Marriage as Capstone or Foundation?

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One of the brightest lights in America these days on issues of the family is University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox. His latest article in the Wall Steet Journal addresses the “real pregnancy crisis” in America, and why the ongoing chatterings about Bristol Palin miss the point.

Wilcox shows there are other factors at work in out-of-wedlock births in this country, including a changing of the meaning of marriage. He writes: “As sociologist Andrew Cherlin has noted, marriage used to be the ‘foundation’ for adulthood, sex, intimacy and childbearing. Now, marriage is viewed by many Americans as a ‘capstone’ that signals that a couple has arrived — financially, professionally and emotionally.”

I think this is exactly right, and not just in “the culture” (which is often Christian-speak for “not us”), but in even the most conservative Christian congregations. A move toward Christian family structures must start with this question, and that will take more courage than we’ve seen in our pulpits and pews in a long, long time.

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).