Slipped Through The Cracks

In my last major post, I discussed the important role that parents need to play in helping their children marry. As a brief summary, I advocated that parents: 1) help their children find worthy spouses and 2) help their children marry those worthy spouses while young. Such an effort would help children to maintain a virtuous life and keep away from sexual immorality, something which pervades every drop of modern culture.

But what about those for whom this advice comes too late? Once children are “out of the nest” the ability to help them in this way diminishes rapidly. What about young Christian adults whose parents didn’t help to prepare or aid them in marrying young? Parents can make up for this to a degree- while training and preparation might not be possible any longer (or of limited value), they can still help their children find worthy spouses. Unfortunately, not everyone grows up with God-fearing or responsible parents, or even an intact home.  Those with parents who aren’t willing or aren’t able to help are truly in a forlorn position.

Its understandable for those parents who still have young children to not be overly concerned with young Christians who have “slipped through the cracks.” When the world at large is constantly attacking you on every front, and seeks to destroy or corrupt everything you hold dear, there is a natural inclination to enter a “bunker” mentality. Everything not connected to you and yours is simply pushed out of your mind and disappears into the nebulous aether of “out there.” Again, understandable. But in my view a mistake.

I believe that this is a classic instance of similar interests aligning such that “if we don’t hang together, we shall surely hang separately.” That means parents with young children should try and help single, young Christian adults to find worthy spouses to marry, and that young, single Christian adults should try to help parents with young children prepare their children for marriage and help them (as time passes) to find spouses for themselves. Setting aside the moral considerations (in my view this is a great act of Christian charity here), there are strong self-interest reasons to work together in this manner.

The first reason to do this lies at the heart of success for both groups: networking. More than anything else, the collapse of the old networks between between members of faith communities is the single biggest impediment to devout, young Christians marrying. In the past you used to be able to count on friends and family to help you find a spouse, or to help your children (or grand-children) find a spouse. Coupled with the relative dearth of actual, devout, God-fearing Christians (as compared to “Churchians” -those who attend church for the social value but are not Christian in act or belief), it is extremely difficult for many young Christians to find suitable mates. Those who are fortunate enough to be born to a rebuilt network, such as a traditional church or a home-schooling group, fare somewhat better. But even they suffer from the limited pool available. If both groups of Christians- parents and singles, work together they can rebuild the old networks of faith communities much faster than if they operate solo. Every new person that is brought into the network is another chance to branch out and bring even more people into the fold. In mathematical terms the growth of the network is exponential, not linear.

The second reason lies in future hopes and opportunities. If your youngest son is still in diapers, it might not seem beneficial to you or your family right now to help a 20 or 30 year old Christian man find a wife to marry. But in 20 years your son might be looking for a wife, and if that man you helped two decades earlier now has daughters… well, that might make all the difference in the world. Naturally the same logic applies for a young Christian woman as well. Remember, you reap what you sow. As for Christian singles, helping those who are parents now can benefit any future children you have. Or grand-children, for that matter. This kind of project requires long-term planning and thinking, and that means laying the foundation for the future, today.

In my next post in this series I hope to cover some of how both groups can actually help another, both in the moment and in the future.

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20 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Courtship, Marriage

20 responses to “Slipped Through The Cracks

  1. An excellent idea. There was a time when there were so many children born to Christian families that the oldest could be 20 and the youngest 2. This made your concept very plausible, as generations constantly rolled over each other in a never-ending interrelationship. Today, it’s much more difficult because Christians are having so few children. You may find my post, “Two Children are NOT Enough” of interest. I pray we are able to rectify this problem, as more and more young women reject the self-centered, career-oriented foolishness of radical feminism and seek solace and joy in their families instead.

  2. @ K.Q. Duane

    Thank you. I will be sure to check out that post of yours. I’ve been meaning to write my own post for a while now about the value of larger families. I hope you don’t mind if I quote liberally from your own why I write it some time next week.

  3. Another problem with returning the reins to the parents is the parents themselves. They are the ones encouraging their children to delay marriage, to have few kids, etc. I love my mother very much, but I had to admit to myself that as time went on she was interfering more than helping. She didn’t want to let go of me. She was happy to help me find a husband, as long as it was theoretical.

    Parents come in two types these days, those who kind of toss their children out into the world and have never cared to help them too much and those who cling to their children long after they need to leave the nest. Two brands of selfishness. I would say it is less important to convince young people that marrying early is good, and more important to convince parents. It is good to see you tackling the subject, because it sorely needs to be addressed.

  4. mdavid

    What allamagoosa said. Let’s not forget it is generally parents from 1950+ who have created this mess to begin with. Ideas have consequences. When a Christian converts, he must often leave his parent’s ideas behind. Dying to Christ sometimes means dying to your own tribe, which is the only way to life: in this world and the next.

  5. A good post, but I think it’s hard enough to get many Christian parents away from the “Plan B” approach to scripting the lives of the daughters, as well as the parallel messaging that goes to sons about the same life period (i.e., the time between 18 and 30). I’d say an overwhelming majority of Christian parents encourage sons and daughters to focus on education, career growth and “fun/not too serious” relationships during this time, until the late 20s when it becomes acceptable to marry. That script is nearly ubiquitous, and it doesn’t match very well with setting people up — at least not until the “appointed time” of the late 20s/around 30 comes along, by which point various kinds of damage will likely have been done.

    Most people, regardless of religion, seem to try to be pragmatic with their children, and that life script appears to be the most pragmatic to them, in light of the risks of relationships today. Of course, the irony is that this approach also feeds the problems with relationships, but it’s a kind of prisoner’s dilemma game.

  6. I look forward to your next post!

  7. mdavid

    Duane, I read your article, Two Children are NOT Enough. A few points:

    1) WASP culture was created in England to deal with her Malthusian Trap before the industrial revolution. Yet birth rates in England were already falling fast before 1930 (when Anglicans allowed birth control into Christiandom for the first time). WASP patriarchal culture followed a K strategy (few children, high investment), while the Irish, Hispanic, African cultures followed an matriarchal R strategy (many kids, low child investment). When you have enough resources, R wins every time. Hence, the WASP extinction that quickly followed the industrial revolution as massive resource availability came to the masses.

    2) The main reason for large families in America was free land and industrial economic growth. WASP culture and feminism? Sideshows. Basically, the large families in the United States were an historical anomaly due to a discovery of a new continent that needed to be filled. We can see this by examining similar cultures with radically different birth rates than America during the same time.

    3) White WASP culture is nearly extinct. Whites were 25% of world population in 1800, and have fallen to nearly 10% today. They are projected to get below 5% by 2100; too late to save it. To my mind, that cake was baked during the Reformation; ideas have consequences. Extinction is the consequence here.

    4) Having said all this: it’s easy today to have a large K strategy family if the couple is motivated and has the skills due to the explosion in resources modern technology has delivered. Unfortunately few women have this skill set today, and R strategy types are thus leading the population base. Can’t see that changing anytime soon.

  8. Elspeth

    @ Nova:

    Even amongst those of us who stress young marriage and frown heavily on frivolous relationships, there is always the issue of how to fill those years between the end of high school and marriage. Work and college is how they fill those years, even if they never have a relationship.

    We are living with that reality right now in our home and amazingly, my oldest daughter (20) has friends who fall into two camps: they married early ( through the short cut route) or they have never ever been in a relationship at all. This is the case for those who have held a firm commitment to their faith and chastity.

    And these are attractive young women, not obese or stupid.

  9. Novaseeker

    Even amongst those of us who stress young marriage and frown heavily on frivolous relationships, there is always the issue of how to fill those years between the end of high school and marriage. Work and college is how they fill those years, even if they never have a relationship.

    Fair enough, but different from what I was describing. What I was describing was active discouragement from parents to marry until the late 20s. Many, many Christians do that, the same as everyone else does.

  10. deti

    Good post. And I agree with Nova : The single biggest problem to surmount is how even Christian parents support the “Plan B” and “life script” of the ambient secular culture. To be clear, the “life script” between ages 18 and 30 for men is “college, then work, then advanced degree, then date around/have fun/don’t commit because there’s lots of opportunity for dating; then get married around age 30”.

    For women it’s “college, work, advanced degree, travel, acquire possessions, date around/have fun/don’t commit because there is so much risk and WHAT IF you marry the wrong man.

    The “plan B” for women is “you need a career because you can’t ever count on a man, and you need a fallback plan in case you have to support yourself and kids. What if he dies/leaves you/is injured/is disabled/divorces you/goes nuts/does some other douchebaggy thing that men do? What if you never ever meet a man who is willing to marry you in the first place? And then where will you be if you don’t have a plan B?”

    So the hardest thing in this entire endeavor is to pull Christian parents away from this mindset. Encouraging young Christian women to get serious early about finding a husband, and telling them that they need to put themselves out there and look for a good man, is very, very countercultural. Very much so. Even more countercultural is telling young Christian women to get married NOW and put off careers until LATER. This is the exact opposite of what we’re telling girls currently. Very countercultural.

  11. deti

    Candidly, it’s the young Christian WOMEN who need the encouragement to marry. I really think that if you work on the women in this regard, the young men will line up to marry them. If you have women who are serious about Christian marriage and will forswear their ability to frivorce a husband and are very very clear that they are interested in marriage till death do we part no matter what, then you will have a lot of Christian men who will be very, very interested in wifing up these women.

  12. deti

    Elspeth:

    What you’re talking about there, with young Christian women wanting to marry and having not had relationships, is one result of all the problems in the SMP/MMP. It’s just one rotten fruit of the poisonous tree. Men are gunshy and for good reason. Men are feminized and are scared to death to ask girls out due to rejection, fear of sex harassment claims and accusations, and any number of other things. Women want to “hang back” and “let the relationship just happen”, without being intentional about their seeking good men. Young Christian women are being conditioned to think they live in a MMP that last existed in the 1960s and early 70s.

    Of course, I think that some things have to change there: I think young Christian men have to get past their fears and ratchet up enough confidence to ask out girls they’re interested in. I also think young Christian women who are serious about marriage are part of the problem too – they have to get out there and look for men; and make it as easy as possible for the men to approach them.

  13. Thanks for your comments everyone. I will try and reply in a bit.

  14. I agree with everyone that most parents are not with the program here. Which is partially why I wrote this post- I wanted those parents who are with the program (often younger with younger children) to realize the value and importance of helping those who have slipped through the cracks. It is going to take a concerted effort to restore some measure of Christian Community.

  15. @ Deti

    If you have women who are serious about Christian marriage and will forswear their ability to frivorce a husband and are very very clear that they are interested in marriage till death do we part no matter what, then you will have a lot of Christian men who will be very, very interested in wifing up these women.

    Possibly. But only so long as those Christian women act chastely, and insist on it. Many Christian men are just as bad as secular men when it comes to a desire to fornicate. They may want to marry, but will want to “sample the goods” first in many cases. All based on large numbers of “Christian” men that I know.

    Also, there needs to be a critical mass of Christian women to do this, too. Without that it will likely fizzle.

  16. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ Donal,

    Another great post, as usual. I think you especially made a good point about parents with babies still in diapers can help them by helping others who might end up having babies that might marry their own babies one day. I don’t think anyone is thinking that far ahead anymore, which is a real pity. I hope this catches on like it once was generations ago. Also, it might even be good for some of us from these parts to keep in touch over the years if we manage to get married and have babies that could maybe hit it off, ya know?

    @ Deti,

    Regarding your 4:51 pm comment ~ it doesn’t agree with your comment addressed to me at FN’s today where you said my refusal to put out prior to marriage is largely what is keeping me from getting asked out much. If that’s the case, then what would cause men to line up to wife up someone like me? The difference is going way over my head.

  17. @ FBNF

    I don’t think anyone is thinking that far ahead anymore, which is a real pity.

    Well, the thing is that most people didn’t think that far ahead in the past either. But it wasn’t necessary- there were enough parents raising their children right, and families were large enough, that there was an ample supply of marriageable people. At least on a macro level- some regions have had a dearth of them at different points in history.

    The problem now is that this whole system is undermined and effectively gone. So we must start from scratch- which requires long-term thinking.

  18. deti

    “Regarding your 4:51 pm comment ~ it doesn’t agree with your comment addressed to me at FN’s today where you said my refusal to put out prior to marriage is largely what is keeping me from getting asked out much. If that’s the case, then what would cause men to line up to wife up someone like me?”

    The main thing I was talking about at Free Northerner’s was numbers. Your “no sex before marriage” stance makes a big difference in this market because there are so few of you taking that stand. If a majority of women did what you do (or at least waited until engagement); then there would be many, many more men willing to wait and to propose marriage to you and women like you.

    Men will do what they must to get sex. If they have to learn game, they’ll do that (or give up). If they have to learn Godly masculinity, they’ll do that. If they have to show provider bona fides and propose marriage, then they’ll do that. The main reason most men are willing to get married is because that’s the only route to sexual access. Sorry to put it that way; but that’s the truth.

    In today’s market, women have flooded the market with sex, but the sex is on offer only to the most attractive men, until sex is used an an enticement to extract marriage from less attractive men. Women who want to wait until marriage cannot compete with women offering sex. The bottom 80% of men are getting nothing, so they simply drop out.

  19. Patrick Pedat Ebediyah Golston

    Godly men should want their daughters to reach womanhood with more to show for it than their female peers, aunties, cousins, neighbors, neighbors’ mothers, and even their own mothers; which is more than squandering their years on being the cute good time girl, for sex, for food, for travel, and for material items…but with very little intellectual, spiritual, emotional, or vocational foundation…

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