Marriage and the Bible
The social institution of marriage emerged in the Hebrew Bible almost four thousand years ago and was subsequently endorsed by every succeeding Western culture. The long-established tradition of marriage worked to stabilize societies and has provided a secure environment for children since its inception. It is unimaginable that something so beneficial to men and women in general, and children in particular, would be as controversial as it is today.
Traditional marriage has been under attack since the 1960s when the feminist movement joined forces with the liberation movement. Since then, legislation and popular culture has succeeded in diminishing the role of marriage in society. Examples include no fault divorce, same sex marriage, and entitlement programs which incentivize single parenting and discourage marriage. In addition, cultural leaders have been influential in marginalizing marriage by promoting the lies of the sexual revolution and using cultural icons like Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez to portray single parenting in movies as an equal alternative to the traditional family.
The conservative view of family always held a strong link between marriage and children, as it sought to provide a secure, loving environment designed to protect and nurture the vulnerable lives of children. Parenting was a selfless relationship which always placed the child’s best interest over all others. The biblical view of holy matrimony elevated marriage to the status of a lifelong covenant between a man, woman, and God. And although mutual love was always a priority, the idea was that love would flow from the lasting commitment rather than the commitment flowing from the volatile emotions of love.
It was further believed that marriage would help stabilize society in general, as it sought to protect and provide for women, domesticate men, and cultivate the next generation. And for those who found themselves in such a marriage, it worked well. Yet thousands of years of positive social benefit was not enough to put such a practical institution in jeopardy.
Feminist and co-founder of Ms. magazine, Robin Morgan, in 1970 was among the first to widely discuss the harmful effects of marriage on women, noting, “We can’t destroy the inequalities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” Liberal thought quickly began herding around this notion by portraying marriage as oppressive. The idea gathered steam and picked up significant speed as radical feminists looked for new causes to support their useless existence. After forty years of this social experiment, in which the benefits of marriage have been minimized while the institution itself has been casually disregarded, even attacked, social scientists have weighed in on the results, and the effects can no longer be denied even among the most irrational secularists.
Traditional Marriage and the Scientific Date
It was in the 1960s that liberals set traditional marriage on a crash course with progressive thinking when they began to chip away at this longstanding convention with no-fault divorce, which was first adopted in California in 1969, and later passed in all fifty states. Divorce rates have since risen to a staggering 50 percent, while out-of-wedlock births—hailed as the “new family”—rose from 2.3 percent to 23 percent among whites and from 23 percent to 69 percent among blacks.
Despite the view that marriage is bondage and socially restrictive, the most recent studies indicate that married couples are found to be healthier and twice as happy. Marriage actually protects women from depression even after controlling for income, race, and education. With or without children, married people are less depressed and emotionally healthier than singles. All the while marriage provides a safe environment for women, as married women are 50 percent less likely to suffer from domestic violence than those who are unmarried. Married couples have higher income and have more assets than single people. And, squarely discrediting the premise of the sexual revolution, all the research indicates that married couples have more and better sex than their unmarried counterparts. This is a disarming dose of common sense that cannot be denied as every research study on the topic comes to similar conclusions.
Child poverty can be linked directly to the breakdown of the family, as never-married mothers are seven times more likely to live in poverty than those married to the biological father of their children. Research shows that 80 percent of child poverty is found among single mothers. Of the children born to unwed mothers, only 6.7 percent will reach their eighteenth birthday without experiencing poverty.
Crime and Divorce
The Center for Law and Social Policy reported, “Most researchers now agree that studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two biological parents.” The Progressive Policy Institute reports that “the relationship between crime and one-parent family is so strong that controlling the family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. Further, 72 percent of America’s youngest murderers, 70 percent of long-term prison inmates and 60 percent of rapists come from single-mother families.”
Adults and Divorce
In The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, Professor Linda Waite uses solid research to show the overwhelming benefit of marriage for children, men, and women alike, and later published a national study which interviewed unhappily married adults and found that when “interviewed again five years later, those that had divorced were on average, still unhappy or even less happy, while those who stayed in their marriages on average, had moved past the hard times and were at a happier stage.”
Divorce and Children
Judith Wallerstein published the results of the most comprehensive research on the effects of divorce on children in her groundbreaking book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. She is widely considered the world’s foremost authority on the subject. She found that a year after the divorce, 44 percent of children “were found to be in a significantly deteriorating psychological condition” while almost half exhibited “heightened aggression and anxiety.” Ten years later, two-thirds of all the children showed symptoms of stress, and half said their lives had been destroyed by the divorce.
The National Survey of Children found that 80 percent of adolescents in mental hospitals and 60 percent of children in psychiatric clinics have been through a divorce. Wallerstein summarizes years of research by stating, “It would be hard to find any other group of children – except perhaps the victims of a natural disaster – who have suffered such a rate of sudden serious psychological problems.”
We cannot deny that divorce is a modern-day reality. The problem I have with liberals is that they have chosen to advance alternative families rather than promote healthy marriage practices. Throughout our academic institutions, with the aid of determined liberal watchdog organizations, the message is clear: alternative families work, and sometimes even better than traditional families. But this is like telling our teens that it’s okay to smoke cigarettes as long as they are filtered. Even liberals know better. They don’t say, “Well, kids are going to smoke anyway; it’s a reality we have to accept.” Of course not, we tell them the truth; cigarettes kill, so don’t smoke. As a society, it is incumbent upon us to promote the best social behavior rather than throw in the towel in favor of politically correct alternatives. That’s a recipe for anarchy. The gay and lesbian faction justifies gay adoption by claiming it’s better for kids than broken dysfunctional families. Yeah, it’s also better than throwing darts at them, but when did broken families become the standard?
Of course, I’m not suggesting we ignore the reality of single mothers and fatherless children. To the contrary, I’m suggesting we help them with the right policies and information that will work to discourage the ditch we’ve dug ourselves into. But even that’s becoming increasingly difficult in this profound state of denial we find ourselves in.
Now, with all this talk of marriage and divorce, I want to make it clear that I do believe there are instances when divorce is the only viable option, primarily cases of infidelity and abuse. And I don’t want to imply that divorced individuals are bad people, as many of my dearest friends have faced the tough decision and consequences of a broken marriage. The reality is that only 15 percent of divorces are the result of a cheating spouse, abandonment, or physical abuse, which tells me that Americans, unaware of the consequences, are far too prone to look to divorce as a solution.
Sadly, postmodern America has thrown out the biblical view of holy matrimony as a covenant between a man and a woman, and now finds itself getting married for love. The big problem is that love is now measured by my feelings of happiness. If you make me happy, I must love you; but that’s not love for you, that’s love for me. That’s my personal quest for self-gratification, which for the time being, you happen to satisfy. True love was formerly measured by my commitment to protect, support, and provide for the person I was eternally bound to. It’s still evident in a mother’s love for her child, which she vows to nurture for life. Love and happiness flow from her commitment despite the child’s many faults, not vice versa. The huge weakness in the idea of marrying for the feeling of love and happiness is that inevitably, in an imperfect world, every spouse will face the ups and downs of marriage. And therefore, having built the relationship on this weak foundation, all too often during the down cycles we hear those familiar words: I’m getting divorced because I’m not happy. And as we’ve seen, rarely does an unhappy spouse translate into a happy single person.
Although no-fault divorce, cohabitation, out-of-wed lock births, and now gay marriage have combined to erode the idea of marriage as a lifelong covenant, the social conservative still understands that it’s under the God-given calling of holy matrimony that men and women alike can fulfill their greatest potential. Where they can build character and find true love and happiness, and where our children can best flourish and prosper. Now, vindicated by the research, Christians, who’ve always championed the family as indispensable to society, must role up their sleeves and quench the anti-family voices resonating through the ranks of liberal rag-tag organizations. We must support the policies that can still rally a comeback for the American tradition of marriage under God.
War on Marriage: Dissolving the Institution of Marriage Taylor Lewis
Study: Children fare better in traditional mom-dad families Cheryl Wetzstein
What You Need to Know about Marriage-Questions and Answers Driving the Debate Family Research Council
Marriage Is a Matter of Definition Peter Sprigg
Marriage: What it is, Why it Matters, and the consequences of Redefining it Ryan Anderson