Marriage is Foundational for the Well-being of Society
In my last post (which can be read by clicking here), I compared the institution of marriage – as the foundation for our society – to the foundations of structures. With this post I attempted to prove that,
[Redefining] marriage as anything other than its historical and universally accepted meaning would be to shift and weaken a societal foundation that must remain solid.
The institution of marriage serves as the foundation for each and every society. Everyone in America comes from a union of some sort; all people descend from couples, who descended from previous generations. Therefore, the nature of that union will have an impact on America’s future citizens, workers, business owners, fathers, mothers, leaders – in fact, on everyone.
With the remainder of the time that I have with you, I would like to address the importance for couples to limit sexual intercourse to marriage and the importance of the nuclear family upon the well-being of their children and society.
Importance of Limiting Sexual Intercourse to Marriage
Since a relationship between one man and one woman that involves sexual intercourse can potentially lead to life-generation, then sexual intercourse should,
…be contained within marriage. From marriage may emerge children and the parental responsibility of spouses, who with their children constitute a nuclear family (Guidelines for Government and Citizenship).
For children raised outside of their nuclear family are “at greater risk for a large number of serious personal and social problems, even after controlling for race, income, and family background” (Gallagher, pg. 10).” Since families – which ideally derive from marriages – have such a tremendous impact upon the well-being of their children, the government should enact policies that not only recognize the institution of marriage (as defined in my last post here), but encourage it, support it, strengthen it, and protect it – but not define it.
For example, government policy should encourage couples to become married – especially if they have children outside of marriage – by providing spousal benefits. In addition, government policy should discourage divorce and limit its recognizable grounds.
Importance of the Nuclear Family
The nuclear family is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as the “unit of parents with their children; a social unity that consists of a mother, a father, and their children.” The importance of this familial institution upon men, women, children, and society is incomparable to any other institution (see Maggie Gallagher’s The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially).
However, we cannot have strong families without building strong marriages. For the strength of marriages impacts more than just the man and woman, it impacts their children, extended families, and society as a whole.
In fact, a study conducted by the Institute of American Values confirms this point. If truth be told,
A large body of social science evidence confirms that marriage is a wealth-creating institution. Marriage changes the relationship between men, women, and their children in a way that leaves men, women, children, and society better off (from Can Government Strengthen Marriage, pg. 6).
Since marriage has such a penetrating effect upon the entirety of society, it is to be understood that this institution is more than a private relationship between two people but rather a public institution. This is why the institution of marriage is to be publicly endorsed and supported.
Marriage is foundational to the well-being of society and should be guarded with persistent diligence. It is imperative that we succeed not only in protecting the definition of marriage and family, but we also need to see that marriages and families are strengthened and equipped to endure. This has even been confirmed in a study conducted by 13 leading family scholars,
Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike…Whether American society succeeds or fails in building a healthy marriage culture is clearly a matter of legitimate public concern (Can Government Strengthen Marriage, pg. 8)
Since the impact of marriage and family stems beyond the personal realm and reaches far into the public and societal spheres, then governments should not attempt to redefine the historical understanding of marriage, but rather endorse it, support it, and enact policies to strengthen it.
Check back on Friday for the final installment of Marriage: Its Foundational Importance.
In the meantime, what are practical steps that we can take as individuals, groups, organizations, and churches to better support and strengthen marriages in our local communities?
Looking forward to your responses!
Jesse Wisnewski serves as the Executive Administrator of Perrow Church in Cross Lanes, WV. Jesse is married to his best friend Jessica, and they have two sons, Peyton, 10 and Jude, 9 months. He is currently attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary – Charlotte and is completing coursework towards a Master of Divinity.