Since I served in conservative Christian ministry for so long, I was gravely naive to what was actually happening in the world. For most of my career prior to secular employment starting during COVID, I thought the traditional nuclear family was more prevalent than it actually is. Boy howdy; was I wrong.
Once COVID hit, once I started serving in the secular Educational Therapy world, once I started serving in both ecumenical and Catholic LGBTQIA+ and disability inclusion ministry, reality hit me like a freight train in a good way. Different types of families ARE reality.
According to Pew Research and also through the article below by the Family Equality Council, here is the reality of the modern family which the Church must recognize and properly align with reality.
- 1. Americans are putting off life’s big milestones. Today, the median age at first marriage is 29 for men and 27 for women—the highest in modern history. (In 2013, more than one-in-four (26%) of people ages 18 to 32 were married. But in 1960, well over half (65%) of Americans were.) Mothers are also waiting longer to have children. In 1960, women ages 15 to 24 accounted for 40% of mothers with infants. By 2011, that number had dropped to 22%.
2. Today, an American woman, on average, is expected to have 1.9 children, compared with a total fertility rate of 3.7 children in 1960. Current levels are below the “replacement rate” of about 2.1 children, the number of births needed for children to replace their parents in the population.
3. Some 3 million (37% of) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults have had a child at some point in their lives, according to the Williams Institute. Among women under the age of 50 who identify as LGBT (and live alone or with a spouse/partner), about half (48%) have a child younger than 18. Some one-in-five LGBT men say the same.
4. Families today are more blended and differently constructed. Nearly half (44%) of young people ages 18 to 29 have a step sibling. About half as many (23%) of those ages 50 to 64—and just 16% of those 65 or older—have a step sibling. More babies are born to unmarried mothers than ever before.
5 Intermarriage among people of different races is increasingly common. In 1980, just 7% of all marriages in the U.S. were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity. In 2010, that share has doubled to 15% of all new marriages in the U.S. Hispanics (26%) and Asians (28%) were most likely to “marry out,” compared with 9% of whites and 17% of blacks.
Here, I will add two more facts about LGBTQIA+ people and their families from the Gallop poll.
6. LGBTQ. Approximately 4.3% of adults in the U.S. identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or
queer (LGBTQ). That means that there are more than 10.7 million LGBTQ adults in the U.S.(Romero 2017; Gallup Poll 2017).
7. Married. While the prevalence of marriage in the general population continues to decline, the
number of same-sex married couples has increased significantly in the last decade as LGBTQ
people gained the freedom to marry nationwide. Nearly 1.1 million LGBTQ people in the U.S. are married
to someone of the same-sex. That means, there are more than 547,000 married same-sex couples nationwide.
(Romero 2017; Gallup Poll 2017).
Since all people are equally-sacred and equally-created in God’s image, the Church must minister to current reality and realize that the traditional nuclear family is now one variation of many variations of families. To not treat all people and all variations of the modern family as equally-sacred is to place less value on some people than others. This is antithetical to the Gospel. To not do so is to align with fascism which is a great danger to LGBTQIA+ people and their families, some racial groups, various types of families, religious minorities, and more. We do not want a repeat of any variation of the Holocaust which is starting to happen right now in the USA, Eastern Poland, and Russia.
God forgive me for not understanding this much sooner.