A nonprofit organisation that works with American churches to develop stronger families suggests a collapse in marriage and resident fatherhood is fueling widespread loneliness.
Communio surveyed 19,000 churchgoers at more than 100 services in different denominations for its Nationwide Study on Faith and Relationships,
Nearly two-thirds of men and women in their 30s who never married were considered lonely, according to its findings.
The poll found that a 40-year decline in marriage and fatherhood is driving a national decline in Christianity and increasing loneliness.
The study backs up a recent report by the US Surgeon General warning that an epidemic of loneliness in his nation could be just as deadly as smoking.
Communio’s president and study author J P DeGance highlights that a significant majority of respondents who were attending church across all age groups came from homes where both parents are married. He found that a married resident father plays a significant role in the “transmission of faith.”
He determined that churches are not doing enough to address the marital and relational crisis afflicting younger people.
Mr. DeGance told The Christian Post: “To effectively evangelise today, we must address the declining number of marriages, poor marital health and improve the effectiveness of fathers in those marriages. By addressing these three issues, we can end the loneliness epidemic as well as spark a sustained revival in Christian faith and active church attendance. The link between marriage and faith is clear, yet 85% of all churches in the United States report spending zero dollars annually on a marriage and relationship ministry.”
He pinpointed the impact of many churches failing to address the effects of widespread pre-marital sex and rampant pornography addiction.
“When sex is undervalued and unvalued it ultimately causes ‘capstone marriage’ which is the delay in decisions to get married,” he explained.
“Church leaders must also find ways to balance the gender gap within the pews. Among the never married, there are 42% more women than men sitting inside churches on Sunday. While many women may prefer Christian marriage to the available counterfeits, a lack of marriageable men, faithful to the Gospel’s view of sex inside of marriage, remains a real and substantive obstacle to the cornerstone model of marriage.”
The study concluded that: “The collapse of resident fathers through the collapse of marriage is at the heart of the unraveling of Christianity. The growth of the religious nones is unlikely to stabilise until 25-30 years after married fatherhood stops its decline. Renewal requires new strategic action.”
A report by Pew Research Center and the General Social Survey published in September found a surge of adults leaving Christianity to become atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” The study predicted that if the number of Christians under 30 abandoning their faith accelerates beyond the current pace, adherents of the historically dominant religion of the US could become a minority by 2045.