Category Archives: Marriage

Does Solomon’s Hundreds of Wives Mean That the Bible Promotes Polygamy?

In 1 Kings 11, verse 3, we read that Solomon, the king who ruled at the pinnacle of Israelite power, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Other great men of the Old Testament also had more than one wife. Are we to conclude that God encourages polygamy?

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, in When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficultiesargue that the Bible unequivocally teaches that monogamy is God’s standard for the human race.

This is clear from the following facts: (1) From the very beginning God set the pattern by creating a monogamous marriage relationship with one man and one woman, Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:27; 2:21–25). (2) Following from this God-established example of one woman for one man, this was the general practice of the human race (Gen. 4:1) until interrupted by sin (Gen. 4:23). (3) The Law of Moses clearly commands, ‘You shall not multiply wives’ (Deut. 17:17). (4) The warning against polygamy is repeated in the very passage where it numbers Solomon’s many wives (1 Kings 11:2), warning ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you.’ (5) Our Lord reaffirmed God’s original intention by citing this passage (Matt. 19:4) and noting that God created one ‘male and [one] female’ and joined them in marriage. (6) The NT stresses that ‘Each man [should] have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband’ (1 Cor. 7:2). (7) Likewise, Paul insisted that a church leader should be ‘the husband of one wife’ (1 Tim. 3:2, 12). (8) Indeed, monogamous marriage is a prefiguration of the relation between Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:31–32).

How do the biblical texts treat the practice of polygamy?

Polygamy was never established by God for any people under any circumstances. In fact, the Bible reveals that God severely punished those who practiced it, as is evidenced by the following: (1) Polygamy is first mentioned in the context of a sinful society in rebellion against God where the murderer ‘Lamech took for himself two wives’ (Gen. 4:19, 23). (2) God repeatedly warned polygamists of the consequences of their actions ‘lest his heart turn away’ from God (Deut. 17:17; cf. 1 Kings 11:2). (3) God never commanded polygamy—like divorce, He only permitted it because of the hardness of their hearts (Deut. 24:1; Matt. 19:8). (4) Every polygamist in the Bible, including David and Solomon (1 Chron. 14:3), paid dearly for his sins. (5) God hates polygamy, as He hates divorce, since it destroys His ideal for the family (cf. Mal. 2:16).

Geisler and Howe summarize the argument for monogamy:

In brief, monogamy is taught in the Bible in several ways: (1) by precedent, since God gave the first man only one wife; (2) by proportion, since the amount of males and females God brings into the world are about equal; (3) by precept, since both OT and NT command it (see verses above); (4) by punishment, since God punished those who violated His standard (1 Kings 11:2); and, (5) by prefiguration, since marriage is a typology of Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:31–32). Simply because the Bible records Solomon’s sin of polygamy does not mean that God approved of it.

What Are the Advantages of Monogamy?

William Tucker, the author of Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, quotes extensively from Joseph Henrich of the University of British Columbia, Robert Boyd of UCLA , and Peter Richerson of UC Davis, from a published article entitled “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage.” The article first notes the following paradox:

The anthropological record indicates that approximately 85 per cent of human societies have permitted men to have more than one wife (polygynous marriage), and both empirical and evolutionary considerations suggest that large absolute differences in wealth should favour more polygynous marriages. Yet, monogamous marriage has spread across Europe, and more recently across the globe, even as absolute wealth differences have expanded.

The authors contend that

norms and institutions that compose the modern package of monogamous marriage have been favoured by cultural evolution because of their group-beneficial effects—promoting success in inter-group competition. In suppressing intrasexual competition and reducing the size of the pool of unmarried men, normative monogamy reduces crime rates, including rape, murder, assault, robbery and fraud, as well as decreasing personal abuses.

By assuaging the competition for younger brides, normative monogamy decreases (i) the spousal age gap, (ii) fertility, and (iii) gender inequality. By shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, normative monogamy increases savings, child investment and economic productivity. . . . Polygynous societies engage in more warfare.

According to the authors,

The 15 per cent or so of societies in the anthropological record with monogamous marriage fall into two disparate categories: (i) small-scale societies inhabiting marginal environments with little status distinctions among males [i.e. hunter-gatherers] and (ii) some of history’s largest and most successful ancient societies.

Tucker explains what this means:

In other words , Western European, American, and East Asian societies live in relative peace and prosperity because they honor and enforce monogamous marriage, as did the earliest human societies . Meanwhile, the reason other societies remain relatively poor and plagued by internal violence is because they have reverted to polygamy and continue to practice it.

Henrich, Boyd, and Richerson go on to summarize the civilizing benefits of monogamy:

1. The pool of unattached men is reduced so that they do not form a potentially disruptive residue in society.

2. Crime is reduced since most crimes are committed by unmarried males. (In addition, longitudinal studies show that fewer crimes are committed by the same men when they marry.)

3. Political coups and factional fighting become less common because there are fewer single men willing to enlist in rebel armies.

4. Society becomes more productive because men work more when they are married.

5. Children do better because men invest in them instead of using their resources to obtain more wives.

6. Spousal relations improve because men and women are more dedicated to each other instead of merely entering an economic/ reproductive relationship.

7. Child marriages disappear and the age gap between husbands and wives narrows. There is reduced inequality between men and women and spousal abuse declines.

8. Young women are no longer hoarded and sequestered by their families in order to protect the value of the brideprice. Marriages become elective and more stable.

Will Gay Marriage Weaken Monogamy?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, argues that the weakening of monogamy in modern America is cause for great concern. He goes to great lengths to show that monogamy is what makes us human, and is what has allowed western civilization to flourish.

Tucker explains:

From an evolutionary standpoint, gay marriage is a non-starter. It is only a few decades old and has played no part in evolutionary or human history. Whether it emerges as a symbol of a society’s respect for marriage or a symbol of its undoing remains to be seen.

Tucker is unsure of whether gay marriage will support or undo monogamy, but he asks gay marriage proponents to consider the following:

The important thing for supporters of same-sex marriage is to draw a stark line between acceptance of gay marriage and acceptance of an “anything-goes” attitude toward marriage, which says that it makes no difference whether people tie the knot or live in sin, whether they marry a man and a woman or marry two wives or three wives (because polygamy is always lurking at the edge of these discussions), or whether they marry their dog or their cat or a favorite lampshade.

Far more fundamental than the issue of same-sex marriage is that we arrive at a biological, anthropological, and historic understanding of the role that monogamy has played in the evolution of human society.

This is a real problem for gay marriage supporters. Most of them cannot articulate principled reasons why people should not live in sin, marry multiple spouses, or marry their dog or cat. In other words, they have been so busy arguing for gay marriage that they have made no effort to guard traditional marriage.

Tucker believes that this is a colossal mistake. His view, supported by plenty of evidence throughout his book, is that the loss of traditional monogamous marriages will be a catastrophe for human civilization. Without monogamy, violence and warfare become far more common. That is not a condition any of us want to live in.

How Are Polygamy and Warfare Related?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, makes the case that polygamy and warfare are inextricably linked. Tucker writes:

The hallmark of a polygamous society is that there is always a shortage of women. The Nash Equilibrium is upset and men compete more aggressively for women, since there are never enough to go around.

What is the Nash Equilibrium?

Nash’s thesis, still the mainstay of all game theory, says that a system can reach an equilibrium without maximizing the interest of every individual player. This occurs when the system reaches a point where each player has achieved the best outcome they can under the existing rules. For a large heterosexual group with the same number of males and females, monogamy satisfies Nash Equilibrium. Each player has optimized his or her outcome under the rules of the existing system. More to the point, the only way any individual can improve his or her outcome is by breaking the rules. But this causes other kinds of disruption and works to the disadvantage of the entire group. It can be prevented by other members constantly enforcing the rules.

So how do polygamous societies deal with the deficit of women available for marriage?

In organized polygamous societies the problem is resolved by having men buy their wives. The “brideprice” is the hallmark of a polygamous society, whereas the dowry— an extra incentive attached to an older or unattractive daughter— is the hallmark of a monogamous society. There are no “old maids” in a polygamous society, since women can become second or third or fourth wives of powerful men.

In his 1981 book, A Treatise on the Family, Nobel Prize– winning economist Gary Becker argued that families of young women become the biggest supporters of polygamy because they possess an inherently scarce resource. Love matches and independent liaisons are frowned upon because they risk reducing the brideprice. In order to preserve their market value, young women must be veiled or sequestered and kept out of contact with young men. Because of the difficulties in finding brides, older men with lesser means are forced to look among younger and younger cohorts. Child marriages become common. Given the degree of sexual inequality and the great age differences that result, the personal bond between husbands and wives is not strong and there is very little companionate marriage.

So where does warfare enter the picture?

For primitive tribes, however, there is always one way of resolving this dilemma— raiding neighboring villages for their women. Academic anthropologists often have great difficulty dealing with this. In Marriage, Family, and Kinship, a book published in 1983 by the Human Area Relations Files at Yale University, for instance, Melvin and Carol R. Ember conducted a study that looked for correlations between polygamy and male-female imbalances. “[I]t appears that the cross-cultural evidence is consistent with the old notion that polygyny may generally be a response to an imbalanced sex ratio in favor of females,” they wrote.

What creates the imbalance? “It appears that an imbalanced sex ratio in favor of females may be produced by warfare that results in a high mortality rate for males.” They parsed the data looking for correlations between high rates of warfare and polygyny and sure enough, there it was. “[W]e find that a high male mortality rate in warfare is fairly strongly associated with polygyny. . . . In sum, it seems that the cross-cultural evidence presented here is consistent with the theory that societies with a high male mortality in warfare are generally likely to have an imbalanced sex ratio in favor of females and, presumably for that reason, are likely to practice polygamy.”

The Embers argue that “warfare kills a lot of men and leaves a surplus of women. The only way to make sure everyone is married is to allow polygamy.” Tucker believes the causal relationship posited by the Embers is exactly backwards.

Societies that are polygamous to begin with go to war precisely because they have created an imbalance by letting each man take more than one wife. This creates a demand for more women that can only be resolved by stealing women from other tribes. Thus warfare and polygamy become mutually reinforcing.

Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In part 1, we saw that monogamy was the original marital practice of ancient humans. Monogamy, however, came under attack when the hunter-gatherers came under attack.

What led to the demise of hunter-gatherers?

The problem that led to the near-extinction of hunting-and-gathering cultures was their inability to support large population densities. The “carrying capacity” of any given landscape for a hunting culture is about one person per square mile. A settled agricultural society can support anywhere up to one hundred times that. As a result, since the Neolithic Revolution of ten thousand years ago, hunting-and-gathering groups have been constantly crowded off the land by even the most primitive agriculturalists.

The concept of primitive hunter-gatherers exhibiting “cave man” like behavior toward women is actually backwards. Tucker explains that

despite the popular conception of “the Cave Man” as a fierce and uncouth barbarian who practiced “marriage by capture,” hitting women over the head and dragging them back to his lair, in fact the hunting-and-gathering lifestyle seems to be relatively peaceful and equitable. Rather it was early agriculturalists who became fierce and warlike, constantly raiding neighboring villages, engaging in headhunting, torture of enemies, and even cannibalism. . . .

And herein lies the great paradox at the beginning of visible human history. It is the earliest settled agricultural people that have become warlike while the earlier hunter-gatherers seemed much more content to pursue their hunting and live at relative peace with their neighbors. Why? Because the earliest agricultural societies reverted to polygamy after almost 5 million years in which monogamy seems to have prevailed.

What are the consequences of the Neolithic Revolution that begun in the eastern Mediterranean region about ten thousand years ago?

Nomadic hunter- gatherers began settling down in permanent encampments and gradually gave up hunting for agriculture. The hybrid grains— wheat, millet, rye— were invented and soon enough food could be grown to support larger and larger populations. This agricultural revolution also appears to have occurred in the Indus Valley and in China as well, radiating outward in each case. It still continues today as the last remaining hunting-and-gathering tribes are gathered into the folds of sedentary civilization.

What were the results as far as marriage customs and the relations between the sexes are concerned? There were two major trends, which will be the subject of most of the rest of this book:

1) As the accumulation of greater wealth became possible, inequalities became more pronounced. One obvious and readily available inequality was that a man could take more than one wife. Some societies— the vast majority of cultures, according to the anthropologists— succumbed to this pattern. Others, however, eventually legislated against it, creating the very artificial situation where, even though there may be vast differences in wealth between individuals, a man can still take no more than one wife. This distinction ended up drawing a bright red line between primitive tribes and advanced civilizations.

2) The relationship between the sexes changed. With hunting-and-gathering, there was a very even division of labor between the sexes. As another conclave summoned in 1980 called “Woman the Gatherer” would establish, 60 to 70 percent of the food intake in hunting-and-gathering societies actually comes from women’s activities. Meat is only the preferred food . This creates a balance between the sexes that makes monogamy a very productive enterprise.

With the adoption of agriculture, however, things changed. In some cultures, men eventually took it up and became productive. In others, however, they have disdained farming as “women’s work” and contribute only occasional labor such as clearing land. . . . [T]he economic balance between the sexes that fosters monogamy was upset.

The parallels to the biblical Book of Genesis are striking. In Genesis, the first humans are monogamous. It is only after sin has entered the world that polygamy starts to become widespread. The Bible portrays polygamy as the cause of numerous instances of violence, conflict and strife among the Patriarchs and the kings of Israel.

Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

According to William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, human beings were hunter-gatherers for thousands of years before settling down in larger population groups and becoming agricultural societies around 10,000 years ago.

Over the last couple hundred years, as anthropologists have discovered and studied ancient hunter-gatherer people-groups that still exist today, the evidence is over-whelming: they are monogamous. Tucker writes:

As explorers pushed farther into the forgotten corners of the world, however, they discovered a few remaining tribes that were still practicing hunting-and-gathering— the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, the Pygmies of Central Africa, the Aborigines of Australia. This led to an astonishing revelation. All turned out to be monogamous!

The monogamy of hunter-gatherers leads to an amazing egalitarian ethic among their groups. Tucker quotes Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson:

In general , hunter-gatherer people evince some of the most delightful and admirable ethics found anywhere. They may possess only a few rough and worn objects and little food beyond what is about to be eaten, but whatever one individual has is usually shared. People cooperate, and they promote cooperation. When one man tries to make himself better than his fellows, he is scorned, so that no one can become the “big man” or a petty tyrant over others. Hunter-gatherer societies are capable, anthropologists agree, of an “extreme political and sexual egalitarianism.”

So how did polygamy arise among human populations?

Apparently, it was the invention of agriculture and the accumulation of property and permanent wealth that had caused primitive agriculturalists to take up polygamy, as wealthier men began to acquire more women. By the 1930s, European anthropologists such as A. R. Radcliffe-Brown were arguing that polygamy was in fact a backsliding, arriving only after hunter-gatherer norms had broken down. With the loss of communal hunting, male members could now be excluded from the tribe without great consequence.

When wealthier men no longer needed to collaborate and cooperate with less wealthy men, they started taking more women. Polygamy was the result.

In part 2, we will take a more in-depth look at what caused the demise of the hunter-gatherers and why the practice of monogamy came under attack.

Why Monogamy?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

My friend, Wes, has again recommended to me a great book which I just finished. The book is called Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human and is written by William Tucker. Here is Tucker explaining what he is going to tackle in the book:

The premise from which we will work is simple. Human monogamy— the pair-bonding of couples within the framework of a larger social group— is not entirely a natural institution. This is attested by the observation that 95 percent of all species are polygamous. Where monogamy has been adopted in nature, it usually involves pair-bonded couples living in isolation in a challenging environment.

Birds pair off within a larger group, which is why in matters of romance we often feel more affinity with them than we do with our fellow mammals; while 90 percent of bird species are monogamous, 97 percent of mammal species are polygamous and individual pair-bonds are almost unknown. Only the beaver and a few others practice monogamy.

Monogamy, then, is not the rule in the natural world, but is the exception. So why was monogamy ever adopted by human beings when most of the animal world is polygamous? Tucker explains that

in almost all species, males spend most of their time fighting among themselves for access to females. The unique social contract of monogamy— a male for every female , a female for every male— lowers the temperature of sexual competition and frees its members to work together in cooperation. It is at this juncture that human societies— even human civilizations— are born.

Tucker spends much of his time in the book defending the hypothesis that monogamous human societies experience greater peace and less violence than polygamous societies. He notes, however, that there is an ever-present danger that monogamy will vanish.

Unfortunately, monogamy does not sustain itself “naturally.” It requires rules —rules that must be continuously enforced by the members practicing it. Moreover, the benefits of monogamy are not distributed equally. There are clear winners and losers, and there will always be pressure against the system from individuals who are dissatisfied with it. Yet any society that responds too enthusiastically to these grievances or decides that the system is no longer worth defending will find itself slipping back into an older social order where male competition is far more intense and the peace of civilization is difficult to maintain.

Why is it that monogamy fosters peace while polygamy fosters violence?

All this can be illustrated with some simple arithmetic. In any animal or human population, there will always be approximately the same number of males and females. When it comes to mating, then, there should be a male for every female and a female for every male . Without the restrictions of monogamy, however, the more powerful males will collect multiple females, leaving the lowest status males with none.

When this happens in nature, the unattached males usually wander off alone to lives that are “nasty , brutish, and short,” or else congregate in a “bachelor herd” where they engage in endless status competitions until one or more emerge as strong challengers to the reigning alpha males. A titanic battle then ensues and if the challenger wins he takes over the “pride,”“pod,” or “harem” of females (there is a name in almost every species). He becomes the new alpha and gets to sire progeny.

So the results of polygamy are that lower status males will be unable to mate because the females have all been claimed by the higher status males. What happens if monogamy is practiced?

Monogamy presents a different picture altogether. If every male is guaranteed a mate, then the losers are high-status males. Their breeding opportunities are curtailed. The winners are lower-status males, who are no longer thrust into exile but are given the opportunity to mate.

There are winners and losers on the female side as well. The winners are high-status females who now have exclusive access to a high-status male instead of having to share him with other females. This is particularly important if the male is a provider. A high-status female who can lay exclusive claim to the efforts of a high-status male provider tremendously increases her chances of raising successful offspring.

At the same time, the fortunes of low-status females are severely constricted by monogamy. They no longer have access to high-status males, either genetically or provisionally, but must be contented with the resources of an inferior, low-status male.

These same lessons can be applied to human civilizations, argues Tucker.

Although all this may seem transparent, its application to the workings of societies both contemporary and historic produces remarkable insights. First of all, it poses the question, how did monogamy ever evolve if high-status males are the biggest losers? After all, it is usually high-status males that dominate a social group and set the rules.

Second, it explains why the predominant pattern in many former civilizations—that of Ancient Egypt or Imperial China, for instance— was polygamy at the top while monogamy prevailed among the common people. The rulers of most ancient civilizations were unabashed in taking multiple wives and consorts— even whole harems. In a few instances— the Ottoman Empire, for example— this stark inequality became so pronounced that the society became basically dysfunctional. On a smaller scale, the same pattern holds in Islamic societies today.

The important point is this. Although monogamy is manifestly a more equitable and successful way to organize a society, it is always under siege and forever fragile. It requires rules that must be upheld by its members. If a society becomes lax or indifferent about upholding its norms, the advantages will quickly unravel— as we are plainly witnessing in the America of today.

Tucker continues, in his book, to provide loads of evidence and argumentation about the pros of monogamy and the cons of polygamy, as illustrated by a variety of human societies, large and small. In future blog posts, I will dig out some of the key arguments and evidence from the book. Stay tuned.

What Are the Best Arguments for Traditional Marriage? #8 Post of 2012

Post Author: Bill Pratt

The citizens of North Carolina voted Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 61% to 39% in favor of adding an amendment to the state constitution that re-affirms the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman.  Even though this was an overwhelming victory, it still saddens me that so many people in our state have failed to understand what is at stake in this debate.

As I’ve researched this issue for the last several years I have read numerous excellent treatments on marriage.  Recently, though, I discovered, thanks to the Manhattan Project, the best concise, scholarly treatment I’ve ever read on marriage.  The article is entitled “What Is Marriage?” and it was originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.  The authors are Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan T. Anderson.

Below is the table of contents, to give you an idea of the ground that the authors cover in the paper:

I. ……………………………………………………………………..248

A. Equality, Justice, and the Heart of the Debate …………………………………………..248

B. Real Marriage Is—And Is Only—The Union of Husband and Wife…………………..252

1. Comprehensive Union ………………………253
2. Special Link to Children ……………………255
3. Marital Norms…………………………………..259

C. How Would Gay Civil Marriage Affect You or Your Marriage? ………………..260

1. Weakening Marriage …………………………260
2. Obscuring the Value of Opposite‐Sex Parenting As an Ideal ………………………..262
3. Threatening Moral and Religious Freedom ……………………………………………263

D. If Not Same‐Sex Couples, Why Infertile Ones? ………………………………..265

1. Still Real Marriages……………………………266
2. Still in the Public Interest…………………..268

E. Challenges for Revisionists ……………………..269

1. The State Has an Interest in Regulating Some Relationships? ……….269
2. Only if They Are Romantic?………………271
3. Only if They Are Monogamous? ……….272

F. Isn’t Marriage Just Whatever We Say It Is? ……………………………………………274

II . …………………………………………………………………….275

A. Why Not Spread Traditional Norms to the Gay Community? ………………………….275

B. What About Partners’ Concrete Needs? ……………………………………..280

C. Doesn’t the Conjugal Conception of Marriage Sacrifice Some People’s Fulfillment for Others’? …………….281

D. Isn’t It Only Natural? ………………………………284

E. Doesn’t Traditional Marriage Law Impose Controversial Moral and Religious Views on Everyone? …………………………………………..285


When you click on the link to the article, it will take you to the abstract.  All you have to do to get the complete article is click on the “Download This Paper” link on the same web page.  In order to entice you to read the whole paper, I quote the conclusion of the paper below:

A thought experiment might crystallize our central argument.  Almost every culture in every time and place has had some institution that resembles what we know as marriage. But imagine that human beings reproduced asexually and that human offspring were self‐sufficient. In that case, would any culture have developed an institution anything like what we know as marriage?  It seems clear that the answer is no.

And our view explains why not.  If human beings reproduced asexually, then organic bodily union—and thus comprehensive interpersonal union—would be impossible, no kind of union would have any special relationship to bearing and rearing children, and the norms that these two realities require would be at best optional features of any relationship. Thus, the essential features of marriage would be missing; there would be no human need that only marriage could fill.

The insight that pair bonds make little sense, and uniquely answer to no human need, apart from reproductive‐type union merely underscores the conclusions for which we have argued: Marriage is the kind of union that is shaped by its comprehensiveness and fulfilled by procreation and child‐rearing.  Only this can account for its essential features, which make less sense in other relationships.  Because marriage uniquely meets essential needs in such a structured way, it should be regulated for the common good, which can be understood apart from specifically religious arguments.  And the needs of those who cannot prudently or do not marry (even due to naturally occurring factors), and whose relationships are thus justifiably regarded as different in kind, can be met in other ways.

So the view laid out in this Article is not simply the most favorable or least damaging trade‐off between the good of a few adults, and that of children and other adults.  Nor are there “mere arguments” on the one hand squaring off against people’s “concrete needs” on the other.  We reject both of these dichotomies.  Marriage understood as the conjugal union of husband and wife really serves the good of children, the good of spouses, and the common good of society.  And when the arguments against this view fail, the arguments for it succeed, and the arguments against its alternative are decisive, we take this as evidence that it serves the common good.  For reason is not just a debater’s tool for idly refracting arguments into premises, but a lens for bringing into focus the features of human flourishing.

In addition to this paper, if you want to hear an outstanding podcast that features a traditional marriage advocate debating a gay marriage advocate, you cannot do better than listening to the Unbelievable? podcast entitled “The Gay Marriage Debate – Peter Tatchell vs Peter D Williams.”  Peter Williams verbally makes many of the same arguments you will read in the marriage paper, and he does a truly exceptional job of it.

What Are the Benefits of Traditional Marriage?

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.

Why Should You Vote “For” the NC Marriage Protection Amendment?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Tomorrow is a big day in North Carolina because we are casting votes on whether a marriage protection amendment should be added to the state constitution, something that a large number of other states have already done.  I have written on marriage and gay marriage in the past, and you can go read those posts if you’d like (some of the links are found at the bottom of this post under “related posts”). 

But what I want to do today is quote an email I received from my friend, Mark.  It was written by pastor John Held, and I think captures many of the important points in this debate.  Please take a couple of minutes to read it below, and don’t forget to vote “for” the amendment tomorrow, if you are a citizen of North Carolina.

Responding to the Opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment

In their opposition of the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA), anti-amendment activists (strongly supported by national homosexual advocacy groups) are intentionally using the terms “anti-gay,” “discriminatory,” “bigotry,” and “harmful” to describe the Marriage Protection Amendment. This is part of a well thought-through, strategic tool designed to engender an emotional response from uninformed North Carolinians.
As outlined in their book After The Ball, Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, both gay activists, explain:

In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector…[this will] lay the groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status.

Homosexual activists have made no secret of the fact that the redefinition of marriage is number one on their social agenda. The popular accusations being made against the Marriage Protection Amendment fall into this “victim imagery” strategy.

Nothing about the Marriage Protection Amendment is anti-homosexual, and it does not represent an attack on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) individuals.

The Marriage Protection Amendment states, “that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”  It is a pro-marriage amendment with the sole intention of preserving and promoting the
historic definition of marriage as a public institution that binds men and women together to create the best environment for raising children. The amendment elevates current North Carolina law to the level of a constitutional amendment to protect the definition of
marriage from being redefined by either activist judges or politicians. 

It has been claimed that the Marriage Protection Amendment “writes discrimination into the state constitution…” Understandably, the term “discrimination” immediately creates in people’s minds the image of other people being unfairly excluded from something that is available to everyone else.  Of course, it is true that marriage, by definition, is an exclusive institution – in the sense that it is not open to everyone who wants to get married.  For example, children cannot get married, an adult cannot marry a child under a certain age, certain blood relatives cannot get married (a mother to her son, father to his daughter, brother to his sister), a man cannot marry two women, and a man cannot marry a woman who is married to someone else.
When the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman it does not prohibit any homosexual person from marrying, they would just have to marry in the same way that everyone else in society has to marry – they would have to marry someone of the opposite sex. This right is extended equally to all unmarried adults in the society.
When homosexuals claim that they want to marry another person of the same sex, they are not simply claiming the right to marry that is available to everyone else in society.  They are claiming a new right that has not previously been available to anyone in this society.  Such a right has been denied to everyone in the society, prior to this time; so, it is not discriminating against them to say that this kind of right is denied to them.

By way of analogy, if a man claimed that he wanted to marry his sister (or any of the examples given above), he is really claiming the right to redefine marriage according to his own desires and preferences.  He is not just claiming a private right for himself, but is
claiming a right to change the definition of marriage that has been adopted by the whole society.  And the law is correct when it denies him the right to do this.  Therefore, restricting marriage to one man and woman does not violate anyone’s fundamental rights. In fact, what the marriage protection amendment actually does is preserve the unique and special understanding of marriage that has existed in nearly every civilization since the beginning of time from the ongoing attempts to strip marriage of its core meaning and purpose.

Christians should also recognize that the end result of the redefinition of marriage is the silencing of the Church on the biblical understanding of sex, gender, and the family.  Granted, for individual churches and denominations that have either rejected the authority of Scripture or re-interpreted Scripture (abandoning grammatical-historical hermeneutical principles), so that the Bible’s clear teaching is muddled, this is not an issue – they have already capitulated to the current culture.  Yet, in places where same-sex marriage has been legalized, religious freedom and free-speech (of individuals and churches that hold to traditional marriage) are under attack in the name of promoting the full acceptance of homosexuality.  The Marriage Protection Amendment would help protect the ability of the church to continue to proclaim what Scripture teaches about sex, gender, and marriage, including what the Bible says about homosexual activity (and adultery and fornication and pornography and all other forms of soul-destroying sin).
The accusation that the Marriage Protection Amendment will harm children is unfounded.  Even the liberal British philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex…It is of children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society.”  No fact has been more convincingly established by social science literature then the fact that children are best served when reared in a home with a married mother and father. Just because other broken family forms exist (from single mothers to same-sex partners) does not mean that the marital norm for society should be redefined in order to keep the children in these families from feeling different.  In a post-Genesis 3 world, not every family will reflect the marital ideal of one man and one woman provides for individuals and society at large.

The Marriage Protection Amendment is really about one thing: preserving the historic understanding of sexuality, gender, and the family in North Carolina and protecting the rights of parents (and the church) to transmit traditional values about these core issues to the next generation.