"the increase in marriage age over the last sixty years has serious implications for the church"
There is some nice data attached, the most important being the upward trend in age at first marriage.
This is a trend which is grounded in culture (the world).
In the past, few people would attend college - and those were mostly men. Older men (possibly just out of college) would marry younger women (possibly just out of high school).
Today, it is expected that everyone will attend college, and marriage tends to be between those of similar age. That alone will push the average up 4-8 years (coupled with the assumption that marriage is for those ready to start a family, and a family interferes with school).
Combine this with trends in a casual attitude towards sex, and increased exposure to sexual images - it is easy to see why young people in the church have problems abstaining from sex before marriage.
What to do?
There is no easy solution.
I don't think it is prudent to just ask young Christians to "Christian up" and refrain from sex for 30 years before getting married. Yes, this is right, and it is possible, but it is a huge burden.
Similarly, we cannot do what is wrong, and condone premarital sex.
This creates a huge conflict with culture - the best solution is to encourage early marriage.
I'm running long, so I'll just list the conflicts:
- This means marriage before college, possibly in early high school
- Marriage relations means children. Again, we should not ask our young people to bear this alone. That means greater (grand) parental involvement. Which is highly unusual in our "kick em out at 18" culture (not to mention young people desiring to "get out on their own".
- Our young women might be unable to attend college. This is high cost which cannot be ignored. Again, parental involvement is needed to make more options viable.
- Parents have their own problems (they are possibly dual income themselves). It will not be easy.