By Jeremy A. Brown
Many times today you hear about the “unmarriage” of the millennial generation. The average age when people first marry has steadily increased from 23 to around 30 in not just American culture but many other western nations around the world. Often you hear or read articles that cast marriage as a burden; something that was once considered a sign of maturity has become or is slowly becoming taboo. Getting married and having a family in our new world culture is no longer cool. The times are a changing from the days when you would graduate high school and go off to college to complete your undergraduate degree so you could start your career on your path to marriage and a family. Marriage used to be the ultimate goal for our society, but now love of the self has taken priority over anything else.
I’m sure most of you reading this understand how much God loves marriage and the family. God states that a man should leave his mother and father to get married (Genesis 2:24). The Bible goes as far to say that marriage is an honor, not the burden that our society portrays it to be (Hebrews 13:4). The Bible also states how husbands should love their wives, just like Christ loved the church so much that He gave His life for the church (Ephesians 5:25). Honestly, if we did like the Scriptures say, it makes you wonder how marriage could be seen as such a burden by our society! I could continue with more scriptures showing how God loves marriage and the family, but I digress.
What sparked my interest on this topic was a podcast I listened to by the name of “Freakonomics,” which talks about how even the smallest things you and I fail to see affect the economics of the world and society as a whole. The study was titled, “Why Marriage?” and it was lead by Melissa Carney who is a University of Maryland economist. In her study, Melissa was checking to see which of the following two theories may be true: One theory by social liberals says that marriage has declined due to a bad economy and no good jobs for men. And then social conservatives state that marriage has declined due to a change in societal morals. Melissa looked at areas where jobs such as fracking led to higher wages for males and noticed that marriage didn’t increase in those areas, but child births to unwed mothers did increase in areas that saw a prolonged economic boom. This proved that economics wasn’t the cause for the lack of marriage in America. Melissa’s study also found that child births in America to unwed mothers stood at 5 percent in 1960, but currently stands above 40 percent in 2014. Her study proved that the once stigma of having children outside of wedlock in America has changed and it’s morally accepted.
Many in our society see nothing wrong with raising children outside of the biblical confines of marriage. Her study went even further and studied the effects of raising children with cohabitating parents vs. married parents. Her study found that kids who were born to married parents actually fared better in society. They ended up in families with higher incomes, which meant the parents were able to invest more in their kids and have more stable families, were more likely to complete college and have higher incomes themselves, more emotionally stable, and more likely to marry when they became adults—and the list goes on. The study also revealed that one of the leading causes of child poverty is single parenthood. The study also found that even if cohabitating parents later married, the damage done to the children by cohabitation shockingly wasn’t reversed. Numerous studies have shown that children born to parents who were married before they were born fare better than children born to cohabitating parents. Even through the duration of this study only one-third of the cohabitating parents were found to still be together.
This study proves that, once again, when we men and women decide that God’s plan for us is useless, despite God saying I have plans to give you a future and not to harm you, it leads to unnecessary pain (Jeremiah 29:11). Man’s way has always led to hard times, but we constantly seek to do things our way no matter the cost. Economists are starting to see that marriage is good for our society, and that an increase in poverty results when a society chooses not to marry. We need to turn and seek God, realizing His laws aren’t here to control us but help us live a better life beyond the pain we suffer due to our own decisions. God loves His creation (Romans 5:8)!