Marriage is the Foundation of Social Order
A speech by Don Feder to the World Congress of Families Regional Conference in Antigua, June 29-30, 2017
We must defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman. More broadly, we need a renaissance of marriage if our civilization is to survive.
Let's start with an unlikely source. Actress Raquel Welch was a symbol of the new sexual freedom of the 1970s. The star of "One Million Years B.C." was voted the most desirable woman of that era by the readers of Playboy magazine.
But in a 2010 commentary on CNN.com, Welch decried the sexual freedom and sexual irresponsibility that came with what's come to be known as the "Pill."
Regarding marriage, Welch confessed: "I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it (marriage) is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy." She summarized the case for marriage eloquently, in just 26 words.
And yet, marriage is everywhere in decline. In the United States, in 1960, 72% of adults were married. By 2008, that figure had fallen to 51%. In other words, whether through divorce, the death of a spouse or a failure to marry at all, almost half of all adults in America are single. Among those in their prime childbearing years (ages 18 to 35), 65% were married in 1960, compared to only 26% today.
People are marrying later in life, if at all. Fewer marriages and later marriages equal fewer children. The flight from marriage is the primary cause of dramatically falling fertility. Every developed nation now has below replacement fertility in many cases, well-below replacement.
The decline of marriage has led to a loss of social cohesion. Marriage and children force men to grow up. Marriage makes them responsible, by giving them a sense of purpose. It gives women the security to become mothers.
Marriage tames destructive male instincts. The most potent force for social chaos is unattached males in their teens and twenties. As a rule, married men don't join gangs, deal drugs or commit random acts of violence. They work harder, and are more likely to save and contribute to the community. Marriage humanizes us.
We know this almost instinctively. Say you're walking down a dark street at night and a group of young men are approaching you. Would you be relieved to learn that they were all married? This is what's called a rhetorical question.
Married men and women are healthier, happier, live longer and are more successful than their single counterparts. Children who live with their married, biological parents are better students, better adjusted and more likely to avoid destructive behavior like drugs, alcohol, crime, suicide and the initiation of sexual activity at an early age.
We all have a stake in promoting marriage and family formation. So why are both on the endangered species list? The culprits include no-fault divorce, cohabitation, a weakening of religion, a culture of selfishness and one that sanctions, even promotes, sex outside marriage.
Marriage is as old as humanity itself. Before there were nations, before there were governments, before there was civil society, there was the family, consisting of a man and a woman and their children. Genesis is largely the history of one family Abraham, his wife and son and their descendants.
In the beautifully poetic words of the King James Bible: "Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Marriage is an essential part of God's plan for humanity.
Why one man and one woman? Because male and female complement each other. There's a wonderful scene in the movie "Jerry McGuire," where Tom Cruise says to his wife, "You complete me."
Children need both male and female role models, something conspicuously absent from same-sex arrangements. There is no substitute for a man and a woman a father and a mother in the home.
Instead of promoting natural marriage the institution on which society's future depends the only kind of marriage many politicians seem interested in is the only kind from which society derives no benefit.
Starting with the Dutch in 2001, 20 countries, almost all developed nations in the West, adopted so-called gay marriage. Significantly, the Netherlands also legalized drugs and prostitution about the same time.
To date, no Asian nation, none on the African continent save South Africa, and only a handful in Latin America have deconstructed marriage. Only Ireland did so by a popular vote, the rest by legislation or judicial decree. In the United States, this was done by unelected judges who distorted our Constitution to reach an outcome favored by elites.
Let's consider two of the most popular arguments of proponents:
1. We love each other Interesting, but irrelevant. A 30-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl can love each other; blood relatives can love each other; a man can love two or more women. Based on the love-conquers-all criteria, shouldn't they be allowed to wed too? Once you begin changing the age-old definition of marriage, where do you stop? Why not open it up to any individuals or combinations of individuals who say they're in love? In Medellin, Colombia, Victor Prada, John Rodriguez and Manuel Bermudez were legally married recently. Each declares his love for the other two.
2. Limiting marriage to heterosexuals is discriminatory Proponents of same-sex marriage argue: "If you believe in equality, you should support marriage between two men or two women." The answer: Life isn't fair. Everyone should be equal in their fundamental rights (freedom of speech, religion, association and so on). Otherwise, life is governed by inequality. Do I have the right to be the New England Patriots' quarterback, even though I lack the strength, skill and coordination necessary? Marriage is more than a contract between two individuals. (That's why it's regulated by the state.) It has social functions that transcend individual desires.
Let's consider some counter-arguments:
1. Homosexuals can't fulfill the most basic purpose of marriage procreation and childrearing. There are heterosexual couples that don't want children and those that can't have children. But same-sex couples, by their very nature, are incapable of having children. The couples who are doing society's vital work mothers and fathers joined by faith and tradition, raising the next generation in love deserve the status reserved for them alone from time immemorial.
2. Children need a father and a mother A woman who was raised from birth by two lesbians said that, even as an adult, "I have still felt an empty space in my life, the lack of a father, and no matter the love I have had from both of my mothers' ... There is a balance that comes from a mother and a father that can create the most lasting and stable family. I would not keep the blessings a father can give from any child."
3. With gay marriage in the United States, adoption agencies are being forced to place children with homosexual couples. In Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Catholic Charities stopped offering adoption services for that reason.
4. There is no comparison between this and natural marriage. Most homosexual liaisons are of short duration. Even those that are called "committed relationships" are rarely monogamous. According to the National Center for Health Research, in 2001, even in the age of no-fault divorce, 66% of first marriages in the U.S. lasted longer than 10 years; 50% lasted longer than 20 years. Another study described the average homosexual relationship as "transactional" lasting less than 6 months.
5. In a study of gay men by the Journal of Sex Research, the average number of lifetime partners was 755, with some reporting more than 1,000. How can the term "marriage" be applied to what amounts to a revolving bedroom door?
6. Legalizing homosexual marriage inevitably leads to public school indoctrination and religious persecution. In the United States, photographers, florists and bakers have been fined huge sums (and, in some cases, ordered to undergo what amounts to therapy) for refusing to participate in same-sex ceremonies. Ultimately, sexual radicals would force churches to perform these ceremonies or lose their tax-exempt status.
7. On Father's Day, the U.S. Department of Education had a fatherhood conference that included the heads of Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, two well-respected organizations doing vital work. "Outrageous" said LGBT groups. Because FRC and Focus oppose gay marriage, they are "hateful." Thus the movement works tirelessly to stigmatize and marginalize conservative Christians.
8. In the Canadian province of Alberta, a local school board ordered a Christian school to stop reading or studying "any scripture that could be offensive to any individual." Presumably, this includes those that condemn homosexuality, adultery, idolatry and witchcraft.
9. The sexual revolution is an insatiable beast. Nothing is ever enough. First there were anti-discrimination laws, then hate-crimes legislation, then marriage-deconstruction. Now, it's on to what's called "transgenderism" which has absolutely no scientific basis. It demands that men who "feel" like women be treated like women including using the bathrooms and showers/changing rooms of those who actually are women and girls regardless of considerations of safety and modesty. If we don't hold the line on marriage, who knows what will come next.
10. Same-sex marriage must be seen not in isolation, but as part of a continuum. In the United States, we went from no-fault divorce, to abortion on demand and sex education which amounts to indoctrination, to public schools distributing condoms to minors without parental knowledge or consent. Along with Bible-believers, the left has targeted the family as the chief obstacle to achieving its utopian agenda. It understands that anything which weakens the family strengthens its cause.
11. Almost 100 years ago, Georg Lukacs, a Hungarian intellectual considered one of the fathers of Cultural Marxism, wrote that traditional culture must be destroyed for the workers' paradise to emerge. Lukacs observed: "I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries." By the "old values," he meant faith and family.
Without marriage, we will enter a brave new world of atomistic individualism one where individuals live by and for themselves and social arrangements are transitory and utilitarian. Procreation will be increasingly rare.
We need to return to our roots especially the Bible.
The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948, when most UN members were democracies) calls the family based on marriage, "the natural and fundamental group unit of society and (as such) entitled to protection by society and the state."
To say the family is "the... fundamental group unit of society," means it's the foundation. Demolish the foundation, and the entire structure collapses. Survivors will buried in the rubble.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains a Facebook page.