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How are helpless infants best nurtured into civilized adults?
The family, which accomplishes this task so routinely, has never been successfully replicated by any system or institution.
Families are key for a functional society. The virtues acquired within the family – generosity, self-sacrifice, trust, self-discipline – are crucial in every domain of social life.
This Marriage Week, we aim to guide everyone who is, or will be married, to persevere through the good times and the bad.
At this Marriage Resource Center, you'll find our Marriage Fact Sheet, interviews with family scholars, and practical resources to help couples live out their marriage vows.
Thank you for coming. And thank you for celebrating marriage with us!
It felt like the universe was conspiring against my marriage. Usually I take hardship in stride; however, this began to feel personal. When I first heard of Coronavirus, I ignored it. It was far away and irrelevant.
The virus seemed to want to prove me wrong.
In early March, with six weeks until the wedding, planning was going great: our venue looked amazing, our food was planned, my fiancée’s family had their travel plans, a family member was going to perform the ceremony. It was what we had dreamed of.
Then my university announced it was cancelling classes. Then our church suspended in-person meetings. We started to hear stories of travel being cancelled. Now I was worried. The worst part was having no idea what was going on or what to do. Do we send the invitations? Could we still have a reception? Where would we get enough hand sanitizer for the 200 people on our guest list? It was already being sold for $50 a bottle on Amazon.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Marriage is the Foundation of Social Order
A speech by Don Feder to the World Congress of Families Regional Conference
Antigua, June 29-30, 2017
This was originally published in Grass Tops USA and is reprinted here with their gracious permission.
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.
Posted on: Thursday, February 11, 2021
Greg: In February 2020, we were a thousand miles apart. I was at my new job in Richmond, Virginia, and Liz was working as a chef on a cruise ship sailing the Mighty Mississip'. I had bought an engagement ring and planned to pop the question come Eastertide... This was the last month of normal before the virus hit. When the work from home order came, I drove 18 hours back to Louisiana to work there.
Liz: When the cruise ship management told us we were shutting down, I was euphoric that I would get to see my family and Greg.
Greg: Because of the virus, we got engaged months earlier than we otherwise could have. The first day we saw each other was March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. If you're going to propose on a day in Lent, there's really only one good choice.
Liz: Planning the wedding was difficult; finding a reception venue, nearly impossible. The family you always knew you'd be planning a wedding with, weren’t there because they were quarantining. Inviting people to showers was exacerbated by fights over how stringent precautions had to be. The focus shifted from our wedding to the virus, which was more important for many people. Dozens of people cancelled within the month of the wedding, which hurt a great deal. Our reception was at high-risk of being cancelled all the way up to the wedding day itself, which added to the existing stress of the situation.
The walk up to our wedding day was somewhere between Valhalla and Mount Doom. I was filled with so much doubt that something else horrible would stop the
wedding. But my parents were there, prepared for anything, even if it meant holding our wedding reception at their house. It was a wonderful comfort
to me that we could maintain the spiritual development of our marriage. God put the blinders on so that we could focus on what mattered most despite
the doom-and-gloom tumbling down around us. Everything fell into place. The Holy Spirit was there.
Greg: Our wedding was wonderful and the most joyous occasion of my life, because I decided it would be. Yes, the majority of my family did not come. Yes, the reception was a third of the size that my bride wanted it to be. And as the stress built up, I just had to say, over and over and over, "We choose to be joyful." My wife was a princess in her wedding dress, my groomsmen were goofy bachelors, my mom was there to dance with me, and my dad was there to tell me, "Well done." My God was in the Eucharist and he smiled down on me like I've never known Him to do so before. The adage goes "No matter what you take from me, you can't take away my dignity." I propose a modification: "No matter what you take from me, you can't take away my joy."
In retrospect, getting married was the only good thing about 2020. But it was so much greater than all of the bad, that our cup is still overflowing with marital grace.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 09, 2021
My wife and I had only been engaged a couple months when the Wuhan Virus hysterics really took off. When different parts of the country began to shut down travel, businesses, and the like, we didn’t expect it would last long. With an August wedding, we were certain the country would be open by then. Unfortunately, it would seem the powers that be had other plans.
A month out from the wedding, our reception venue cancelled due to Covid restrictions. Then various friends and family members began to back out. This was the biggest setback, especially for my wife, who dreamed of sharing her wedding day with the many people she loved. This was the moment where pushing back the date became a real option, but we held out, with the mindset of making every safety accommodation possible. Every other pew in the cathedral was to remain empty, and hand sanitizer would be readily available to all our guests. We also believed that a prolonged engagement was less than ideal. As much as it hurt not having everyone there, the sacrament remained what was most precious to us. If we could get that right, we could roll with the punches on the rest.
[Pictured: reception "before;" below: reception "after."]
Fortunately, as different walls popped up, we had an excellent support system to help us. They wanted a happy wedding almost as much as we did. When the venue dropped out, my in-laws offered to host the reception on their property. When the baker quit two days before the wedding, a friend offered to make the wedding cake herself. Various families donated air conditioners and decorations. It really was an extraordinary thing to be a part of! The wedding ceremony was picture-perfect. The reception had a variety of hiccups, but what reception doesn’t? We were, and are, married. No virus or world power could take that covenant away from us.
Looking back, the most stressful stuff was not Wuhan-related. That award goes to the category 4 hurricane named “Laura” that hit our state four days after the wedding. That may seem like a lot, but if you read the tortures the woman and her seven sons experienced in the book of Maccabees, one can’t help but conclude that life isn’t that bad. I married my best friend. We’ve been told many times how beautiful our wedding ceremony was and how much fun our reception was. We were on the receiving end of more charity from our community than we could hope to repay. And my wife’s family was there every step of the way plugging the holes that appeared in the bottom of the boat that was our wedding. With all of that in mind, I must affirm that life really is not that bad.
Posted on: Thursday, February 04, 2021
Marriage Fact Sheet - February 3, 2021
Get the facts on how your marriage impacts civilization and why children need married parents more than ever!
“I still feel that it (marriage) is the cornerstone of civilization, and an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.” Actress and 1970s sex symbol Raquel Welch. It's sex o'clock in America - CNN.com
In 2017, at least three-quarters of high school seniors said they planned to marry at some point in the future Young people aspire to marriage, so let’s offer them more than a Valentine » MercatorNet
Married couples are much better off financially. Individuals who are married on average have a net worth 77% higher than those who are single. Marriage and divorce’s impact on wealth - Jay L. Zagorsky, 2005 (sagepub.com)
Married couples have roughly double the wealth of those who never marry. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
Marrieds have a lower risk of disease -- from diabetes and cardiovascular disease to respiratory problems. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
Remaining single has been called one of the greatest health risks people can voluntarily subject themselves to.Why Marriage Is Good For You | The Value of Marriage | Marriage Facts (city-journal.org)
Husbands and wives are 10% to 15% less likely to die prematurely. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
People who are married have sex roughly twice as often as those who are single. Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim | Marriage | The Guardian
Marriage lowers the risk that individuals will become victims of violent crime. In 2012, the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey showed married people had a violent crime victimization rate of 13.5 per 1,000 people. The rate for those who are divorced was 37.0 per 1,000. For those who’ve never been married, it was 40.7 per 1,000. Single People More Likely To Be Violent Crime Victims - Business Insider
And yet marriage is everywhere on the decline.
In 1970, about 70% of US adults were married. By 2018, that figure had fallen to 50%.Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Among adults , 18 to 24 – in their prime childbearing years -- 45% were married in1960, compared to 9% by 2016 Marriage Is Declining Rapidly! Does It Matter? — High Conflict Institute
Men and women are both marrying later in life. In 1968, the median age for marriage was 23 for men and 21 for women. In 2017, it was 30 for men and 27 for women. This has a negative impact of fertility and provides more time for pre-marital experimentation which can lead to dissatisfaction later in life. Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
The number of children living with an unmarried parent is on the rise – 13% in 1968 versus 32% by 2017. Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Out of wedlock births are also increasing, from 26 per 1,000 women in 1970 to 42 per 1.000 in 2016. Facts On Unmarried Parents in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Young adults are particularly accepting of cohabitation. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, 78% think cohabitation is acceptable, even if the partners don’t plan to marry later on. Views on Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
The share of U.S. adults (18 to 44) who have ever lived with an unmarried partner exceeds those who have ever been married – 59% to 50% Views on Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S. | Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.org)
Fewer marriages and later marriage contribute to declining fertility. In 2018, the U.S. birth rate fell for the 4th consecutive year. The number of babies born fell by 2%.According to the Census Bureau, in 1950 the average American woman had 3.5 children. Today the fertility rate is below 2 (with 2.1 needed just to replace current population). U.S. Birthrate Is Lowest In 32 Years, CDC Says : NPR
Visit National Marriage Week USA and discover more about National Marriage Week!
10 Reasons Your Marriage Matters (285 KB) (Released on 15-Jan-2019)