CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Yes Marriage Really Is About Children

Aug 25, 2017

George Orwell once said: “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” There are plenty of such truths that have long been buried under ideologies, political correctness, and social engineering. One such basic truth centres on the nature of marriage.

Closely related to this is a woeful ignorance about the nature of sex as well. Thus we now have an entire generation of young people who would be absolutely flummoxed to learn that there just might be some sort of connection between sex and babies (you know, that stuff you might have picked up in biology class about sperm and egg uniting?).

If a basic feature of reality such as sexual intercourse and the possibility of procreation that goes along with it is now all but lost on so many, no wonder we are equally oblivious to the fundamental truth that marriage and children also have a very close relationship. Indeed, until just recently, everyone knew that marriage and children were related.

There was even a song about this years ago, something about ‘love and marriage, horse and carriage’. Ol’ blue eyes himself even went on to sing about “You can’t have one without the other” and “It’s an institute you can’t disparage”. Whether he always lived it or not, Frank was right you know.

Of course marriage is about children – we would not have the institution of marriage if it were not for the fact that human sexuality is directly related to the possibility of procreation. If children did not come about through human sexuality, society would have no interest in marriage. Marriage is our most pro-child institution, cementing husband and wife together, and to any offspring they may produce.

Simply go back a half century and note how we still made this obvious connection. As Article 16, no. 1, of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) put it, “Men and women of full age, without limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and found a family.”

Yes, marry, and form a family. There’s that horse and carriage again. But today that connection has been completely severed – in ideology, in sloppy thinking, and in politics. Now we glibly talk about marriage as if it had nothing to do with children.

The wild and reckless demands for homosexual marriage heard everywhere today is directly built upon this fundamental fallacy – now universally paraded around – that children somehow bear no relationship at all to the institution of marriage.

Thus the need for “the restatement of the obvious” as Orwell bewailed. Let me do that ever so briefly by citing some of our important social thinkers of the past few decades who have sought to remind us of what marriage is really all about.

They have reminded us that marriage is not just a private relationship but a public institution. Social institutions exist to meet fundamental human needs, and as sociologist David Blankenhorn notes, the need for the institution of marriage arises because human beings are “sexually embodied creatures who everywhere reproduce sexually and give birth to helpless, socially needy offspring who remain immature for long periods of time and who therefore depend on the love and support of both of the parents who brought them into existence.”

It is this task of getting both parents to stay together for the sake of any children so conceived by their union that the institution of marriage came about. As American political scientist James Q. Wilson expressed it, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.”

He went on to say this:

In virtually every society, the family is defined by marriage; that is, by a publicly announced contract that makes legitimate the sexual union of a man and a woman. Even in societies where men and women have relatively unrestricted sexual access to one another beginning at an early age, marriage is still the basis for family formation. It is desired by the partners and expected by society. Marriage, in short, is not simply a way of legitimizing sex, and so it cannot be dispensed with just because sexual activity need not be made legitimate. Marriage exists because people must take responsibilities for child care and assume economic obligations. Marriage, and thus the family that it defines, is a commitment.

English philosopher Roger Scruton discusses how marriage is about the next generation, and about the connection between the generations:

No honest anthropologist can fail to acknowledge the functional importance of marriage. In all observed societies some form of marriage exists, as the means whereby the work of one generation is dedicated to the well-being of the next. Marriage does not merely protect and nurture children; it is a shield against sexual jealousy and a unique form of social and economic cooperation.

Because children ARE the next generation, it is imperative that this generation looks after them very carefully indeed. And nothing has ever matched heterosexual marriage in securing that vitally important end. As Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George, wrote in their invaluable 2012 volume, What Is Marriage?:

Marriages have always been the main and most effective means of rearing healthy, happy, and well-integrated children. The health and order of society depend on the rearing of healthy, happy, and well-integrated children. That is why law, though it may take no notice of ordinary relationships, should recognize and support marriage. There can thus be no right for nonmarital relationships to be recognized as marriages.

American sociologist Kingsley Davis concurs:

Although the details of getting married – who chooses mates, what are the ceremonies and exchanges, how old are the parties – vary from group to group, the principle of marriage is everywhere embodied in practice. . . . No matter how bizarre or peculiar the marriage customs of a given society, they are still recognizable as marriage customs. In any particular society there may be individuals, couples, or even groups who reject marriage as a norm, but these, being in the minority, do not determine the norms of the whole society. Other people may fail to marry because of conditions beyond their control, but the institution of marriage is present in the society.

He goes on to note that “the unique trait of what is commonly called marriage is social recognition and approval … approval of a couple’s engaging in sexual intercourse and bearing and rearing offspring.” And these aspects of marriage are both universal and historical. They are not unique to just a few cultures, nor are they found sporadically in history: “compared to most other aspects of human society, marriage has changed surprisingly little. As an institution, contemporary wedlock bears an indubitable likeness to marriage three centuries or three millennia ago. It still has the same essential character that it had then.”

Sociologist Patricia Morgan reminds us of the universal mother-child bond, and its central role in marriage. She writes, “there has been no known human society built upon the mother/child unit. Indeed, for an anthropologist, a widespread failure to marry is a sign of impending disaster. All societies that have survived have been built on marriage, and children have always been raised within ‘traditional’ families.”

All this explains why the homosexual attempt to redefine marriage is impossible. Heterosexuality alone is what marriage has always been about, and can only ever be about. Because only heterosexual couples are naturally able to have children. As Canadian professor of law and medicine Margaret Somerville has stated, “Marriage provides the right to marry and found a family. Homosexual marriage unlinks marriage from biology and denies children the right to both a mother and a father”.

And that is the most important right any child can have. As sociology professor Dr David Popenoe has put it: “We should disavow the notion that ‘mummies can make good daddies’ just as we should disavow the notion of radical feminists that ‘daddies can make good mummies’… The two sexes are different to the core and each is necessary – culturally and biologically – for the optimal development of a human being.”

Or as US social scientist Charles Murray put it in his important 2012 book Coming Apart:

Trends in marriage are important not just with regard to the organization of communities, but because they are associated with large effects on the socialization of the next generation. No matter what the outcome being examined — the quality of the mother-infant relationship, externalising behaviour in childhood (aggression and hyperactivity), delinquency in adolescence, criminality as adults, illness and injury in childhood, early mortality, sexual decision-making in adolescence, school problems, emotional health, or any other measure of how well or poorly children do in life — the family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married. Divorced parents produce the next-best outcomes. Whether the parents remarry or remain single while the children are growing up makes little difference. Never-married women produce the worst outcomes. All of these statements apply after controlling for the family’s socio-economic status. I know of no other set of important findings that are as broadly accepted by social scientists who follow the technical literature, liberal as well as conservative, and yet are so resolutely ignored by network news programs, editorial writers for the major newspapers, and politicians of both major political parties.

Marriage matters. And it matters greatly for the wellbeing of children.

[1595 words]

18 Responses to Yes Marriage Really Is About Children

  • Good research Bill. Thank you.

  • Exactly! I support you 100% Bill. Marriage is all about children. Sex is all about procreation. That is God’s design for the world.

    Unfortunately so many Christians deny God’s Truth. Even in my own church we have young folk who get married and immediately commence using contraceptive devices in order to delay having children. So why get married when they are not ready to have children? It is in order to indulge in carnal passions, employing science to deny the natural and God-given consequence of their sexual relations.

    We must win the plebiscite, and we will, but after that we must not waver in ensuring all Christians honour God’s design for humanity — that is sex and marriage is intended for the creation and nurturing of future generations, not to satisfy the carnal lusts the Devil uses to lead men astray.

  • Marriage equality
    It seems all want equality everywhere 50% male 50% female – army, police, fire brigade, government, sport, etc why not marriage all want this equality in fact they are demanding this gender equality.
    We even wont equal pay for men and woman BUT what about Children in this marriage debate. Marriage is about family, a mom and dad, and family is mainly about children. Everyone was a child once. Everyone had a mom and dad.
    Why should they not have the same gender equality, a mom & a dad as it is there birth right.
    We live in a world where standing up for the rights of children is becoming increasingly unpopular decisions we make now will be inherited by our children and grandchildren and it is our responsibility to pass onto them a safe and prosperous country.
    Ssm Children have no mother or father, no grandparents no blood brothers no ancestors.

  • Fantastic. Well done. I’ve often found myself arguing for marriage from the standpoint that we have so taken it for granted, that we are on the verge of cutting out from under us the very ground we walk on.

  • Thanks Bill for an excellent breadth and depth presented here.

  • Those who hate “hetero-normative” behavior are actually saying they hate the biology and if you hate the biology you hate the creator of the biology.

  • Right on and I add that when adults divorce – they are not divorcing the man and woman, they are divorcing the children from the family even so that a piece of paper is just a piece of paper and what is written in blood cannot ever be erased by ink.

    John Abbott

  • The present case for so-called Marriage Equality draws from Neo-Marxist Critical Theory which began by seeing women, children, gays and lesbians as victims of the allegedly oppressive social institutions of patriarchy, marriage and the nuclear family. This was a step farther than Friedrich Engels’ critique of patriarchal marriage and family as a recently-evolved seed-bed of bourgeois capitalism’s oppression of the working class and women.

    1970’s radical Gay Liberationists saw radical feminists as natural allies of their cause. They also called for the abolition of patriarchy, marriage and family on the grounds that these institutions were allegedly oppressive and unjust.

    A recent letter to Tasmanian daily papers by Mr Croome endeavours to set allegedly “abstract concepts” of the “No” case against the “real people” of the “Yes” case… Bill, your article today demonstrates that the “No” case is also about “real people” – children, who stand to be significantly affected if the “abstract concepts” behind the “Yes” case are legislated into reality.

  • My wife and I have been married for 37 years now, we knew when we married that we would never have children. Does that really mean that our marriage is less valid than someone who has the ability to breed ?

    We have 2 gay friends who have 2 biological sons to the same gay man via IVF, their children have 2 moms, one father, and 6 loving grandparents.

    The only thing these children are missing is being brought up in a married family, all research shows that married parents are the best for children, why do people like you refuse to allow what is best for these children ?

  • Thanks Doug. But let me call your bluff here.

    As to your first claim, of course not. No one has ever said that infertile couples who are married or those who do not want children are not married. But you massively miss the point. The institution of marriage came into being for if and when children are so conceived in the male-female union. Just as a book does not cease to be a book if unread, marriage does not cease to be marriage if a minority of couples cannot have children or do not want to have children.

    I deal with that furphy of yours in much more detail here: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/08/13/homosexual-marriage-childless-heterosexual-couples/

    All children in homosexual households are obviously missing out on a biological mother or father. That is what children need most. They are deliberately being denied that in homosexual households. That is a form of child neglect, if not child abuse.

    And you are 100 per cent wrong here. It is NOT fake “marriage” of two men or two women which provides the best outcomes for children, but HETEROSEXUAL marriage which gives children the very thing they need most to succeed and thrive: their very own biological mother and father. That is what the social science research actually teaches, and that is what real marriage does: it seals a husband to his wife, and it seals mother and father to any children so conceived.

    I deal with this furphy of yours in these articles with plenty of documentation, as well as in my books:

    www.nationalobserver.net/2002_autumn_108.htm
    www.nationalobserver.net/2002_winter_110.htm

  • Two men or two women cannot marry because they cannot consummate a marriage. Marriage is consummated (made possible, made complete) by a man and a woman becoming “one flesh” in natural sexual intercourse, which naturally produces children. Saying marriage has nothing to do with children is like saying lungs have nothing to do with oxygen.

    The Australian Constitution gave parliament the power to register marriages in order to protect women and children from abuse, to safeguard children’s inheritance, and provide a stable society for raising children to be the next generation of taxpayers, without which the government cannot survive.

  • The vote on ‘gay’ marriage.
    When you vote no, you uphold Jesus Christ and his clear teaching on marriage. The Rock.
    When you vote yes, you follow the antichrist. The sand.
    Hopefully every Christian understands this.

  • Thanks Gerald. Yes they should, but sadly we have plenty of “Christian leaders” who have abandoned their own faith and are happy to push for the destruction of marriage.

  • I don’t know whether the Catholic Bishop of Bathurst – Michael McKenna – should be included in that lot Bill but in a recent message (22/8/17) he said of the same-sex debate: “This is a political decision with social consequences. Like all decisions, different people, including Catholics, may come to different prudential judgments about its likely beneficial or detrimental effects”. Earlier in his message he wrote: “…there is the question of changing the legal definition of marriage to include committed same sex relationships”. Committed? And he went on to say: “This is not a simple question”. Actually, Bishop, it is a simple moral question; your area I would have thought. Fortunately, for George Orwell, he did limit his comment to ‘intelligent men’.

  • The danger to God’s design for marriage is not just from the apostates, but also from the seeker-friendly Christians who give aid and comfort to the apostates.

    E.g. My son showed me this interaction between a church planting pastor and Nathan Campbell whom you all know very well:- www.facebook.com/craig.tucker.372/posts/10155653050860842

    I’m hardly surprised by this Tucker fellow. He is a collaborator of Pastor Chong who invited the Honorable John Anderson to give the keynote address at a fundraising dinner he organised for Saturday 21st October 2017 — right in the middle of the postal plebiscite — but then when the postal vote was announced he told Mr Anderson that it would be better if he didn’t mention the marriage vote because the caterer is homosexual and would pull out if he did.

    My son also showed me the “frame” saying “It’s OK to vote NO” that people can put their Facebook pictures. It seems a bit timid compared with the pro sodomite marriage equivalents. I don’t understand why the Coalition For Marriage is not more forcefully making the case for Vote NO. Does anyone know if this is part of a deliberate strategy?

  • The Bishop’s comments on the same-sex debate would certainly give comfort to both sides. His remarks are nothing more than a commentary empty of teaching. Catholics should be able to expect a little better than that in terms of leadership and teaching. Perhaps he is just not up to it.

  • We do have problems in our child rearing history. The British upper class sub contracted their children to children’s nurses and nanny and when they could tie their shoe laces sent them to a boarding school, then off to garrison the Empire. Did Winston S Churchill ever have any meaningful relationship with his father apart from a casual word?
    The value of father and mother in an ideal world cannot be overstated but those with less at times thrive . Many of our Prime Ministers had such, our agreed worst Billy McMahon was I think an orphan, Gorton offspring of his father’s mistress, Holt brought up by his father in hotel rooms, Turnbull’s mother deserted them. Others came from stable homes Whitlam, Menzies and Gillard (who came from a minor Christian Church – Baptist)

  • Hi Bill

    My attention was drawn to the following excellent article:

    selkesnet.wordpress.com/

    Blessings
    Ross

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