Even though some polls show that church attendance is still strong in the US, ChurchLeaders.com reports that counts by denominations and local churches show that church attendance is down and still declining. Although about 40 percent of the population reports that they attend church, the real number is probably less than 20 percent and not keeping pace with population growth.
It is likely that the decline in church attendance can be connected with many of America’s social and economic ills. Movement away from traditional Judeo-Christian morality may be responsible for a change in social mores that has led to an expansion of government and a growth in entitlement spending.
While there is no hard data or studies establishing a causal relationship between church attendance and fundamental shifts in American society, it is easy to see a correlation between the two. The movement away from traditional religion has occurred at the same time as a sharp decline in marriage. According to Census data, the share of unmarried couples cohabiting has risen from one percent in 1960 to more than 11 percent today. At the same time, the marriage rate has declined from 90 percent in 1950 to 36 percent. Both men and women are delaying marriage until later in life.
Unsurprisingly, the decline of marriage has led to an increase in the share of children living in single-parent homes. Two-parent families have declined from almost 90 percent in 1960 to less than 70 percent today. Put another way, according to The Atlantic, at 31 percent of U.S. households, “single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960.”
The change is even pronounced in black families where more than two-thirds of children belong to single-parent families. Many children who do live in two-parent families are not with both biological parents. The trend is not limited to black families. Nationwide, one out of every three children live in homes where the biological father is absent.
Given the enormous costs of raising children, it should come as no surprise that with the growth of single parent families has come a similar growth in federal entitlement spending. As more children grow up within broken families, the federal government has borne an ever larger financial share of the burden of parenthood. Federal entitlement spending has grown from less than one percent to approximately 13 percent of GDP with no sign of slowing.
The effects of single-parent families on children are well documented. According to the National Father Initiative, growing up in single-parent families, particularly families where the father is absent, puts children at risk for a variety of negative outcomes. Such families are more likely to live in poverty due to the fact that a single mother often cannot work a full-time job and care for her children. Children of absent fathers are more at risk for emotional and behavioral problems, juvenile delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual activity and teen pregnancy, and even bad grades.
The problem of single-parent families is a vicious cycle. Statistics show that children who grow up in single-parent families are more likely to experience divorce themselves as well as being less likely to marry in the first place. In many cases, children of single parents grow up to head their own single-parent families, which in turn require more government help.
Due to the unintended consequences of entitlements, such programs would be problematic even if the federal government could afford them. In reality, entitlements are unaffordable. The Heritage Foundation points out that 61 percent of federal spending is on mandatory items such as entitlements. Further, 31 cents of every federal dollar spent is borrowed. This has led to a federal debt of more than $17 trillion. When unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare are included, the total debt comes to $127 trillion, according to Forbes.
The problem of the growth of government deficit spending on entitlements is not merely an economic issue. It is also a moral issue. Growth in government is largely a response to the decline of the family and entitlements fill the vacuum of money and stability in single-parent families. Because a government check cannot fully replace a missing mother or father, these entitlement payments make the problem worse in the end by making marriage and traditional families seem optional.
The destruction of the family causes other problems as well. The problem of out-of-wedlock pregnancy is undoubtedly related to the abortion issue as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 85 percent of women who abort their babies are unmarried. The Guttmacher Institute notes that 75 percent say that they cannot afford a child, a problem that is often associated with single-parent, single-income families. Half specifically cite their desire to not be a single parent or problems with their husband or partner. While the rate of abortions in the U.S. is declining somewhat, more than 1 million abortions still occur in the U.S. each year.
Another possible, but less conclusive, result of the destruction of the family is increased homosexuality. Accurate statistics on the rate of homosexuality are hard to find (due to small sample size and self selection), but the theory that homosexuality in some people is related to domineering mothers has been around for decades, such as a paper by Dr. Marvin Siegelman from 1974 and several books by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, author of “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.” While the left disputes this view, little is definitely known about the root causes of homosexuality.
Some psychologists and psychiatrists have advanced therapies based on these theories of environmental causes for homosexuality. In spite of being attacked by gay activists and leftists, there is evidence that these therapies can help some homosexuals. In some cases, liberals have sought bans against gay reparative therapy, even though such bans violate the freedom of speech of doctors and the freedom of choice of families. If homosexuality is a result of strong mother figures for some gays, then the rate of homosexuality should increase as the rate of single-parent families increases.
The negative effects of homosexuality are less disputed. Dr. Timothy Dailey of the Center for Marriage and Family Studies summarized the risks of homosexuality. These include an increased risk of suicide, domestic violence, and substance abuse in addition to greater risk for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases. Lesbians also have a higher risk for a variety of cancers.
Today, the United States resembles the Israel of the Bible in many ways. As Isaiah described, in spite of the blessings that God has bestowed upon America, the nation increasingly produces “bad fruit.”Americans increasingly revel in pleasure and immorality and our moral compasses are so distorted that we frequently “call evil good and good evil.” In America today, religion is being from the public square and people who follow the teachings of the Bible are increasingly in conflict with laws enforcing the new morality. Ancient Israel was destroyed by God’s judgment and some, such as Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, believe that America is already undergoing the early stages of judgment as well.
When viewed in context, it is apparent that a change in governmental policy is not sufficient to reverse the decline of the American family and the budget-busting entitlements that go along with it. What is needed is a national revival and a return to traditional family models.
The only way to reverse the trend of ever-increasing government entitlements is to reduce the need for those entitlements in the first place. By returning to a traditional family model where two parents share the responsibility for raising children, there will be less need for government intervention and support. Changes in policy without attacking the underlying problems will be doomed to failure.
The government cannot force Americans to return to traditional and time-proven methods of bearing and raising children, but a true revival and voluntary return to the Biblical teachings has the capability to change the course of American society and culture. Such a cultural shift will be necessary for the long term prosperity – and even survival – of the United States.
A revival has to start somewhere. If you want to save America, take your family to church. Teach your kids the value of the traditional family. Show them that when spouses fight, it doesn’t mean that the marriage has to end. If you love your children, try to make your marriage work. You can start this process by taking your family to church to learn about God’s forgiveness. You might save your country as well as your soul.
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