If you thought navigating the 20-something dating and marriage scene wasn't complicated enough, former President Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson just put his oar in.

In an argument similar to Mark Regnerus's cover story in the August issue of Christianity Today, Gerson says that "it doesn't seem realistic to expect most men and women to delay sex until marriage at 26 or 28."

He believes that kind of self-control is possible but not likely, even among churchgoers. Besides, marrying late in one's 20s can result in unhappier marriages, while early-20s marriages have the happiest results.

Where does Gerson get those numbers, you might ask? Slate's XX Factor did some digging and found this 2004 study from the National Fatherhood Initiative. (Especially check out the graphs on page 19.) XX Factor also notes that some key information, like statistical significance, is missing from the graphs, so it's hard to tell how seriously we should take the information.

Statistical reliability aside, Gerson's argument—marry young, because people cannot handle not waiting to have sex until their late 20s—is weak on many levels. Is marriage really an excuse for sex? Should a lack of self-control be rewarded with early gratification? To say nothing of evangelical churches and families, it doesn't seem like that mindset will lead to a healthy society at large.

It's interesting, though, that two prominent men—Gerson here, and Regnerus in CT—have taken up the gauntlet for early marriage, while no women that I'm aware of have. If early marriage provides the social and religious benefits Gerson and Regnerus say it does—including ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.