welcome to multiple strands

a place to converse, virtually, on a variety of topics, bringing together multiple strands to encourage, question, challenge, ponder, and edify. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Eccl. 4.12)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Marriage a Mark of Privilege?

A fascinating article from the NY Times titled How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?
(by Claire Cain Miller, Sept 25 2017).

The article states:
Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults ages 18 to 55 are married, according to a research brief published from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America.
In 1990, more than half of adults were married, with much less difference based on class and education: 51 percent of poor adults, 57 percent of working-class adults and 65 percent of middle- and upper-class adults were married.
A big reason for the decline: Unemployed men are less likely to be seen as marriage material.
Just consider these changes in the percent of US population who are married in just the span of a generation:
Group 1990  2017 
poor adults5126
working-class adults 5739
upper-class adults6556

The article continues:
Americans across the income spectrum still highly value marriage, sociologists have found. 
This is good.  What's more...
Most men feel it’s important for a husband to be a financial provider, especially men without college degrees, according to another new Pew survey.
Again, this is a good thing.  Then we start to see the cracks forming...
Women, meanwhile, have learned from watching a generation of divorce that they need to be able to support themselves. And many working-class women aren’t interested in taking responsibility for a man without a job.
Agreed; I understand this perspective. In part, this is an indictment of our culture's lackadaisical attitude or understanding of marriage: contract vs. covenant.  This, in my view, is an outworking of the secularization of our culture: if there is no transcendent authority to which we, as humans, give an oath or who holds us accountable for a covenant, marriage becomes a relationship of convenience and pleasure.  Marriage relationships founded on this perspective are not sustainable (consider even Aristotle's writings), hence resulting in divorce, and hence women's reluctance to marry.

The article continues
When thinking about how to make families more stable, researchers debate whether the decline in marriage is an economic issue or a cultural one. Those on the left usually say it’s economic — and could be reversed if there were more and better jobs for men without college degrees. Those on the right are more likely to say it’s because of a deterioration of cultural values.
In reality, economics and culture both play a role, and influence each other, social scientists say. When well-paying jobs became scarce for less educated men, they became less likely to marry. As a result, the culture changed: Marriage was no longer the norm, and out-of-wedlock childbirth was accepted. Even if jobs returned, an increase in marriage wouldn’t necessarily immediately follow.
Economists often downplay cultural factors, Mr. Hanson said. “We think about marriage in a laboratory setting, and ignore the role of churches and bowling leagues and community organizations,” he said. “When you have job decline in a big way, that fabric unravels. So even if you bring the jobs back, once the damage is done, it might take a while to repair.”
Agreed, completely! The situation is not either/or; there is no simple answers (as our politicians on both the left and right may have us think).  There is a HUGE role for the church in this question:  teaching and demonstrating a renewed perspective on what marriage is (one man, one woman, one lifetime), the origination of marriage (God), the beauty and satisfaction and joy and struggles and hardships which marriage entails, the analogy of marriage (Christ and the church), and the climax of history which this foreshadows (the marriage supper of the Lamb).

All in all, a balanced article.  Well done New York Times!

hurricanes & climate change

This is another recent segment from TWEII discussing the idea of hurricanes and a relationship to climate change.  I appreciate the perspective; explaining the potential link, and the long-term perspective.


10/8 addition

Dr. Jay Wile has some even more informative posts on this topic.