A new story from the Washington Post reports that unwed mothers birth four out of every ten babies born in the US:
“More than 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried women in 2007, a 26 percent rise from 2002 and more than double the number in 1980, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The increase reflected a 21 percent jump in the rates of unmarried women giving birth, which rose from 43.7 per 1,000 women in 2002 to 52.9 per 1,000 women.”
One of the NCHS’s researchers commented on the report:
“If you see 10 babies in the room, four them were born to women who were not married,” said Stephanie J. Ventura, who led the analysis of birth certificate data nationwide. “It’s been a huge increase — a dramatic increase. It’s quite striking.”
One commentator weighed in on what this means for society:
“We know that babies and children do best with committed, stable adult parents — preferably married,” said Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “That tends to be the arrangement that produces the best outcome for children. I look at this and say, ‘Maybe this trend is what young adults want or stumble into, but it’s not in the best interest of children.’”
Christians who tend to downplay the devastating effects of certain social trends need to take this one in. This is a massive shift. Society as we know it is morphing before our eyes. Did you catch the stat from the first quotation? The unwed birthrate has increased 26 percent in the last five years. If this were not a blog striving for credulity, I would add five exclamation points to that last sentence.
America is twisting a knife into itself, just as many European countries have done in the last century. Without any external force pushing us to do so, our country is pulling its foundation up, brick by brick. Marriage, and the family it produces, is the cornerstone of traditional society. It cultivates healthy children. David Blankenhorn and many others have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that when adults abandon marriage, the results are not abstract or impersonal. It is children who suffer most–and make no mistake about it, they suffer intensely.
We Christians need to soberly consider this devastating trend and prepare ourselves to preserve traditional marriage. All over America (and the world), we need to demonstrate and advocate the benefits of marriage to our neighbors. We need every evangelical church in every community to catch a vision for this, and to commit themselves to reaching out to both unwed mothers and their children.
There is tremendous pain ahead for our society. There is also tremendous opportunity for the church. We need to commit ourselves to showing the world the beauty of marriage, and especially of Christian marriage, that form of the sacred institution that displays in visible form the faithful, sacrificial love of Christ the Savior.