Oct 16, 2014
From 1988 until 1998, CBS aired the highly successful sitcom Murphy Brown. This cutting-edge comedy featured Candice Bergen as a tough-talking investigative journalist and news anchor. In 1992, the show’s main character decided to have a child out of wedlock. Then Vice President Dan Quayle remarked that “It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.” Quale’s comments ignited a national controversy about the changing status of the American family.
Two decades later, statistics reveal the unravelling of family life in America. The overemphasis on individual freedom and the right of every individual to make his or her own life choices has produced a situation in which the family itself has lost its role as the seedbed for mentally healthy, well-balanced and productive citizens. The cultural leaders who write our newspapers, edit our magazines, make our movies and teach in our educational institutions have played a major role in blurring the distinction between what is wholesome for society and what is not.
Today, all of us know individuals who are divorced, cohabiting, in same-sex partnerships or choosing to bear children outside of marriage. In many instances, because we want to be compassionate and charitable to others, especially to members of our own families, we avoid engaging in conversation on these issues. It is just too awkward. Some will go so far as to say that these choices are matters of individual morality without any social impact. But, recent statistics show otherwise.
According to a report of The Census Bureau (9/18/2014), our nation is facing the lowest marriage rate since 1920. Even including same sex unions that the state calls marriages does little to alter the general decline in marriage. Forty-two million adult Americans have never been married. In fact, for the first time since 1976, there are more unmarried American adults than married. That amounts to a demographic shift in our society.