I can sum our problem for you in one sentence: Society dissolves when people don’t marry. Yes, dissolves. And I am not an apocalypse-monger. We don’t keep six months of food in the basement. We don’t own a gun (yet). I didn’t believe Jesus was coming back when Harold Camping said he was. I thought Left Behind was dumb (though I read eleven of the books … please don’t ask why). But if family forms the core of society—and it does—when there is no family, there is no society.
In this series, we’ve talked about why people should marry, why fewer are, and today we turn to the social and economic implications of this trend.
- Increased poverty. A single-parent household (usually headed by women) is the most determining factor of poverty, and the most likely to be in deep poverty (see Thomas Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies). Even the most chemically sterilizing forms of birth control work about 98 percent of the time, and of course not all sexually active singles use birth control. This combined with the fact that 93 percent of Americans have had premarital sex by age 30 itself, and necessarily so, creates too many children without families. Immorality creates poverty, and often inflicts it on innocent, vulnerable bystanders—in this case, mostly children.
- Social deviancy. Home is where we learn how to properly relate to other human beings, where we learn standards, principles, and foundations we carry with us forever. Take just one manifestation, and count President Obama among many observing the reality that lost fathers engender lost children, who in turn become social deviants: criminals, psychopaths, wife abusers, etc. Absent fathers are only one contributor to the many shattered social ties in a culture that no longer reveres or has experienced family. When we do not appreciate or dedicate ourselves to the shared sacrifice that family entails, we also lose the strength of character and purpose it produces—to devastating effects.
How does this relate to marriage? Well, you see, I assume that marriage starts a family. That assumption perhaps we can examine another time, since it is no longer as widely held, but its basic obviousness and Christian roots should serve our purposes for now.
Family creates stability. This is something most middle-class adults understand and practice, but our failure to believe it deeply and encourage it throughout society is causing a deep and dark social divide. And understanding and pursuing family, despite its challenge to our selfish natures (or perhaps because of this challenge), is a calling God has given most human beings. Dismissing it, as our disintegrating culture demands, will destroy us.