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LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to legislation raising the minimum marriage age to 17, ending a provision that allowed some younger children to wed.

The Senate unanimously approved the measure, sending it to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk.

Arkansas law currently allows boys aged 17 and girls aged 16 to marry if they have their parents' or guardians' consent. The law currently sets no minimum age to marry if the female is pregnant and a judge approves. The bill approved Thursday sets the minimum age for both at 17, but requires parental consent at that age.

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Archived Comments

  • Skeptic1
    April 4, 2019 at 7:33 p.m.

    Try harder, it should be 18.

  • BobfromMarion
    April 5, 2019 at 2:20 a.m.

    @SKEPTIC1 indicates that the age should be 18. I agree that it is better to wait until age 18 to get married. It usually is even better if the couple wait until age 21 or 22 if they go to college.

    However, setting the minimum age to get married is not a suggestion based on people following good choices in life determined by my beliefs on the subject. Setting the minimum age to get married is an arbitrary age. If the age is set at 18 then a 17 year old could not get married under any circumstances. In our history, the generation that would now be age 110 and older if they were still alive, it was normal for girls to be only 16. There were many cases where the girl was only 13. Most of these marriages lasted a lifetime. It was common for a couple to be married for 70 or more years before one of the spouses passed on.

    What is left out of the article is what if any changes were made to the law if the girl was pregnant. On one hand it sounds reasonable that if there is a pregnancy that the couple should be allowed to get married at age 16 or perhaps 15. Once due to case of incest a girl gave birth to a baby at age 8. I certainly would not be in favor of allowing an 8 year old girl to legally get married.

    It can be argued that just because there is a pregnancy doesn't mean that the couple are mature enough emotionally to get married and live as a couple independently. Using that logic there would be no legal reason to allow a couple to get married when one of the two or both are age 16 and there is a pregnancy.

    Many follow their understanding of the Bible that a couple should wait until they are married to have sex. If the girl is pregnant, allowing the couple to get married at an earlier age than the minimum legal age, is not going to change the fact that according to their understanding of the Bible they have committed a serious sin of having sex before marriage. The cow is already out of the barn. No need to lock the barn door now.

    I will add that I am not questioning the understanding of the Bible that sex is only OK for a man and a woman who are legally married. However, it is not the business of the state to interpret Scripture for everyone to follow.

    I have known several couples who were happily married that were married when the girl was 16. I also know of situations where one or both of the spouses in a marriage stated that they were too young to get married when they did. Sometimes they will add that had they waited another year or two, they believe that the marriage would have succeeded.

    In a culture, the minimum age to get married is going to vary over time. The requirements to have a successful marriage will vary over time. Technologies change and the requirements for a successful marriage will also vary over time as circumstances change over time.

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