Married In a Year?

This is a guest post by Mac

Okay, so this will be the third last entry in this series and the last review on one of Scott Croft’s articles.  The next will be a positive sexual ethic based on William Countryman’s “Dirt, Greed, & Sex” and the final will be on how this ethic applies to LGBT persons.  This one is on his principle of going from the beginning of a dating relationship to marriage within a year. Here’s the Boundless link.

Now, to be fair to him he does not rule with an iron rod on this one.  For example, he makes it clear that the formula is not 1 year = okay while 366 days (I guess 367 on leap years) = sinful.  However, he does believe that the couple should be engaged in a year and married shortly after (probably defined as something like “as soon as we can find a date”).  So let us go with that.  He argues that the main reason for doing this is to avoid temptation.  Basically, he is affirming a practice common in Evangelicalism that is problematic.  People in Evangelical denominations tend to get married quite young because they do not want to have sex before marriage, but they want to have sex.  This is not a good reason to get married.  You might have a great and wild night on the honeymoon, but as soon as that is over, you’ll be helping each other pay bills, cook dinner, keep a house, etc. and the excitement of sex will soon stop being so motivating.

However, Croft even argues against emotional temptation.  He claims that Scripture condemns emotional intimacy before marriage.  He has yet to show a single text to prove that and he has not even proven through logic that emotional intimacy with someone who is not your spouse is in any way “defrauding” them.  In terms of physical intimacy, yes the Bible condemns sex before marriage and I have my own reasons for saving sex for marriage, but in terms of holding hands, kissing, etc. Croft has once again failed to support his thesis.

All that said, if (and that’s a big “if”) I were to agree with his premises that any form of intimacy prior to marriage was sinful, then I would agree that couples should be married or broken up as soon as possible to avoid temptation.  However, since I do not, then I cannot support his thesis.

My biggest objection comes from his response to people who are committed to each other but are simply too poor to be married.  His advice to them is either to say “screw the poverty, we’re getting married!” or to put the whole relationship on hold until they have money.  Now, since positive relationships create very powerful bonds between two people, many—unable to be apart from each other—will take the former option and start their marriage in poverty.  This leads to lots of blame being tossed about, bitterness, and resentfulness that makes the relationship less fulfilling than it could be.  In those cases, it is no wonder that the divorce rate in Evangelical circles is often higher than it is in the world.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.