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Young marriage at a Christian college

Pushing that ring by spring

By Kenzi Nevins | Echo

“Ring by spring” is a commonly-heard expression wafting across Taylor’s campus. As graduation looms, more and more engagement announcements seem to pop up, but how true is the rumor that Christians—especially Taylor students—get married earlier in life?

According to a Pew Research survey, the median age for a first marriage in America is the highest it’s ever been—27 for women and 29 for men. However, the National Marriage Project found that religious communities, especially small Christian colleges, continue to support young marriage. A survey by Facebook Data Science seems to support the idea that the more religious a school, the higher the rate of marriage among graduates. For example, at Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution,  sixty percent of women and sixty two percent of men attended college with their future spouse.

Students at Taylor see benefits to young marriage. Paul Burris, a junior who plans to marry his fiancee the summer after senior year said, “People often talk about it being nice to start living life together as soon as possible if they plan on (getting married) in the future. Doing so in college or right out of college is nice because you can start your adult lives outside of school together.”

Tia Etter, a senior getting married this summer, stated that her decision to tie the knot at this stage in her life was not due to a desire to marry young. The arrangement just makes the most sense for her and her fiance’s future plans and goals.

“I think our generation shies away from commitment in general,” Etter said. “We’ve learned that we have the freedom to make our own choices and upgrade whenever we want something else. Therefore, our culture would rather live together and break up whenever they choose rather than commit to a life-long relationship.”

Both Burris and Etter agreed that Taylor’s atmosphere generally pushes the “ring by spring” ideal. However, junior Ben Love doesn’t believe young marriage is encouraged by the university itself. He tied the knot in the summer of 2016.

“We kind of feel a little set aside, seeing as there is no married housing . . . This inevitably leads to us as a married couple feeling disconnected from the college community,” said Love.

Young marriage rates in Christian communities may be higher, but that isn’t everyone’s story. Many starry-eyed students won’t graduate in four years with a ring on their finger. It is important, especially at places like Taylor, to encourage all people in their personal pursuits, whether romantic or not.

“I want to emphasize that just because my story includes finding my future husband at Taylor does not mean that that should be everyone else’s story,” Etter said. “People who don’t find their spouse at Taylor are (not) less than. This happens to be my experience, but I don’t want my experience to be looked at as what should happen during your time at Taylor.”

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