By Kiley Crossland
(WNS)–The black church has the potential to rebuild the American family, according to two new reports released last week by the Family Research Council (FRC).
The reports, issued by FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), document a “marriage crisis” across the United States, and especially in the black family. Tumbling marriage rates are leaving children “lost in a labyrinth of love, ambivalence, and sex.”
Ironically, African-Americans affiliate with a church, attend church, and pray daily at higher rates than any other Americans, according to research results.
“The descendants of black slaves have the potential to be the saviors of modern America if the black church can rise to the challenge of restoring Christian marriage within its families,” said Patrick Fagan, director and senior fellow at MARRI, and Bishop E.W. Jackson, also a senior fellow at FRC, in a CNS News editorial.
According to the first report—the “Fifth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection”—by age 17, only 17 percent of black teenagers live with their married biological parents. In New Mexico, Missouri, the District of Columbia, and Wisconsin, the percentage of black children with one parent who either divorced, separated from, or never married their other parent was 90 percent or higher. Only 10 percent of teens, or less, lived with their married biological parents.
The average across all demographics is 46 percent, a 17 percent drop since 1950.
The second report, the “State of the Black Family,” examined data on social measures, from pregnancy to poverty to education. The data paint a grim picture, not just for the adults and children of broken marriages, but especially the adults and children in families led by the “always single”—not married, divorced, re-married, cohabiting, or widowed. Between 1975 and 2011, out-of-wedlock births to black women increased from 49 percent to 72 percent of all U.S. births. More than half of black men and women surveyed who were living in poverty were “always single,” and more than half of children living in poverty lived in a home with an “always single” parent.
MARRI’s research found that chastity and commitment, values that have all but dropped from modern conversation, are statistically relevant. With just one lifetime sexual partner—her husband—95 percent of women are still married five years after marriage. With two sexual partners, that number drops to 62 percent. With three partners, it drops to 50 percent.
The bottom line, according to Fagan, is that only in marriage does sex produce a stable society: “This social experiment has failed and nowhere is it more visible than in the black family and particularly in the plight of young black men without the prospect of a good job, a stable marriage, or a family they can call their own.”
But there is hope, said Fagan, if the black church steps up to the challenge of restoring Christ’s teaching on sex and marriage.