The New York Times reported January 16 that there are now more women in America living without a husband than with one. The article quotes numerous single women—several of whom are divorced or who have been involved in live-in relationships—who celebrate their newfound freedom as a positive life development.
The New York Times reported January 16 that there are now more women in America living without a husband than with one.
The article quotes numerous single women—several of whom are divorced or who have been involved in live-in relationships—who celebrate their newfound freedom as a positive life development.
Fifty-nine year old Elissa B. Terris of Marietta, Ga., divorced in 2005 after 34 years of marriage. Terris, who has a grown daughter, implies that marriage had a negative effect upon her.
“Marriage kind of aged me because there weren’t options,” Terris said. “There was only one way to go. Now I have choices. One night I slept on the other side of the bed, and I thought, I like this side.”
The Times report touts, in unmistakably positive terms, 2005 U.S. census data that puts the number of women living without a spouse at 51 percent. By contrast, in 1950, some 35 percent of women were single, a figure that climbed to 49 percent in 2000, The Times reports. According to the article, experts believe the majority of U.S. women are single for the first time in the nation’s history.
While the conclusions that the Times draws from the way the percentages are tabulated might be logically questionable (the 51 percent includes widows, military wives with husbands away on duty, women living away from husbands for reasons other than marital discord, and girls as young as 15), the article offers several specific reasons for the “statistical shift.”
“At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods,” the author writes. “At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.”
The story also points out a 2005 survey which put married couples as a minority of all American households for the first time—the accuracy of which evangelical groups such as Focus on the Family have questioned—and ponders how this and female singleness could ultimately shape social and workplace policies.
Randy Stinson, executive director for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, says the Times report, if accurate, is not as positive as those quoted in the article seem to think.
“It certainly is an unfortunate trend because it reveals that there are millions of homes where there are children without dads, where marriage is viewed negatively, and where there are obviously strained relationships,” Stinson said. “This can’t possibly be good for this country.”
Stinson said he fears that the numbers of single women and married couples within evangelical churches may mirror those in the broader culture. If so, this trend signals an indictment on what is being taught in American evangelical churches, he said.
Evangelicals must rediscover a theme that sits at the very heart of the gospel, Stinson said: the doctrine of self-denial.
“When you have people saying things like ‘I got to sleep on the other side of the bed,’ and now they can feel a sense of freedom, my concern is that there are too many Christians who also feel that way,” Stinson said.
“Being a Christian in general is an others-oriented calling. What this trend says is that when we become self-preoccupied, things like marriage and family commitment are among the first things to go because they require so much sacrifice and commitment to people other than ourselves. A divorce culture and a culture that prolongs singleness are contrary to the gospel in the sense that at least most of the time it is the result of a self-centeredness.”
These numbers on singleness among woman, a portion of which can be tied to divorce according to the article, by necessity reveals an equally troubling trend among men, Stinson said.
“The fact that there are so many women living in a single state does say something—generally that men are abdicating their responsibilities to lead, provide, and protect,” Stinson said.
The bottom line for evangelicals is the need for steadfastness in upholding biblical teaching on marriage and family, Stinson said.
“I think we need to recognize that many times some of these similar trends can be found in our churches and we need to be very careful to hold the line on the importance and value of the biblical sanctioning of marriage. We need to be more vigilant than we’ve been on the sanctity of marriage as a biblically ordained institution.
“Many churches around the country have become too casual when it comes to issues of divorce and marriage. I think the article revealed, at least from the participants (who were quoted in the article), a self-preoccupation that I think we are all in danger of succumbing to.”
To read the entire Times article, please see: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/us/16census.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&th&emc=th
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