Nearly four in 10 Americans (39 percent) think marriage is becoming “obsolete.” So says a Time/Pew Research Center poll released last week, and that’s the part of the poll that’s grabbing the headlines.
In reality, there’s more to the poll than that, and others at Focus on the Family have talked about it (see “Is Marriage Going Out of Style?” and “Americans in Love with Marriage, but Challenged to Marry Well“). So rather than go over the same ground, I want to focus on that word obsolete, and what it tells us about the people who framed the question.
I don’t mean the pollsters. They used the word, but mainly for comparison purposes: They’ve been polling on this question since 1978, if not earlier. And back then, obsolete was merely an echo of the common language of the Sexual Revolution. Marriage was a “relic,” thanks to The Pill, feminism (“a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”) and general social enlightenment. It was “obsolete” because it deserved to be obsolete. We’d found something better: freedom, baby, freedom! (Hey, that’s how they talked.)
Not many people these days show such enthusiasm on the subject. (The Sexual Revolution’s disastrous consequences make that a hard sell.) But many seem to have accepted, if sometimes regretfully, that marriage is a human social invention that can become obsolete. And that’s a fundamental mistake we need to refute in the public square.
Marriage is not a mere invention of human societies. It’s an institution of God among humans, known even in places where He is not known as Savior. Some cultures have distorted it, but none have created it.
That’s only one of many things Christians have to say about marriage. (See those other Focus links for some of the other things.) It is, however, one of the first things we should say.