The American Family Is Disintegrating. The Rebuild Needs to Start in Our Own Homes.
The American family is in dire straits. And despite what conservative political pundits may think, the root cause is not because the Senate just passed a bill to codify same-sex marriage or because California is paying for women to fly there for abortions.
The CDC recently released their latest abortion statistics for 2020. One of the overlooked details of this year’s data is the increase in the percentage of abortions among unmarried women. The abortion rate among this demographic has always been high — around 84-85% — but it has now increased slightly to 86.3%, the highest number in 10 years. This equates out to 412 abortions for every 1,000 live births among unmarried women in the U.S. — an almost inconceivably high number.
For the American children who make it out of the womb alive, the outlook isn’t great. Ethics and Public Policy Center fellow Patrick Brown recently posted data from Pew Research Center pointing out the glaring statistic that the U.S. has a higher percentage of kids living in single parent homes (23%) than any other country in the world. The only other country above 20% is the U.K. (at 21%), which similarly has a very high unmarried abortion rate at 82%. The U.S. rate of 23% of kids living in single parent homes is more than three times higher than the world average of 7% — another startlingly high number.
Notably, the Pew study also points out that U.S. children are much less likely to live in extended families, as only 8% of children live with relatives like aunts or grandparents — compared to 38% of children globally. Not only is the American nuclear family not intact — it has taken the extended family down with it.
As conservatives grapple with the radical push for abortion and codifying same-sex marriage into law, these statistics stand out more than ever. Abortion and same-sex marriage are not the root cause of any issue we fight, but rather are major symptoms of the ultimate collapse of the family. Conservatives know this and have been saying it for years, but these recent statistics show how glaringly stark the collapse of the family is in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world.
While it is important to enact laws protecting life in the womb and protecting religious liberty against the LGBT onslaught, women will still desire to get abortions and men will still desire to marry other men (or identify as the opposite sex) until we work to truly transform the culture of the American family. And unless we do, our policies will be nothing more than a band-aid as the institution that is the American family continues to crumble.
So how do we rebuild a culture of familial disintegration? The solution must start in the home of every conservative and in the pews of every Bible-believing church in America.
If possible, we must reconcile with our divorced spouses.
If possible, we must reconcile with our estranged children.
With proper discernment, we must intervene and speak reconciliation, healing, and encouragement for further counseling into a marriage that is on the rocks in our circles of influence.
We must form ministries for marriages that are in trouble in our churches.
We must be on the lookout for mothers with unplanned pregnancies in our circles of influence in order to extend our help to them in any way they need.
If possible, we must adopt babies who need loving homes.
We must form ministries for mothers of unplanned babies in our churches.
If possible and appropriate, we must consider moving our families closer to our parents and relatives so that our children can grow up in a robust, familial environment and thereby encourage the lifetime intergenerational caregiving that was once commonplace in American culture.
We must encourage the marriage of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes within our circles of influence by not being afraid to be matchmakers.
We must be witnesses for healthy and loving marriages and family life to our neighbors and local communities by inviting neighbors over for playdates or dinner, striking up conversations in the barber shop and dentist office, and getting involved in civic life by running for school board and other local, state, and federal offices.
We must invite non-believing or fallen away members of our local communities to our churches.
These are but a few practical actions we can take. There are many more. The restoration of the American family that conservatives seek must start in our own homes and churches. It is only after we have begun to nurture and build up our own families and churches that we can then spread that fruitfulness and love to the neighborhood, then to the local community, then to the country, then to the world.
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.
Connor Semelsberger is Director of Federal Affairs - Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council.