“Almost 90% of the world’s population now live in countries with falling marriage rates,” CNBC declared recently. In the U.S. alone, marriage rates have decreased “by 60% since the 1970s.” In July, when that article was published, the primary factor in these declining rates centered around a declining economy. However, recent research shows there may be factors outside of valid economic concerns to why less people are getting married.
Deseret News released a poll on Tuesday that found, as marriage rates continue to drop, the rates “of people identifying as parents” remains steady. As reported by the Higher Ground Times, it appears “parenting is more central to [American] identity than being a spouse or partner.”
To get a more accurate read of the survey, however, it’s important to note the overall emphasis on marriage and parenting as it relates to political identity. Christopher F. Karpowitz, the survey’s coinvestigator and research director at Brigham Young University, mapped out the dichotomy between churchgoing Republicans and non-religious Democrats. He described the survey results as a worrisome sign of “culture war tensions.”
The report stated that churchgoing “Republicans argue that marriage is important, but they are far less willing to support families through government spending.” On the other hand, the report said Democrats “express support for public spending that supports families and children, but they have decided to leave arguably the most important institutional support for children off of their agenda: marriage.”
It concluded, “A true coalition for families is lurking out there, but it requires our key factions to give up some of their prejudices. Republicans would have to admit that what we support financially is a key measure of what we truly value. Democrats would have to admit that marriage is a positive good for people and children.”
Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council, shared with The Washington Stand, “The fact that there are partisan differences in how people view marriage … makes sense.” He continued, “The worldview of the Left devalues marriage for the same reason it values abortion and transgenderism — it values short-term personal happiness above familial or societal good.” Yet simultaneously, Backholm emphasized, “The more we value the long-term benefit of children and strong societies, the more value we will give to marriage.”
Ultimately, “The Right and the Left think differently about marriage because they have a different understanding of what produces strong people, family, and cultures,” he added. “The pursuit of immediate personal happiness above all else devalues marriage because marriage requires long-term commitment regardless of how we’re feeling about it today.” He discussed how it is a contradiction to a good family dynamic to be a great parent while also being a bad spouse or not having a spouse, since there is overwhelming evidence that a healthy marriage promotes healthy child development.
Backholm concluded, “The created order established, and social science has confirmed, that the ideal situation for children is in a home where they are loved by their mother and father. Marriage is good because marriage encourages this. The idea that we can separate parenting from marriage without significant consequences is in the same category as the belief that men can get pregnant.”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.
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