, and certainly carried some relational baggage that would have been avoided had I married earlier. On the other hand, having a good-paying job with health insurance, a furnished house, a paid-off car, how-to knowledge around the house, strong command of personal finance, and experience in a leadership role was very helpful in my early marriage – especially when the stuff hit the fan, as it tends to do.
So your point is well-taken, but I think that, in today’s culture, the “young men” tend to be in their thirties – the 20-somethings are usually still boys.
Training our boys into men sooner is a good thing, but for now, I think encouraging men in their early thirties to marry women in their early twenties is better than DQ’ing them as “too old”.
I do think an age gap is a good thing, as his leadership frame will be stronger, and therefore roles will more naturally align properly, regardless of his or her particular age and independence level. So he generally should, IMO, be older. But too big of a gap (give or take “half his age + 7”) contributes to other problems, like difficulty relating, social stigma, gold-digging, statutory issues, and of course extended widowhood.
My friends daughter just got married in Ct at 16. It required parental consent. Her daughter has been with her now husband who is also 16 since she was 12. They are both very mature and very intelligent. Both have plans for college. They have a baby on the way and plan on living with family until the husband gets a degree and starts a career. Both of their families support them and can’t wait for more grand babies!
I understand why some Christian families do that because their primary concern is avoiding premarital sex. However I believe both avoiding premarital sex and a man being able to provide should be of equal importance and one is not more important than the other.
And the way that is accomplished is that courting does not commence between a couple until a man is fully ready to provide food clothing and shelter to his wife. Some might argue he is doing that through his parents – but who really is the provider? It is his father. So he is a husband who is not providing for his wife, therefore he breaking the model of Christ who provides for his church.
So we protect from premarital sexual temptations by keep young men and women strictly separate until the man is ready to provide, and thus ready to court.
I’d echo the points above, and add that in my opinion, men should know who they are and what they are about prior to choosing a helpmeet. After all, a man who is going to be career military, or a politician, or a police officer needs a wife with a different outlook and skill set than a man who is going to be an accountant, or a farmer, or a preacher.
The mutually-young Christian marriage is a dice roll, because sometimes the man doesn’t ever man-up as a provider (especially when the mold is cast early for parental welfare as a way of life).
Your friends kids were a ‘couple’ at 12. I think that was problematic – and guessing that the parents guided the whole process (that this was arranged from the get-go). Will this young man feel trapped later on, when he realizes in his twenties that there are sexual options he never considered – instead chasing a girl his mom said was good for him? Will she feel trapped in her twenties, when she realizes that the childhood crush she married is never going to be much of a man? That she doesn’t respect him, but rather respects his father – the actual provider?
Will he ever get a real job, or be a perpetual ‘youth pastor’ type and eventually run off with a YoungLife camper? Joking on the last one – kind of 😉
Not trying to be a negative Nancy, but these are real issues – selecting a provider for yourself and your children is serious business. If it’s done based on potential rather than performance, there are some risks.
i started my period at 8 years old. imagine an 8 year old married and possibly having a child! i could barely take care of myself at that age. i would have most definitely gotten an abortion if i had ever become pregnant that young
Read the article. That scenario is de-facto excluded. At least over the age of 12. Your scenario is definitely abnormal and a flaw in your body.
I think this woman is setting up a strawman here too. Like what kind of teenager plays with dolls and colours books? Her scenario is more likely with elementary school children than older at middle/high school level.
He argument would only apply in the case of Muhammad and Aisha who is genuinely a pedophile.
I was 100% ready to marry, submit and have children by late 13, early 14 yr old.
I would have made some young man a fantastic wife. Instead, I followed my instinct and need for a male ruler into premarital sex which has caused and still causes me damage, pain and regret.
To be married when I was ready at that young age would have been a real blessing to me and saved me much future heartache.
Do you think the events of Song of Solomon really happened or was it simply Solomon’s thoughts?
In my opinion Song of Solomon is about a forbidden relationship. Solomon was in love with a girl, but she wasn’t promised to him, and she was still young to marry.
So he wrote this song imagining them both together..
“We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?”
Song of Solomon 8:8
I’ve done a bunch of research since first reading this article.
In 1 Corinthians 7:36, the Greek word translated “past the flower of youth” (in NKJV) is “ὑπέρακμος” (huperakmos) and it more literally means “past the bloom of youth”, meaning the girl is “fully bloomed”. Like flowers, women don’t “bloom” all at once; it takes a little time. Doing some research, it typically takes 1 -2 years for a woman’s period to stabilize and become regular after menarche. (first period)
More research says the average age that a woman got her period throughout history is ~14, which is when she starts to “bloom”. However, she’s not “past the bloom of youth” yet because she’s still blooming. Now, add 1 -2 years for the girl to “fully bloom” (regular period) and you have a woman who is “past the bloom of youth” as Paul says.
(Note: a girl gets her period younger if her biological father is absent. It’s the removal of fathers – and probably hormones in our food – which cause girls to menstruate young.)
The way I read Paul, it seems like 15 -16 would be the average age a girl is “fully bloomed” and thus ready for marriage.
Not coincidentally, 15 years old is when the Maternal Mortality Rate plunges. Pregnant before 15 carries serious health risks; all those health risks disappear at about 15 years old. Also not coincidentally, fertility peaks just after menstruation has stabilized (~15). Further, 15-16 year old girls are already very interested in boys and actually look like women; not children.
It’s almost like God knew what He was doing when He inspired Paul. 😉