Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Marriage on the Rocks! Is it?

Marriage on the Rocks! Is it?

The US Census Bureau released the 2010 census data which shows only 48% of all households are being occupied by a married couple, down from 52% in 2000. The story reported on the “SayAnythingBlog” offers a list of reasons from the census department officials including: marriage is not a priority, higher incidence of widows, more divorces, getting married older, the difficulty and cost of divorce, no longer a stigma attached to cohabitation, and the perceived raw deal men get in divorce. These ‘matter of fact’ reasons are from the US Census Bureau.

While the report may be accurate, it leaves out a great deal of information. First, we have seen some improvement over the past 20 years, with the divorce rate frequency decreasing by 3%. The frequently trumpeted reports of ‘half the marriages among Christians and non-Christians alike end in divorce’ are being documented as false. Numerous studies show a spread of 20%, with a 38% divorce rate for those who attend church regularly and 60% for those that attend rarely.

Among all the benefits of marriage, one that is easily documented is the economic and financial status. Married couple families fare better in all categories, including; employment, income, net worth, poverty, receipt of welfare, and child economic well-being. In 2009, 5.8% of married couple families were living in poverty, compared to 29.9% of families with an unmarried female head of household. Pat Fagan with the Family Research Council reports that by digitally re-uniting these single mother households with the fathers—we would see an 80% reduction in poverty in the United States.

Sadly, more than 40% of births in the U.S. are to unmarried women. Even in this environment, a Pew study found that 2/3 of Americans say women having children without a dad to help raise them is bad for society. Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton, states “Americans do recognize that fatherhood does not end at conception, and children need lifelong contributions from both male and female parents.”

Since the 1960’s America has seen an astronomical increase in cohabitation rates, with a 25% increase just since 2000. Today, one out of every 10 couples is cohabitating. Obviously, the decision to remain abstinent and resist cohabitating, relates to one’s moral beliefs which in most cases are grounded in our religious teachings. But many cite economic conditions, namely money and jobs---“two can live cheaper together, than separately”.

The truth is that cohabitating couples have the lowest net worth growth of all family structures. From a state perspective, you have lower incomes, less income taxes being collected, and more government services required. From the cohabitating couple’s perspective, the lower income level places stress in the family and in many cases leads to separation. And in many cases, these separations involve dependent children.

The ‘matter of fact’ report from the US Census Bureau leaves out a vital component of the discussion—that component being “commitment”. A successful marriage requires commitment, both in preparation of marriage and during the marriage relationship. That strong commitment will be rewarded by a long lasting, successful marriage, which is in the best interests of the couple, their children, and society.

As a Christian organization, NDFA believes God ordained marriage. And as Christ is the cornerstone of our personal lives, marriage is the cornerstone of the family, and the family is the foundation of society. The cultural legacy we leave our children and grandchildren will in part largely be determined by how successful we are at preserving and defending the sanctity of marriage.

As Christians, will we allow the culture to influence us, or will we be the “Salt & Light” as we influence the culture?

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