Recently the term marriage has been very popular among those on the left and the right. It has been bandied about courtrooms and hotly spoken of in the halls of state legislatures. The congress even passed the Defense of Marriage Act; a law the Obama administration has decided not to defend (upon what basis the Department of Justice thinks it can pick and choose which laws to defend is a subject unto itself). The libertarians say marriage is whatever individuals want it to be, progressives say it is a right and the religious right say it is an institution ordained of God. So what is a marriage what makes it so important to so many people?
The fact is marriage is practiced in nearly all cultures and religions to some extent or another. It is one of those things early conservatives would have called a natural law, something common among men to the point it is beyond the scope of debate. The arguments about marriage and its place in our culture are new and without precedent. The reason marriage is so fundamental to societies is the fact it is the only method by which a culture and by default a society can effectively reproduce itself. This brings us to something the libertarians, the progressives and to some extent even the religious right miss; marriage is foremost about the rearing of children.
Marriage forms the bedrock upon which families are built. It is the nuclear family that provides the best method for instilling morals, transferring culture, providing connections to the past and giving hope to the future. There is no need to take anyone’s word for it; the statistics tell the story better than just words ever could.
*63% of youth suicides (US Dept. Of Health/Census).
*90% of all homeless and runaway children
*85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes
*80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes (Justice and Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
*71% of all high school dropouts (National Principals Association Report)
*75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers (Rainbows for All God’s Children)
*70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
*85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes — 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Dept. of Correction)
To libertarians marriage maybe about individual rights but they forget rearing children goes beyond the mere rights of the individual. Children are societies must precious resource and their protection its greatest responsibility. Damage and destruction of the lives of children is a price to high to pay for the sake of individual freedom and one a culture cannot long endure. In the end no one is declaring that government or any others have the right to declare who one can live with or what they can do in the privacy of their homes. But freedom to do with your life what you please does not transcend to the right to destroy the lives of others or to undermine the institutions upon which society relies for its very survival!
Progressives for their part like to call Marriage a right. By what measure and on what basis they declare it so is never stated. The fact is they see rearing of children a societal responsibility. To them it takes a village not parents to do the job. If anything nuclear families are a hindrance to the progressive vision. In order to create a new world one must first dispense with the old, to this end traditional families are an obstacle to be overcome. Families tend to give children their culture, morals and connection to the past; all the things that get in the way of the “progress” the progressive liberal mind desires. To them the term marriage needs to be relegated to being a simple agrement of mutual responsibility and thats all. A right of contract if you will. Children, transfering of culture and giving a foundation to the next generation is irrelevent. Minimizing the meaning of marriage and its traditional role in society is not only desirable to them but in many ways necessary to propel their vision foreword. Blind to the damage their vision would cause they are as usual driven by good intentions and it is by these good intentions they wish to be judged.
As far as the religious right, they often defend marriage as a institution ordained by God. It is not that they necessary err in such a contention but the fact is such a contention is a matter of faith. The problem is that by defending it as a religious tenant they in essence make marriage a matter of personal conscience. Consequently their efforts make marriage a religious matter outside of the realm of law and secular control. In so doing they forfeit the debate on what is marriage and its role in society to those who wish to redefine it on secular grounds. It seems their hearts are in the right place but their heads are in the clouds.
In the end marriage comes down to what is best for children. This does not mean what is right in every case, no one can predict or plan for individual outcomes. It does mean what on average will give the best outcome for children and by default society. There will always be cases where a child with everything going for him/her will turn out to be a dysfunctional adult and those who overcome the worst of circumstances to become shining stars of success. We cannot set the bar based on the exception or the exceptional but what we know is best for most. What history, tradition, culture and common sense all decrees is marriage and the traditional family is the best way to care for and raise children. By default it is also the best way for a society to insure its survival.
A single parent can never give a child what a married couple could, he or she may manage but an optimal situation it can’t be. Consequently it should be remembered that although single parenthood is sometimes unavoidable it should never be considered an equally viable option to a two parent household. Children are not toys or hobbies. Correspondingly two gay men or two gay women may give a child love but solid examples of what it means to be a man or woman or how opposite sexes interact is beyond their capabilities. It does not matter if you believe that homosexuality is a birth defect, a psychosis or something in between. The right to act on your own desires and needs is not debatable but the right to pretend you are able to do things that you are inherently incapable of doing to the detriment of society does not exist. The goal must be to have all children raised in healthy two parent two sex households. This is a goal that will never be reached but for the sake of ourselves and our posterity we need to try to achieve it to the greatest extent possible.
The facts are families are the cornerstone of society and no society will long endure without them. It is no coincidence that when a couple has a child they often declare “we are now a family”; the fact is in our genes, our cultural heritage and our very souls. The family is a force of nature; an instinct of the most basic sort. It is born from the wisdom of the ages is not to be tinkered with lightly nor ignored according to fashion. The family is the cornerstone of all societies. When a society starts to think it can grow beyond its foundations its destiny is collapse.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
Frederick Douglas 1818 – 1895
Children are one third of our population and all of our future.
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