“Is marriage worth bothering with? I’m surrounded by mediocre marriages; I don’t see anyone or at best very few who have a marriage that I would want to have. My sister has been married a short time and she tells me how hard it is and it seems like so much difficulty with so little reward.”
The preceding statement comes from a comment I recently received from a man calling himself AngloSaxon.
And to be honest a great majority of men in our modern western countries find themselves asking this same question for the same reasons that AngloSaxon has.
Men sought out marriage throughout the history of world to be able to have a companion with which they could share their lives. But the companionship that men sought with women was not the same as the companionship they sought with other men. They did not seek out women as equal partners, but rather they sought out women for things male companionship could not offer them.
They sought out things in women they could not find in men. They sought out women so that they could be looked up to, respected and needed for their ability to provide and protect.
They sought out female companionship for the visual and physical pleasure women could give them and the fact that women could bear and care for their children and thus help them continue their family lines. They sought female companionship to have someone to care for the domestic needs of their homes to free them to go out into the world and make their mark on it knowing their female companion had everything in order back at their home.
But this entire dynamic of marriage with women desiring men for their provision and protection was totally upended by feminist movements in America and other western nations which began in the 19th century.
Many women in our post-feminist culture do not seek out men in marriage for their provision and their protection. Rather they seek out men simply for “friendship” and to have someone to “that makes me laugh”.
And many women today do not enter marriage in order to give their husbands sexual pleasure or bear their children or to serve the needs of their husband’s home. But rather they come into marriage to be served by men.
So the modern state of male/female relationships is that many men have been robbed of their purpose and their desires in marriage and they have come under what one of America’s founding fathers, John Adams, warned of if women were ever given equal rights with men and that is the “despotism of the petticoat” or in other words the “despotism of women”.
And since women came to dominate male/female relationships with the abandonment of courtship and the embrace of the new concept of “dating” in late 19th and early 20th centuries marriage as an institution has been severely decimated.
Before the political feminist movements of the mid 19th century divorce rates were three percent. As men gave more and more control to women over dating and marriage divorce rates began to skyrocket and eventually peak at over fifty percent by the mid 1980s (with women being the initiators in seventy percent of divorces).
Everything I have just stated may seem like a dark and dreary outlook of marriage and male/female relationships in our Postfeminist culture. But we as Christians do not have the option of loosing hope in God’s institution of marriage. God does not give us the right to give up on the very first human relationship he ever established which was marriage.
Why Marriage is Worth Bothering With
Marriage is absolutely “worth bothering with” because God has commanded it. And why has he commanded it? He has commanded it as part of his larger reason for making man and woman in the Garden of Eden.
1 Corinthians 11:7-9 in its divine commentary on the creation account states:
“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
Men and women were given life and given their shared human traits for different reasons. God gave man his human traits along with additional masculine traits so that man bring glory to God by imaging him with his life. Literally man was created to live out God’s attributes. That is why men are called to be leaders, providers and protectors to their wives and children and to image God as husband to their wives and image God as a father to their children.
Women were not given their common human traits with men for this same purpose. They were given their humanity in order to be a helper and companion to man they were purposefully made as “the weaker vessel” as 1 Peter 3:7 states so that they would need man’s leadership, provision and protection as all mankind needs God’s leadership, provision and protection.
So it is for this reason that marriage is SO MUCH MORE than about our personal happiness or having fun. Marriage was designed by God as an extension of his purpose for creating male human beings so that they could full image him in all his attributes – and to do this they need someone to lovingly lead, provide for and protect and thus he made woman.
So its not about what you or I want or what sounds like fun or if it sounds difficult. It is about obeying God’s first command to mankind:
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Genesis 1:28 (KJV)
God has never rescinded his first command and even in the New Testament the Bible states “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). Marriage is God’s rule for our lives and celibacy is his exception to that rule “that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction” (1 Corinthians 7:35). In other words, if your reason for not marrying is to serve God in an undivided fashion than your reason for celibacy is honorable and holy before God. If however your reason for celibacy is based in fear or selfishness that you want to just have more money or not risk being hurt by a spouse in marriage than your reason for celibacy is not honored before God.
Another indicator that celibacy is not for most people is that the vast majority of people have God given desire for intimate companion ship that only marriage can fulfill(whether it be for sex or having children or other reasons) and therefore we can rightly say based upon the Scriptures that “it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9).
The Facts Don’t Lie – Marriage is Better for Men and Society
Occasionally I will check out various atheist blogs and YouTube channels that critique this blog. What I often find interesting is that they admit something many Christian feminist bloggers will not admit. Some atheist bloggers admit that feminism and women’s equality has been a major blow to this historic institution of marriage. But you know what their response is? We don’t need marriage anymore. Sure, it is fine if you want to, they say, but marriage is no longer needed for a strong and stable society in their view.
But multiple studies call into question the contention of some atheists that marriage is an outdated societal institution that is no longer needed.
Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas H. Wolfinger in their article for National Review entitled “Hey Guys, Put a Ring on It” demonstrate through the results of many studies the positive impact marriage has on men and thus society at large:
“First, let’s consider money. Marriage has a transformative effect on men’s finances. After marrying, men typically work harder, smarter, and more successfully. They are less likely to be fired. And they make about $16,000 more than their single peers with otherwise similar backgrounds. In general, marriage seems to increase the earning power of men on the order of 10 to 24 percent…
Men don’t just enjoy a better sex life when married; they are also more likely to enjoy better health. Research suggests that men who get and stay married live almost ten years longer than their unmarried peers. And a recent Harvard study found that even among men diagnosed with cancer, the married ones live longer…
We’ve seen that for the average guy, when it comes to money, sex, and health, marriage offers significant returns on the sacrifices it requires. It’s all of a piece with what one major research project, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, found about what makes men healthy and happy over the course of their lives, including their retirement years. Indeed, elderly men who enjoyed good marriages reported significantly less depression, better moods, and more satisfaction with life.”
Robert Rector wrote an article for the Heritage.org entitled “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty” where he made the following conclusion from looking at government statistics on the demographics of those most likely to fall into poverty:
“Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware of its principal cause: the absence of married fathers in the home. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2008 was 36.5 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent…
The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:
More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;
Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;
Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school; and
A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.”
The facts above clearly show that married men make more money and are more successful in their careers. They lead healthier and more fulfilled lives. Children raised by fathers married to their mothers do better in their education and are less likely to fall into poverty or get involved with crime.
So, both the Christian feminists and atheists are wrong. Christian feminists are wrong in denying that feminism has decimated the institution of marriage and atheists are wrong in saying it is OK for marriage to go away and that society no longer needs it.
Marriage is definitely “worth bothering with” because God commands it and it is part of the very reason, we as both men and women were created.
Now does this mean young men must take the first woman that expresses interest in them as a potential husband? Absolutely not! And far too many young men who are insecure with themselves marry the first woman who expresses interest in them. A lot of Christian men marry because they are desperate to have sex and they fail to look closely at the character of the woman they are marrying.
Christian men can and should approach women and dating (really it should be courting) with a great deal of Scriptural knowledge of what marriage is about and also prayer as well as discretion. They also should lean on their parents and other wise counsel to know if a woman is of good character and one who would make a good wife to them and a good mother to their children.
But the main point is Christian men cannot give up on marriage even it takes many years to find the right woman. The search should be continual even if it means a man saving money for many years and seeking a wife overseas from a less westernized country or more conservative (mostly rural areas) of western countries.