Yes, it's true - my MP3 players is filled to the brim with depressing songs about being alone.
And what's with all of the pink????
Ahem. Moving on.
I really don't like this day. I'm sure if it wasn't my nineteenth consecutive Valentine's Day single, I might have a slightly different view, but I still want to vomit at the sight of commercialized romance.
So in honor of this horrendous event, I offer up a theory on why so many of my friends/classmates/kids-my-age are getting married. While still in college. And I say kid because most of them are under the age of twenty-five. Those of them in college haven't graduated yet.
As a single male in this age group, I ask myself – rather, I look at my other single friends and I shout - “What in the world is wrong with modern relationships?
And now I have an answer.
Modern Westernism and especially that in America preach a form of rugged individualism - we have to depend on ourselves even though God created us to exist in community. Kids are taught that we have to be able to make it on our own, that having to rely on others is a sign of weakness. You can look at most athletes and tell that they would rather, if they could, go it without a team. Our friendships are superficial, based around musical tastes, fashion sense, and socio-economic status. White middle class kids hang out with middle class kids. Our conversations circle around the arbitrary - weather, grades, teachers, sports, concerts, and movies - and the slightly-less-than-arbitrary - who's sleeping with whom, who's dating whom, who knows how to correctly use the word "whom" - ok, that last one's really just my group of language-geek-friends (yes, they do exist).So by the time we get to a point where we're dating, we're so starved for a connection that we're willing to date anyone who so much as says hello - assuming that they are also of the same socio-economic status. Now, at this point, I should say that we like to say that race, class, and the like don't matter - but rarely will this ever be acted upon. And when we find it, we are willing to go all in, because we have tricked ourselves into thinking that saying "I love you" makes it true. We see it as the easiest way to cement the relationship. And we see marriage as that final step that we are oh so eager to take. Marriage is something official - sealed with a kiss and a piece of paper that we have to go to court to undo.
And then the awful, hideous truth sinks in - we don't actually love this person - we just like the idea of loving them enough to fool ourselves into this vain game of deceit. So, we go to court. We undo the marriage. And then we go back to step one, looking for a new relationship to help us get over the old one.
And the Church isn't helping with this - we tell ourselves that God has blessed marriage and that it's good. Oddly enough, we listen to Josh Harris and tell ourselves that dating is bad - so instead of having an actual relationship, we have this stiff, awkward period of more than friends, but not married. And we rush into marriage thinking that it's ordained by God and that we followed all of these neatly-defined rules. Because we as Christians have taken such an emphasis off of community that we only talk about what Jesus said about self. We all know it's easier to love God and ourselves if we don't have to worry about those pesky neighbors.
Let us not forget the Church's love-hate relationship with sex. We love to talk about how it's God's gift to married people. But anything outside of that, we hate. So we dangle it like a string in front of our youth groups, saying, "See how great this is? But not until you're married." It's like baking a sheet of warm brownies only to tell the child waiting expectantly that he can't have any until after dinner. Don't get me wrong - you there, with the copy of I Kissed Dating Good-Bye, pay attention. I'm not saying I support sex outside of marriage. I'm just saying that if we want kids to not have sex before marriage, we should probably be a little more open about it. Until then, kids are going to have premarital sex. And worse than that, they are going to get married just to have guilt-free sex. And they'll enjoy their honeymoons a lot. And then they'll get home and realize that their marriage is based purely around a teenage infatuation and the desire to have sex.
Studies have shown that teenage Christians (active-tense, as in they are Christians when they do this) lose their virginities sooner than non-Christian teens. And the Christian divorce rate is as high as the national average. And we wonder why.
Now for the "But of course, there are obvious exceptions..." - yes, yes there are. My friends are getting married this summer - he's a college grad working on a second degree and his fiance is an undergrad. And I highly expect them to have a strong, healthy marriage. I wish them God's blessings. But they are the exception, not the rule.
I wish I could end this on a hopeful note, I really do. But I don't see any hope outside of a major change in our culture. And if all of the pink candy in Kroger is a sign, it's not going to happen very soon.