by Corrie Mitchell
According to the Pew Research Center, only 26 percent of Millennials, those born roughly between 1981 and 1996, are married. This is a decrease from previous generations: by the time they were in the current Millennial age range (18-33), 36 percent of Generation Xers, 48 percent of Baby Boomers, and 65 percent of the Silent Generation were married.
Millennials’ median marriage age is also the highest of any group in modern history — 29 for men and 27 for women. Though most unmarried Millennials (69 percent) say they’d like to marry, they’re not in a hurry.
So, why are religious Millennials waiting to tie the knot? My own Christian perspective frames the following list of five reasons, but I ran it by my best friend, who agreed she’s seen similar situations play out within the Muslim context.
1. We’re driven by our careers.
In the past, women of faith were guided to the ready-made “callings” of marriage and motherhood, but they’re now as free as their secular counterparts to pursue careers and post-graduate education. Not only that, but religious Millennials view their professions as honoring God.
2. True love isn’t waiting.
The majority (77 percent) of evangelical Millennials agree that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. But that hasn’t stopped most of them from doing it. In fact, 80 percent of unmarried Millennials who self-identify as evangelicals have had sex, according to a study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Of that 80 percent, 64 percent reported having sex in the last year, and 42 percent say they are currently in a sexual relationship. So, why aren’t evangelical Millennials putting their beliefs into practice?
3. Men are acting like boys.
I hesitate to include this, mainly because I don’t mean to bash the men out there, but I came across too many people who affirmed this notion. Kevin DeYoung, author of Just Do Something, says that a number of commentators, Christians included, have noticed a trend in Millennial men — they aren’t growing up. The common question he hears from young Christian women around the country: “Where have all the marriageable men gone?”
4. We don’t know how to date.
Debra Fileta, a professional counselor, comes right out with it: “Christians are bad at dating.” I agree. When your faith puts an enormous emphasis on marriage to the extent that casual dates are frowned upon, dating comes with serious pressure. When you go out for coffee knowing that the person across the table is thinking the same thing you are — “Could I see myself marrying this person?” — it’s just too much for a first date.
5. Singleness is attractive.
Previous generations have shown Millennials that, a lot of the time, marriage doesn’t last. With divorce rates in excess of 50 percent (or, as sociologist Bradley Wright suggests, 60 percent for nominal Christians and 38 percent for regular church-attending Christians), it looks like marriage has but a fighting chance for survival. So why rush it?
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