Hours after the public learned reality TV star Kim Kardashian had filed for divorce from NBA star Kris Humphries, George Takei (famous for portraying Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek series and who is openly gay) had this to say on Twitter: “Kim Kardashian files for divorce after 72 days. Another example of how same-sex marriage is destroying the sanctity of the very institution.”
At first glance, this may look like another boneheaded celebrity blunder that unfortunately grabs headlines across America. In one sense this can be put into the category of the failed eight-day marriage of Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra, but in light of the massive cultural assault on the institution of marriage and the current attitude of Americans toward marriage, this particular event is more significant.
Legalizing same-sex marriage further debases the institution of marriage. However, Takei’s sarcasm points to another sad truth: Many already see marriage as a joke or as an arbitrary, antiquated, freedom-killing social construct. A Pew study from last year, for example, showed that a growing number of Americans believe that marriage is “obsolete.” In other words, this isn’t the first time we as a culture have laughed at a failed marriage, but we are now as a culture laughing at marriage per se.
Study after study shows that marriage — defined as a monogamous relationship shared by a man and woman — deserves legal and cultural protection and high regard for the social, economic, and health benefits it affords individuals and societies. Though many may share Takei’s opinion on marriage, it doesn’t reflect reality. Marriage is essential for society.
The biblical view of marriage recognizes it as the institution that endorses and protects procreation, and thus the central institution for stabilizing and sustaining societies. The bottom line: Marriage is good for you and good for society, especially when compared to the growing trend of cohabitation.
Societally, the 2008 report “Cohabitation, Marriage and Child Wellbeing” from the National Marriage Project illustrates why marriage is a social good. Children raised outside an intact marriage are much more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders, diseases, suicide attempts, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Another finding from The Heritage Foundation’s familyfacts.org shows teens raised in intact families are much less likely to have had sexual encounters in their teenage years, reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the number of children born out of wedlock. In addition, whole nations’ economic wealth is directly linked to the health of family and marriage in those countries, as defined by the traditional view of marriage; the healthier the institution of marriage is, the healthier the economies of those nations are.
Individually, marriage is replete with health benefits. Cohabiters are more likely to be depressed than those who are married. Marriage even boosts health and increases lifespans to the point that for men, it compensates for the health risks of smoking. 1
Legally, calls to further legalize same-sex marriage will do nothing but weaken the idea of marriage. A 2010 New York Times story illustrates that many gay marriages aren’t marriage at all, but just cohabitation with a piece of paper attached: Sexual promiscuity after taking wedding vows dilutes the commitment implicit in marriage. High levels of promiscuity amongst homosexual relationships also erode stable family life for children, when study after study shows kids grow up best while living with both biological parents, committed to their marriage. Protecting children and encouraging healthy, marital procreation ought to be reason enough for governments to protect the traditional definition of marriage.
Aside from biblical citations, there are plenty of public reasons that compel societies and governments to protect the biblical view of marriage. The institution undergirds society and reinforces what true commitment is, which has large implications for legal contracts and governance to name but two. If a man cannot be committed to his wife and children and if marriage is merely reduced to his own personal happiness, how much validity can his commitment carry in the marketplace or jobsite? Without the type of selfless commitment monogamous marriage instills, how can a nation function, let alone prosper?
The statistical decline of marriage also contributes to the perpetual adolescence the male sex finds itself in today. Less reason to take up responsibility results in less responsible men. But if marriage is to be strengthened, men will have to fight for it. And contrary to what many feminists say, many women still desire to be wives.
Below are some facts to help you as you discuss why a biblical view of marriage is a necessity for a flourishing, prosperous nation and the current state of marriage in the U.S. Also be sure to check these great sources:
- The National Marriage Project
- The Sustainable Demographic Dividend
- The Ring Makes All the Difference by Glenn T. Stanton
Marriage in Trouble
- 40% of Americans say that marriage is becoming obsolete — Pew Research Center
- 41% of babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were to unmarried women, up from 5% in 1960 — Pew Research Center
Marriage Makes Sense Financially
- The poverty rate for families without a father is 38.5%; for families without a mother the rate is 23.7%; for families with both a mother and a father the rate is 8.3% — familyfacts.org
- The mean household income for married couples with children ($91,119) is more than double that of single parents ($38,845), allowing married couples with children to bolster the economy by spending more on consumer goods — The Sustainable Demographic Dividend
Marriage Makes Sense For Your Health
- 89% of married Americans reported being in excellent or good health; only 84.5 percent of cohabiters reported the same; 83.1 percent of divorced people reported being in excellent or good health — familyfacts.org
- 84% of married women said they are happy with their family life in 2008, compared to 71% who are living with a partner and 50% of divorced or separated women — Pew Research Center
- Never-married mothers are more than two times more likely to be victims of domestic violence as mothers who are or have been married — Heritage Foundation