There has been a lot of media attention this week to a recent survey, by the Pew Research Center, which indicates that nearly four in ten adults think marriage is becoming obsolete.
Such numbers can be disheartening to people, like me, who have a strong desire to stand up for traditional Judeo-Christian values. Marriage is perhaps the most foundational of all social structures. According to the Bible, it predates government, cities, or any other social grouping known to humanity. Eliminating the family would be, for human relationships, almost as drastic as eliminating air from our atmosphere.
A summary of the survey’s findings can be found on Yahoo! News. Those who really want to dig into the numbers can go directly to the Pew Research Center’s website. While the numbers do not suggest a positive view of marriage by society, they may not be the death knell some people have claimed they are.
It is true that 39% of the respondents said marriage is becoming obsolete; however, 28% said the same thing in 1978. Yes, this is a sad increase. However, it is not as if an entire generation woke up one morning and, out of nowhere, decided that marriage is dead. Clearly, the attitude has been present for a while. The PRG’s study does not introduce a radical new trend; it merely shows that a steady decline in the social stature of marriage, which began in the 1960s, has continued relatively unabated. Having children out-of-wedlock continues to become more socially acceptable. Living together before marriage (or with no intention of marrying) continues to become more popular. Couples continue to marry later in life. Survey results have shown these trends growing for decades.
So, is marriage becoming obsolete? No! A careful reading of the study will show that this is not the sort of bombshell some media outlets are claiming. It is a continuing social trend, but all hope is not lost.
As long as there are people who believe in the value of marriage, it will survive. Those of us who cherish the traditional values on which our society is based should not be discouraged. Neither the Pew Research Group, nor Barack Obama, nor any state agency, creates marriage. God creates it. He instills within us the desire to bond. Yes, there will always be people who will seek to build relationships on their own foundations, rather than His.
Those of us who cherish the things God loves will continue to teach our children the value of seeking a life-long mate, and making every effort to build a relationship that will last. As long as the parents instill godly values in their children, and religious organizations take a firm stand for marriage, it will survive.
The church (and synagogue, and other houses of worship or religious institutions) have a job to do. We need to promote a biblical view of marriage. Sadly, many churches do little more than tell people what the Bible says about divorce. Perhaps they should focus on emphasizing what the Bible says about building a successful marriage.
For my Christian brothers and sisters who are actually worried about this study, I will close with this observation from Scripture. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about His second coming, He listed a number of signs. Among them was this one:
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-38, NASB).
Marriage will survive. Jesus told us so. I will always trust Him before I trust any pollster with a political agenda.