Cougars? Manthers? and D.I.N.K.U.M? Oh sigh.

I was looking at a friend’s tweet about the National Single Cougars Convention in San Francisco.  I then paused and thought about the proliferation of all of these semi-new terms that describe relationships. Cougars. Manthers. My new favorite? D.I.N.K.U.M. Double Income No Kids Unbelievable Mortgage.

Oh my.

Relationships are confusing enough already. Adding other terms to describe them now seems to make an already confusing situation even more difficult.  The thing with most of these terms (check out…but make sure your kids aren’t in the room) that strikes me is that so many are animal in nature. It saddens me that in the present relational state of America, we are comparing ourselves and our relationships to the mating practices of animals.

“You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals so let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel.” It’s sad that The Bloodhound Gang put out these lyrics with their unexpected hit Discovery Channel that was intended to be satirical.  Ten years later, we now define ourselves and our relationship practices in terms of…mammals looking to go out and get lucky.


Is there a better alternative?

A new piece from Christianity Today is making the rounds in my circles of friends advocating for young marriage. While I don’t exactly qualify for this anymore, but it does make me think a lot as I serve students who often do not get married until, at earliest, their late twenties. Advocating for early marriage is even less popular than several of the Evangelical Christian causes – there is lots of data against it – but Mark Regnerus asks good questions that help us understand the real issues.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

In the state of our culture today, what does it look like for Christians to redeem the culture of dysfunctional relationships?

5 Responses to “Cougars? Manthers? and D.I.N.K.U.M? Oh sigh.”

  1. 1 Luke August 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I think the frustrating thing is that both Christians and non-Christians are so panicked about sex: whether or not you’re having it, how old you are, what type of relationship. We don’t think about what it means to be happy as you are or even what it means to have happy, consensual relationships. Part of me just wishes people would chill out.

  2. 2 Amy Kay August 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I think it is becoming more common among Christian singles to wait longer to marry, however, this isn’t recipricated by the “church culture”. As an older Christian single, or at least as one who can see her “Cougar”-ness on the horizon, I am constantly amazed at the quandry my situtation causes for many in my church, and actually every church I have had a connection with. It was easier when I was still in grad school, because that is an acceptable reason to have waited. But now that I am a professional and still single it leaves many questioning my role in the church. There are few never-married men and women that hold places of responsiblity in the church administration. It is as if they can’t completely understand you, your lifestyle and therefore aren’t to be trusted.
    Instead we should be held up as role models to the youth as responsible members of the congregation.
    It is the lack of these types of role models, I feel which has created a belief in today’s Christian youth that the only acceptable role after a certain age is one related to marraige, divorced is sometimes more acceptable than never-married. Wow, could Paul have had a field day. This is why the terms are generated, as a way to stablize a group which conflicts with the standard. Everyone needs to be in a category, no matter how inflamatory it is.
    There is great value in waiting, and deciding to wait, but there is another issue at play. Many of the Christian singles and non-Christian singles I know are not single out of a choice. Many have not been blessed with it yet. I am not single because I choose to be, I am single because God hasn’t deemed it so, yet. What does that say? I pray that it means that maybe God is more at work in the world than a sociological shift. Because we are listening to God and following His lead we are able to see the difference between a healthy relationship and one that is not.

  3. 3 Jeremy August 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Even as someone who married right out of college, I still never found myself advocating (or at least vocalizing advocacy for) early marriage. I think that I felt like more of an outlier as someone who desired and was ready for a long-term commitment very young. And therefore I didn’t want single other people out as being less than in any way. All of the other factors probably came into play a little as well: not wanting to encourage such a serious commitment until maturity was there, not wanting to exacerbate the difficulty of the search for people who really were ready, not wanting to question the priorities of people who were trying to get their career “on the right track” (including the way that interacts with cultural expectations of parents).

    But the article definitely raises some interesting points. And maybe we as a generation are just too inclined to reject more “traditional” paths since we often find many things we disagree with on those paths. But should we be more ready as Christians to be self-sacrificing in love and make long-term commitments? Absolutely. But how do you apply it in each particular situation?

    And while I fully acknowledge that the statistics are almost exactly the same for Christians as everyone else…that in and of itself seems like a formation / maturity issue…and something that the church should try to take steps to change.

  4. 4 Andrea August 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    My logic backtracks a little. I am a big believer in having kids while you’re still relatively young – before 30 if possible, definitely before 35. Past that point women are pushing their health, the health of the baby, and you enter the dicey realm of fertility science. Not that it’s not possible (my mother-in-law had all her four children between ages 35-40), but I think it’s clear our bodies (at least women’s bodies) were made to function that way. So, I would conclude that in keeping with the natural time limitations of a fertile woman, you need to marry earlier.

    Of course all of this assumes that married couples intend to have children. I would say if you intend to have sex you should intend to have children. But that is perhaps another debate.

    I don’t think early marriage is right for everyone, or that marriage is right for everyone. I do think that young Christians need to have a much more respectful and serious view of romantic relationships, which might solve some of the sexual tension/sexual sin addressed in the article.

  5. 5 Robert August 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Optimistically, I would like to believe that increasing ages of people getting married or having kids was a sign of improved decision making…or at least of people thinking more about it. But I don’t think the data shows that to be the case.

    I agree with the article in people need help measuring the people they date or seek to date in context of the big picture. And you need to be willing to think about comprimises and potential failures. If you hold out for perfection through your 20s and then decide at 29 that you are going to get married and have kids by 30 – taking the next person who walks in the door is just as bad as marrying your high school sweetheart because everyone expects you to.

    There are always challenges, though from my limited observations I think that they change with age. Marrying young – both of you are still finding out about yourself, setting goals, exploring. It is easy to grow together – but you have to realize that there is some change ahead in your partner. If you marry at an older age they each of you have had time to develop quirks and habits that may not mesh well with a partner – there will be some forced change and accomodation.

    I think if you go into it with similar expectations then you can’t really marry too young or too old. Too often people get married because it is expected or it is the next item on the list of things to do, but don’t think about what they expect to put into it or get out of it.

    I think most of this applies to having children also. Minus the biology stuff – that puts a time frame on the whole argument)

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August 2009

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