Post Author: Bill Pratt
I think that the benefits of traditional marriage are taken for granted among a large portion of the population. Whenever there is talk of changing the definition of marriage, we must revisit why we have the current definition. And we must also ask if the current version of marriage is serving us well compared to the alternatives.
Jay Richards, in the Vol. 5 / No. 4 / 2012 edition of the Christian Research Journal reminds us what the good of marriage is:
The easiest public argument to make in defense of traditional marriage is to focus on the benefits of marriage. The collapse of marriage and the epidemic of divorce since the 1960s have given social scientists decades of data to study, and the results are in: marriage is good for us, and divorce is not.
Based on solid empirical evidence, we know that men and women in their first marriages tend to be healthier and happier than their counterparts in every other type of relationship—single, widowed, or divorced. They’re also less depressed and anxious, and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Married adults are more sexually fulfilled. They’re better parents, better workers, and are less likely to be perpetrators or victims of domestic violence.
Are there other benefits to marriage? Yes. Richards continues:
Social scientists have concluded that married men are less likely to commit crime and more likely to hold down jobs. Single people can, of course, live fulfilling lives. The apostle Paul commends the single life as a wonderful gift for those who are called to it (1 Cor. 7:7-8). Those called to marriage, however, tend to be much better off if they are married rather than divorced. Marriage scholars Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher sum up the results of thousands of scientific studies: “A good marriage is both men’s and women’s best bet for living a long and healthy life.”
What about children?
The same thing is true for children. On almost every metric imaginable, a child is much better off reared by his married mother and father. This one fact is more important to a child’s well-being than his race, his parents’ education, or his neighborhood.
Does this data mean that single parents and kids who are raised in homes without their two biological parents are doomed? Richards explains that
these are statistical measures. Some heroic single parents and their kids overcome the odds, and any institution can be distorted and even destroyed by human sin. Still, all things being equal, marriage is good for us, and divorce is not.
Here is the takeaway. Our intuitions and experience tell many of us that traditional marriage is good for us and our children. We don’t have to just go by our experience and intuition, however. Decades of social research backs us up. Keep this in mind next time someone asks you to re-define traditional marriage.