One of the many complaints against the church is that we encourage people to marry when they are far too young. Critics claim that this is a major cause of divorce and unhappiness amongst our members. They also claim that people need to know “who they are” before marriage and say that the church does not recognize this need. This of course is absolute rubbish and is completely unfounded. Allow me to share a story right from the Aaronic Priesthood Manual given to young men the world over on this topic.*
“Tim was seventeen and Kathy was fifteen when they became married. Their life together became very serious when their baby was born with a heart defect. Tim had to work two jobs, and Kathy spent many anxious hours at the hospital during two different operations on their baby. Both were relieved when the doctor found that the operation would give their child a normal life. But he would require extra care for at least a year.
Kathy watched her friends going to school as she hung clothes on the line. All Tim could see were hospital and medical bills. The future for him didn’t include basketball or other activities, at least not the near future.”
After this sobering story the following instructions are given to the teacher:
Explain that Tim and Kathy chose to marry before they were prepared spiritually, emotionally, and practically. It takes a certain amount of experience before we know who we are and who would be best for us.
Ask the young men what experiences of value might Tim and Kathy miss or have difficulty in acquiring by having married so young?
Record the young men’s responses on the chalkboard. These may include—
. (I like that this was the first suggestion as to me this is the most important) Mission
2. Further education.
3. Further social and emotional development.
4. Development of talents.
5. Ability to acquire the desired livelihood.
We see from this example that the church is clearly against marrying too young. As a Stake President I would challenge any critics to show me otherwise.