Why Marriage Matters

The recent National Marriage breakfast in Canberra was a great success, with some 500 people in attendance. But if you simply relied on the mainstream media, you would not have even known that it took place. The only coverage at all about the event seems to have been about the attempt by two homosexual activists to disrupt the proceedings. More homosexual tolerance in action.

Of course if 50 – or even 5 – homosexualists held a rally at Parliament House in Canberra, the MSM would have been all over it. But the secular left who predominate in the MSM do not want to give the institutions of marriage and family a run – unless of course to criticise and demonise them.

But the rally was held nonetheless, and the keynote speaker, English barrister James Bogle, gave a good address on the importance of marriage and family. He began by citing a family court judge in the UK who spoke of the epidemic of family breakdown which he described as a “national tragedy”. The judge said that “our children are the losers in the national game of ‘pass the partner’.”

Bogle noted the many negative consequences of family breakdown which has been occurring in Britain over the past four decades: “Since the early 1970s there has been a decline in marriage, and a marked rise in the numbers of lone parent families. The ongoing rise in family breakdown affecting young children has been driven by the dissolution of cohabiting partnerships. The majority of these are less stable than marriage (European data shows that by a child’s fifth birthday less than 1 in 12 (8%) married parents have split up compared to almost 1 in 2 (43%) cohabiting parents).”

Children of course have been the big losers: “The intergenerational transmission of family breakdown and its associated disadvantages is seen in the way children who have been neglected or poorly nurtured are highly likely to go on to create dysfunctional families subject to further breakdown. Similarly there is an over-representation in teen pregnancy statistics of girls from fatherless and broken homes.

Crime is strongly correlated with family breakdown – 70% of young offenders are from lone parent families and one third of prisoners were in local authority care (yet only 0.6% of the nation’s children are in care at any one time). Costs of family breakdown to the exchequer are conservatively estimated to be well over £20bn per annum.”

In his address Bogle cited a number of significant international studies on the importance of marriage, and especially how it benefits children: “The research is overwhelmingly in favour of marriage as best for children, for adults and for society. In marriage children enjoy better health, physical and mental, and make better relationships themselves in later life.

“Married couples have longer life expectancy and better record of higher earnings and career success. Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers will have good relationships with children. Married mothers have a lower rate of depression than single or co-habiting mothers and married women are actually at lower risk of domestic violence than co-habiting women.

“Cohabiting couples are more like singles than marrieds in terms of physical health, emotional well-being and mental health, as well as in terms of assets, earnings and financial betterment and their children are more comparable in those terms to the children of singles.

“Marriage reduces the risk that children and adults will be either the perpetrators or the victims of crime, whereas the absence of fathers in a family is directly associated with a higher incidence of criminality in young adolescents and young adults.

“In sum, marriage is a vitally important social good and the decline of marriage is highly expensive to society financially and in terms of mental health indicators. Marriage is directly associated with an impressive array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.”

He concluded his talk by reminding us of the importance of contending for marriage, and how we can turn these trends around: “The tide of family breakdown (dysfunction, dissolution and dad-lessness) can be turned. Policies need to pay particular attention to the needs of our youngest citizens, those in the first three years of life where the nurture of their parents is of prime importance.

“We should all want our children to be given the best opportunities to grow into relationally competent and confident adults. We should not be remotely apologetic about supporting an institution which is so beneficial to society and to individuals and which, if it is unsupported and allowed to go wrong, can cause immense harm to its members and to society as a whole.

“The time for experimenting with the health and welfare of our children, who are the nation’s future, is over. The time to re-establish the best environment for their healthy development and growth is now here. And that environment is the family. There is no substitute for it. Let us therefore support it and celebrate it and accept no inferior substitutes. If we are really serious about child protection and care and the best interests of children, we will make this an immediate policy priority.”

Quite so. This is an important reminder to us all. But with the MSM largely uninterested or in fact opposed to such messages, I am more than happy to use this outlet as a way to spread this important word to a wider audience. I owe it to my children to do so.

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