Why Marriage Matters
Most Christians know from the Bible that a lifelong marriage between one man and one woman is part of God’s original order. “And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. . . Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:18, 24).
Jesus also affirmed that a lasting, loving marriage between a man and a woman is basic to God’s plan for mankind. “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6-9).
The institution of marriage had not grown very old before Satan began his assault. The first attack on God’s order was multiple wives. Later it was frivolous divorce. Even Israel because “of the hardness of their hearts” allowed homes to be destroyed by divorce but “from the beginning it was not so.” Since WWII, America has steadily accelerated its willingness to rip homes apart through divorce. According to studies the divorce rate in America is over 50%. Divorce has created havoc and hardship on every level of the social order.
The most recent attack on marriage, the diabolical push for same-sex marriage, is the most insidious of all Satan’s schemes! This is not just a new twist down the old path of self-centered living – this is suicide for the family as we know it!
However it happens, the erosion or destruction of marriage will carry an insurmountable price tag. No other single force is causing as much measurable hardship in this country as the collapse of the Biblical order for marriage! The American psyche has a collective ambivalence toward the institution that has resulted in “frequent marriage – frequent divorce” as well as a high number of “short term co-habiting relationships”.
The Church has been attuned to this for years but now data from a large body of social science research affirms the importance of marriage for children, adults and communities. The Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values has published 26 findings from a diverse group of leading family scholars that summarizes the difference that marriage makes. I want to share with you a selection of those findings:
1. Marriage protects children’s physical, mental, emotional, educational and social health. On every single significant outcome related to short-term well-being and long-term success, children from intact, two-parent families outperform those from single-parent households. Longevity, drug abuse, school performance and dropout rates, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior and incarceration – if you can measure it, a sociologist has; and in all cases, the kids living with both parents (male and female) drastically outperform the others.
2. Divorced and unmarried childbearing increases poverty for both children and mothers. Research by Princeton sociologist, Sara McLanahan, found that children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up n a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents’ race or educational background.
3. Just living together (co-habiting) is not the same as marriage. Robert Rector, of the Heritage Foundation, says that when children are born into a co-habiting, unmarried relationship they arrive in a family in which the principals haven’t resolved their most basic issues, including those of sexual fidelity and how to share responsibilities. The moment the first amount of stress appears things start to fall apart and the man is soon out the door.
4. Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological problems like depression and other mental illness. David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, says it is dismissive of human experience to suggest that kids don’t suffer seriously from divorce. The truth is that children have a primal need to know who they are, to love and be loved by the two people whose physical union brought them into the world. To lose that connection, that sense of identity, is to experience a wound that no child-support check or fancy school can ever heal.
5. Children raised in single-parent families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior as well as become victims of abuse. Boys raised in single-parent families are two to three times more likely to end up in jail as adults. Children that are not raised with their own two married parents are significantly at a greater risk for child abuse.
6. Fatherless households are especially impacted. Maria Kefalas, a sociologist who studies marriage and family and who happens to a feminist, says that few things hamper a child as much as not having a father at home. She adds, “Growing up without a father has a deep psychological effect on a child. The mother may think she doesn’t need that man but her children definitely do”.
If we allow marriage to continue down this path of becoming nothing more than a union of two people ( of any sex) for their own pleasure and convenience, then we might as well hold the funeral for that grand old sacred order now. But if we are willing to reach back and re-establish marriage as the best way (which is God’s way) to raise our children — to protect, instruct and instill in the them the conduct of character of successful living – then we have hope for the next generation. Marriage matters! And what we teach our children about the true meaning of this God ordained institution will determine a great deal about our fate!