The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Can marriage be saved?

posted by jmcgee

marriage.jpg
The institution we know and love — and love to know — appears to be losing ground, according to a new poll:

Is marriage becoming obsolete?

As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren’t needed to have a family.

A study by the Pew Research Center, in association with Time magazine, highlights rapidly changing notions of the American family. And the Census Bureau, too, is planning to incorporate broader definitions of family when measuring poverty, a shift caused partly by recent jumps in unmarried couples living together.

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. Broken down further, about 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent who were never married. Within those two groups, a sizable chunk – 6 percent – have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

Indeed, about 39 percent of Americans said marriage was becoming obsolete. And that sentiment follows U.S. census data released in September that showed marriages hit an all-time low of 52 percent for adults 18 and over.

In 1978, just 28 percent believed marriage was becoming obsolete.

When asked what constitutes a family, the vast majority of Americans agree that a married couple, with or without children, fits that description. But four of five surveyed pointed also to an unmarried, opposite-sex couple with children or a single parent. Three of 5 people said a same-sex couple with children was a family.

“Marriage is still very important in this country, but it doesn’t dominate family life like it used to,” said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. “Now there are several ways to have a successful family life, and more people accept them.”

Check out the rest.



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Goodguyex

posted November 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm


I think we are going to divide roughly into 2-3 groups of people in the coming century. For those who go for the classical or traditional understanding of marriage, several items have to be stabilized:
1. Prior to marriage they need to stop any “conjugal” activity for a period; perhaps a couple of months prior to the wedding.
2. The couple should adopt or have a church or religious home and be practicing in this.
3. They adopt NFP or at least fertility monitoring as a basis for family planning or child spacing, and stick with this as a way or life. Some contraception is almost certain sometime for most but this is not to be the basis. They grow in this practice and get through the 7-11 year itch where many married people get tired/bored of each other



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Dante

posted November 18, 2010 at 11:49 pm


And yet the USCCB and individual bishops continue to make the crusade to save marriage a fight against same-sex unions which I would imagine at a best generous guess would pertain to about 2% of the population (if that). Meanwhile, the vast majority of couple cohabitate, contracept and divorce without anywhere near as much response from the bishops. Cohabitaors are a growing crowd and in too may dioceses when they request matrimony (often for family or culutral reasons rather than personal-religious)they are not even required to give some sign of proper intention and demonstrate a proper disposition. This makes it near impossible to take the USCBB or likeminded bishops seriously in the “defend marriage” campaign.



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Gerard Nadal

posted November 19, 2010 at 12:24 am


I keep saying it…
During the Prayer of the Faithful at Sunday Mass we ALWAYS, ALWAYS pray for an increase in vocations to priesthood and religious life (never the diaconate!)
But we NEVER, NEVER pray for an increase in couples willing to live marriage as a sacrament. Never.
Our prayers reflect our priorities, which in this regard are backward. Good solid sacramental marriages produce large families and solid vocations to marriage, priesthood, diaconate, religious life.
Our prayer reflects our priorities…
We want the harvest, but we’re too damned lazy to work the fields, or even pray for help.
We’re getting the fruits of our labors.



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BobRN

posted November 19, 2010 at 1:16 am


Dante,
Your comment is true only if you consider the attention the bishops’ actions receive from the media. The response of the bishops to the challenges facing marriage have actually been pretty comprehensive. Most diocese now have adopted much improved marriage prep programs and they’re being found to be effective. Part of that, I’m sure, is explained by the fact that people who don’t care about a Catholic faith life are not bothering to come to the Church to get married. So those who do come to the Church for marriage are likely to be more serious about their faith. Really, does anyone over the age of 18 go to church because they “have” to anymore? That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think.
Also, there are in nearly every diocese outreach to those who are struggling in their marriage, those who are divorced, and those who are divorced and re-married. The media isn’t much interested in those people, so the only thing you hear about in Time, Newsweek or on CNN is what the bishops have to say about gay “marriage”.



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Deacon Norb

posted November 19, 2010 at 5:45 am


Following up on the “BobRN” post. . . .
Not long ago, I had cause to go through our parish’s Marriage Register to see how many I have presided at during this current assignment (July 2002 to present). The total was 40 (average of five a year). In our parish the custom is that if you are the presider, you also walk the couple through our own diocesan “pre-Cana” process. Some insights:
–Average ages of my Engaged Couples are mid-high twenties. Only one of those 40 couples, only one bride-to-be under 21 and only one groom to be was over 32.
–I insist, early on in my meetings with them, that I take their choice to celebrate their marriage in our church a great honor. They could have gone anywhere — including a number of local secular settings. The fact that they did come to my parish indicates a level of faith commitment that I respect and that they need to nurture.
–Out of those 40, I know of ONE marriage that soured. It probably should not have happened, period. I just did not catch the early warning signs quickly enough.
–But, along the way, I did catch the early warning signs of at least five couples who were not ready. I did not have to tell them we would not do the ceremony — our preparation program is very good about forcing engaged couples to look at the facts of their own relationship. They decided on their own that marriage was not a good idea for them. And I thanked the Holy Spirit of God on High for planting that inspiration.
In other words; yes, folks who do want to get married and who want to make it work come to us and we are honored by their trust.



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Klaire

posted November 19, 2010 at 7:45 am


It has long been the goal of the left to destroy the family, the basic unit of society. Needless to say, via persistence and patience, they are succeeding.
Looking back it’s quite easy to see the efforts made to gain acceptance with gay marriages and unwed mothers, mostly via TV sitcoms and the MSM (Murphy Brown, Will and Grace, Ellen, etc. to name a few), and of course, ‘secular catholicism’.
Now as the MSM pounds away at Catholic Priests and all things Catholic, the last two “elephants” in the room, Catholicism and abortion, are close to being relegated to the “no big deal” status as well.
This could never have happend wihout the weakening of the faith. It’s a no brainer that the demise of the family will be the demise of America.



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kenneth

posted November 19, 2010 at 10:19 am


We on the left are quite insidious…We’ve helped people see gays and single mothers as human. We’ve called Catholicism out for what it is – one religion among many in a plural democracy (albeit a big one). All that stands between us and the Empire is those damn Jedis, but we’re working on that. Since it’s Friday and Full Moon is upon us this weekend, I’m feeling magnanimous. I’ll confirm Klaire’s worst suspicion about us: every morning we on the left line up on parade grounds like Imperial Japanese soldiers, chanting “kill the family!”



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Klaire

posted November 19, 2010 at 10:39 am


Ken the Catholic Church is right there with you in seeing ALL people of all races, including sinners (which we all are), as “human.” Seeing people as human isn’t the point, although it would help a lot if the “we on the left” crowd could also see the unborn as human, which they clearly are. Funny how you guys get “selective” in that regard.
The Catholic Church also understand that single motherhood is sometimes necessary, and most certainly the better option than abortion.
If you want to deny that the glorification of the gay LIFESTYLE (not the person), and single parenting by choice doesn’t hurt the family, than no need to chant “Kill the Family”, as you do it best by your actions.



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Robert C

posted November 19, 2010 at 10:39 am


LOL Sounds like an average morning in Hollywood.



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Robert C

posted November 19, 2010 at 10:42 am


BTW gay people have had very little to do with the erosion of marriage. Str8s did that one all by themselves.



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Dante

posted November 19, 2010 at 11:38 am


It would be very interesting to learn how man dioceses require cohabitating couples to separate for X amount of time prior to the wedding, in order to show proper disposition. Since living together is a public act I would think some form of public declaration of proper intention would be required. Don’t we Catholics have a long tradition of public reparation for public sin? (NOTE: I am talking about PUBLIC sin not the private sexual activity of non-cohabitating couples.)



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Mike L

posted November 19, 2010 at 11:45 am


I have to agree with Robert C that gay people have had little to do with the erosion of marriage, this trend came along long before they had an impact on the problem. One way they have recently had a large impact is in causing the Church to spend very large sums of money fighting same-sex civil marriage while pretty much failing to support marriage beyond making the same old statements.
Marriage has changed in the last 2000 years: women are no “given away” in marriage to cement the ties between political entities or families, they are no longer property of the husband, and perhaps last, but not least, spousal rape is now prohibited. In addition the Church now reluctantly accepts that marriage has a bonding purpose based on love.
Working with Marriage Encounter we have found that priests in general have no interest in supporting the program, or participating in it. As we talk to other people involved in other programs we hear the same thing. The diocese seems more interested in those programs funded by government through faith based groups, who cannot promote religious convictions.
My wife and I are not optimistic about the future. At the same time we have seen strong Catholic couples the continue to grow in their faith despite being pretty much ignored by the official Church.
Hugs,
Mike L



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Christian

posted November 19, 2010 at 11:50 am


In my opinion marriage is only under threat due to the very narrow view insisted upon by various religious groups in this great nation of ours. By insisting that marriage is a strictly religious institution you deny the fact that marriage predates Christianity by well over 7,000 years if not better than 100,000 years given the age of our species. Further, by insisting that only religious marriage will last you all sound hypocritical. Evidence suggests that marriages with a significant religious component are at least as likely to fail as any other marriage. The rest of us can see the facts for ourselves. Back off on the preaching and the judgment and marriage may recover. And while your at it, you may wan to tone down the whole Doomed America bit. My country is great enough to handle any of these threats. I’m not sure which America you live in.



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Grumpy Old Perrson

posted November 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm


“Three of 5 people said a same-sex couple with children was a family.”
Um, that would be because they are. Just not Kliare’s ‘kind’ of family.



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jmw79

posted November 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm


I’m a straight, single guy who lives alone. And I consider myself to be my own family. Since I consider an individual to be a family unto their own self, then I too would consider a same-sex couple with or without kids to be a family too.



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Gale

posted November 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm


And you probally wonder why this country is going down the tube.



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pagansister

posted November 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm


Goodguyx, those rules you set out for the traditional couples who want to marry, I’m assuming you are putting out there for the Catholics who are marrying in the faith—not couples of other faiths. I personally can’t imagine in this time, all those who follow a Chrisitian faith doing as you suggested before marriage, or actually following the NFP for child planning. Marriage doesn’t have to be carried out in a church or presided over by a priest, minister, Rabbi any other religious leader. Family, as the survey mentioned, has many definitions now—not just a woman,man and 2.5 children. Things change, and it is apparent that the institution of marriage/definition of family is changing too, for better or worse. Marriage doesn’t guarrantee anything, as many end up with parents separating.



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BobRN

posted November 19, 2010 at 10:45 pm


One of the more interesting things about reading comments on this blog is the amazing amount of ignorance about Catholicism, both about official teaching and practice, there is among those who comment, and how that ignorance never seems to dissuade people from commenting with tones of authority on what the Catholic Church teaches and practices and how the Catholic Church needs to change said teachings and practices in order to survive and remain relevant. Just one example is the apparent assumption that the Catholic Church regards only sacramental marriage within the Catholic Church as true marriage. Some of these comments are more charicatures of Catholicism than the real thing, yet the commenters seem convinced that they reflect the real thing.
“Evidence suggests that marriages with a significant religious component are at least as likely to fail as any other marriage.”
Christian,
Just what do you mean by “significant religious component”? Do you mean people who simply identify themselves with a particular religious tradition? If so, I think you’re right. But, that hardly seems a proper use of the word “significant”. I would think that “significant” would mean couples who attend church together, couples who pray together at home, and couples for whom a commitment to the faith and moral teachings of their religious tradition mean enough to them to impact the decisions they make. If that is what is meant by “significant”, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
Whether gays had anything to do with the erosion of marriage among heterosexuals is a debatable point. There’s no question, however, that the homosexual agenda has adopted as one of it’s key componants a redefinition of marriage and the demand that society and the culture at large adopt (not simply accomodate) that redefinition. If marriage is no longer a union, intended for life, between one man and one woman, than marriage is anything any particular couple, or group, declare it to be – again, with the demand that everyone else adopt that definition. If marriage is anything any couple or group say it is, and everyone is expected to accept that, than marriage is nothing. Since healthy marriages and family lives are, whether anyone likes it or not, the bedrock of a a healthy society and culture, the obvious question is: do we really want to go there? Ideas have consequences. Actions have consequences. I’ve said this before on other posts: we can not pretend to act without also accepting the consequences of our actions.



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Goodguyex

posted November 20, 2010 at 6:21 am


Pagansister writes “Goodguyx, those rules you set out for the traditional couples who want to marry, I’m assuming you are putting out there for the Catholics who are marrying in the faith—not couples of other faiths.”
Well, I am putting these out as voluntary “rules” for anyone and everyone who wants or sees a sacramental understanding of marriage.
If you see this as a dictated legalism from me, of course it is intended to be voluntary or perhaps a challenge to those who which to call themselves Catholic or other Sacramental Christians. I have no problem advocating what I am and what I think. And I am fully aware that idealism can lead to massive ideologism and perhaps pharisaical tendency.
And another thing, this stuff is both ancient and modern in its current construction. With both ideal (no orgasmic contact during fertile periods but other communication and celebration) and not-so-ideal NFP we do not have centuries of emperical evidence and experience behind us. Nor do we have the ultimate technology regarding NFP or fertility awareness but that should come sooner or later.
Take Care



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pagansister

posted November 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm


Thanks, Goodguyex. Appreciate the response. Yes, in an ideal world, male and female (or same gender) would stay married forever, and children wouldn’t have to split time with the adults who saw fit to not stay together. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world—it is a world of human beings with their good qualities and their faults.



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