On September 6th, Statistics agency ISTAT reported a great decline in the health of marriage in Italy. In 1991, well over half of young adults were married in Italy. Within the age group 25-34, the percentage of men and women who were married stood at 51.5% and 69.5% respectively. Just over a quarter century later in 2018, marriage rates for this age bracket have fallen to 19.1% for men and 34.3% for women.
The Christian faith, monogamy and marriage through the church has a rich history in Western society. This is particularly the case for Italy, the seat of the old Roman Empire and home to the Vatican and Pope. To see a reformation of traditions within the historical heart of Christianity is not something to be overlooked. The greater will of the west can be prodded when such epicenters of thought and worldview are experiencing real time transformations.
Along with falling marriage rates, divorce rates continue to rise in unison. The ISTAT report found, “the number of divorced people increased fourfold in all age groups, going from around 376,000 in 1991 to over 1.671 million.” In the case of intimate relationships, if there is a broader cultural trend going on within Italian society, and perhaps the greater western world, then one can expect for this to be revealed a multitude of ways.
The traditional strength of marriage is under stress in Italy, as revealed above. Marriage has even taken on a new 21st century form, under the expression of same-sex civil unions. ISTAT found, “same-sex civil unions constituted in Italy and those registered here after being celebrated abroad amounted to 13,300, 0.02% of the resident population.”
This is a relatively minute proportion of the population. However, just the existence of this faction is substantial. Previous eras of the west would not have welcomed this group kindly into society. While this percentage change in recent years is by far the smallest, it is perhaps culturally the most profound.
The pillars of Christianity are shifting, and the ground beneath the old Church is no longer solid rock and stone. The state of marriage well portrays this shift is not just conceptual, but taking place in real time.