Is marriage needed to create stronger families? Does being married make families better off financially? Is society better off when more people are married? According to a recently released survey, an increasing number of Americans answer these questions in the negative.
The American Family Survey, which took results from 3,000 respondents, was conducted by YouGov for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, and was published by Deseret News on October 12.
When polling on the overall importance of marriage within society, the group found an increasingly negative view of the institution. According to the survey, a record low of 52% of respondents agreed that marriage was needed to create strong families – down from a high of 63% in 2017. The percentage of people who agreed that marriage makes families and children better off financially also dropped from a high of 66% in 2017 to a record low of 58% in 2021 – even though research shows this to be a fact.
Only 45% of respondents agreed that society is better off when more people are married – a third record low since the group began polling in 2015. Nearly 1/5th of those polled claimed that marriage is “old-fashioned and out-of-date.”
“There is reason to believe that people are slightly growing less attached to marriage as an institution,” researchers for the survey wrote in a report. “And though people still think positively of marriage, the percentage who think it is old-fashioned and out-of-date has also grown in recent years. Though we would not want to imply that marriage is in trouble as an institution, there is slight erosion in its popularity.”
These responses concur with a recent study from the Pew Research Center which found that an increasing number of U.S. adults were living “without a spouse or partner,” with only 53% of adults between the ages of 25 to 54 in 2019 being married as compared to 67% in 1990. As the report states, “the growth in the single population is driven mainly by the decline in marriage among adults who are at prime working age.”
The Pew study additionally explains that those who are not married are employed at a rate of 7% less (75% vs. 82%) and earn around $14,000 less on average ($35,000 vs. $49,000) than adults who are married. According to the study, the unmarried demographic is skewing increasingly male, which may help to explain why younger men are increasingly becoming more lonely.
“I think we see more religious people getting married because of the doctrinal teachings about marriage in the Bible,” Hal Boyd, the executive editor of Deseret National, told The Christian Post. “And as the culture becomes more secular and not overtly religious, we see a decrease in marriage rates. Many say they believe in God, but mostly in traditional religious circles is when we see there’s an increase in marriage.”
Marriage is a beautiful institution created by God to reflect His unending covenantal promise to those who confess and believe in Him. In the same way that a man vows to love his wife until death, God will never depart from His people. However, just like other good and holy things that God has created for our enjoyment, marriage has been negatively affected by the Fall. Because of this, what was created to be good and holy can become bent and broken. This is why it is very important for believers to understand the limits, implications and importance that the Bible places on marriage. Thankfully, due to God’s unending grace, we may still find the joy that marriage brings as God intended.
For those who are married but still cannot find that joy, Focus on the Family offers help for marriages through Hope Restored.
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