Half of people in their 20s say marriage isn't necessary to validate love or commitment in a long-term relationship, a new online poll found.
Overall, 44 percent of the 7,113 Americans aged 20 to 69 who participated in the poll by Zogby International and AOL Personals shared that sentiment.
"Across all age groups, you just don't need a marriage certificate to mean love," AOL Personals Director Keith Brengle told Reuters.
But marriage is more than just a piece of paper, argues Jim Mueller, president and co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries, an organization that produces Christian marriage resources.
"A Christian marriage is between two people who have committed their lives – and their marriage – to a relationship with Jesus Christ," Mueller commented to The Christian Post. "That couple is making a permanent promise – a covenant – that is not meant to be broken. That makes a difference."
Part of God's design for marriage requires preparation, consideration and a long-term view, he added.
Mueller believes that many of the negative values reflected in the media, celebrity lifestyles, and culture have led many young adults in their 20s to adopt a light view of commitment in marriage and co-habitation before marriage.
"It's a shame media doesn't communicate the statistics of failed relationships – a result of 'committed', but non-married, live-in arrangements," he said.
"Couples who discount marriage in favor of 'living together' may be missing out on a list of perks that could help keep their relationship solid: counseling, pre-marriage classes, financial prep and mentoring – all help build a long-term foundation."
What's often times missing in the marriage discussion between couples are the churches, according to Mueller, who believes churches need to "step up" their marriage ministries.
"Most churches we've talked with have non-existent – or weak – marriage ministry," observed Mueller. "Marriage prep needs to be more than a meeting with the pastor and a reservation in the wedding date book. Churches are missing a bigger opportunity."
Mueller's organization, Growthtrac, produces marriage events, provides ministry consulting and prepares couples for marriage through mentoring programs and pre-marriage education. Their website also contains many articles, reviews, and interviews by authors and relationship experts.
Zogby-AOL's latest interactive survey of adults nationwide age 20 to 69 was conducted Nov. 9-12, 2007, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.2 percentage points.
On the Web: More information on Growthtrac at www.growthtrac.com