Marriage

What is it about “traditional” marriage that makes it so important to defend?  Advocates for gay rights like to bring up the fact that throughout history and among various cultures there have been many “traditional” structures for marriages and families.  However, virtually none have been homosexual marriages.  Many have been polygamous and many have been monogamous.  But it is not only the gay rights movement that is destroying the institution of marriage around the world.  This website will discuss other cultural movements that are attacking marriage and the traditional family unit.

A Mormon FamilyThis article will take the aspects of traditional marriage mentioned on the home page and elaborate on them.

A set of universal functions of marriage

1.) Traditional marriage complements nature with culture to ensure the reproductive cycle.  Even homosexual unions are dependent upon a heterosexual union for the bearing of children.

Developed nations around the world are now facing the consequences of the “zero population growth” movement of the seventies and eighties.  Many nations have aging populations and few young people.  Social security and federal pension funds are suffering because of the lack of young workers to support those who are retired.  There is associative stress on public health systems.  A United Nations report states that the newly “upside down” populations of the wealthiest countries is unprecedented (without parallel in all of history) and getting worse.   It is “a global phenomenon affecting every man, woman and child—but countries are at very different stages of the process, and the pace of change differs greatly.  Countries that started the process later will have less time to adjust.”  The U.N. also states that the problem is enduring.  That is, it will never return to the young population of old.  Wars and epidemics could make things worse.

Add to this effect, other influences on the reproductive cycle.  They include the following: 1) the pervasive use of birth control; 2) the recent inclination toward smaller family size; 3) the inclination to postpone marriage and childbirth; 4) the tendency of couples to live together rather than marry; 5) the increase in infertility and reproductive problems caused by pollution, chemical exposure, and substance use; 6) the high divorce rate; 7) abortion; and 8) homosexuality.

All of these elements decrease reproductive rates and exacerbate the aging of countries and cultures around the world.  Effects of aging populations are devastating on economies and cultures.

2) It behooves societies to provide children with both a mother and a father whenever possible.

“Children from two-parent families are better off emotionally, socially and economically, according to a review of marriage research released in The Future of Children, a journal published jointly by the non-partisan Brookings Institution and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.” [1]  Current studies are valuable, because they have traced married and divorced parents and their children for decades.  “We know from the overall social data that the best place to raise the child is in the bond of man and woman bonded for life.”

3) It benefits a society when children have both a mother and a father.

“Not surprisingly, teenagers living with married biological parents are far less likely to exhibit behavioral problems than are those living with cohabitors and those living in blended families.  Compared with black teenagers who live in cohabiting families, those living with married biological parents are significantly less likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems.  our analysis of the relationship between teenagers’ living arrangements and their behavioral outcomes shows that living with a single mother and her boyfriend is no better than living with a single mother. In many cases (particularly for whites and Hispanics), it is significantly worse. The most favorable outcomes we observe are for teenagers living with their biological parents who are married to each other.” [2]

“Evidence is mounting that the involvement of a father has a greater influence on his children than previously acknowledged. It appears that a father’s interest increases a child’s social development, his sense of self-worth, and his chances of academic success. The reason seems to be that his involvement in child-rearing is different from a woman’s.” [3]

“Researchers have made some important observations about maternal influence. It appears that mothers have a stronger role than fathers in teaching children the skills of social interaction. Women tend to put more emphasis on building and maintaining relationships, both inside and outside the family. They also tend to have a more flexible style of discipline than fathers and are more open to negotiation as a means of reconciling conflicts. Children learn from them how to handle the give-and-take that’s part of any strong relationship.” [4]

4) Children fair best when raised by their biological parents whenever possible.

“Premarital cohabitation is no protection against conflict, abuse and divorce.  Instead, it greatly increases each. What is more, children raised by their married, biological parents see marked benefits. They do better in school and enjoy higher levels of physical and mental health. They are less likely to break the law, have babies out of wedlock, and ever live in poverty. They are also less likely to divorce or cohabit when they enter adulthood.

“There is new group of people in the public debate telling us that children should be raised in a home with a married mother and father. These are not religious moralists but rather, social scientists, and their collective work is reaching some definitive and authoritative conclusions. These researchers, have found that the breakdown of the traditional two-parent family breakdown is the engine driving a number of society’s most pressing problems. These problems include a marked decrease in physical and mental health, lagging educational attainment, and exploding rates of poverty, crime and illegitimacy.” [5]

5) Solid marriages in society bring men and women together for both practical and symbolic purposes.

This deals with the symbolic covenant of marriage, which encourages loyalty, fidelity, and long term commitment.  Studies show that married couples who have not cohabited before marriage have more solid marriages and are less likely to engage in abuse or to divorce.  Society would benefit if the marriage covenant were lifted to a loftier standard than it now has.  The loftiest is that of the Mormon Church, where husband and wife are considered co-equal in the marriage, and marriage is meant to be an eternal covenant.  This covenant is central to the faith, not peripheral.  Mormons believe the highest kingdom in heaven is reserved for couples who have entered into and honored this covenant.  In other words, marriage is their greatest and most central work.  The divorce rate for Mormons who enter into this marriage covenant is about 7%.

6) Solid marriages provide men with a stake in family and society.

It is a given that women are generally more family-oriented than men.  Men in happy marriages are healthier (both physically and emotionally) and live longer.  They are more stable, less reckless, and more likely to be law-abiding citizens.  “Research done at UC San Francisco found that those ‘who lived alone or with someone other than a spouse had significantly shorter survival times compared with those living with a spouse…the critical factor for survival was the presence of a
spouse.’  The separated and divorced account for 70 percent of all chronic problems drinkers, while marrieds account for only 15 percent. Single men are over 3 times more likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver than marrieds.  And the lowest rate of admissions to mental hospitals was for marrieds.” [6]

See also, The Family: A Proclamation to the World