Yesterday was a wonderful discussion on Issues Etc (http://www.issuesetc.org/ondemand.html) concerning the request of modern parents to delay marriage until financial stability.
The typical Christian parent encourages, almost demands their children to wait to get married until they have a retirement account started, a down payment on a house, and two stable jobs with benefits. The desire is that their children will not go through financial struggles, that they finish college, and can send off the kids without worrying about basically anything (at least in our minds). Makes sense doesn't it?
However, there are a plethora of implications. #1-If it came down to a choice in our world of having sex before marriage or getting married at 20, it would be more scandalous to get married. Why is this a problem? well, God's Will (Genesis 2, Hebrews 13, 6th Commandment, etc). When we mess with God's will, then things get mucked up (a.k.a. 50% divorce rate) #2-People are doing all the major things before marriage because marriage is now seen as the last step. Most friends and young couples I know today have bought a house, bought a dog, tried or had a child before marriage. In our world, we love to have commitment BEFORE we make a big decision, however, today buying a house, a dog or having children doesn't require commitment, but can get "whatever" and then commitment is the last thing.
I'm not saying that parents should stop saying wait for marriage, but we should be thinking about what we believe about marriage, abstinence before marriage, the commitment needed when entering marriage, and in many cases what difficulties did I go through in marriage and how was that actually helpful for our marriage. We often think as parents about what can I give to my kids that I didn't have, that we forget to give them what we did!
I think we are at a very serious time with the view of marriage and I would argue that in many ways we are encouraging a lessening of marriage by our practice (even if it is no intentional)