Americans today are lonelier than ever. Relationships, from casual socializing to friendships to marriage, have been on a declining trajectory for some time. In fact, in 2023, the U.S. surgeon general published an advisory about “our epidemic of loneliness and isolation.”  

The worst affected by America’s loneliness epidemic have been men. Compared to 20 years ago, the amount of time men socialize face-to-face has dropped by almost 30%. Today, only one in four men have six or more close friends, and 15% report having no close friendships at all. Single men are faring even worse, with one in five lacking any close friends. 

The reasons are varied. In part, men are lonelier because women are more successful at emotionally connecting with others. In part, men are lonelier because they are more likely to live with and rely on their parents than their female counterparts. In part, men are lonelier because everyone—male, female, old, young, black, white, etc.—is spending less time socializing and more time on screens. Also, more young people are delaying marriage, the most intimate of relationships, later than ever before. 

In fact, marriage seems like the most obvious solution to America’s loneliness epidemic. Christians maintain that marriage was created by God and intended from the beginning to enable a profound intimacy between one man and one woman who are joined together in body and soul. Marriage is, statistically speaking, a major source of emotional connection, friendship, and happiness 

Still, for all its goodness, marriage was never meant to be the cure-all for loneliness. As essential as marriage is, it is one of many, vital social ties created by God to enable human flourishing. Alongside marriage, Scripture also upholds the significance of friendship.  

Among the stories of close friendships in Scripture is Job who, after losing everything he owned and everyone he loved, was joined by his friends who sat with him in the dust as he mourned. These friends were great comforts until they opened their mouths and offered advice that was ill-timed and inaccurate. In the face of Saul’s jealousy and violence, David found a loyal friend and brother in Jonathan. When Naomi lost both her husband and her sons, Ruth vowed to accompany her back to Israel and care for her. And, of course, Jesus had friends, too. 

To be clear, Scripture never presents friendship as a substitute for marriage or family, nor can it ever be (despite the extensive attempts of many ’90s sitcoms to portray life that way). At the same time, Scripture never presents marriage as a substitute for friendship or family as a substitute for community. God created humans with a variety of human relationships, all of which have their place. Like within marriage, though not in the same exact way, friendships offer opportunities to experience, grow in, and show Christlike love. As Jesus told his disciples: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” 

In a world in which people have traded social lives for screens, we will need both marriage and friendships to mitigate loneliness. Especially now that marriage is happening much later in life for most, a trend that is unhealthy for the most part, single people will need friendships for mutual support, growth, and care. And those who marry still need friends for accountability and community and to spur them on in faithfulness to their spouse and to Christ.  

Ultimately, when it comes to the loneliness epidemic, marriage and friendship are not competing solutions. If our world is to become less lonely, it will be because Christians offer it a better way, especially in our most intimate and important relationships, within our families, and our friendships. 

Jared Hayden co-authored this Breakpoint. If you’re a fan, leave a review on your favorite podcast app. For more resources on living like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 

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Publish Date: May 3, 2024

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.