“It’s just a piece of paper. We love each other and that’s enough.” Ever heard anyone say something like that when explaining why they aren’t married but are living together? Unfortunately, that’s become a pretty common sentiment about marriage.
The truth is marriage is much more than just a piece of paper. As Institute for Family Studies points out in a marriage fact sheet, “[m]arriage is about building a common life together, forming an exclusive emotional, sexual, and spiritual bond, forging a shared financial future, taking care of your spouse in ‘sickness and health,’ and providing a stable and loving home for any children that you have.”
Children get lost all too frequently in the marriage discussion these days. Many couples, if they marry at all, are choosing to not have children, claiming children are too expensive, or don’t fit their lifestyle, or the world is overpopulated, or the world is too bad to bring children into it. Broken families or children born to single women put children at huge risk for all sorts of pathologies. Children adopted into homes with two dads or two moms are always purposefully deprived of either a mother or a father.
All of these reflect that reality that our culture is much more about adult happiness than the well-being of children.
What we know is that what is best for children is to be brought up in the homes of their married dads and moms. This doesn’t mean children brought up in other family structures can’t overcome the odds. Many certainly do, but this does mean that normatively an intact, married-dad-and-mom home is where children are much more likely to thrive, not just survive. And every society depends on the next generation to become well-adjusted, productive adults.
Marriage matters to children. Social science continues to reinforce what God has designed since He instituted marriage and family in the Garden of Eden. What social science finds is that children living with their married dads and moms are more likely to do well in school than their peers in other family structures and actually graduate high school and when they reach adulthood. They are also more likely to have full-time employment and to succeed in their work.
Boys in intact families are more likely to avoid getting in trouble with the law than boys not in these families, and thus, these boys stay out of jail. Girls who are brought up in a home with married mom and dad are less likely to be sexually active than girls in other families and therefore avoid teen pregnancies. Importantly, children living with their married dad and mom avoid poverty, which in itself can result in severe disadvantages.
So how do we change the culture and the mindset of so many? First, Christian families model godly marriages. They talk positively about God’s plan for marriage and about their own marriage. They promote child-bearing and adoption within marriage. Seeing good marriages and families is one of the best ways to ensure the next generation values marriage and wants marriage and children for themselves.
Churches also have an important role to play in creating a marriage culture. Biblical preaching and teaching on the subject is essential, but so is celebrating marriage as God designed it—making much of weddings and anniversaries and births sends a powerful message to everyone that marriage is good and desirable.
Government can help too by making sure no law penalizes marriage, but rather that married couples receive some benefits, reflecting the good they bring to society in general. Additionally, we need to stop making welfare so readily available for single women with children and then removing those funds if they marry. That incentivizes exactly the wrong behavior and actually sets children up for trouble.
Marriage is so much more than a piece of paper. Marriage matters, and it especially matters to children. Wise societies will do everything they can to ensure they are promoting the best interest of children—their future. Once again, it must be said, God’s way is always the best way.
Marriage is not only the bedrock of society, but it is a sacred institution designed by God for His glory and humankind’s good.. Marriage plays a significant role in the overall health of a couple and their children, and allows for prosperous, well-ordered societies to thrive.
Unfortunately, the institution of marriage is under attack, especially since Congress passed and the president signed into law the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, which distorts God’s design and redefines marriage as nothing more than abstract adult desires. The true definition of marriage, a union between one man and one woman, must be the law of the land in order for families to flourish and society to thrive.
In addition to the redefining of marriage, marriage rates are declining in the U.S. A recent Pew poll shows that only 34% of U.S. adults believe society is better off if “people make marriage and having children a priority,” while 64% believe society is “just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.” As we know, these beliefs are woefully misguided, and our country is experiencing the consequences of a lack of strong families headed by married dads and moms.
This is bad news for individuals and society in general. A major survey published by Harvard Medical School shows that married men are healthier overall and live longer than men who were never married or are divorced. For women, marriage provides security and a safe environment to raise children, who ultimately provide both spouses with life-long fulfillment. Further, married couples also have happier, healthier relationships than cohabiting couples.
Marriage is not only vitally important for couples, but it is also a major determinant of their children’s health and success. A child born into the home of his/her married mother and father “will receive the complimentary love of a mom and dad,” noted Katy Faust in an interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.
Children born outside God’s design of a life-long heterosexual union are at greater risk for homelessness, drug use, child poverty, teen suicide, academic failure, teen pregnancy, and more. “Every social ill we are facing today is because this country, culturally and legally, is getting the family wrong,” says Faust. Further, A recent study found that children raised in stable homes are “more likely to flourish economically, educationally, and socially.” Marriage is the best way to provide children with a foundation for success.
The good news is that more children are living with their married mother and father, according to the Institute for Family Studies. This is because both marriage and divorce rates are declining, meaning the marriages that do occur are more stable. In addition, fewer unmarried women are having children while the number of children born to married parents has been more stable.
The Institute for Family Studies promotes the Success Sequence, which consists of three steps that ought to be taken in a certain order to ensure the highest chance of success in one’s life. These steps include getting at least a high school diploma, getting a full-time job, and getting married before having children. Young adults who complete the Success Sequence in order, even in the face of big challenges, have a much greater chance of achieving success. This is true for every race and economic background in America. In fact, the latest research shows that 99% percent of young people who follow all three steps are not poor as adults.
As Christians, our mission is to promote marriage in every way we can. “We must encourage the marriage of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes within our circles of influence by not being afraid to be matchmakers. We must be witnesses for healthy and loving marriages and family life to our neighbors and local communities by inviting neighbors over for playdates or dinner, striking up conversations in the barber shop and dentist office, and getting involved in civic life by running for school board and other local, state, and federal offices…We must invite non-believing or fallen away members of our local communities to our churches,” write Dan Hart and Connor Semelsberger of the Washington Stand.
Building a culture of deep respect for God’s design and the institution of marriage is up to us. Until we do, children will fall victim to many societal ills, and couples will experience poorer health and less success. Marriage is every society’s foundational institution, and when that foundation is weak, the society is weak.
Couples struggling with infertility are increasingly turning to artificial reproduction, namely in vitro fertilization (IVF). While this technology seems to provide hope to couples with a well-intentioned longing to start a family, the reality is that IVF exploits women and strips tiny children of their fundamental right to life.
Oxford University fertility expert Professor Imogen Goold notes that artificial reproduction clinics “are selling anxious women a false dream” and “preying on women” by charging them for a procedure that almost never works.
When it comes to Big Fertility, there is no independent overseer, and among women aged 42 to 43 who try IVF, a mere three percent will end up with a baby. “Clinics offering egg-freezing rely on women being scared and wanting to throw money at a problem. But these clinics have a vested interest in convincing women they need to buy into this process as an insurance policy, highlighting their success rates while burying their failures,” writes British doctor Max Pemberton.
The lack of success and exploitation of desperate couples is not the only problem with IVF. Most importantly, every time an IVF cycle is performed, multiple tiny children are destroyed.
In the first stages of IVF, clinicians perform a preimplantation screening of early embryos for chromosomal or genetic abnormalities. The tiny humans that are determined to be “healthy” are implanted or frozen to be used in the future. The remaining embryos are simply discarded.
Further, many of the embryos who aren’t discarded during the first stages of IVF lose their lives during the implantation phase. In fact, only seven percent of embryos created through IVF are born.
Each of these embryos is a human life formed by God. Once fertilization takes places, a human being made in the image and likeness of God is formed, regardless of where or how that life is conceived.
Approximately 12 percent of married couples suffer from infertility or struggle to sustain a pregnancy, which creates deep emotional and physical stress. These couples deserve care and support as they suffer from the immense pain associated with the unfulfilled longing for a child, and a healthy society must encourage couples to have children and build strong families. However, lab-created children are not the answer. Instead, we should provide hope to couples struggling with infertility by encouraging them to adopt. Adoption benefits and respects the rights of everyone involved.
Unfortunately, couples trying to conceive through IVF aren’t made fully aware of what the process entails. Unless they ask the right questions of the doctors, they won’t know what the problems with this procedure are. It’s up to Christians and pro-lifers to share the truth about IVF with compassion for those who are desperately trying to conceive.
Once again science and technology are ahead of our ethics. Just because we can do something, does not mean we have a moral imperative to do it. It’s never right to create human life with the intention of it being expendable.