In defense of marriage
October 19 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

In defense of marriage | Friday, Oct. 19, 2001

Friday, Oct. 19, 2001

In defense of marriage

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor An unwed mother of two children with different fathers was speaking to a reporter about being not just a single mom, but a never-married mom. "Society accepts it better now than it did 20 or 30 years ago," the 23-year-old said, as reported by Ned Glascock in the Oct. 14 issue of Raleigh's News and Observer. "It's just normal now," she said. "I think a lot of people just look at marriage now as another occasion for a greeting card - just another occasion to give gifts, get together and have a party."

My corn flakes lost all their appeal after reading that.

How could anyone think so little of marriage?

The article was intended to describe the rise in out-of-wedlock births in North Carolina. Last year, for the first time ever, "more than one in three North Carolina babies, or 39,770 children, were born to unwed women," Glascock said, quoting figures from the N.C. Center for Health Statistics.

The percentage varies widely by ethnic background, from 13 percent among Asian women, to 19.1 percent among whites, 43 percent among Hispanics and 66 percent among blacks. The percentage grew in all categories from comparable numbers in 1990, with whites and Hispanics fueling most of the quantitative increase.

I'm not writing to criticize single mothers, many of whom did not intend to be single and yet do wonders with their children despite financial hardships and other hurdles that come with the territory.

I'm more concerned with the growing lack of respect for marriage, and I'd like to say a few words in defense of the oldest and best of all human relationships.

Marriage, to begin with, is God's idea. You can't get through two chapters of the Bible before you learn that God created humans as both male and female, and that God blessed the marriage of individual men and women (Gen. 1:27; 2:21-24).

Marriage is an important avenue toward lasting companionship, security and a better-than-average chance of financial independence for parents and their children.

Marriage is the only avenue endorsed by God for experiencing sexual intimacy and bringing children into the world.

Men or women can live happy and productive lives in service to God without marriage, as Paul reminds us (1 Cor. 7:25-35).

Many people claim to live happy lives in service to self, birthing and raising children without the benefit of marriage.

Their apparent satisfaction doesn't make it right, however, or best for their children.

There are times when marriages turn bitter or husbands turn abusive and children fare better if the marriage dissolves.

I cannot believe, however, that it is better to eliminate marriage from the procreation equation.

Adultery is still adultery, and it is still wrong, no matter how apathetic society becomes with regard to moral standards.

Birthing or fathering kids with no intention of marriage is an expression of selfishness and unwillingness to engage in the hard work necessary for a lasting marriage.

"I wanted kids, and that's what I got; I don't want the man that comes along with it," said a 29-year-old mother of three girls, all by different fathers, in the article mentioned above.

"Marriage is not important," she said. "I don't want marriage. As long as I've got my girls, and they're taken care of, and I'm in good health, who needs a man?"

Can you hear the selfishness in that statement? Or the shortsightedness? It's often the government that winds up taking care of those children, and good health is never guaranteed. The mother may feel that she doesn't need a man, but children need both fathers and mothers to teach them about the sacrifice and compromise and commitment that go into lasting relationships.

The woman, who is a participant in North Carolina's welfare-to-work program, said she has seen too many marriages fail.

"In my family, with as many of us that do have kids who are unwed, nobody looks down on us," she said. "It happens so often, so why make an issue of it? Why not go ahead and accept it?"

Why not?

Because it's wrong.

Because it distorts the worldview of children who never know anything better and who grow up to repeat the pattern.

Because it promotes hedonism and fails to recognize that there are values and principles in life that are bigger and more important than our selfish interests and desires.

Because it reduces men to inseminators and women to hatcheries without appreciating the full personhood of others, and the value of committed relationships.

Because it is a finger in the face of God, who taught us better.

Why not go ahead and accept it?

I can't think of one good reason why we should.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/19/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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