2023 | Week of November 27 | Radio Transcript #1542
“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, quote, “[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.” End quote.
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, positively 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 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, 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.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you that God, through the Prophet Hosea, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”