According to researchers, Americans are postponing marriage to later in life, as compared to, say, the 1960’s. As such, young adults are missing out the advantages of being married.
An article by TheAtlantic.com reports that in the year 1960 the average age women got married was 20, and men at age 23. By 2011 those ages each increased by six years, according to the Pew Research Center.
“Experts have provided many theories explaining this phenomenon: gender dynamics have changed, casual dating is more encouraged, more women are heading to college and then on to demanding careers, and—most recently—maybe most young adults just aren’t interested in getting married anymore,” reports Gillian B. White for TheAtlantic.com (emphasis added).
The decreased appreciation for marriage has had detrimental effects on our society. Thanks to the popularity of divorce in the last two generations, young adults these days are often afraid of commitment. As well, given the prevalence of living together, many couples would rather use each other for sexual pleasure than bind themselves to a permanent bond.
The sexual appetite remains a popular struggle among many teenagers and young adults. Shacking up serves as a way to seemingly curb this desire, while also leaving one’s options open to move on to someone new. After all, the virtue of chastity never gets promoted in pop culture and abstinence remains a laughable suggestion. Those who struggle with the desire for sexual urges are seemingly left with few choices in modern culture.
ST. AUGUSTINE of HIPPO’S ADVICE
This is where the wisdom of St. Augustine of Hippo would come in. He is a Doctor of the Catholic Church, for he has sound teaching on theology and philosophy. In the year 401 A.D. he wrote a treatise, called De bono coniugali “The Advantage of Marriage.”
Modern day folks will be surprised to read the advantages of being married he mentions. Nonetheless, they would do well to heed his words. St. Augustine repeats what the Catholic Church has always taught in regards to the purpose for marriage. That is, the ends of Matrimony are the begetting of offspring, the mutual help of the spouses, and the providing of a remedy against concupiscence.
By concupiscence we mean the attraction we all have, by way of our fallen human nature, towards committing sinful activity. In this case, we are referencing the sexual appetite so many of us experience, especially (young) men.
Hopefully the youth will see the advantages of being married are numerous, and that they include the ability to curb this innate sexual desire, which St. Augustine refers to as ‘carnal or youthful incontinence.’
St. Augustine writes, “Since in the Gospel the Lord confirmed that marriage is a virtuous estate, not only when He forbade the dismissal of a wife except for cause of fornication [Matt 19:9], but also when, as invited guest, He came to the wedding [Jn 2:2], it will be worthwhile to inquire why it is a virtuous estate. It seems to that this is the case not only because of the procreation of children, but also because of the natural companionship of the two sexes…”
He continues with the quote I wish to highlight: “Marriage has also this advantage that carnal or youthful incontinence, even if it is defiling, is turned to the honorable task of propagating offspring, so that marital intercourse make something good out of an evil appetite…”
He follows this up by stating later in the treatise, “Among all nations and all men, therefore, the advantage of marriage is for the sake of begetting offspring and in the fidelity of chastity. In the case of the people of God, however, there is also the holiness of the Sacrament…”
So, as we have just seen, in so many words, the great Doctor of the Church affirms the traditional, threefold ends of Matrimony are the begetting of offspring, the mutual help of the spouses, and the providing of a remedy against concupiscence.
Scripture affirms this last point as one of the advantages of being married, as well. In fact, we have it on the highest authority that one of the purposes of Holy Matrimony remains the curbing of sexual temptation.
In 1 Corinthians 7:2-3, St. Paul writes, “But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife conjugal rights, likewise the wife to her husband.”
In conclusion, we can see that in order to curb sexual desires, it would be best for anyone, especially young adults, to marry. This will help them not to fall into sinful activities such as lust, masturbation, pornography use, promiscuity, fornication, and the like.
This is not to say that once married, no one commits sexual sins. That obviously is not true. Chastity remains a virtue to be practiced by everyone—including the married. But being married means having a spouse prepared to help ease the temptation to incontinence, so as to help one another to avoid sin, practice virtue, and ultimately get to Heaven.
To think, St. Paul and St. Augustine were onto something so many centuries ago.
Were you aware one of the advantage of being married was this curbing of the sexual appetite?
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