What would you say is the reason that 50 years ago in the US it was acceptable for a girl of 18 to be preparing herself to become a wife in the near future, but now its considered almost scandalous? Girls used to have sweet 16 parties and debutante balls to officially announce that they have moved beyond childhood to an age ready to date and find a suitable husband. We view these sorts of events as sweetly funny, old fashioned and even carry the taste of oppression. After all in the 1950’s women were treated as inferior in the work place and were ostracized if they didn’t conform to the traditional wife and mother role.
I guess you would say that times have changed, women have been liberated from the constraints of a male-dominated society and now we have the freedom to choose our own destiny, our own path in life. And it seems that the path that everyone is pointing to is to be alone, build a career, and prove that we don’t need a man to be happy. As a side note, today some girls have resurrected the old sweet-sixteen party as an expensive bash with DJ’s, drinks and the hope that they’ll lose their virginity if they haven’t already. Very sweet.
Why is it that when news of Sarah Palin’s daughter (who, is pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby) is planning to marry at 18, the media went wild with accusations of a “shotgun wedding”? They deride her choice of marrying her high-school sweetheart as ridiculous, that somehow her rights are being violated. The poor girl, who had already made plans to marry before she even got pregnant, is a huge joke for all the late-night comedians.
It has become conventional wisdom that a young girl in her teens is incapable of making a rational decision about marriage – although many states believe she has the right to purchase birth control without her parents’ knowledge or permission. No problem if she conceives a child, aborts it, has multiple sexual partners, but MARRIAGE? Unthinkable!
Isn’t insisting that young women are too ignorant to marry, just as oppressive as saying that women don’t have a right to work? If women in the past were able to marry in their teens and have happy marriages and raise their children, well, what has happened with the advance of technology and a liberated society? Have we turned our teenage girls into immature air-heads? Watch E! TV and you’ll get your answer.
I dare to believe that women, young and old, are able to be more intelligent, resilient and competent than today’s society credits them for. Though unhappy marriages have existed from time immemorial - some that were huge mistakes - it doesn't mean that marriage is too scary to understand. It's possible for women to enjoy all the romance and thrill of marrying young, if they have the support and guidance of wiser women (and of course, if they listen to that advice!) While some women are still alone and trying to “find themselves” at 35, others are well grounded in a loving marriage and a blessing to everyone around them.
I know women from both of these camps, and I tell you, it’s a thrill to be around those that married young and have a maturity beyond their years, and yet are still fresh-faced and vibrant and ready to take on whatever life may throw at them. Really – a lot of my friends fall into this category. And conversely, it’s a very sad experience to be around those who may be well educated and established in their careers, but are lonely and unable to find a lasting relationship. They’ve never learned the joys of commitment and sacrifice and all the rewards that brings.
Let’s start another cultural revolution that celebrates the joy of the purity of marriage, for both young women and men. Maybe if older adults pulled their marriages together, we could be a better example for them. Want to know a good way to start? Check out the movie Fireproof, and buy the book, the Love Dare at your local Christian bookstore. Its just a start, but a pretty good one!