I am very concerned with the teenage brides that these fundamentalist cultures have been known to breed. I believe it is time for a reconsideration of what marriage is as a whole and our approach to its legality. As humans have begun to live longer and we are individually maturing emotionally at a slower rate. One hundred years ago it was appropriate for marriage at the age of eighteen (or in the case of some states like Montana, sixteen). However, I know from my own personal experience that I did not have the emotional or logical maturity at eighteen to make a lifetime bonding contract or understand the potential repercussions of breaking a contract.
My hypothesis is to allow unions between consenting adults over the age of twenty-one regardless of sexual preference or even number of partners. Marriage by clergy will no longer be recognized by government as a legal union. Marriage needs to be recognized as a legal binding contract with written contractual obligations. The document should state all expectations and obligations in writing for both parties and stipulate the conditions of any breach of contract. As far as I am aware, marriage is the only agreement that doesn’t spell out what it in it for both parties, yet when it is breached or nullified the parties are held to substantial ramifications. I believe that people would be far less likely to jump into marriage if they were fully aware of what they were jumping into. Should we increase the marriage age to twenty-one that would hopefully allow many would be teen brides to mature to an age where they are able to logically make decisions for themselves. Sex with a minor crime would increase to twenty-one as well (granted this won’t stop teenagers from doing what they do, but that is not the issue at hand). This move to change the legal marrying age to twenty-one would need to become nationwide. Yes it will take some adjustment, but we all eventually accepted the drinking law when it changed to twenty-one.