I wanted to take an opportunity to address Thabiti Anyabwile, who wrote the following in a comment for a previous post
Pretty spiritual girl, marriage is not merely a "civil institution." It's a creation ordinance. It preceeds every civil organization/government in human history. It's established by God's governance at the beginning of creation. This is why marriage in some form is universal. Which is also why marriage and childrearing are normally associated with adulthood. Gen. 2:24 doesn't explicity state marriage is a marker of adulthood, true. However, the entire creation account establishes marriage and childrearing as typically central to adulthood.
Thabiti goes on to state:
The misleading thing about this conversation is that it focuses squarely on two sentences in an article which majors on most everything except singleness and marriage.
Have I taken something Thabiti said out of context? Let's see what he says ...
One way of honoring our parents as adults is to jettison unbiblical notions of "adulthood" itself. This conversation thread is a helpful discussion about that very process--tossing things that may not be biblical but worldly. One worldly view of adulthood is perpetual adolesence--to be differentiated from long-time or lifelong singleness. One is immaturity, the other arises for a range of reasons. What the sentences in question reject is the former (perpetual or extended adolesence) which generally (though not always) makes claims to adulthood based upon age, living arrangement, salaried independence, etc but leaves off other markers of adult maturity.
One indication that marriage is a marker of "mature adulthood" (by which I don't mean single adults are immature or not adult, but that a person is taken on the fuller responsibilities typically assigned to adulthood) is the pressure to marry that almost all singles face from family and friends. Surely that's a wearisome experience, and many folks who intend to help and encourage end up doing precisely the opposite.
But what is being expressed by this pressure to marry? It's an expression of the normative expectation of marriage in adulthood. It's an expression of the creation ordinance still resounding in the ears of fallen men. Single adulthood is the exception, not the rule, and for a significant number of single folks it's an unwanted, sometimes painful exception.
Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Let's not forget that marriage, by God's design, is a mystery that glorifies Him by picturing Christ's love for the church (Eph. 5). Could it be that the near universal practice of marriage and the near-universal desire for marriage is nothing but the yearning of man to glorify God by picturing Christ's love for the church in this creation ordinance?
I think so. And I think that's partly why marriage and adulthood belong together as a general rule.
I am going to have to disagree with Thabiti. There is no necessary connection between marriage and adulthood. There are plenty of people who are married and yet are caught up in perpetual adolescence. The high rates of divorces, spousal abuse (by both women and men), adultery, lousy parenting, families in debt, and similar maladies that exist among married people are a testimony to this fact. Actually, I'd say that we need to get rid of this idea that marriage makes one an adult--it is a pernicious and destructive myth that creates a false sense of security for some very immature--but married--people. A successful
marriage is an indication of maturity, but people have to be mature first if they are going to have a successful marriage, don't they?
What is an indication of adulthood? Simple. Apart from biological maturity, it is simply one's character. Nothing more. It's basically how you handle life's situations when they are thrown at you (whether it be living on your own, living with your parents, having a job, being unemployed, being married, being single, being parents, or being child free).
I fail to see how Thabiti's concept of the "normative expectation" of marriage substantively differs from that of the Marriage Mandate movement. The idea that "God expects most people to marry" is a central tenant of the marriage mandate philosophy. No, most people do not have to marry. I deny any necessity placed on the act of marriage for most people. The statement that "God expects most people to marry" is a statement of presumption and conjecture. There is nothing in the Scripture to indicate that God has marriage in mind for most people today. The matter falls under God's permissive will--what he allows people to do. Since marriage and singleness, per se, are equally valid choices as far the Scriptures are concerned, God can work to his glory through man's exercise of free will in this matter. Maybe most people will choose to marry, but an increasing number of people are not doing so. Specifically, in a crass, anti-male, anti-family, dehumanizing, materialistic society, we should not be surprised when a large number of men decide that marriage offers them little if anything positive. I believe only the future will reveal what will come to pass.