It would be impossible not to notice how much LDS Church leadership has stepped up the message that young people should be getting married*. Apparently, the rates of temple marriage and marriage in general have dropped off quite a bit for the 18-30 year-old young single adult set. As marriage is a bedrock of LDS belief and lifestyle—highly correlated with church activity and with a host of positive social and financial gains—reemphasizing marriage as a goal makes sense for the Church.
But there must be a much larger underlying problem here which is undeniably obvious, but which it would be harder for us to admit and discuss publicly. Traditionally, young people, especially religious young people, have sought out marriage early in life because that was the way to get to have sex. In a society that values chastity, marriage was the only acceptable avenue to satisfy that most pressing of biological urges.
The math here isn’t complicated. If far fewer young single adults are even bothering to pursue long-term marriage relationships, it’s not because this generation suddenly stopped caring about sex. Clearly, the millennials’ easy hook-up / ubiquitous porn culture has deeply penetrated the Church. The lack-of-marriage problem among young Mormons isn’t just a lack-of-marriage problem; it’s a lack-of-chastity problem, on a huge scale. Of course this doesn’t apply to every individual, but trying to explain the trend without accounting for the sex factor is naive.
*Consider, for example, these three quotes from the most recent General Conference:
“Those who are single should desire a temple marriage and exert priority efforts to obtain it. Youth and young singles should resist the politically correct but eternally false concept that discredits the importance of marrying and having children.” –Dallin H. Oaks, “Desire”
“Now, I have thought a lot lately about you young men who are of an age to marry but who have not yet felt to do so. I see lovely young ladies who desire to be married and to raise families, and yet their opportunities are limited because so many young men are postponing marriage….
“Perhaps you are having a little too much fun being single, taking extravagant vacations, buying expensive cars and toys, and just generally enjoying the carefree life with your friends. I’ve encountered groups of you running around together, and I admit that I’ve wondered why you aren’t out with the young ladies.
“Brethren, there is a point at which it’s time to think seriously about marriage and to seek a companion with whom you want to spend eternity.”—President Thomas S. Monson, “Priesthood Power”
“If you are a young man of appropriate age and are not married, don’t waste time in idle pursuits. Get on with life and focus on getting married. Don’t just coast through this period of life.”—Richard G. Scott, “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”