Does Religion Sponsor Child Brides?

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The Roy Moore Scandal Is Another Example of Religious Support for Child Abuse

The Roy Moore scandal has created some odd defenders. In particular, some religious leaders have used scripture or stated there was nothing wrong with dating a 14-year-old girl. One of the accusers, Debbie Wesson Gibson, received support from her mother when she asked about dating then 34-year-old Roy Moore. What justification do individuals give for dating a young girl?

Some conservative religious groups do sanction or support the marrying of young girls. In some evangelical Christian, Orthodox Jewish, and Mormon communities, there are “courtship” rituals that help younger members find older, parent-approved spouses. This is meant to create tight-knit communities, but can also be used by predatory men.

Second, more conservative religious groups have clear gender roles. Women are meant to stay at home and take care of the children. Men are the primary breadwinners. Therefore, it is easier for a woman to be wed at a younger age since they can maintain those responsibilities as soon as they reach puberty.

In the United States, there is a large number of child brides. In all 50 states minors can marry with parental consent. That can cause situations where judges are unable to stop children from being married off to someone older. Some states allow minors to marry based upon pregnancy or the approval of a judge. Nearly 200,000 children married legally in the last 15 years. Almost 500 of those marriages were to partners over the age of 40.

In the vast majority of these unions the child is female. The law also allows individuals to escape sex offender laws. Women who are married as minors are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse and experience clinical depression.

Children are not at an age to marry. Neuroscience has proven that the brain doesn’t mature until mid-twenties. Therefore, there should not be any consideration of consent, no matter what the justification is.

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