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New Survey Reveals How the World Views Marriage and Family (+ How It Supports Prophets' Teachings)

The Deseret News and The Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University recently revealed the results of their 2018 American Family Survey. They surveyed 3,000 American adults of different demographics on marriage, family, parenting, politics, and other relevant topics concerning families in the United States. 

Their findings were fascinating, especially the responses to questions about marriage, family, and raising children. 

Survey Findings on Marriage and Family

In one section of the survey, the respondents were asked to choose what was most important to them in living a fulfilling life. Overall, the two options with the lowest percentages were “being married” (31 percent) and “having kids” (36 percent), and the two with the highest percentages were “education” (71 percent) and “make a good living” (77 percent).    

The survey also reveals that 53 percent of the respondents “totally agree” that society is better off when people are married, and 59 percent “totally agree” that marriage is needed in order to create strong families. But only 4 percent of the respondents “totally agree” that the cost of raising a child is affordable for most people. In addition, the survey found that participants are significantly (8 percent) more concerned about the economics of raising a family compared to survey results from 2015. 

Perhaps the most surprising statistic had to do with having children outside of marriage. Only 10 percent of respondents “strongly agree” that it’s morally wrong to have a child outside of marriage, but 23 percent “strongly disagree” and 21 percent didn’t agree or disagree.

Church Teachings on Marriage and Family 

As Church members, we’re taught that the family is central to God’s plan and should be protected at all costs. We also know that joy comes from spending time with and raising families. God wants us to have this happiness and love in our lives, but Satan wants the opposite. 

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The evil one knows where to attack. He is going to attack the home. He is going to destroy the family. That’s what he wants to do. . . . Let us make up our minds he will not do it in our families.” 

Families are powerful and eternal, and we have been blessed with counsel from Church leaders on how to protect our families against the adversary. In his October 2018 conference talk, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” President Nelson emphasized the importance of temple attendance in protecting individual families. He said: 

“My dear brothers and sisters, the assaults of the adversary are increasing exponentially, in intensity and variety. Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house —then keep that appointment with exactness and joy. I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples.” 

Along with President Nelson’s invitation to attend the temple more regularly, there are other ways you can strengthen your family—even if you aren’t a parent. Studying the scriptures, praying, participating in gospel discussions, and spending time with family and loved ones are all great ways to draw closer to the Savior and strengthen family bonds.

A beautiful resource for finding answers to questions about the family or simply gaining a stronger testimony of it can be found in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It says: 

“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between a man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Although some of the statistics in the survey weren’t in line with what the Church has taught about marriage and family, the survey also found that men and women love being spouses and parents. It stated, “Despite the stresses and other difficulties of family life, this survey continues to send a clear message: that people can find deep happiness—even the sources of their identities—inside of families.” 

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