MARRIAGE IS THE INDISPENSIBLE BUILDING BLOCK OF CULTURE. We know that because marriage is the only social institution God created prior to the fall. All cultures rise and fall on the health and spiritual vitality of their marriages and families. J. D. Unwin’s understood this.

Unwin, an anthropologist teaching at Oxford, and later Cambridge, died in 1936. But, two years before his death he published Sex and Culture. It summed up Unwin’s study of 80 primitive tribes and six significant cultures over 5,000 years. His book argued that there is a positive correlation between cultural achievement and sexual restraint. By “sexual restraint” he meant the elevation of monogamy and cultural taboos against divorce, abortion, premarital sex, and homosexual activity.

In the past…the greatest energy has been displayed only by those societies which have reduced their sexual opportunity to a minimum by the adoption of absolute monogamy…No society has yet to succeeded in regulating the relations between the sexes in such a way as to enable sexual opportunity to remain at a minimum for an extended period.” – and thus all societies have collapsed.

Sex And Culture

Of course this is just common sense. Unwin was not a Christian. He was merely following the facts. When men and women covenant to live in monogamous marriage until death, and remain faithful to those vows, productive family life is the norm. Their children, tomorrow’s social capital, are well educated, moral, self controlled, and successful. Cultures comprised of strong families value life from conception until natural death. They are self-governing, requiring little civil government.

This was the United States until the late sixties. Then Unwin’s “sexual restraint” began to unravel, and with that “unraveling” the foundation of our culture began to crumble. We are witnessing the fruit today.

In 1968 Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, signed the first no fault divorce law. He later looked back on this as his greatest political mistake. Within a few years the other forty nine states followed suit.

In the Summer of 1969 the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York brought the sexual revolution into our living rooms. The cultural Marxist, Herbert Marcuse, suggested the catchy slogan, “Make love (meanning fornication), not war,” and amongst the baby boomers it took root. Photos of naked couples copulating in the Woodstock grass shocked many.

That same Summer the Stonewall Uprising in New York birthed the infant LGBTQ movement, and it began grow in influence.

At the same time, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) was selling aggresively, and the contemporary feminst movement was beginning to gain cultural traction.

The Coup De Grace to all of this was the 1973 Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision legalizing abortion throughout all fifty States.

At the time no could forsee where these changes were heading. Fifty years later the end game has become clear—the complete unravelling of Unwin’s “sexual restraint,” and with it the disipation of the family, followed by the increasing collapse of our American cultural foundation.

All of these changes signal the end of “sexual restraint,” and that is like a solvent to monogamous marriage. In 1970 just under 90% of American adults were married. Today it is less than 50%. In 1970 the average age of first marriage was 22 for men, and 20 for women. Today it is thirty for males and 28 for females and rising. In 1970 the total fertility rate (TFR) was 3.23. Today it is 1.78 and falling. (Were it not for the collapse of our southern border our population would be shrinking). In 1960 5% of live births were to single mothers. Today it is 40% and rising. The bottom line is this. In the U.S. marriage and family are slowly and inexorably collapsing. People are not getting married, and the few that do delay it. People are having fewer and fewer children, and over one third of our children are growing up in single parent homes.

Tragically, as Unwin predicted, if the family continues to collapse it will end America as we have known it.

What can Believers do? First, understand and accept Unwin’s connection between “sexual restraint” and “cultural energy.” Dominant, vibrant cultures practice biblical sexual morality.

Second, with this in mind, encourage biblical monogamy. Get married (younger rather than older). Stay married. Be faithful to your wedding vows. Have three plus children. Train them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Build a counter culture of churches founded on strong marriages and families. Last, pray, evangelize, and thank God for the mess our culture is in. For those who love him God uses everything for good.