I have not read Yural Levin’s 2017 book, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism, but in 2018 I did read about one of the areas Levin addressed in his thoughtful book. Jim Denison’s Daily Blog, for June 27, 2018, shared one of the author’s observations.
In the US, 4.5% of children born in 1955 were born to unmarried mothers. Sixty years later, in 2015, the last year referenced by Levin, the percentage increased to an incredible and worrisome 41%. To put that in perspective, about five out of 100 children was born to a single mom in 1955, and by 2015 that had increased to 41 of 100 children.
You might assume the author’s point was to attack single moms, but that is not the case. Levin went out of his way to neither put down nor discourage single mothers, far from it. He honored the commitment many have as they raise children without the daily support of another committed parent and acknowledged their “extraordinary and often heroic efforts.”
He was, however, making a larger point, that marriage, is not only better for children, but also for society. To make this point he shared the statistic taken from the US Census Bureau, that nearly half of children raised by single mothers end up in poverty. This is a truly startling statistic, especially when compared to how only 10% of children raised by married parents end up poor.
As marriage rates continue to drop and cohabitation rates continue to rise, the unintended consequences for our children becomes more and more of an issue. The correlation between lower marriage rates and rising poverty rates is troubling.
I am convinced statistics like this strongly suggest abandoning scriptural morality comes with a much higher price tag than most realize. Could it be God knows more than us when it comes to living meaningful well-adjusted lives? Is it possible the current push for ever greater personal freedom and a lack of commitment to marriage are not serving us well?
I know an increasing number view marriage as a left-over relic of the past, but statistics like this should cause us to pause and ask ourselves if abandoning the morality of past generations may come with far more risks than most imagine. All of us need to be reminded of God’s perspective, “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage…” (Hebrews 13:4, NLT)
Honoring marriage with husbands and wives working together to raise children most often yields positive results for children. My intention is not to attack single parents. I agree with Levin, many of these heroic folks are working hard to raise healthy well-adjusted children and their efforts are awe-inspiring. However, this does not change the fact that God’s way is always best and we ignore it at our own peril.