Bob Crittenden
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September 1, 2023

Several months ago on The Meeting House on Faith Radio, I featured a conversation with J.P. DeGance of Communio, which helps strengthen marriages through empowering the Church. Based on a study it had released, he lamented the decline of marriage, which has led to loneliness, as well as fatherlessness. A article on the survey said it found “22% of regular churchgoers are lonely,” but that “single churchgoers were more than three times more likely to feel lonely.”
The article quotes DeGance, who said:

“What we’re seeing in the study is that the net effect of all of that is the crisis of loneliness; that the most lonely people walking around in our churches, in our communities, are actually not the elderly or widows. It’s men and women in their 30s, who in every other time period — almost every other decade before this century — would have been overwhelmingly likely to be married.”

He noted, “They’re not today, and as a consequence, they are also the among the loneliest Americans…”

A survey compatible with the data shared by Communio was addressed by professor and author Alex Chediak in a recent article on The Stream website. He wrote, “As of 2021, one quarter of 40-year-olds in the United States had never married. That’s a record high, according to a Pew report…It’s up from 20% in 2010. In 1980, it was only 6%.” He then related this sobering statistic: “…only about one-in-four 40-year-olds who had not married in 2001 had done so by age 60. Meaning most had not married.”
What are the implications, according to Chediak?

So, to put it bluntly, if you’re not married by 40, the odds are even that you never will be.

That’s concerning. Marriage goes along with higher levels of happiness, longevity, health, and wealth. Especially for men. Married households also provide the most stable environment for raising kids. Given the steep decline in marriage, it’s not surprising that we’re at just 1.7 births per female. That’s well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

But why? He offers this:

But what’s up with the 42% drop in the marriage rate? Yeah, we can talk about birth control or the loss of Christian cultural influences. These have contributed to the decoupling of sex and marriage. There’s also the acceptability of cohabitation — even though social science data shows it’s more of a breeding ground for divorce than a preparation for marriage.

But behind these trends is a complete shift in mindset that puts marriage into a “someday, maybe” category as opposed to a goal worth pursuing with intentionality and care. We are rejecting God’s good design for our species.

Noted researcher Dr. Brad Wilcox was quoted: “Young adults today are putting a lot more focus on education and work than they are on marriage and starting a family.” Chediak comments: “They know that the former will affect their success. But they don’t connect the dots on how a lifelong commitment to one person will be the single greatest predictor of their long-term happiness.” He adds: “There is a power within marriage to form us into the men and women that God designed us to be.”

The markers are there: marriage is related to success and long-term happiness. But, as the writer of this piece relates, there is a worthwhile cost: one must give up his or her independence and freedom in order to experience the blessings of loving and being united with a mate for life.

That has certainly been my wife, Beth’s, and my experience over almost 33 years of marriage, which we celebrated last month! Through our love for God and each other, through our shared experiences, and through the pursuit of His best – together – we have seen the Lord move in powerful ways in and through us. I believe I am a better person because of her; I cannot imagine not having her in my life! But, a sense of rugged individualism in our society causes one to think he or she is better alone.

The column states three “blessings” of marriage:

One, a measure of protection from sexual immorality. Two, deep companionship in together reflecting God’s image as a male-female, one-flesh union. Three, the gift of children, at least in most cases. These children can be raised to love Jesus, bless society (contributing to the tax base), and take care of Mom and Dad when they’re old.

Marriage is intended for our good and for the good of a working society and it is the concept through which we grow in numbers. (Right now, we’re below the “replacement rate.”) As Chediak states, “We need to speak of this power to the young adults in our circles, to celebrate strong marriages, and to help more households be formed and formed well.”

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Bob Crittenden
Since 2004 Bob has been the host of Faith Radio's “The Meeting House,” a program of music and conversation heard weekday afternoons from 4 until 6.

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