The findings in a recent poll conducted by the American Family Survey suggested “the numbers continue to see a slight erosion in the public’s evaluation of marriage as an institution.” The American Family Survey first began tracking data related to marriage in 2015, so its most recent survey covers a mere six years. Nevertheless, the decline in attitudes toward matrimony are a concern.
When the collection of information began in 2015 more than 60 percent of those surveyed believed “marriage was needed to create strong families,” by 2021 only 52 percent believed marriage was essential. In 2015 only 12 percent thought marriage was “old-fashioned and out of date,” by 2021 that number had grown to 19 percent.
While the change in percentages seems slight we are talking about a change that has occurred in only six years. And while I find the decline in societal attitudes toward marriage alarming, I am not surprised by the statistics. As America becomes more secular and unwilling to accept the Creator’s plan for the family and human flourishing, attitudes regarding marriage will fall.
Statistics reveal trends, but there are some facts that cannot be denied. The executive editor of Deseret News said statistics also show “people have higher life satisfaction when they marry” and it “is better for children … Marriage provides stability and life satisfaction and those who get married often have more longevity and better financial wealth and physical and mental health.”
In our current cultural climate men and women often begin a relationship through casual sex and with very different expectations. When those expectations are not met they are ready to end the relationship and move on to the next without reaching a mutual level of trust and commitment.
They then carry the hurts of unmet expectations into the next relationship which is almost always a recipe for failure. It isn’t any wonder that people lose faith in marriage as an institution when they have never committed to the idea of the need for trust and commitment in a relationship.
God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone … the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the man … for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh,” Genesis 2:18, 22, 24.
Becoming “one flesh” in one sense means becoming a single unit committed to face life together in a bond of mutual love and trust. Marriage and family are the basic unit of any society no matter what that society’s politics, form of government, or culture are. As goes the family, so goes the nation.
If America loses its standing on the global stage it will not be because of attacks from without but because of decay from within. That is not merely a religious perspective; that is a reality you can count on.