With the so-called “decline” of the traditional nuclear family come the shocking–or maybe not so shocking–numbers to confirm this downward spiral.
A recent Gallup poll confirmed speculations about waning Christian morals in the 21st century.
Sex before marriage used to be taboo, but the May survey revealed that 60 percent of Americans believe premarital sex is “morally okay.” In 1969 only 21 percent took this stand.
In addition to supporting sex before marriage, most Americans (52 percent) said it is “morally acceptable” for an unmarried man and woman to live together. Three percent said it depends on the situation, while 2 percent said unmarried people cohabiting was not a moral issue.
If, in fact, people do decide to marry and run into hard times there appears to be little social pressure to force them to stay together, according to the poll. Fifty-nine percent said divorce is morally acceptable, while 12 percent said it depends on the situation.
“In addition to liberalized sexual mores taking away some of the urgency to marry, there has been an important long-term change in family size expectations,” read the Gallup study.
In 1936, the majority of Americans (64 percent) said having three, or more, children was ideal. Today, the majority (52 percent) said having less than three children is ideal.
“The morals portrayed in the poll characterize short term, lack of consistency, inability to keep promises,” Bill Tillman, ethics professor at Hardin Simmons University Abilene, Texas, told the Baptist Center for Ethics. “The tragedy is that over a long period of time the lack of accountability and commitment can be the marks of a less than strong society.”
In order to keep the nuclear family from becoming an even greater minority, Gallup said more people must choose to marry, marry at an early age, have several children and shun divorce.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.