Promoting Marriage As Community Care

Churches can care for their communities by providing resources to encourage and strengthen marriage.

The Brookings Institute’s Ron Haskins writes — “Higher marriage rates among the poor would benefit poor adults themselves, their children, and the nation.”  Haskins believes that churches and other non-profits should encourage marriage by offering courses on marriage, parenting, money management, anger management, and other family-related issues.

Out-of-wedlock births continue to increase in this country, as marriage rates continue the decline begun in 1972.  Haskins contends that —

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, children living in single-parent families are about five times as likely to live in poverty. There’s also a high probability they’ll drop out of school, get arrested, be involved in teen pregnancy themselves, have more mental health problems, and be less likely to be employed or in school as young adults. Indeed, parents themselves are physically and psychologically better off when married than single.”

But churches will also have to address the reasons that some choose not to marry.  According to Amanda Drew’s article, Declining Marriage Rates, young adults are choosing not to marry for a variety of reasons:

  • Couples choose to live together before marrying;
  • College graduates are taking a year off after graduation to travel before settling down;
  • The expense of a full-blown wedding is not appealing to some;
  • The decline in church attendance and the moral values that come from practicing one’s faith;
  • Fear of divorce.

I am convinced that the task of the church for the decade of the 2010’s is going to be a reimagined “care of souls.”  Churches can have a positive impact on their own communities by providing nurture and care for marriage and its attendant benefits.  Because the poor have a disproportionately lower rate of marriage, churches could find themselves caring for the “least of these” within their own communities in this vital area.  What is your church doing to encourage marriage and the advantages marriage brings in your community?

5 thoughts on “Promoting Marriage As Community Care”

  1. Chuck,

    I like the trajectory of your post, and agree that the next decade this will be a major issue for the church and its ministry. But your final question doesn’t sit well with me. Not that we shouldn’t encourage marriage, but what do we do with the too many marriages within our church body that are struggling and breaking down? Why would someone want to listen to us or strive for marriage as we present it when our witness is so lacking?

    Thoughts? This subject and its need for transformation in our fellowships and communities are of great interest to me.


  2. Bryon, good point. The thrust of this post was to encourage those not married (living together, common-law partnerships, etc) to get married because, according to Brookings Institute, there are societal advantages.

    But, your point is well-taken. Established marriages need our help, too. Of course, offering marriage-strengthening courses and opportunities could cover both groups because the basic concepts would be the same.

    Also, I think our witness as a community of faith comes not from our own perfection (in this case, perfect marriages) but from our willingness and openness to recognize our own needs for growth in this area, too. Tell me more about what you’re thinking along these lines. -Chuck

  3. Chuck, Timely post for us. I would love to hear some practical steps of doing this in the small church. Unmarried couples having children and attending church is huge in our community. We know we have problems, we know we have to address them, we know the final answer but the path is what we need to see.

  4. Great post.

    At our church we have centered our efforts around some core principles that we believe are important not only to our own church body but to our community at large.

    On a consistent basis we offer marriage, financial, parenting, business leadership and other studies and events that are promoted not only in our church but throughout our community.

    One of our keys to getting information out beyond our church circle is that we try to partner with and reach out into organizations within the community that deal with the area we are have the studies or events (Christian and non Christian). It is within those groups we many times reach people that not only need to hear the message of the Gospel but also practical information on the issues they face.

    It many times gets us out of our comfort zone and sometimes we face rejection or scorn but most of the time we find that people appreciate our efforts and support what we are trying to do.

    God Bless

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