Thursday, April 26, 2012

Strengthening Traditional Marriage is the Highest Priority for Anyone Concerned about Improving Society

Rachel Sheffield has a very interesting post at The Foundry.  It contains links to many sources documenting two disturbing facts:

1. Marriage rates are falling.  Fewer people are married for less and less of a percentage of their lives.

2. This is bad for women and children.  Those who live outside of marriage (as single or cohabiting) are poorer generally and women and children are at much higher risk of physical violence including sexual abuse.  By almost every social measure, children not living with their married, biological parents are at risk of lower academic achievement, emotional and mental illness, poverty, involvement in crime as either perpetrator or victim, etc.
New government data (PDF) reveals a continuing trend of declining marriage rates. More women have never been married, and cohabitation rates have increased steadily. And more children are born outside of marriage than ever before.
The consequences of these trends include lower economic prosperity for families and an  array of poorer outcomes for children.
Tragically, as marriage declines, even the very physical safety for women and children is compromised. Research reveals that both unmarried women (PDF) and children (PDF) living in family settings other than with their biological, married parents are at far greater risk of experiencing domestic abuse.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that never-married women are over four times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence compared to married women. (Never-married women are also much more likely (PDF) to be victims of violent crimes besides domestic abuse, including rape.)
Additionally, children living outside of married, biological-parent homes have a far greater probability of experiencing physical and sexual abuse. Most notably, children living with a single parent and the parent’s romantic partner are approximately 10 times as likely to be physically abused and 20 times as likely to be sexually abused. Even children living with both biological parents are at heightened risk of physical abuse (over four times as likely) and sexual abuse (nearly five times as likely) if their parents are not married.
As marriage rates decline, more women and children are exposed to living situations that jeopardize their safety. As policymakers look to ways to address violence against women,  rather than expanding top-down approaches of questionable effectiveness, efforts to promote and strengthen marriage are critical.
The great irony of the sexual revolution over the past half-century is that it was launched and defended in the name of "women's rights" and "personal freedom."  Personal freedom was supposed by the secular humanists of the time to be a necessary prerequisite for individual growth, development and flourishing.  Traditional morality and the traditional family were viewed as impediments to personal freedom and flourishing. 

For a small number of white, upper-middle class women, who spear-headed the second-wave Feminist movement of the 1960s, these convictions, buttressed by neo-Marxist theory, could be made to seem plausible.  But, starting with Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" (which, in hindsight looks more like a "War on the urban, black family"), the whole sexual revolution including Feminism and the rise of the divorce culture has been a social plague. 

It has destroyed the black family (70% of black children in America are born out of wedlock) and it is now moving up the social scale into white middle-class families, as we see documented in the recent work of Charles Murray in his book Coming Apart: The Story of White America 1960-2010.  The fact is that only movie stars and upper-class rich people can afford divorce, just as in primitive societies only rich males can afford plural wives.  Would-be social reformers have seemed oblivious to the fact that the intact family is the single biggest bulwark against poverty for the vast majority of the population, as well as the basis of independence and dignity.

Or have they?  Marxist thought views the family as an impediment to complete state control and domination of individuals.  Social engineering is more difficult for state bureaucrats when individuals are not completely dependent on the government for their daily sustenance.  The destruction of the family appears to be a matter of good intentions gone wrong, but is that analysis sufficiently critical? 
The final sentence of Sheffield's post is low-key but it contains a revolution and a counter-revolution within its calm suggestion of a policy reversal.  Right now, government is doing everything possible to break apart the family in the name of individual freedom and substitute government for fathers in order to create what is called "social justice."  She suggests that government reverse itself in a hundred policy areas from tax penalties for married couples to eliminating no-fault divorce, to tax penalties for cohabiting couples to increased social disapproval of sex before marriage to fighting pornography and prostitution to requiring divorcing couples to seek counseling to stigmatizing promiscuity to encouraging adoption to banning abortion to defunding Planned Parenthood and so on and on.
But can we really accuse self-described liberals of really being neo-Marxists?  Is that fair?  Well, as Forrest Gump might say "Marxist is as Marxist does."  So let's be generous and not call them neo-Marxists.  But to pretend that actual, hard-core neo-Marxists are not actively trying to forment revolution by destroying the family is just willful blindness; they have been working at this agenda for over a century now.  Yet, the liberals and progressives running the Democratic Party are not all neo-Marxists.  So let's be generous and call them "fellow-travelers" and "dupes."  But whatever label one attaches to the policy-makers, the important thing is the policy.  And the policy must change. 

The liberal idea that loosening the bonds of the traditional family is the path to individual self-realization is an unmitigated failure and a cruel joke for vulnerable women and children.  The policies are a failure in achieving what they claimed they wanted to achieve.  That fact is no longer in dispute.  So the policies must change: liberals and conservatives should be able to agree on that much.  Only a neo-Marxist has an ideological reason to dig in and  defend the broken status quo.

Cross-posted at The Bayview Review.  


DanO said...

If being unmarried is bad for women and children then all the more reason to embrace and try to accelerate the general acceptance of gay marriages, right?

Craig Carter said...

Wrong, because same-sex "marriage" is not marriage, but a parody of marriage. You can call a fish a bird all you like and even make a law punishing anyone who calls it a fish in public. You can have marches, Youtube video campaigns, ribbon of any color days, Human Rights Commissions enforcing the government line - it doesn't matter. Reality is stubborn and all the anger and pouting in the world does not change the way God designed humanity. Rousseau and Marx were just plain wrong: human nature is not infinitely malleable.

BTW, it has been government policy for decades now to treat cohabiting couples as if they were married - with regard to tax law etc. But social scientific data show that outcomes for children with cohabiting parents are basically the same as those in single-parent homes, while outcomes for children living with both biological parents married to each other are vastly superior. Take any measure of human well-being you like and the pattern is clear. [Source: Charles Murry, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 (Random House, 2012).]

roseskes said...

"BTW, it has been government policy for decades now to treat cohabiting couples as if they were married - with regard to tax law etc." Where do you get that idea? I help people with their taxes every year, and all the software treats cohabiting couples as Filing Single.

Craig Carter said...

Are you in the US or Canada?

DanO said...


But surely you understanding the difference between marriage and cohabiting or living common law? Most of the people I know who choose to cohabit do so because they have some rather negative feelings about marriage and much of what it signifies.

So you can't base your understanding of what will result from gay marriages from statistics regarding those who cohabit. The gay people I know who have married fought rather hard to do so -- that is to say, they tend to have exactly the opposite view on marriage than what I have seen in those who cohabit. Given this, at least for the next little while, I would expect to discover statistics that show more lasting success in gay marriages than in traditional Christian marriages (just like, on a related note, the gay folks whom I know who have fought to be able to adopt children are phenomenal parents and I expect their kids to do much better than most kids I knew who grew up in Christian homes).

And, look, if you want to say that same-sex marriage is a "parody of marriage" I expect you to be able to back that up with some hard evidence, instead of just drifting into vague tangential rants about fishes and birds and Rousseau and Marx.

Craig Carter said...

I do not expect ever to live up to your expectations. You have such high standards.

DanO said...

Then he [Jesus] said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?