The following blog post is by Family Council staff member Christa Adams.
By the time I was in second grade, my friend Amy and I had our lives figured out. I was going to marry Clayton. She was going to marry Kyle. Sitting on top of the monkey bars Amy would say, “Christa and Clayton sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Christa pushing a baby carriage!” Then I’d say it back to her, and we’d laugh until the boys playing basketball nearby would ask what was so funny. We’d just snicker and say, “Nothing!”
The article “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’” by Jason DeParle points out that our society over the past 30 years has, in actions, drastically changed that age-old mantra. As of 2009, 41% of carriages came to women before marriages, meaning that nearly half of the children born were to unwed mothers. This is up 24% from three decades ago. DeParle compares two families, showing that the family that waited to have children until after getting married had significant economic advantages over the family with a single mother just trying to survive.
DeParle goes on to point out that education is a major factor in whether or not women have children outside of marriage. He shows that women who complete their college education are far less likely to have children before marriage, regardless of race or any other factors. The married couple in his comparison were both four-year college graduates who waited until after marriage to have children, whereas the single mother got pregnant early in college and dropped out to live with her boyfriend, get a job, and raise her child.
The children in the married household enjoy sports and extracurricular activities; higher academic performance; and better family life. The children in the single-parent household enjoy less or none of these things. The author concludes that education is the difference between the two.
The issue, though, is not education levels. The issue is a moral one. Until we instill in the coming generations that sex is not an activity that occurs on the 3rd date and that cohabitation is harmful to the parties participating, the impending children, and to society, this problem will never be solved.
I moved after 2nd grade, and didn’t talk to Amy much, until about a year ago. Amy is now a single mother of two, from two different men and has two years of college completed. She was in her fourth semester when she got pregnant for the first time. I am now married, and we are in process trying to get ready to adopt or have a child of our own.
My life and Amy’s life couldn’t really look much different right now, and it wasn’t because of education or because one of us came from prosperity. Our families were both middle class; in fact, her family was better off financially. She was on path to graduate with honors with a major in Business Management and a minor in Marketing, whereas I hopped around to four different institutions and went through three different degrees before deciding what I wanted to do. The difference was our morals and our beliefs about marriage.
Society has changed our mantra from “love, marriage, and then a baby carriage” to love, sex, cohabitation, maybe an accidental child, and then marriage. The new way, though, is beginning to show its flaws. DeParle shows that most people who have children before marriage stay in the lowest economic categories. Christianity Today has shown that marriage is the leading protector for staying out of poverty. Sociologist Glenn Stanton shows that cohabitation is one of the major contributors to domestic violence and sexual abuse of children.
As a society we keep looking at the effects of immorality and calling it the effects of upbringing or education, but the fact of the matter is that the issue is immorality itself. It is being shown all around us that when a young man or woman takes a stand and says, “I will not have sex until marriage,” they are simultaneously giving their marriage a better chance at success and giving their future children a better hope for tomorrow.