Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is Marriage A Relic Of The Past?


Hebrews 13:4 ~ "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."

Nearly 40% of individuals say that marriage is an obsolete part of American life.  A recent PEW Research Center analysis of the US Census reports recently surfaced that claimed that the marriage rate is down within the United States to historic lows. Example:
  • In 1960, among young adults ages 18-29, nearly 60% of them were married. 
  • In 2010, among young  ~ 18-29 only 20% are married. 
  • In 1960 71% of all adults age 18 were married
  • In 2010 51% of all adults age 18 are married
  • The new marriage rate from 2009 to 2010 fell by 5% overall
  • Women on average are waiting to get married until age 26.5, while men are waiting until almost 29 years old to get married.
  • 61% of Black adults were married in 1960, 31% of Black adults are married in 2010
  • 74% of White adults were married in 1960, 55% of White adults are married in 2010
As the very first statement suggests, according to Pew, marriage is becoming a more and more unnecessary part of American life and family. For many, marital commitments don't offer either solid or noticeable benefits to entice them that are single to jump the broom. For many the idea of marriage has simply been relegated to the status of an "arrangement of convenience" with "mutual financial benefits", rather than a lasting and enduring commitment between two individuals.

"For Richer Or For Poorer"

"...to have and to hold from this day forward for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health to love and to cherish, till death do us part,..."




This is the part of the wedding ceremony that often gets much attention. Everyone seems to like the "for richer" part, but not many like the "for poorer" part. The "feeling" may get one to accept the "for richer", in fact now days, one doesn't need too much of a feeling for that. All it takes is $$$...However, the point is that only COMMITMENT causes one to accept the possibility of the "for poorer" part of the vow. This reluctance seems to be the foundation of the declining marriage rate as you will see.   

According to the numbers, the declining marital trend is not just limited to the United States. It seems that most developed countries are experiencing the same or a similar trend or decline in marriages overall. The interesting thing is that the decline has continued in both good and bad economic times. Why such an alarming drop over 50 years in commitments of marriage within the US?

It seems that trends may be rooted in the need for economic stability. Individuals who "shack up" view relationships in terms of economic benefits, business relationships and the maintenance of independent financial lives rather than in terms of commitment. In other words, for many single individuals, the concept of marriage is no longer about "for poorer" as is the standard commitment, but about the "for richer" or at the very least, for "the way hings are right now" and "for what I have that belongs to me...stays with me" and "what you have that belongs to you...stays with you".

Show Me The Money!
Stephanie Marshall & Kelton Scott


"We haven't necessarily combined our income together, but what we're doing is working," ~ Kelton Scott

According to CNN Living blog report, money may be yet another consideration for individuals not getting married but yet having a live in lover. They stated the following:
"The median household income for college-educated cohabiting couples, aged 30 to 44, in 2009 was $106,400, compared to $101,160 for their married counterparts. College-educated adults without live-in partners had a median household income of $90,067, according to the study...."
The reports and trends seems to suggest that within committed relationships of marriage, many times one spouse either won't or doesn't work for whatever reason, leaving less money to pad the financial bottom line. The CNN report also said this regarding Kelton's statement:
"Working" in more ways than one: Among the college-educated, the study said, in 78% of cohabiting couples, both partners had jobs. For college-educated married couples, only 67% were in two-earner marriages."
"Why Buy The Cow When You Can Get The Milk For Free?"

Many of us have heard this saying once or twice especially from some of the older and more wise members of the family. The statement is plan, simple and true...who, in their right mind, wants to pay for what they can get for free???

"Star Power" has reaffirmed that the lack of marital commitment is not an inhibitor to starting a life and a family, and that marriage is only an incidental part of relationships. Individuals such as Nia Long (aka: Jordan in the movie "The Best Man") recently gave birth to her second child, Kez Sunday Udoka, in November 2011. The problem is that Nia  was praised by the community when she became pregnant, even though she wasn't and has not been married. Kez is her second child born "out of wedlock" and without the blessing of a marital commitment. Her older child Massai, who is about 10 years old, also has a different father. 

Then there's the lovely and talented Lauyn Hill (aka: L Boogie), who not only had one or two children out of wedlock, but 6 children by a man who is reportedly still married to another woman. She delivered her 6th child in July 2011 to an "unknown" father. Rohan Marley, who was married to another woman, is said to be the father of her first 5 children. Unfortunately, her allegiance to the teachings of Haile Selassie and Rastafarianism, won't allow her to comfortably enter into contractual agreements and relationships of course, so therefore she does what she does to the praise of the public.  

Fornication, for whatever reason or convenience is simply wrong. No matter the benefits, economically or socially, sin is still sin. 

There are an ever alarming number of church folk that feel they can "play house", "pretend to be married" and claim that they are still saved. There are those that do all the things that married folk do, all the while making the claim that "God understands them"...I'll be the first to say, you're right. He does understand. He understands that you are in SIN. 

I am reminded of a couple some years ago, who came asking for me to preform a "renewal" of their wedding vows stating that they wanted to do so because of all the things that they had been through and they wanted a fresh point of reference within their marriage. I said OK, and set a time for the event which I understood would be a small, private event to be done in the living room of my home. 

At the time of the event, family and friends showed up and everyone was dressed to a "T". My living room was over-flowing with people. The groom eventually delivered an official "marriage license" to me to complete. I said, "Wait a minute, we're not preforming a marriage, this is simply a renewal service."...they responded by saying that, they felt they needed to pick up the certificate to make the renewal feel more official...My name wasn't "Joe Sausage Head".What did I know? I KNEW these folk weren't married for whatever reason. They were faithful to the church, but never did get married...and what made it so bad, I point blank asked them if they were really married and they continued to answer YES. They wouldn't confess their sin. Needless to say they left the house still unmarried and I never completed or filed the certificate. One can't force blessings upon individuals who refuse to admit they are wrong and refuse to repent. 

Conclusion:

"For Better Or For Worse"
Tyler Perry On TBS
Surprisingly once individuals make the commitment to marry, almost half of the commitments don't last 5 years. Surprisingly, current studies reveal that finances possibly contribute only 5% to divorce rates. In other words the things that single persons seem to value that keeps them from marriage, is not as great of a factor as it pertains to the enduring nature of the marriage as previously thought. It seems that the primary factors for divorce include, lack of compatibility, lack of support, abuse, and even sexual dysfunction.  

It seems that spending too much time being shaped by and focusing on material issues such as money, takes time away from truly building sustainable emotional relationships and the support necessary to make a house a home. 

I recently had the opportunity to watch a few episodes of the new series "For Better Or For Worse". In it the writer and director Tyler Perry presented a whole series of marital issues, problems and concepts some more serious than others.  In one particular episode the character, sportscaster "Joseph Jetson" (actor Jason Olive) , when talking with the producer of his show, "C-Sports Now" said the following about a live in lover in contrast to a wife:

"Technically, until you put a ring on her finger, she's still fair game."

In the picture above, Kelton says "it's working" as it pertains to the financial arrangements of shacking up with Stephanie. In other words he feels that he can keep what he earns without obligation, and she can keep what she earns without obligation. However, there's just one thing I find troubling about the whole thing. Look at the picture. Do you see what I see? Why do these two "single people" have on wedding rings or at the very least matching rings on their wedding fingers?

Might it be that they need to be reminded that they are in a relationship? Or could it be that "playing house" for adults is really a matter of shame and they don;t want others to know they are not married? Too late: one may fool all of the people all of the time, but God is never fooled...he knows if you married and when you are, you'll observe the laws of the land in displaying your commitment.

1 Corinthians 7:9 ~But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Blessed!

Reference Information:

Pew Research ~ Barely Half Of US Adults Are Married

Pew Research ~ The Decline Of Marriage & The Rise Of New Families

Pew research ~ Living Together, The Economics Of Co-Habitation

MSN ~ Money Isn't The Culprit In Most Marriages

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