Perhaps the most important document to come out of the U.S. Senate this year was released last month, and while a report on President Donald Trump’s tax returns, another COVID-19 relief package, or infrastructure legislation likely would have gotten major media attention, this important document flew under the radar.
The report, titled “The Demise of the Happy Two-Parent Home” and produced by the Social Capital Project of the Joint Economic Committee Republicans, dealt with our nation’s crumbling infrastructure in its own way: the American family and how its decay has infected all aspects of society.
It All Ties Back to Healthy Families
The report states, “As sources of social capital, few relationships are as important as the family ties between parents and children.” Yet according to the congressional report, more than 45 percent of American children, by the time they reach late adolescence, spend some time without either a mother or a father in the home.
Eighty percent of black children are raised by a single parent, as well as two-thirds of all children whose mothers have less than a high school education. More than half of Hispanic births are out of wedlock, as are 28 percent of Caucasian births, up from 2 percent in 1960.
Marriage — which provides economic and social stability to both men and women and a loving, nurturing home for children — is in serious decline. According to the report, the percentage of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are married has declined from 71 percent in 1962 to just 42 percent today. Meanwhile, the percentage of never-married women between the ages of 30 and 34 has gone from just over 5 percent in 1962 to 35 percent in 2019.
Another startling statistic is that cohabitation now precedes two-thirds of all marriages, compared to just 1 percent 60 years ago. This has contributed to the staggering increases in unwed childbearing, with only 5 percent of children in 1962 being born to an unwed mother and 40 percent today being born to an unmarried female.
The rates for minority families are even more alarming: 64 percent of black women in their early 30s have never been married, resulting in the staggering 80 percent of black children being raised by a single parent. That is why so many young men in our inner cities never know who their father is — or in some cases do not even have a relationship with their mother. Many of these children are raising themselves. If there was ever a cocktail for societal rage, that’s it.
Given the fact that nearly every study shows children do best in stable, two-parent homes — which makes them less apt to experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, less likely to live in poverty, and more likely to have better health, exhibit less aggression, and do better educationally — is it any wonder that with the breakdown of the family, we are seeing increasing numbers of directionless and destructive young adults?
The Decline of Marriage Is Ominous News
One of the constant complaints we hear from young women is the lack of marriageable men and the abundance of men who are not financially and emotionally prepared to be a husband and father. The report goes into detail about how the lack of marriageable men is seen as a leading factor in the rise of single parenting, and the average age of marriage is rising year after year.
While the report discounts the theory that men are seen as not marriageable because of economic reasons, it does say the rise of affluence has led men to pursue self-fulfillment instead of being emotionally ready to embrace the responsibility of being a devoted husband and father.
With the decline of marriage, and particularly of fathers, these young men lack models to follow. Add in a society that tells them marriage is just an option rather than a requirement for male-female unions, and the rise of internet pornography that turns women into mere objects to discard rather than individuals to love, honor, and cherish, and you have created an opt-out for men to take responsibility for their lives.
After reciting one tragic statistic after another, the report concludes: “Changing the course of family stability will likely require substantial effort, given the magnitude of the challenge in many American communities today and the pervasiveness of the decline.”
We Must Renew the Family Structure
As we wrote in our book, “American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation”: “To restore marriage and the family and to begin to reverse the damage of the past fifty-plus years, our efforts must start with the renewal of the family and a restoration of religious faith. By solving this problem, we can then restore social capital and effectively address issues such as inner-city crime, drug addiction, income inequality, and incivility.”
If we are going to keep our society from crumbling, we need to repair marriage and the family first. A critical element in doing so is the restoration of religious faith and the values that come with it: strong marriages, monogamy, and seeing each person Imago Dei, in the image of God.
These are the reasons this report is the most important document to come out of the Senate this year, and we ignore it at our peril. The very future of our nation is at risk if we do not take action to reverse the damage that has been done to marriage, family, and parenting in 21st-century America.