Someone once told me that your 20s are when death and marriage begin to surround you. I didn’t give this much thought until “engaged” began to pop up on my Facebook news feed. It’s time to chill out with the pictures of girls in wedding gowns. Your 20s are when you begin living your life, not ending your youth.
You are beginning to reach mental maturity. I heard in an NPR radio interview that decision-making skills are not fully developed until the age of twenty-five, after college. If your college sweetheart really loves you, he or she will stick around for a few more years. You shouldn’t need a piece of gold to solidify the relationship.
Religious values are the driving force behind most of my friends’ engagements. At first, religion seemed like just another excuse to me. Your spiritual devotion doesn’t speed up your mental development. After hearing my friends’ stories, I realized that some people’s spirituality is the one exception to my opinion. If you believe that an early engagement is your divine path, then I wish you the best. I say this assuming that an early marriage and divorce does not become your divine path.
Jordan Hall is a junior audio production major at Webster University. He was recently engaged to his fiancé, another Webster student Celina Cotto. Hall proposed to Cotto last August at Krispy Kreme.
I don’t associate myself with any religion; I do not believe in God. But Hall considers himself a devout Christian and his passion for God amazes me. As Hall explained his reasons for engagement, I realized every reason was driven by that passion.
People like Hall and Cotto challenge me to make an exception to my opinion on marrying young. Hall’s passion for his spirituality has inspired me since we met two years ago. Unlike the couples on MTV’s new reality show Engaged & Underage, Hall seems confident and levelheaded in everything he does. He also acknowledges a problem that has recently hit one of my nerves.
Hall said, “I don’t agree with people who pursue relationships, and because they have religious views they pull the ‘God said’ card when that’s not the case. When you step back and really look at it, you can see who runs the show.”
This is why I hesitate to say that religious beliefs can be an exception. Young adults, and even teenagers, seem to use God to validate their decision when they know very well that it’s only another excuse. MTV’s Engaged & Underage profiles a few of these couples. They want to escape parental control and sexual frustration. They want to start running their own lives. What do they do? They pull the “God card.”
Other than their sincerity in religious beliefs, there is one major difference separating Hall and Cotto from the majority of the youth who get engaged. They haven’t begun to think about a wedding date. Hall said he does not plan to get married anytime soon. His engagement was just his way to say, “I want to enjoy this life journey with you.”
I am against marrying young, but I do believe there can be exceptions. I have always told people that I am hesitant to marry anytime before my mid thirties. Unlike Hall and Cotto, I don’t have the strong religious beliefs to validate my love life. Over the generations people have begun to realize that divorce is an option. Marriage just doesn’t seem to be taken seriously anymore. Hall and Cotto’s strong religious values put the meaning back in marriage; something people need to see more of these days.
As Hall so eloquently said, “Marriage is meant to be an example to you and the entire world of the beauty of God’s union. God is love. He’s always been love. He is eternal. When people make those decisions to cut that off, He’s like, ‘If you would just hang in there and see what I’m trying to show you, you’d see a beautiful picture.’”
We have got to stop romanticizing the idea of marriage to American youth. It is a sacred and respected union, not a temporary pass to riding into the sunset on a white horse. That white horse can’t run forever.