A Reason to Smile

Sometimes no answer just means 'no'....

*This is one of my most popular articles to date, (and was a big reason why I won the Next Beliefnet Featured Blogger contest!)
I am reposting it here for everyone who hasn’t seen it…or needs to see it again!

Question submitted via Formspring

“When is the right time to get married? What’s the purpose of marriage?”

The answer to this one is a complicated one, since there is a cultural / religious answer, and a biological / practical answer.

A lot of controversy has been caused by citing the ‘one man, one woman’ Biblical definition of marriage in relation to gay marriage.
The problem, however, is the Bible has several incidents of polygamy (one man marrying / sleeping with multiple women, such as:
In Exodus 21:10, a man can marry an infinite amount of women as long as he provides for them equally; Islam has a similar rule with a maximum of four wives.

In 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3, King David had six wives and numerous concubines.

In 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

In 2 Chronicles 11:21, King Solomon’s son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines.

In Deuteronomy 21:15 “If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons….”

Jacob married both Leah and Rachel, etc.
So, while there are certainly counter points to every point of view, a universal ‘biblical’ definition of marriage doesn’t really exist.

As an aside, if you want to know more about what the Bible does and does not say about polygamy in the Old and New Testaments, click here. The article is more than a little biased, but it’s an interesting overview nonetheless.

The second answer is it’s our nature to settle down with one person, but in reality that isn’t really true, either. Very few primates mate with one partner for life (and we are primates). In the vacuum of cultural pressures, monogamy isn’t really in our nature.
An explanation for this is the ‘cheap sperm’ theory that one man can conceivably impregnate multiple women, but a woman can only be pregnant by one man at a time. This means that women are innately more valuable to a community then men are, but that one man can ‘service’ far more women.  Look at how a group of gorillas or even elephants live for an example.

If, then, marriage is not necessarily ‘Divinely Ordained’, and doesn’t even really make sense biologically, why do we do it?

First, it makes a ton of sense culturally.
Especially in the early days of Humanity when we lived in wandering groups; swapping children to create an extended family by marriage created larger and stronger family groups (and led to the creation of ‘civilization’).
It also helps spread DNA and strengthen resistance against illness and genetic defects.
And, it (arguably) reduces conflicts between males for available females.

Now, doesn’t that all sound romantic???

OK, here are the emotional reasons for marriage:
If you love someone, and want to spend the rest of your life together, then by all means stand in front of God and men and declare it (I did).

And men and women represent two halves of a whole; that while complete apart can unite to become something greater.
It’s true that a bad relationship will make everything in life harder, but a good relationship is like a rocket booster on your goals.
Two people united in love and trust will accomplish more and go farther both spiritually and materially than any one person alone.

So what’s the ‘purpose’ of marriage?
There isn’t one, besides the choice to do it.

If you both want to do it, do it. If you don’t want to, don’t.
Be careful, though, about people who don’t want to do it because they are afraid of commitment, or are just waiting for something better to come along!
Getting married doesn’t mean s/he is never going to leave!

As for when is a good time to get married, I suggest between 25 and 28.
25 is a little towards the young end of the spectrum; I got married at 25 but I’d done a LOT of living and seen the world by then. 28 is moving towards the older end, since ideally you’ll be married for a year or two before you have children, and by 30 her body will start to betray her by *demanding* children!

Under no circumstances get married at 18, or even 22 or 23.
There are people who do this and it works for them; but for the most part you will change so radically during those years that you’ll wake up one day and not know each other.
Honestly, what’s the rush?
If you’re in love, it will last until 25; and if you are concerned about getting married so you can have sex, I’m not sure God really cares.

So there you have it: there’s no compelling religious reason, and not even a really compelling social reason (no matter what your mom might say).
But, if you find that special someone who you can love, support, and respect; and who is going to love, support, and respect you as you climb the mountain of life together, do it.

“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!

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B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

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