Married couples are becoming an "endangered species" in the Western World, warned a global family ministry head. Recent studies have shown a decline in both interest in marriage and marriage itself.
The American Community Survey found that for the first time in the United States' history, married couples now represent a minority of U.S. households. And more recently, poll results released Tuesday from Europe revealed that nearly a third of British women believe that marriage is no longer necessary in modern society.
Marriages have steadily fallen in both the U.S. and England in the past several decades. In 1957, 76 percent of all households in America were married couples with or without children. That number dropped to 49.7 percent in 2005.
"Unless America is to go the way of Europe, where married couples are increasingly an endangered species, we must rediscover the importance of marriage in creating social peace and assuring societys future," said World Congress of Families founder Dr. Allan Carlson in a statement Monday.
Carlson highlighted that culture "drives this phenomenon."
Some evangelicals have called the statistics misleading and exaggerated.
"Marriage is not falling out of favor," said Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in a commentary. "It has been weakened by social trends and divorce, but one big reason that fewer households are reported as married couples is longevity. Put simply, the fact that people live longer means that more persons will spend more years as a widow or widower."
The survey data showed that the majority of Americans do marry, but the institution of marriage has been weakened by divorce and delay of marriage. Additionally, alternative living arrangements are becoming more popular. The number of unmarried heterosexual couples living together increased 14 percent since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.
Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America said people are getting married later and there are more households today than in the past.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commented on the exaggerated indication that marriage is dying.
"The change comes mostly from single people delaying marriage, and from elderly people surviving longer after being widowed," he said, according to Agape Press. "A majority of adult Americans are still married .... and over 68 percent of householders raising their own children are married.
"So don't count marriage out yet."
Still, the declining numbers of married households are not inevitable, Wright said, and the recent statistics should prompt the nation to do more to promote healthy marriages.
"Marriage is the bedrock of society, stated Carlson. Its married couples who have children guaranteeing societys survival. Married couples care for the elderly and infirm. They provide most of the support for charities and civic activities. Their decline is a harbinger of atomization and fragmentation."