This week I wrote an article for our local paper and my research led me to some staggering statistics. In light of Valentine’s Day and the focus on love and romance, I thought the timing appropriate to mull over a few facts:
- For the first time since the United States Census Bureau began collecting data more than a century ago, less than half of adult women (49.9%) are currently married.
- The total percentage of married adults in the U.S. is 52%. This is an all-time low. In the last decade, that number steeply declined by 5%. That means that 15.6 million fewer people are married today than were married in the year 2000. (To get a handle on 15.6 million people, imagine a city the size of Los Angeles.)
- According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of young adults ages 25-34 who have never married has now surpassed, for the first time, the number who have married.
- 39% of Americans now consider marriage to be obsolete.
- According to The Barna Research Group, “the likelihood of married adults getting divorced is identical among born-again Christians and those who are not born-again.”
I went on to pose the question of why? Why has marriage become so undesireable? Why have young people not gotten the message that marriage can be a good thing? Why are marriages among believers failing as much as marriages among people who don’t claim to know Christ?
As someone who married later in life, I appreciate the fact that churches are now forced to provide an environment for the other half – the half that are widowed, divorced, or never married – to fit in, grow, and serve. However, I’m not naive enough to assume that most unmarried people are patiently waiting for the right one to come along so they can enter the honorable state of marriage (as I and my missionary friends did).
That leads us the bigger questions to wrestle with: What responsibility do followers of Christ have in modeling good marriages to the world, teaching couples how to have successful marriages, and teaching our young people how to wait for God’s provision? What can we do to change this negative perception of marriage?