Most Americans (73 percent of 30somethings) think marriage should be a once-in-a-lifetime relationship. The majority also believe it is entirely possible to run into more than one "soul mate" in a lifetime, and the percentage increases with age from two-thirds of those in their 20s to three-quarters of those over 60. Most also believe that marriage is a necessary confirmation of a long-term relationship, while about a third at all age levels do not see it as necessary in order to have a life-long partnership.
What does this mean? Americans have mixed values when it comes to marriage and see it as a matter of personal choice more than a sacred institution presided over by the church. Various kinds of self-centered ideas come into play, clergy tend to be marginalized and arrangements are negotiated among family and friends. Instead of attempting to legislate Christian marriage through a political process, making it mandatory for all, would it be better for pastors and congregations to simply insist on a clearly Scriptural definition of marriage for those who want it? Can we position "Christian marriage" as something different than the generic wedding?
Source of survey data: Research Alert, Jan. 18, 2008, page 6