I am not quite sure how to start this – very personal – book review. I had all intentions of getting this post out before I went into the hospital – but that never happened (all apologies to my readers and The B&B Media Group, Inc.)

Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunningham is a book about marriage – mature marriage – but not necessarily young marriage. I say this because while the book makes the claim that marrying young is good – because marriage equals responsibility, challenge, maturity, sexual purity and it is God’s plan for you - it fails to make valid claims to why marrying young is a good idea. I love the fact that it calls for the respect of marriage, pre-marriage counseling, and a mature attitude from both parties. However, the book, geared for those 18 – 24, who are looking to get married, also sees this as a period of maturity from adolescence to adulthood, is confusing and makes some contradicting points. It is very idealistic in nature – not taking into account family history, parents’ marriages or relationships with parents (which aren’t always great) in regard to marriage (pg.93). It may cause young couples to enter into a marriage with maturity, but based on sexual desire alone (or sex as a justification for marriage -pg.86).

Marriage defined – legal, biblical or both – is a union of two people. Google it and you will find a host of differing opinions. Just so we are clear here on Shari’s Sentiments I am talking about marriage between a man and a woman. When we try to define it or defend it biblically it gets lost with traditions and ceremonies that many no longer celebrate.  I am not calling for a throw down of marriage. What seems lost today, is not respect for marriage but respect in general. There is no value for most people in long term relationships at all nor respecting the boundaries of a couple. People in general lack responsibility, maturity and respect. My own eleven year relationship has come under criticism of people who say, “Well your not married.” or “It doesn’t count.” Those comments from outsiders hurt – because we have a history, many years together and we are like family – those years count for much, much more than just a piece of paper and a public or biblical principle. We are no longer two stupid kids in love, fresh out of/in college, with no clue about what it means to handle struggles and naive thoughts about life, love and happiness.

So, I make a case for relationships, true character, lasting love, respect, sacrifice and inseparable bonds. With the book Young and in Love, the first thing that turned me off was the process, the rush – to appease a “public principle” and the lack of consideration for situations and circumstances. Yet it actually, calls for the wait and the time until you are mature enough to handle marriage (“the most important relationship of your life.” – Andy Stanley). Cunningham defends Genesis 2:18-24 as the prospect of marriage happening early in adulthood but I can’t completely agree with that defense. It doesn’t really state an age.

The beginning pages say a lot in regard to Cunningham’s history at Liberty University. He quotes Dr. Jerry Falwell, (whose opinion I never really cared for all that well) “If your interested in a girl…and she is dating someone else but is not yet engaged, then by all means ask her out.” “If the guy she is dating isn’t committed enough to put a ring on her finger, he doesn’t deserve her. Ask her out!” Whoa there, self-control much?  I felt a personal affront with usage of an ideal that states, “Ask her out, [anyway]!”, without regard to the history behind her relationship. If  gal or a guy is in a relationship, I say, have the respect enough to stay out of it. I think there is something to be said about couples (like Steve and I) who have weathered storms of life, tough economic times, job losses, death of loved ones and most recently my serious illnesses etc., like Cunningham talks about at the end of his book and, yet quotes this below (pg.195).

“Love seems the swiftest, but is the slowest of all growths.
No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until
they have been married a quarter of a century.”
- Mark Twain

Cunningham says he is in favor of young marriage, yet uses statistics (pg, 19 & 74) that state waiting until your mid twenties or thirties increase the chances of your marriage lasting and chapters of of reasons why  maturity, stability, character, faith and true devotion to one another are needed for a healthy marriage. The one thing that is essential in building all these things is time. It takes time to know someone. Whether it takes six months or six years -  time is needed to mold and shape a relationship’s true value. I believe that a couple’s history together is invaluable – it is something that cannot be changed and stands in the face of principles and opinions. Cunningham also gives the impression that marriage is God’s plan for “all” people or all “men”. He makes a great case for marriage – but not young marriage, while generalizing unmarried thirty somethings out to be lost lonely souls (pg.72). Life is defined by your personal relationship with God, your belief,  acceptance of grace though Jesus Christ and abundant life through the Holy Spirit. These are things that can be enhanced by a mature loving relationship and marriage – but not for all people.  God wants you to do great things and wants to give you life in abundance. He wants you to trust that He will show you how to use your gifts and share them with others- family, friends, loved ones, partners and/or spouses.

MARRIAGE is NOT God’s ONLY plan for your life. Maturity and responsibility aren’t only defined by a marriage and children; it takes many different forms. “Biblically, every believer is called. Single or married, if you are a Christian, you are called( pg.188).  God has a specific path and plan for each one of us. Marriage is one of God’s many gifts of grace – but isn’t meant to define everyone’s life. “Doing life with that one special someone” (as Andy Stanley put it) is one of the greatest experiences God has for his people. Not everyone is going to be blessed in a marriage and not all married people are going to be blessed with children.

Personally: I am 31 years – young and I am in love. I Love Steve  – we’ve been together for 11 years, of course, I would marry him in a heartbeat. I also love children, I have been a teacher for over 10 years. I would welcome children if that becomes God’s plan is for us. But, if it is God’s plan for Steve and I to be just “us” than I will accept that with open arms – and, of course, our dog(s) “fur kids”.

Book Giveaway: I can’t wholly recommend this book, as it doesn’t really apply to me and is pretty opinion based – even in the face of statistics. I don’t agree wholly with it.  It doesn’t make a great case for being young and married but rather entering into married with maturity and responsibility. That comes with time, patience and age. But never the less if you are eager to get a copy of Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunningham, then leave a comment below.

How to Enter: Leave a comment below this postTell me if you are for or against young marriage and why. That is all and this giveaway will run from Monday, September 19th to Friday, September 30th at 5:59PM (EST). You can tweet to get the word out but please leave a comment, and a contact email so you can be notified when you win.

* I received a review and giveaway copy of Young and In Love by Ted Cunningham  from The B&B Media Group, Inc. for the purpose of this review and hosting this giveaway on Shari’s Sentiments.*

Here’s to praying that lots of peace, joy, love and blessings come to you, abundantly,
In Christ,