- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

It’s been more than two years since I adopted a little girl and entered the world of single-momhood. Recently, my child, now 4, has decided she wants a daddy.

You and me both, I tell her.

Tying the knot is quite difficult these days for many women, especially those who belong to any sort of ethnic minority or subgroup. I’ve been an evangelical Christian since my teens, but even back then, in my high school Young Life group, it was hard to not notice the fact that we girls far outnumbered the boys.

The ratios got worse the older I grew. In an article titled “The Case for Early Marriage” in the most recent issue of Christianity Today, an evangelical monthly, the author estimates the ratio of single women to men in church is 3-to-2. I’d say the true ratio on the ground is more like 5-to-1.

The problem with evangelicals, author Mark Regnerus says, is that they value marriage less than individual freedom, which is why their 20-somethings are encouraged to get out in the world, travel and find themselves before marrying. As a result, he says, young evangelicals are marrying later - if at all, but 80 percent are having premarital sex.

All the abstinence pledges in the world, he adds, aren’t going to change this. Early marriage will.

A lot of people warn against early marriage, saying it leads to early divorce, poverty and greater odds of a poor match. It does provide an answer to raging hormones and allows women to have their children in their 20s rather than waiting until their less fertile 30s and 40s.

Another Christianity Today essay, published a month ago, said marriage shouldn’t be so much about self-fulfillment or having one’s sexual needs met as it should be about the raising of children.

The use of artificial contraception, editor Mark Galli writes, has allowed Protestants to separate sex from procreation, which “has prompted most couples, evangelicals included, to think that sex is first and foremost a fulfilling psychological and physical experience, that a couple has a right to enjoy themselves for a few years before they settle down to family life.”

“We are, of all Christian traditions, the most individualistic,” he added. “[But we] cannot tell gay couples that marriage is about something much larger than self-fulfillment when we, like the rest of the heterosexual culture, delay marriage until we can experience life and delay having children until we can enjoy each other for a few years.”

These writers are on to something. The evangelical Protestant culture is not into inconveniencing oneself early on with children. Having kids is work - I can tell you - and all of the people who’ve stepped forward and offered to baby-sit my little girl so as to give me a rest have been Roman Catholics.

And a large percentage of people who encouraged me to adopt in the first place were Jewish. Both traditions grasp that having a family is worth making sacrifices for, that the very survival of the culture depends on it.

I just wish that evangelical pastors would deem unacceptable the current ratio of serious Christian men to women and that married church members would do far more to help their single friends find mates. Then there’d be far fewer women left out in the cold and far fewer little girls begging their moms for a dad.

Julia Duin’s Stairway to Heaven column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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