A Pew Research Center report has found that only 51 percent of adults in the United States are currently married, a record low in comparison to 50 years ago. The Association of Marriage and Family Ministries believes a decline in faith among young Americans may be a reason for the downward trend.
The census data revealed that for those aged 18 to 29, the numbers are even smaller – only 20 percent are married. In comparison, 72 percent of all adults in 1960 were married.
Suggestions that the results might be linked to the recent economic downturn do not hold up, according to the BBC, which highlighted that marriage has been in decline for decades and similar trends have been noted in Europe, regardless of the economic situation.
Eric Garcia, Co-Founder and President of the Association of Marriage and Family Ministries, shared with The Christian Post that he believes there is a key reason for this downward spiral – young people have grown up seeing two generations of failed marriages. They have been exposed to broken relationships in their own home and in their grandparents’ home, and they are not seeing why they should want to join such an institution.
The co-founder described it as a “snowball effect” – young people are asking themselves “what model do I have to follow?” He also pointed to the rising divorce rates in the country as creating not only a marriage issue, but a faith issue as well.
According to statistics on the statistics from DivorceRate.org, 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce.
In addition, a recent study by the Barna Group found that nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group and author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church, said part of why young people are leaving the church at increasing rates may be that many churches are geared toward “traditional” young adults.
“But most young adults no longer follow the typical path of leaving home, getting and education, finding a job, getting married and having kids – all before the age of 30,” he previously told CP. “These life events are being delayed, reordered, and sometimes pushed completely off the radar among today's young adults.”
Garcia believes young people are delaying or avoiding marriage in some cases because of what they experience at home.
He explained that young people growing up in dysfunctional families are doubting their faith, and asking “why can’t God keep my parents together?” He said that the issue correlates directly with the rate of people leaving their religion after high school – which he likened to “dropping from a cliff of the Grand Canyon.”
On the same note, he also shared what he believed could reverse the negative statistics: “We strongly believe that the successful restoration of marriage in America will not be brought about from a new set of skills, but from a change of heart that comes from the Lord.”
Garcia elaborated by predicting that if churches and other places of faith placed a serious focus on the importance of marriage as a union that God brings together, there will be a turnaround in marriage rates and the numbers will start rising again. He added that restoring faith in Americans would greatly help rebuild the entire institution.