America’s Exodus from Marriage
Some excerpts (with a few observations by me below this; click “read more” to read the entire post):
by Peter Wehner
Jan 17, 2013
…This study [“The President’s Marriage Agenda for the Forgotten Sixty Percent,” which is the centerpiece of the latest State of Our Unions report”] focused on the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have completed high school but do not have a four-year college degree.
What we’re seeing is a rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America–with 44 percent of the children of moderately-educated mothers born outside of marriage. “We’re at a tipping point with Middle America,” W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading scholar on marriage, told National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “insofar as Middle Americans are on the verge of losing their connection to marriage.”
We are “witnessing a striking exodus from marriage,” according to the study.
….More than 40 percent of children are born out of wedlock, while more than half of births (53 percent) among all women under 30 now occur outside of marriage.
Between 1970 and 2012, the annual number of marriages per 1,000 unmarried adults decreased by more than 50 percent.
The divorce rate today is about twice that of 1960, though it’s declined since hitting its highest point in our history in the early 1980s.
For the average couple marrying for the first time in recent years, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation now falls between 40 and 50 percent.
Today more than a quarter of all children live in single-parent families, compared to only 9 percent in 1960. And the number of unmarried couples has increased seventeen-fold in the last 50 years.
…. The collapse of marriage in America, then, has enormous human and social ramifications. And whatever one thinks about same-sex marriage, this collapse has occurred long before any state approved marriage between gays.
The report offers a range of recommendations to reverse this trend…
…Still, we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the difficulty of the challenge we face. “The scale of marital breakdown in the West since 1960 has no historical precedent and seems unique,” the distinguished historian Lawrence Stone said a few years ago. “At no time in history, with the possible exception of Imperial Rome, has the institution of marriage been more problematic than it is today.”
And yet, and yet, the church continues to ignore the 80% who do not fit the “married with kids” structure.
I think I posted a link to a similar article before a few weeks ago, one highlighting that many more births are taking place outside of marriage and so on.
Most people today are not getting married, and the ones who are will be getting married later in life (not at age 20 or 25), or they will get divorced (or already have been).
But most denominations continue to cater to the largely mythical, non-existent ‘Leave It To Beaver’ 1950s nuclear family, which means church does not feel the least bit welcoming to the rest of us who are never married, widowed, divorced, or who don’t have kids (and who maybe don’t want kids).
The church’s non-stop fixation on marriage (supporting it, discussing it, publishing material on it constantly) in the last several decades has not reversed these trends on divorce, prolonged unwanted singleness, out of wedlock births, etc. – so more preaching about marriage and more Christian books and blogs touting marriage and how wonderful it is – is not the solution.
I have to mention that fact because some very conservative Christian groups, such as Focus on the Family members, actually think pushing marriage even more in churches is the answer -see (Link): this post on this blog. I was really angry when I wrote it.
I can’t believe that despite the fact unmarried Christian people have been saying the church’s constant emphasis on marriage makes them feel ostracized, and so they stop attending church, some Christians don’t care; they say they want churches to keep harping on marriage.
I thought the Bible said to try to refrain from causing your brother or sister in Christ from stumbling.
Well, if constant preaching and pushing of marriage (and sermons about sex) are causing one entire segment of your church population to stumble (specifically, the unmarried people and/or Christians who have issues struggling with porn, lust, or celibacy), then you strongly need to rethink your position.