Author archives: Caleb Sutherlin

Millennials and the Future of Marriage

by Caleb Sutherlin

October 8, 2018

Millennials are bringing down the divorce rate in America. Research by University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen indicates that the divorce rate has fallen by eight percent from 2008 to 2016. According to Cohen, “the overall drop has been driven entirely by younger women.” While older generations are still getting remarried and divorced, millennials are staying together longer.

But there’s a downside. Few millennials are actually getting married—about 59 percent are unmarried/never married. This is significantly higher than the historical averages for the same age group. Citing the U.S. Census Bureau, Gallup found that at the same age, about “36% of Generation Xers, 48% of baby boomers and 65% of traditionalists were married when they were the age that millennials are now.”

Cohen suggests one reason for this is that millennials are being more selective about who they marry and when. Many are waiting to marry until after they have a stable career and have completed their education. These are good indicators of marriages that will last. For now, divorce rates are likely to continue to fall.

Despite these hopeful signs, we are living in an era marked by a drastic decrease in marriages. The National Center for Family & Marriage Research has found that “the peak marriage rate of 92.3, observed in 1920, is nearly three times the rate in 2016.” The institution of marriage is now a leaning pillar in our society.

With so many unmarried young adults (myself included), the number of single parent households is also rising. Socially, being a single parent or having children out of wedlock is now widely accepted: “The rates of acceptance currently stand at 68 percent amongst millennials.” Having compassion and understanding for single parents is vital, but we must at the same time acknowledge and have compassion for the children who are born out of wedlock and who must bear the consequences of their parents’ choices.

What could this mean for the future? What kind of lives are we encouraging for our children? Let’s look at the numbers. Children from single parent households are more likely to struggle with poverty, have an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse, are twice as likely to commit suicide, are less likely to finish school, are more likely to commit crimes, and are more likely to become pregnant as a teen than their traditional family counterparts. The fact remains that families do best when they have a married father and mother. Again, saying this is not to denigrate single parents who are doing their utmost to provide for their kids. But there are profound societal consequences as the normalcy of single parenthood increases.

Most importantly, these statistics show a distressing outlook for the future. Millennials no longer find comfort in marriage that has been a staple in generations past. As single parent households rise, the future is foreboding.

Pew Research has found that “Fewer than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.” This shift in culture is compounded by the fact that “34% of children today are living with an unmarried parent—up from just 9% in 1960, and 19% in 1980.”

As less marriages take place, there will be fewer examples of healthy marriages for children to emulate. Fortunately, we have the example from the Bible. We know that husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). This kind of love requires dying to one’s self for the sake of the other—a lesson that is of the utmost importance in today’s society.

Trends and statistics can give us an idea of what is to come, but the future is never set in stone. The importance of marriage is not and should never be a partisan issue. Everyone should stand to protect and promote the family for the betterment of society.

Caleb Sutherlin is an intern at Family Research Council.

The Unity of Body and Soul: Why It Matters

by Caleb Sutherlin

October 4, 2018

Many of the most pressing issues in our society come from a lack of love for the body. On October 3rd, Nancy Pearcey visited Family Research Council to discuss her new book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. In her talk, Pearcey tackled difficult aspects of human sexuality that seem independent but are really part of the same ideology.

In Old Testament Hebrew, the word for the “soul” is nephesh, and the New Testament uses the Greek word psyche (pronounced “sue-kay”). These words are used to encompass the whole person. That includes the emotions, the spirit, and the physical being. These elements are immutable and can never be reduced or separated from each other. Today’s liberal ideology seeks to do just that. Pearcey, a renowned apologist, explores the attempt by many on the Left to rewrite the person by ignoring biology and logic.    

While researching her book, she recalled an article in which a pro-choice woman became pregnant. The woman said that she considered the life inside her a baby because she wanted it, but if she didn’t want it, she and those who share her worldview considered it a clump of cells. Seeing the contradiction, the woman decided that life begins at conception, but still questioned the personhood of that life.

The current cultural movement that seeks to redefine personhood is the topic of Love Thy Body. Pearcey observes that this movement is attempting to argue that a human life is separate from being a person. Therefore, a human can be killed, but a person cannot. Pearcey aptly notes that according to this philosophy, the fetus must earn the right to life by being chosen to live by the mother. Furthermore, the body is relegated to being disposable. Simply being human is not enough to justify having human rights. (Therefore, unborn children who are aborted can have their body parts harvested, and Terri Schiavo can be starved to death, according to this philosophy.)

Even bioethicists cannot decide on what constitutes a person. When biology is removed from humanity, anything is possible. Love Thy Body gives several examples of what can happen as a result. Some bioethicists even argue in favor of infanticide, saying that a certain level of cognitive function is needed to be a person. In that light, the elderly, or even those who are mentally handicapped might not qualify for life. As disgusting as that is, legitimate voices are arguing for it.

This disregard for the body is also present in the hookup culture. As Pearcey noted, many young women in college have given in to the dehumanizing campus sexual culture that encourages them to separate their natural desire for emotional intimacy and commitment from their physical sexuality.

Disrespecting the body puts the mind and body in conflict. That conflict can be seen in the fact that 80 percent of people that identify as homosexual will change their self-identification at least once in their lives. Love Thy Body takes a holistic view of the human person and points out the natural unity between the soul and the body. Instead of thinking of the body as a patchwork of contradictory pieces, the body and soul should be thought of as whole.

Perhaps most distressing in this ideology is the removal of pre-political rights. When the government embraces the discontinuity of the body, our human rights become a gift of the government instead of what we innately possess. Today, the government has claimed the right to decide when a person has the right to live by legalizing abortion and euthanasia.

Interestingly, a number of feminist groups are turning away from the idea that the body is meaningless. One cannot be an advocate of women’s rights and simultaneously believe that everyone can be a woman.

As Nancy Pearcey so eloquently reminds us, the only way to keep the rights of personhood fully intact is to base personhood in biology and Scripture. Be sure to view her entire talk for more on this critically consequential topic.

Caleb Sutherlin is an intern at Family Research Council.

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