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Marriage: The Foundation Of Our Future

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  • Marriage: The Foundation Of Our Future

    Author: Waleed Kadous
    Publishing date: 14.07.2003 01:15

    "Most of the research results that I have reported here are fairly well known, especially to researchers working on the topics I have discussed. But I think they are not well known outside the research community ... I think that persuasive, even compelling, evidence exists ..."

    A statement made by a researcher on climate change? The latest comments on genetic engineering?

    Neither. Rather, it's a statement by Linda Waite, a Professor in the School of Sociology in the University of Chicago. She is talking about the compelling evidence in favour of marriage. In an article entitled "Does Marriage Matter?", she focuses on the personal benefits of marriage. Her conclusion:

    On average, however, marriage seems to produce substantial benefits for men and women in the form of better health, longer life, more and better sex, greater earnings (at least for men), greater wealth, and better outcomes for children.

    She was so moved by the evidence in favour of marriage resulting from her research that she subsequently wrote a book on the topic. "I wanted to take the very arcane research results to the general public," she said. "It was a story I felt responsible and obligated to share."

    [As an aside, Harvard University Press, publishers of radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon, refused to publish the book just before it was about to go to print, in yet another case of political correctness gone awry. Eventually it was published by Doubleday.]

    The evidence does not end there. Other research shows that across 17 nations, married people are significantly happier than people who are cohabiting unmarried couples and singles. Studies in Canada show that cohabiting unmarried couple relations are far less stable than married couples. In their studies, less than half of cohabiting studies survived three years or more, and less than 15 per cent survived for 10 years or more, comparing with approximately 90 per cent of marital unions surviving for 10 years. Obviously, marriage provides a much more stable emotional base for both couples and their children.

    The wider social impacts of having children brought up in married households versus either cohabiting households or single households are well-studied and well-known. Statistics show that children from married households are more mentally stable, less likely to be involved in crime, drugs and teenage pregnancies, and more likely to go on to tertiary education. As Senator Rick Santorum mentioned in the US Congress: "Every statistic that I'm aware of - and I'd be anxious to hear if there's one on the other side - says that marriage is better for children - every one - and usually by a very large margin. And so the question I have is, why are we neutral on this issue if we care about children?"

    The interesting thing about the issue of marriage in Western society is that it is a conflict between ideology and reality. The feminist, free sex and anti-marriage movements promoted that "marriage is a place of oppression, danger and drudgery for women"; that we would all be happier if we were allowed to indulge in non-committal structures like cohabitation -- that society would benefit from "flexibility" in relationship; and that -- particularly -- women would be happier when freed from the "patriarchal tyranny of marriage". This idea has permeated through society; beginning in academe and spreading to the wider community. More than 60 per cent of Americans, according to one survey, felt that the best way to establish a marriage was to cohabit first.

    Now the results of the socially excruciating, four-decade experiment of moving away from marriage are in -- and the results are very conclusive. Women are not happier, society is not better and we have a generation of children who have suffered at the hands of this ideology.

    In short, the entire social experiment was a mistake.

    People are not happier, and society is by no means better off. In a secular society, what other criteria matter? If one argues that non-marriage relationships are some kind of fundamental right, then one can also argue that it is the right of children to be raised in a stable environment.

    All of the world's major religions advocate marriage and discourage cohabitation. Islam is probably the most vehement in its support for marriage -- as is visible by considering the punishments for pre-marital and extra-marital relations (100 lashes for the former, stoning for the latter). However, the stringent evidence required for convictions for either crime -- 4 witnesses, with a punishment of 80 lashes for false accusation -- have led many to argue that the punishments are not for the crimes themselves, but for being so flagrant in the act that the perpetrators couldn't care less who know -- in other words, a blatant disregard for the sanctity of the family.

    So, what happens when an ideology turns out to be wrong? History provides a tragic dossier of case studies; whether it be the sad story of communism and its assumptions about human nature, or the taking of young from the indigenous people of Australia, on the basis of the ideology that absorption into white society was in their best interests.

    When an ideology is inconsistent with the reality, people die and cultures suffer until those cultures come to their senses. In the Soviet Famine of 1931-3 alone, some 4.5 million people died, mostly due to the misallocation of resources. In the case of the attempt to absorb Indigenous people into Australian society, it led to massive increases in suicides and criminal activity amongst those who were taken away, as found in Australia's Senate Enquiry into the Stolen Generation.

    The sooner that our societies return to the institution of marriage, the more quickly the decline will be halted, and the lesser the suffering.
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