There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on the trend to defer marriage among Millennials and Gen Zs. The need to marry is on the decline given the rise in cohabitation, fear of divorce and self-sufficiency, among other factors. This trend is based on the idea that young people should focus on exploring their careers and engage in self-care before jumping into marriage. The thinking is that deferring marriage allows you to gain wealth and happiness as marriage can stunt your personal growth, and children may be a negative impact to your wealth and goals.

Several other articles have a similar voice. The New York Times ran a story that glorifies the freedom and self-realization that comes from living alone. The Atlantic published an article on the Case Against Marriage, and Time Magazine talked about having it all without children. The take home message seems to be that marriage and family are obstacles to your personal growth and happiness.

But are these views good or even true? They certainly aren’t biblical. A sociologist who directs the National Marriage Project at University of Virginia, Brad Wilcox, studies these trends and finds married people to be wealthier than those not married, and couples with children happier than couples without children. Overall, married people are happier. In fact, marriage is a stronger predictor for happiness than money or success. Marriage brings meaning, purpose, and stability to a person’s life.

Furthermore, I challenge the idea that personal growth cannot happen during a healthy marriage. It happens all the time. Couples grow together while also developing their individual identity. Many married couples continue their education, career choices, and personal growth. Our brain is wired for connection to God and others. Interpersonal relationships are how we learn about ourselves.

Now, I am not saying that deferring marriage to the late 20s or beyond is a bad thing. There are many reasons why this happens that have nothing to do with the choice to defer for personal gain and self-focus. But the notion that you can only find yourself and become economically stable by deferring marriage is nonsense. Additionally, the morality of such decisions often hinges on available sex outside of marriage which is incompatible with the Christian view. Personal autonomy has become a religion with a moral compass based on what feels good.

If you are not called to singleness, think about why you might decide to defer marriage or have children. Is your reason for delay related to the cultural think or based on God’s word and plan for your life? It’s easy to get caught up in the messaging of the culture.

Marriage is God’s idea and based on covenant. It holds the possibility of lifetime partnership, personal and couple growth. It has its challenges, but that is how we grow.  It’s also a major deterrent to loneliness, an epidemic in our society today.

People of faith aren’t ruled by self and self-interest. Our life’s purpose is to glorify God and serve him and others. We do that, in part, in marriage. Marriage is not a rock hanging around your neck to drown you. It’s a covenant to be honored, put in place by God to help you flourish.

Deferring marriage: A good idea?