The Demise of the American Family

Tim Goeglein is a vice president of Focus on the Family and a Missouri Synod Lutheran. With Craig Osten, he coauthored an article in The Federalist on the demise of the American family.

They discuss a report from the Social Capital Project of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee that gives some eye-opening and — from a Christian point of view — disturbing information.

Today, two-thirds of all marriages are preceded by cohabitation, by just “living together.” Sixty years ago, only 1% of couples lived together before marriage. Today, this has become the typical practice. And this is for couples who do get married. More and more, they never bother. In 1962, 71% of women under 44 were married. Today, the percentage is just 42%. Thus, the majority are not married.

Despite this decline in marriage, couples are still having children. In 1962, 5% of children were born to an unwed mother. Today, the percentage is 40%.

In 1960, only 2% of white babies were born out of wedlock. Today the percentage is 28%. The percentage is even higher for Hispanics (50%) and blacks (80%). When you break down the categories by education, regardless of race or ethnicity, two-thirds of the children born to women without a high school education are being raised by single mothers.

Raising children can be a challenge for anyone, and it’s even harder when there is no father in the picture. Single moms struggle with the economic, emotional and social problems of parenting their children alone.

What about the men? “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,” note the authors. Often, they say, men “pursue self-fulfillment instead of being emotionally ready to embrace the responsibility of being a devoted husband and father.”

This creates a vicious cycle when the next generation of young men grow up without a father in their lives.

With the decline of marriage, and particularly of fathers, these young men lack models to follow. Add in a society that treats marriage as just an option rather than a requirement for male-female unions and the rise of internet pornography that treats women as objects to discard rather than individuals to love, honor and cherish, then you have created an opt-out for men to take responsibility for their lives.

This breakdown of marriage and parenthood is at the heart of many of our social problems, say the authors: poverty, crime, addiction and personal dysfunctions.

Goeglein and Osten conclude:

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.

8 thoughts on “The Demise of the American Family”

  1. I wonder/lament about the future of the country (and much of the world). 100 years ago people could flee the corruption and sinful worldly compromises that surrounded them by picking up and “going west.” While pietism and monasticism are not the right response to sins of the surrounding culture, I wonder how long until (or if) God will send His angels to wisk his struggling faithful away from cities and nations condemned for temporal destruction.
    “…they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them!” ~ Isaiah 3:9

    I pray God’s continued blessing and beg his protection for the faithful against all these temptations and trials. And I pray God to send His Spirit to convict the heart of each person (including me) of our sins and draw us to repentance, through His grace for us through Jesus Christ.

  2. In 1962, 5% of children were born to unwed mothers and FATHERS. Today, the percentage is 40%.
    Fixed it for you. Could we please stop stigmatizing “unwed mothers” alone. If there’s an unwed mother then there’s an unwed father!! Thanks.

    1. The mothers who choose life for their children should never feel stigmatized. What’s really sad is that sometimes the father is wed to someone else.

  3. It is interesting that Focus on the Family and the Missouri Synod have become concerned about the demise of the family at this time; when it has come to involve White families. For years, Black and Latino families have suffered with the absence of fathers, with lack of high school diploma, and decent child-care. Why wait to start addressing inequality in income, education, and housing until the traditional family is restored?

    1. Actually ten report used in this article highlighted the trends, “Family instability differences between racial groups in the US are also striking. In the early 1960s, the share of women who were married was quite similar for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and other women. Roughly 65 to 70 percent of women ages 15 to 44 in each group were married in 1962 (Figure 10). Marriage rates subsequently declined across racial groups, to the point where fewer than half were married in 2019; however, marriage declined much more among African American women than among the other groups; by 2019, fewer than a quarter (24 percent) of black women between the ages of 15 and 44 were married.”

  4. I believe it is essential that we all recognize just how profound a shift in worldview is required to embrace the belief that a biological male can choose to identify as a female, and how a biological female can choose to identify as a male and consequently we must all simply recognize this and accept it. Similarly the embrace of homosexuality, transgenderism, bisexuality and every deviant form of human sexuality that continues to grow and expand, seemingly now, monthly.

    These beliefs have taken over the largest so-called “Lutheran” church in the United States and with these false beliefs comes a profound redefinition of everything it is to be a human and naturally requires a redefinition of God Himself, by rejecting His self-revelation as Father, by substituting the very Name of God given by His Son, our Lord, at Holy Baptism and so on.

    The deep theological apostasy represented here is something I think we have not come to terms with enough and we must be on our guard against it, warn our members about it and not let them slowly slip into acceptance.

    What these seismic shifts in definition of the very nature of what God Himself, and His creation of man as both male and female represent a theological apostasy from Christianity as significant as any in the history of the Church.

    We ignore this reality at our great peril.

    1. True and accurate observations. We sadly left the largest “Lutheran” church because of their loosing site of God’s intentions for healthy families. We are now members of the North Amercan Lutheran Church that honors families.

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