MARRIAGE AS THE FOUNDATION OF CIVILIZATION
Adapted from a speech by Don Feder to The Family Life Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (May 15-16, 2018)
By Don Feder
June 12, 2018
Civilization will rise or fall, based on whether marriage as an institution is renewed or continues on its current course of decline and fades to oblivion.
Perhaps we take marriage for granted because it was once such a natural part of life that it required no justification. You didn't need to explain to people why they should marry any more that you had to explain why they should breathe or eat.
Let's start with an unlikely source. In the United States, actress Raquel Welch was a symbol of the new sexual freedom of the 1970s. The star of "Fantastic Voyage" and "One Million Years B.C." was voted the most desirable woman of that decade by the readers of Playboy magazine.
So, Ms. Welch brings a unique perspective to this discussion. In a 2010 commentary on CNN.com, she decried the sexual freedom and irresponsibility of our age.
Regarding marriage, she 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 in just 26 words.
And yet, marriage is everywhere in retreat. In the United States, in 1960, 72% of all adults were married. By 2008, that figure had fallen to 51%. Here's an even more alarming statistic for those who care about fertility: Among adults in their prime childbearing years (18 to 35), 65% were married in 1960, compared to only 26% today.
The flight from marriage is the principal cause of dramatically falling fertility or Demographic Winter. Every Western nation now has below-replacement fertility, in many cases, well-below replacement. The decline of fertility has paralleled the decline of marriage.
The abandonment of marriage has led to a loss of social cohesion. Marriage tames destructive male instincts.
The most potent force for social chaos is unattached males in their teens and twenties. As a rule and there are exceptions, of course — married men don't join gangs, take drugs or commit random acts of violence. (Prisons are largely populated by single males.) Men who've been civilized by marriage and family work harder and are more likely to save and contribute to society than their single counterparts.
We know this almost instinctively. Say you're walking down a dark street at night in a bad section of a city and a group of tough-looking young men is approaching you. Would you be relieved to learn that they were all married? That's a rhetorical question.
Married men and women are healthier, happier, live longer and are more successful than those who are unattached. Children who live with their married, biological parents are better students, better adjusted and more likely to avoid destructive behavior in adolescence — like drugs, alcohol, crime and the early initiation of sexual activity.
We all have a stake in promoting marriage. So why is marriage on the endangered species list? The culprits include easy divorce, cohabitation, a weakening of religion, a culture of selfishness and one that sanctions, and even promotes, sex outside marriage.
Marriage is as old as humanity itself. You might say society began when men and women started committing themselves to each other. Genesis is largely a family history — Abraham, who married Sarah, their son, Isaac, his wife Rebekah 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." Further, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." ("One flesh" may refer to the offspring of the union.) Marriage is an essential part of God's plan for humanity.
Why one man and one woman? Because male and female complement each other, psychologically as well as physically. There's a wonderfully evocative scene in the movie "Jerry Maguire," where the title character tells his wife, "You complete me."
Children need both male and female role models. There is no substitute for a man and a woman — a father and a mother — in the home. But, instead of promoting authentic marriage — the institution on which society's future depends — the only kind of "marriage" many politicians in the West seem interested in is the only kind from which society derives no benefit.
No discussion of marriage would be complete without a consideration of the principal threat to marriage today — an attempt to radically remake an institution as old as recorded time.
Starting with the Netherlands in 2001, 20 countries, almost all developed nations in the West, adopted so-called gay — or same-sex — "marriage."
Let's consider two of the most common arguments offered by proponents of gay "marriage":
1. We love each other. — Interesting, but irrelevant. A 30-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl may love each other. Blood relatives can love each other. A man can love two or more women, or a woman two or more men. Based on the love-conquers-all criteria, shouldn't they be allowed to marry too? Once you begin changing the age-old definition of marriage, where do you draw the line? Why not open it up to any individuals or combinations of individuals who say they're in love? It's a short step from same-sex marriage to polygamy and group marriage.
2. Limiting marriage to heterosexual couples is discriminatory — Proponents of gay "marriage" argue: "If you believe in equality, you should support marriage for same-sex couples." The answer: Life isn't fair. Everyone should be equal in their rights (freedom of speech, religion, association and so on). The Declaration of Independence uses the shorthand, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Otherwise, life is governed by inequality. Do I have the right to be the New England Patriots' starting 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 significance that transcends individual desires.
Now, let's consider 6 countervailing arguments:
1. Same-sex couples can't fulfill the basic purpose of marriage – procreation. 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 reproduction. Those who are doing society's vital work — mothers and fathers joined by faith and tradition, raising the next generation — deserve the status reserved for them alone since 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. There is no comparison between gay "marriage" and natural marriage. Most homosexual liaisons are short-lived. Even those that are called "committed relationships" are rarely monogamous. According to the National Center for Health Research, even in an age of no-fault divorce, 66% of first marriages in the United States last longer than 10 years; 50% last longer than 20 years. Another study described the average homosexual relationship as "transactional" — lasting less than 6 months. In a study of homosexual 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 word "marriage" be applied to relationships which resemble a revolving bedroom door?
4. Same-sex marriage advocates work tirelessly to stigmatize and marginalize Christians. Last Father's Day, the U.S. Department of Education had a fatherhood conference that included the heads of the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, two prominent pro-marriage organizations. LGBT groups called this "outrageous." Because FRC and Focus oppose gay marriage, they are – well, you know — "hateful."
5. Even language is being manipulated to advance the agenda. Like the London Underground, the New York subway system will no longer use the incredibly offensive expression "Ladies and Gentlemen." Instead, those simply designated "passengers" will be invited to board the train. Under a law signed in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown, on California marriage licenses, the gender-neutral term "spouse," replaced "husband" and "wife." I'm married to my wife, not to a gender-neutral "spouse." Seriously, sexual radicals are intent on eliminating gender-distinctions. There's an old adage: He who controls the language determines the outcome of the debate.
6. The sexual revolution is an insatiable beast. Nothing is ever enough. First there were anti-discrimination laws, then hate-crimes legislation, then gay marriage. Now, it's on to what's called "transgenderism" — which has no scientific basis, much like the notion that some are born homosexual. It demands that men who "feel" like women be treated as women — including having access to 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. Every victory for sexual radicals becomes a staging area for the next assault.
It's important to put the war on marriage and the family in the context of Cultural Marxism.
Almost a century ago, Georg Lukacs, a Hungarian intellectual and 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.
Antonio Gramsci, an Italian contemporary of Lukacs, said much the same thing. According to Marxist theory, the Russian Revolution should have been the catalyst for revolution worldwide. Instead, until the Second World War, Bolshevism stopped at Russia's borders.
Writing in the 1920s, Gramsci concluded that family and church gave workers what Marxists call a "false class consciousness," which meant that even though they were part of the proletariat, they behaved like bourgeoisie. So, the only way for communism to succeed was to eliminate religion and family.
I am not saying that all — or even most — proponents of gay "marriage" are Cultural Marxists. But same-sex "marriage" is a milestone on the road to radically remaking society.
Without marriage, we will enter a brave new world of atomistic individualism — one where individuals live largely by and for themselves and social arrangements are transitory and utilitarian. Procreation will be increasingly rare.
To counter this, we need to return to our roots — especially the Bible — "Male and female created He them" and "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife."
Article 16 of the 1948 United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights acknowledged that the family, based on marriage between man and a woman, is "the natural and fundamental group unit of society" and, as such, "entitled to protection by society and the state."
To say the family based on marriage is "the ... fundamental group unit of society," means it's the foundation. Demolish the foundation, and the entire structure collapses. Marriage is the glue that holds society together.
That's why marriage matters, and the fight for marriage is the fight for our future.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains a Facebook page.