Even though hotly contested today, anyone with basic common sense will confess that marriage between a man and woman is the backbone of civilization. Break or discourage this union and the social house of cards will come tumbling down.

Recent data from the Pew Charitable Trust national survey on marriage just came out, and the trends are discouraging. Marriage is disappearing even as it is redefined. In 1968 72% of adults were married. Today only 52% are. In 1978 28% thought marriage was becoming obsolete. Today almost 40% hold that conviction. Almost 40% of births are to a single parent. This does not portend good news for the rising generation. Lacking fathers there will be a substantial collapse of self-control, capacity for compassion, and ability to defer gratification, virtues that most social research ascribes to the active presence of fathers.

Forty years ago 68% of twenty somethings were married. Today only 26% are.  Discouraged by a diminished role for men in marriage and society, single men are reluctant to pursue young ladies. “What do I have to offer?” he thinks.

The deferral of first marriage to a later age is also responsible for falling fertility rates. For our population to avoid decline, the fertility rate must be at or above 2.1 children per female. We, as well as most industrialized societies, are at or below this level.

In his book The Empty Cradle, Phillip Longman notes the lone exception to these trends…patriarchy. By that he doesn’t mean abuse by tyrannical males. He means marriages where  fatherhood is valued, where men do what God created them to do; protect, lead, and provide for their families.

If this is true the gospel is the ultimate solution to these social problems. For the gospel encourages male servant leadership in both church and home.

As always, you observations are appreciated.