I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday here in the US.

I just had a few thoughts on some items that have been discussed in recent weeks on the Bloggernacle and in the press.  I’m interested in what you’ve thought about it.

New Church Handbook of Instructions

It seems as if the furor around the new handbooks has subsided as the real handbooks (at least Book 2 by the Church, Book 1 by others) and the training session have been posted online.  The reviews from those who attended have been overwhelmingly positive.  And generally the changes have been also viewed positively. The proof, of course, will always be in the implementation.  I suspect it will take a while for some to get it right and there will always be those who will complain about it, whether justified or not.  And there will also be those who will be critical no matter what the Church does.

The Decline of Marriage

As “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” continues to rise in prominence within the LDS Church, other indicators are that marriage is becoming less important to society in general.

According to a recent Time Magazine/ Pew Family Society poll, the following trends are observed:

  • About half (52%) of all adults in this country were married in 2008; back in 1960, seven-in-ten (72%) were.
  • Nearly four-in-ten survey respondents (39%) say that marriage is becoming obsolete; in 1978 when Time magazine posed this question to registered voters, just 28% agreed.
  • Seven-in-ten (69%) say the trend toward more single women having children is bad for society, and 61% say that a child needs both a mother and father to grow up happily.
  • On the more accepting side, only a minority say the trends toward more cohabitation without marriage (43%), more unmarried couples raising children (43%), more gay couples raising children (43%) and more people of different races marrying (14%) are bad for society.
  • The young are more accepting than the old of the emerging arrangements; the secular are more accepting than the religious; liberals are more accepting than conservatives; the unmarried are more accepting than the married; and, in most cases, blacks are more accepting than whites. The net result of all these group differences is a nearly even three-way split among the full public. A third (34%) say the growing variety of family arrangements is a good thing; 29% say it is a bad thing and 32% say it makes little or no difference.
  • By emphatic margins, the public does not see marriage as the only path to family formation. Fully 86% say a single parent and child constitute a family; nearly as many (80%) say an unmarried couple living together with a child is a family; and 63% say a gay or lesbian couple raising a child is a family.
  • The share of births to unmarried women has risen dramatically over the past half century, from 5% in 1960 to 41% in 2008. There are notable differences by race:  Among black women giving birth in 2008, 72% were unmarried.  This compares with 53% of Hispanic women giving birth and 29% of white women.
  • Three-quarters of all adults (76%) say their family is the most important element of their life at this time. An additional 22% say it is one of the most important elements but not the most important. Only 1% say their family is not an important element of their life.
  • Among those who attend religious services at least once a week, 72% believe a child needs both a mother and a father to grow up happily. This compares with 62% of those who attend religious services monthly or a few times a year and 44% of those who seldom or never attend.

We see similar trends in the LDS Church.  Singles staying single longer, less Church activity among singles and young people, more mixed religion marriages, more divorces, more single parents (mainly women), etc.  While the church teaches that marriage is ordained of God and necessary for happiness in this life and the life to come, we clearly see a trend, much like society, away from it.

Are you at all concerned by these trends in society and in the Church?