why do so many young Christian men delay marriage?

This seems to be the burning question all around Christian websites these days, including ones for homeschooling families.

I have noticed this myself and have heard the sad tales of young single women from all sorts of backgrounds and theological persuasions. I have witnessed the self-indulgent lifestyles of guys who like women and seem to like babies well enough, as long as they belong to someone else. I have watched normal, rational moms turn into Mrs. Bennett overnight, sharing their frustrations with the lack of suitable men for their daughters who are prepared for and longing for marriage and children.

Most relationship pundits conclude that the reality of more and more young men delaying marriage is because of a latent adolescence, an inability or lack of desire to be responsible, resulting in 30-something men who are content to play video games and hang out at sports bars with their friends rather than to grow up and invest their time and money in family pursuits. I am not ready to go there and here is why.

While I do not presume to know what is going on in the minds and hearts of all young men who are not interested in marriage when they are old enough and financially prepared enough to be married, I do think the apostle Paul gives us some clues to why the body of Christ may be contributing to this phenomenon. 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 says, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife.”

It seems to me that there are plenty of things that could cause a young man to be anxious about pleasing a wife, causing him to delay marriage. Here are just some thoughts I have had whirling around in my head of late:

~ Over 50% of Christian couples divorce and most recent statistics show that less than 45% of children grow up in intact families. Just the statistical odds of pleasing a wife aren’t in any young man’s favor and if he has grown up in a broken home, certainly it has tainted his view of marriage and family life. Is the body of Christ really honoring marriage? What messages are we sending, both in word and in deed?

~ Our society has a skewed view of what a woman should look like and I believe many young men are looking for airbrushed perfection. Why would we think Christian men are any different when Christian women attempt to compete in the same arena? One young man expressed his concern that if he were to get involved with a young woman, he might be sorry down the road if a “better one” came along. But, how can these young men think any differently when one popular evangelical pastor made derogatory statements about women’s dress, telling his congregation how he admonished his wife to go shopping for new clothes and to “stop dressing like a wife.?” Or how often is outward appearance emphasized in conservative circles, teaching legalistic standards of femininity? How often, for example, is Queen Esther’s beauty described as her most defining quality? Why wouldn’t a young man set his sights on physical beauty? On the other hand, betrothal advocates are now teaching that young people should deny physical attraction when entering into a relationship headed for marriage though I believe the “sparks” are a very important part of the equation. Is it any wonder young men are confused when they are being given too many mixed signals?

~ Recent teachings in homeschooling circles say that young men 13 years of age and older should only be taught and mentored by their fathers, excluding moms during the most crucial years of a young man’s life when he needs her wisdom and counsel the most. Remember it was King Lemuel’s mom who wrote her concerns to her son, resulting in Proverbs 31!

~ Ridiculous expectations on the part of young women. Sadly, many young homeschooled daughters have been brought up anticipating a Jane Austen novel, where older men win the hearts of young girls. In reality, they will most likely marry boys who will grow up alongside them and I don’t necessarily think that is all bad. Young men know they need to compete with this fantasy and aren’t interested.

~ They are being told that women have particular besetting sins as a result of the fall, that women desire to “possess and control” them, that women are ”Jezebels” at heart, that women are more easily deceived. And pastors who believe and teach this nonsense wonder why the young men in their churches find solace in Metal of Honor! How sad it is that young men are being trained to anticipate adversarial relationships in their homes rather than being encouraged to prepare to practice all the one anothers with their wives. Maybe more young men would be interested in being married if they could anticipate a true helpmeet who would come alongside them as a partner, as part of a royal priesthood in God’s economy (1 Peter 2:9)

~ “Godly manhood” is being defined in extra-biblical terms according to the preferences of man rather than by the example of Christ. Having 5 sons and 7 grandsons, I understand the sheer amount of energy and adventure that fuel boys. But I find it interesting that we don’t ever see Jesus exhorting his disciples toward the world’s “manly “ pursuits or read how he took them on perilous adventures to build their manhood. Rather, Jesus told them “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

In a few weeks I will be sharing a series of podcasts on raising boys and am in the process of organizing my thoughts and preparing to share an interview with another mom of sons. I welcome any thoughts and insights you all might have or even questions we might seek to address. Please leave those comments here!

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  1. Laura says

    I certainly agree that pushing for early marriage, especially at the expense of education, does not seem wise. However, I know there is another side of the coin with some families where young adults are held in a kind of quasi-childhood, way past a time when they would appear quite old enough to consider marriage. I know some families that have been involved in ATIA encouraged working for the “organization” into the late 20’s before marrying.I don’t think there is an ironclad Biblical rule on this- marriage custom does often vary with time and culture. I guess a sensitivity to each child’s individual heart, mind and spirit is an important barometer!

  2. Adam says


    I put the submissions into Crossway yesterday. They receive millions of submissions, so they said it could take up to 4-6 week; and so, the waiting game begins. They said on the website that they would write back if they want to request a proposal. Hence, it may be that six weeks will pass without hearing anything.

    Anyway, yes, I would be glad to have you interview me if I get the job. Right now, though, I would just be happy if I were asked for a proposal. Because the odds are stacked against me, I guess I am going to have to take it one step at a time.

    God Bless,

  3. says

    I’m a single Christian male physician who has decided to delay marriage due to lack of good quality women. There are a few “Christian” women at my church – single moms, divorcees, women who are older and/or heavier than me, etc. Needless to say, I’m content with single life and am focusing on my career and living a Godly life.

  4. John says

    You don’t know what you are talking about. Why don’t you try actually asking those young men why they don’t marry? When my dad was my age he walked out of high school, got hired on the spot and made 10 thousand bucks in two months over the summer during college at the Daimler factory over here, doing jobs that robots do now. That was in the 70s, before the 80s inflation. I’m going to finish my M.A degree soon and I know I will never be able to make the kind of money he made with no degree at all. Those jobs don’t exist anymore. It used to be that a man could support a family with a stay at home mom with a high school degree, at a level that I can never dream of even if I keep going and get a doctorate. Men are not just competing with Jane Austen novel’s, we are competing with expectations that used to be reasonable, that a normal man simply cannot reach, even with significantly greater effort than his father put in. Young men like myself don’t know what to do with that. How can I ask a woman to marry me when I know she will have to work as well, probably won’t have time to raise kids, and will be taking a big step down from the lifestyle she is used to? Our parents don’t understand. We don’t expect women to understand either, since the Recession pretty much only affected male dominated industries. Women want more than a made up idea of a man (prince charming), they have expectations that were reasonable for their mothers that are not reasonable for them. It’s a step down socially that they are not willing to take, and that men are not willing to ask them to take. So everyone stays single and tries to make more money, or just gives up on the idea of marriage. And so we get older and stay single. Doesn’t have anything to do with adolescence.

  5. Susan T says

    Dear John,
    Why have you put yourself in a box? Look around man and see that there are many possibilities. Who says you need to live the same way your parents did? Who says all the women want to live that way? Who says you can’t both work at something for pay and both raise your children? it is much more enjoyable to live life WITH loved ones and work with them. It is this way in many parts of the world. Our US economy & living standards are very mixed up lately by some but not all people. In most parts of the world, if you live with a roof over your head and a refrigerator in your home — you are wealthy. We all need to check our priorities. And Where is your faith young man? Is it in “acquiring and owning things (multiplying horses)” or is it in the Lord your God who gave His Son Jesus for you to have a truly abundant life in Him. Jesus should be our guide and we should desire to walk the path He has for us. We should not be comparing ourselves to our parents or anyone else.

  6. Ruth says

    Personally, I think that the emphasis on patriarchy makes these young men scared out of their socks to have a large number of children on one income! So many in the homeschooling movement emphasize the need to throw away all forms of birth control and have baby after baby…..so you don’t just get married but also have to think about having a baby right away, and then another, and another….might be intimidating!

  7. says

    John, I really agree with what Susan said. You would be amazed at the young women who would be thrilled to meet you and get to know you and who are looking for a godly young man to share a life. I will agree that there are some superficial girls who are more interested in a bank account or having amenities but there are also women who would love to be creative life partners! You know, even if you have all your ducks in a row, the Lord could intervene and take it all away. We have been reading Job this week and if ever there is a passage of Scripture that teaches us to trust in what God is doing, it is that one!

  8. says

    Ruth, I agree that young men could feel overwhelmed by the whole package at once! This is also where faith comes in! Most couples are given the blessing of children one at a time and along with it the grace to embrace each stage of life! These issues of family size, I believe, ought to be only between the husband and wife, keeping the marriage bed “undefiled.” I see pressure on young couples in this area all the time, even beginning at the wedding. We have to keep in mind that it truly is the Lord who opens and closes the womb, in spite of our best efforts one way or another! Again, it is a matter of faith. I did a series of podcasts on this subject, hoping to bring some balance to this issue!

  9. Matt says

    Very good article! I can definitely relate to trying to compete with a fantasy man. I’m a young christian man who has always been single, and according to some non-christian women, its not because of a lack of physical appeal. I just don’t seem to measure up to most christian women’s expectations (i don’t preach or lead worship, and am not a “bad boy” christian, if that even makes sense). I am planning to work as a missionary nurse(again, not the most masculine job). I have basically given up on the idea of ever dating and finding a wife, but will follow Christ with all that I have.

  10. says

    Oh, Matt, please, please don’t give up! I now many young women who would love to meet a guy like you!!! Just pursue the Lord and His work with your whole heart and be open to meeting a lovely young woman. And please don’t let the modern evangelical nuttiness define masculine and feminine for you. You know, I am certain the men in my house would be thrilled to have a guy for a nurse rather than a woman if they needed medical assistance. What a great job!

  11. kh says

    I have to agree with Thatmom! I am so sorry that there is even this modern evangelical nuttiness that has to be addressed! Being a male nurse is a great job. Blessings to you!

  12. Natetm says

    I, too, am a single Christian male who has fallen victim to high expectations from single Christian women. The idea of Boaz has left many an eligible male out in the cold. I am not wealthy by any means, but have a masters degree in administration and a well-paying job. Most Christian single women are wanting a stay at home “Boaz” lifestyle and would have to find someone very wealthy in our present economy for that. Im 43, and have also resigned to living to please God and given up on the idea of finding a help mate and partner.

  13. Anthea says

    Don’t give up yet, Nate. You only need to find ONE sensible woman. BTW, I’m not sure what the idea of a Boaz lifestyle consists of. (Perhaps this is a new concept?) I suspect that overly-demanding people with a template to follow would not accept the real-life Boaz of the Bible!

  14. Jessica says

    *on the earlier post, I meant that “if you get a husband who graciously agrees to support the family while you stop a career that you want to stop…”

  15. Robert H. says

    Just had a conversation with my home-schooled son, now 25. He owns a home, works for a mega-church in IT support, and has been approved for a promotion (pending a replacement for his position) to a higher, better-paying position in that church. I’ve been talking to him about marriage for some time, and he has been consistently disinterested. Tonight, I put the question to him squarely why he was disinterested, and his response was (and I quote), “I’m not opposed to the outcome [i.e., marriage], but I’m not interested in the process of getting there.” I’m not even sure what to say at this point.

  16. Ellis Baugher says

    HI I am a 27 year old man that is nearly 28. I must say that I feel that the reason for the sudden delay in marriage is do to the economics. Men feel burdened yet needed when a woman suddenly has a child. They take responsibility for all the bread. When I was young I wanted to marry when I was 18, now however I am waiting on the Lord. I want to marry but I want to be ready.

    ps I do not play video games and rarely go to sports bars.

    Another thing to think about is how all the well behaved godly men of the bible waited till they were a little older to marry. I think it is part of God’s plan.

    I do not think that just because you want something you get it over night.

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