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September 19, 2007

For Sale: Bride, $29,995... Age 14

Too pricey? Would $19,995 be more affordable? No matter what your financial state, there's sure to be a bride available for any eligible man out there, just browse through the options at Marry Our Daughter.com. You're likely to find exactly what you're looking for... and so young too!

Think it's a hoax? You'd be right. But the 60 million site visitors who browsed through the pages of eligible bachlorettes didn't know the truth until this past Sunday. Perhaps there's a market for American child brides. Who knew?!

The controversial site caused quite an uproar in the blog community. Yet the purpose of the site is remunerative: to call attention to a very real problem with state marriage laws. Indeed, as Newsweek and the NY Times pointed out, nothing about the child bride website is illegal. Shouldn't that disturb us?

Marriage law loopholes have been popping up in the news quite a bit lately: first with the enactment of Arkansas' blooper of a law back in August, and more recently with Colorado's sad tale of a child bride. And sadly these aren't the only two states with problematic laws.

As Newsweek stated,

Marriage laws vary by state in the U.S. and are often in conflict with statutory-rape laws, he says—meaning that, with parental permission, it's not uncommon to find girls as young as 13 married with children in states where the legal age of sexual consent is more like 17....

Many lawmakers agree that a number of state marriage laws are egregiously outdated. Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah and New Hampshire all set age limits below 16 (New Hampshire allows marriage at 13—the lowest in the land), if parents approve. Mississippi and South Carolina allow girls younger than 16 to marry, but not boys. California and Massachusetts specify no minimum age, but require court approval for teens under 18. Utah, which allows marriages with parental consent at age 14, also allows a person to marry without consent if he or she has been previously married. Huh?

It's easy to see why this should be an issue of rising national concern, but it's an issue that carries with it a lot of questions.... What is an appropriate age for marriage? Should the government even be involved in determining that age? And should the fact that America's youth are sexually active at a younger age play a role in determining age for marriage? Should there be an age requirement at all?

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Something in the Biblical worldview to consider is: How old was Mary when she gave birth to Jesus?

And how, if at all, might the cultural context of the times effect our application of that to marriages today?


Isn't there an old Roman definition of barbarian as someone who imagines that his own customs are those of the whole world?


Another point; a majority of evangelical girls that age are having sex - without the benefit of clergy. That is better?

Apparently, evangelical youth are having sex more often and sooner than non-Christian youth, and the average age of loss of virginity for non-Christian youth is 15.

One might also meditate on the changes in parenting from when those laws were written, through to today, that resulted in those 14-year-olds being old enough to marry, and ours not being. And even Laura Ingalls married but two years older than that, and was already a school teacher at the time.

I'm not arguing for selling brides or for 14 year-old brides. Just wondering, trying to stimulate some thought.


What do you mean by "without the benefit of clergy"?

Would lowering or raising the marriage age really do any good in a culture that replaced "death do us part" marriage with "as long as it is mutually beneficial and convenient" marriage?

I've heard several argue that given the earlier age of sexual activity it would be better to lower the age for marriage so that such adolescent sex could take place in the bounds of marriage. HA! I can't help wonder who's conscience that will soothe.

And my guess is that we'd see divorce rates climb at the same rate of marriages. What do you think?


Here in Canada the age of consent is 14, but you can not get married until 18 without parental consent.

Grizzly Mom

The idea of these child brides disempowers women. No one should be allowed to be allowed to consent to sex or get married until they have are self-supporting, which would probably be age 24 or so. That would eliminate dependency, economic, running away from home reasons for doing marrying, and hopefully many unplanned pregnancies. It would also encourage parents to build their children’s independence.

To allow marriage in case of pregnancy is foolish. The couple already demonstrated their inability to live responsibility, and delay gratification, and today few care if the parents are married before the child’s birth.


My late wife and I were married when she was 14, five years later we had our first child. The relaxing feeling and security of being married raised my wife's highschool grades while increasing my college grades.
We had a good life together plus 7 children. Marring early did not hurt either one of use it made us closer together and happier.


I am, myself, a 14 year old girl that already has three children by the man I love (who is now 22). I have always hated that our government has the ability to say when someone is old enough to be able to handle the responsibility. I am very mature for my age, and all the children are all healthy and taken care of. My boyfriend (we are not allowed to marry officially) is working two steady jobs, and is succeeding in school towards getting his PhD. When I was "with" him for my first time at age 11, we were in love, and I knew exactly what I was getting into, what the risks were. I am perfectly happy with my decision.

Rolley Haggard

Michelle, your remark, "I am very mature for my age" buttresses the principle that "the exception proves the rule."

Gina Dalfonzo

Actually, Michelle, if you're telling the truth, your boyfriend is breaking the law. Your IP address indicates that you live in an area where the age of consent is sixteen. I'm sorry, but it doesn't sound as if either of you is behaving maturely.

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