On Growing Up

Recently the Wall Street Journal had an article that encouraged people to delay getting a career, getting married, moving out of your parents house. In other words, it was encouraging people to delay growing up and to stay adolescents as long as possible. Why would they encourage this? Because the human brain isn't fully developed until at least 30. Apparently it's a good idea to not make important decisions until your brain is "optimal."

Let's just ignore all the other responsibilities of adulthood for a second and deal with marriage. Do you really want to wait until your brain is finished "pruning away unused connections and strengthening those that remain" before you make a major life change like getting married? I've warned people that were getting married at older ages that they will both be more set in their ways, more used to being single, and therefore the process of learning to be "one flesh" with somebody else will be harder for them.*

As a matter of fact, the article talks about how learning a new language after your brain finishes developing is much harder. If you think learning Spanish at 30 is hard, try learning the language of love!

This is simply our society grasping at straws to justify the immaturity and irresponsibility of our "emerging adulthood" generation. If you are immature and irresponsible, I'm not telling you to go off and get married. I'm telling you to grow up so you're ready to get married. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

* Plenty of godly people get married later in life. Don't mis-read me. I'm not dissing them. 

Comments

did you read the article?

The article is actually an interesting piece, trying to explain the empirical phenomenon of later marriage ages through neuroscience. Presumably you don't find neuroscience a useless pursuit. And truth be told, while the writer of the article isn't bias free, she does a decent job just trying to connect the dots. You disagree with what, then? The science? You take umbrage at the writer's curiosity? I'm not sure how you get from this article to your pat, simplistic, self-righteous conclusion, since you don't actually engage the article at all! Perhaps you don't expect us actually to read it? I would expect a smart, Christian pastor not to be so glib when the task seems to be engaging this thoughtful--if perhaps wrongheaded--piece. I come away from you post with no real tools to go back to the Wall Street Journal piece, with no way of challenging the claims made there, because you don't actually address them! It appears you were just looking for an occasion to lambast the culture and air your unengaged, unthoughtful, unhelpful opinions. Its actually quite discouraging, because I come here looking for wisdom and this post is not atypical of the self-righteous, uncritical posturing that you maintain.

you need to explain, that is...

why this is "grasping at straws." I mean, really explain it. Its a piece offering some conjectures (the article is not doctrinaire) about why people are getting married later, and why its perhaps not as worrisome as we might think. You can't simply say, here's another grasp at a straw, trying to justify blah blah blah. If you have an opinion and someone offers evidence of some kind to challenge it, it is rather uncharitable to write it off simply because--on occasions presumeably unrelated to neuroscience you gave pastoral advice that MIGHT contradict this--it doesn't adhere with your pastoral advice.

I should say, I married at 24 and have 2 children. This is not self-defense. This is a challenge to you to be less presumptuous and more critical. Quick to listen, slow to speak, to paraphrase.

Thank you for commenting again

Dear same anonymous person as before,

Thank you for commenting again. However, If I'm regularly self-righteous, posturing, presumptuous, unengaged, unthoughtful, wrongheaded, and unhelpful, I'm not sure why you come here looking for wisdom. (Nice set of insults this time around, by the way.) But setting that to the side, let me answer your question.

Yes, I read the article. Contrary to your claim, it does not try to explain why people are starting to marry later in life. Neither the study, nor the article addresses *why* marriage ages are changing. Presumably people's brains have always developed this way, but we are just now discovering it. Our discovery in 2012 of how the brain develops later in life has nothing to do with why people started marrying later around 1960. Science has nothing to do with the claim in this article that it is better to marry later. The only thing that science has said here is that the brain continues to mature longer than we thought. Actually, the article is trying to justify later marriage as a good thing by pointing to a scientific finding about how our brains develop. The two don't necessarily have anything to do with each other, and the argument isn't supported at all.

My point might not have been made completely clearly in my post, so let me try again: The fact that brains stop developing around age 30 could actually be a strong reason to get married before then, if you can, before you lose the ability to adjust to life with your husband or wife. The article actually points out that there are many things that are much harder to do once your brain stops developing. No case is made that marriage is in the other category. Nor is any case made that marriages actually benefit by marrying later.

In point of fact, although later marriages tend to survive better, at the same time as the average age of marriage has increased (since 1960), divorce rates have sky-rocketed. Neither of those facts prove very much, and certainly not causality.

I find it very difficult to believe that you would take such offense at this post. Certainly very few people would disagree with my conclusion: "If you are immature and irresponsible, I'm not telling you to go off and get married. I'm telling you to grow up so you're ready to get married." Clearly I must have offended you some way for you to leave these comments on such an inoffensive post. Feel free to email me directly at jtbayly@gmail.com. I'd be happy to talk to you directly to try to resolve the real issue.

Thanks,
-Joseph

Ad hominem

I am not Joseph's apologist here, he certainly needs no help from me. However, I would offer my take on your comments. It seems odd to me that someone who is so clearly interested in wisdom would not see the value of forming your own apologetic relative to the article. You call yourself a seeker of wisdom, yet you excoriate Joseph for not providing you with the tools the refute the article? This is intellectual laziness on parade.

You admit that the article is necessarily biased, *which* presupposes something antithetical to the *Christian* worldview and yet Joseph is supposed to spend his time nuancing with philosophical precision the case against the article? That my friend, is drivel. The height of your hypocrisy is your admission that the article is possibly wrongheaded-a fine admission from someone who quite obviously was looking only for an opportunity to provide an *abusive ad hominem* toward Joseph. Who by the way, quite graciously offered an apology for a-yet-unnamed-offense. If you were interested in helping the cause of Christ rather than simply wounding Joseph and undermining his post you would offered your *insights*.