Why Marriage Matters – 1

Some years ago I came across a publication by the National Marriage Coalition 1 called “Why Marriage Matters.”  It provided 21 reasons (backed up with verifiable research) showing why marriage is important in the community. I would like to use this document as a resource for a series, running over the next 10 weeks. The research references in the text may be found in the original document.

Introduction:

The Bible believing Christian person understands that every subject under heaven is firstly, God’s subject. We do ourselves a great disservice if we think we can understand anything, without first acknowledging the existence of God, His creation of all things, and His sovereignty over all. The Bible instructs us that in Christ Himself, are hidden “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col.2:3). Who can properly understand anything under heaven, without acknowledging the God Who made everything under heaven?

The word “comprehend” means both “to contain” and “to understand.” That which contains man is also the source of our understanding of man. If man is a creature of the state, then he is to be understood in terms of the state…Christian man, however, created in the image of God, cannot be contained in anything short of God’s eternal decree and order, nor understood except in terms of God Himself. Man therefore is not understandable in terms of man but in terms of God. 2

The Christian person can understand marriage, because he recognises it as a part of God’s order and plan for mankind. There are many benefits for the community that acknowledges marriage and upholds it as a desirable institution. There are far more, when that community acknowledges the existence of God, His sovereignty over all things, and His design and purpose for mankind in Jesus Christ. Without that acknowledgement, all knowledge and understanding is deeply flawed and ultimately frustrated.

Marriage was originally intended to be grounded in the covenant of dominion, not in the mutual attraction of men and women, and not even on the need of human beings to reproduce. Marriage is intended to be subordinate to the covenant of dominion [Gen.1:26-28]. 3 

What do we know about the importance of marriage for children, for adults and for society? There has been a sharp increase over the last two generations in the proportion of children who do not live with their own two married parents, spurred first largely by increases in divorce, and more recently by large jumps in unmarried or cohabiting childbearing. A vigorous public debate sparked by these changes in family structure has generated a grow­ing body of social science literature on the consequences of family fragmentation.

This report is an attempt to summarize this large body of scientific research into a succinct form useful to Australians, Americans and others on all sides of ongoing family debates — to report what we know about the importance of marriage in our family and social system.

Here is our fundamental conclusion: Marriage is an im­portant social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.

 

Family

1. Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children.
Mothers as well as fathers are affected by the absence of marriage. Single mothers on average report more conflict with and less monitoring of their children than do mar­ried mothers.As adults, children from intact marriages report being closer to their mothers on average than do children of divorce. In one nationally representative study, 30 percent of young adults whose parents divorced reported poor relationships with their mothers, compared to 16 percent of children whose parents stayed married.

But children’s relationships with their fathers are at even greater risk. Sixty-five percent of young adults whose parents divorced had poor relationships with their fathers (compared to 29 percent from non- di­vorced families).On average, children whose parents divorce or never marry see their fathers less frequently and have less affectionate relationships with their fathersthan do children whose parents got and stayed married. Divorce appears to have an even greater nega­tive effect on relationships between fathers and their children than remaining in an unhappy marriage.

2.Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage.
As a group, cohabitors in the Unites States and Australia more closely resemble singles than married people.Chil­dren with cohabiting parents have outcomes more similar to the children living with single (or remarried) parents than children from intact marriages.Adults who live to­gether are more similar to singles than to married couples in terms of physical healthand emotional well-being and mental health,as well as in assets and earnings.

Selection effects account for a large portion of the differ­ence between married people and cohabitors. As a group, cohabitors (who are not engaged) have lower incomes and less education.Couples who live together also, on aver­age, report relationships of lower quality than do married couples — with cohabitors reporting more conflict, more violence, and lower levels of satisfaction and commit­ment.Even biological parents who cohabit have poorer quality relationships and are more likely to part than par­ents who marry.Cohabitation differs from marriage in part because couples who choose merely to live together are less committed to a lifelong relationship.

1. National Marriage Coalition, PO Box 826 Wollongong, NSW 2520 www.marriage.org.au
2. Rushdoony, R. J., “This Independent Republic,” 1978, p.15. Quoted in De Mar, G., “Ruler of the Nations,” 1987, p.viii.
3. North, G., “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.91.

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