Despite our world’s advances, the basic realities that contribute to society’s flourishing remain unchanged, such as marriage and its indelible tie to the procreation of children.
Recently, a district court in Japan agreed with its government’s constitution, which was being challenged, affirming marriage’s primary function of bearing and raising children.
A stunning conclusion to some, perhaps, but isn’t it more remarkable how far we’ve gotten from this basic fact? While in the midst of wedding season, it seems a good time to review this foundational truth.
The United Kingdom’s Marriage Foundation added to the international conversation through its study concluding that “Marriage is still the best way to find reliable love.” The study produced several findings backing this claim.
The first challenges cohabitation as a suitable arrangement for families, showing that nearly nine in 10 couples with children 13 to 15 who remain together are married. Households headed by cohabiting parents were three times more likely to split, especially during child-raising years.
A “stability gap” also showed up between marriage and cohabitation in all five income groups observed, leading to the conclusion that “married poor are more stable than unmarried rich,” or, as the study summary noted, “Poor married couples with children are more stable and likely to stick together than rich unmarried couples with children.”
Harry Benson, the foundation’s research director, said the figures demonstrate that marriage continues to be the best environment in which to raise children, and is more important than income for couples staying together.
Families from divided households may need the reminder that all situations and people are redeemable. God loves each of us, and seeks us out with the hope for healing. But even in our brokenness, it is good to acknowledge that men and women pairing up and creating circles of irreplaceability in which to raise children, through marriage, is still the best model for human flourishing.
At the World Meeting of Families in June, Pope Francis offered some good reminders for Christian nuptials in particular, noting that in marriage, “Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength to give yourselves to each other.”
“Take courage, then,” he continued, adding that “family life is not an impossible mission,” and that “God makes it a wonderful journey to be taken together with him, never alone,” adding, “Family is not a beautiful ideal, unattainable in reality,” but that God guarantees his presence in marriage and family, “not only on your wedding day but throughout your life.”
Further evidence shows up in Genesis 2:18, when God declares: “It is not good that man should be alone,” an introduction to marriage—the joining of one man and one woman, who alone can “be fruitful and multiply the earth,” and “fill the earth and govern it” (Gen. 1:28).
God’s plan for humanity never changes, despite our attempts to modify it. Marriage remains the best design for society’s thriving. Regardless of our circumstances, we’d do well to recognize and promote this reality in every possible way.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on July 4, 2022.]