June 18, 2011

The Death of Marriage, the Death of America

40% of children born in 2011 are born from single parent households. That number was near 3%, 75 years ago. Why? Quite a few reasons for the decline I would say, but most of all because we have forgotten God. First, take a look at the following graphs to get a clearer picture of the marriage epidemic that America is facing.

Take a look at the following graphs provided by the Heritage Foundation:

Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware of its principal cause: the absence of married fathers in the home. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2008 was 36.5 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent.[1] (See Chart 1.)

Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Poverty by 82 Percent

Decline in Marriage and Growth in Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing

Regrettably, marriage is declining rapidly in the U.S. The current decline is unusual. As Chart 2 shows, throughout most of the 20th century, marital childbearing was the overwhelming norm in the United States. Nearly all children were born to married couples.

Death of Marriage in the U.S., 1929-2008

The flip side of the decline in marriage is the growth in the out-of-wedlock childbearing birth rate, meaning the percentage of births that occur to women who are not married when the child is born.[3] As Chart 3 shows, throughout most of U.S. history, out-of-wedlock childbearing was rare. When the War on Poverty began in the mid-1960s, only 6 percent of children were born out of wedlock. Over the next four and a half decades, the number rose rapidly. In 2008, 40.6 percent of all children born in the U.S. were born outside of marriage.[4]

Growth of Unwed Childbearing, 1929-2008

Not surprisingly, single-parent families make up the overwhelming majority of all poor families with children in the U.S. Overall, single-parent families comprise one-third of all families with children, but as Chart 6 shows, 71 percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents. By contrast, 74 percent of all non-poor families with children are headed by married couples.[8]

71 Percent of Poor Families With Children Are Not Married

Growth in Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing Among Blacks and Whites. Historically, the black out-of-wedlock childbearing rate has always been somewhat higher than the white rate; however, through much of the 20th century, the rates for both groups were comparatively low. For example, as Chart 10 shows, 2 percent of white children and 14 percent of black children born in 1940 were born out of wedlock.

Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race, 1930-2008

The antidote to poverty is married fathers and mothers raising their children together in the bounds of marriage, not outside of it. Government spending and anti-poverty programs that do not promote marriage are only compounding the problem, a problem that is threatening to topple this once great country. This two caste system that is being formed; the lower income and educated welfare recipient, single parent household and the higher income & educated, married household, has transformed our culture. The political class that was responsible for the 'war on poverty' that helped ignite the epidemic of out of wedlock births, has capitalized on the failure of their own program to lock in the lower classes support at the voting booth by pitting those two classes against each other. Sickening politics and even more saddening policy.
"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage." II Peter 2:1
When a nation forgets God, priorities change. No where has priorities changed more than in America's responsibility to its children and family. God instituted the family for good reason and the statistics bear out that fact with children raised in families 82% less likely to enter into poverty. Families, while not always perfect, provide an shelter for young kids trying to navigate the sea of life and provide a refuge from life's troubles.

The death of marriage, as illustrated by these graphs, has extreme economic consequences. But the tragedy goes even further than that to both cultural and social consequences. We can see changes in culture all around us with our tv shows glamorizing violence, sex, and promiscuity while our culture hails the football stadium as the modern day Roman Colosseum. Suicides are up, violence has increased, prisons are full, drop out rates despite lower education standards are up, etc. The list of cultural consequences are all around us.

These problems have been growing for years---decades. What was taught in culture and the classroom in the 60's is becoming the law of the land today. Culture today spells the end of a society reliant on God as the source of breath and life. We are given to change as we our moorings are tied to the doc of an ever floating relative idea of truth. Coming back to God must be the first step.

Marriage is the most basic unit of government. As the family goes so goes the nation.

In a related post at FirstThings, a researcher has attempted to put a number on the cost of the divorce and non-marital childbearing.
And again, the facts haven’t born this out. As Wilcox points out, “the divorce revolution’s collective consequences for children are striking. Taking into account both divorce and non-marital childbearing, sociologist Paul Amato estimates that if the United States enjoyed the same level of family stability today as it did in 1960, the nation would have 750,000 fewer children repeating grades, 1.2 million fewer school suspensions, approximately 500,000 fewer acts of teenage delinquency, about 600,000 fewer kids receiving therapy, and approximately 70,000 fewer [attempted] suicide attempts every year.”

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