WHY DOES MARRIAGE MATTER?
Recently, I was watching a debate over the current landscape of marriage in America. The talking heads were arguing over the meaning of marriage, the nature of love, and the limits of government to define and restrict who could and could not get married in a civilized, industrialized, advanced society. The conversation was lively and energetic, and by the end their passions had spilled over into screaming and yelling about how “close minded, religious fanatics” like Catholics and evangelicals, had tried to impose their views of love and marriage on America for hundreds of years. This, according to the enlightened panel of guests, was the source of all of our nations ills and woes.
Toward the end of the debate, one of them blurted out, “Why does marriage matter, anyway? What’s the big deal with marriage after all?” Finally, someone was asking the right question.
The answer to that question is quite possibly the foundation upon which all of culture solidly rests. Marriage matters more than just about anything else because it alone is the primary relationship from which all good things flow in order for a culture to flourish and for a society to enjoy the benefits of stability and security. If you think I am overstating the case, think again.
God established marriage in the beginning of human history, in a garden, where He provided a man and a woman everything they needed for the enjoyment and flourishing of life as well as the population of a planet (see Genesis 2). God continues to affirm that primary relationship of marriage between a man and a woman throughout scripture, not just in the writings of Paul, but also from the very mouth of Jesus Himself. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.” (Matthew 19:6)
No matter how hard we try, we are not smarter than God. Marriage provides the security and stability that a society builds its institutions upon; government, education, civil jurisprudence, economic development, medical and scientific advancement, and human flourishing. It also acts as the essential source of all knowledge and personal connection; the incubator of morality, affection, language, relationships, conflict resolution, and sacrificial love. When the family falls apart, all of culture disintegrates on the ruins of its demise.
Marriage is for the glory of God (reflecting the relationship of Christ to the church) and for our good (allowing human beings to flourish in an ordered and stable society). Common sense tells us this, and so do the facts.
According to the United States Census Bureau in 2012, only 7.5% of children living in a home with a married mother and father lived in poverty. However, 33.9% of children living in a home with a single mother and no father lived in poverty. The statistics tell the story; children are 5 times more likely to live in poverty when their mom and dad are not married.
As attitudes about marriage have changed, so has the standard of living, the poverty level of children, and the rate of babies born out of wedlock. The Heritage Foundation reported the percentages of children born to unmarried mothers in 2012; Caucasians-28.6%, Hispanics-52.5%, African-American-72.3%
Additionally, among married white American families, the poverty rate was just 3.2% of the population versus 22% for unmarried white families. Among married African-American families, the poverty rate was only 7%, but it jumped to 35.6% for unmarried families with kids. Bottom line? God loves us and wants to care for us, and the best way for humans to live is in a family. The best model for a family is a mom and a dad who are lovingly committed to each other and their kids in marriage.
We can have our own opinions, but not our own facts. The facts prove what God ordained from the very beginning. Marriage matters more than anything.