Note: In this 10 part series, Richard and Linda explore various aspects of the most important institution and commitment in the history of society-Marriage. Some of the articles analyze what is happening to marriage today, while others suggest ways to strengthen Traditional marriage. Each article is headlined with a question. The series will run here in Meridian for 10 consecutive days. This is the first article in the series. Your comments are welcome.
Why Does Marriage Matter?
We have some small apartments that we rent to young couples. It used to be that all of our applicants were married. Now few if any of them are. The new norm is couples living together who may or may not consider marriage in the future.
“It’s not the paper or the certificate that matters” they tell us. “We don’t need a ceremony to prove we love each other.”
Is marriage becoming obsolete?
It better not be, because if it does, civilization as we know it is in peril. Here’s why:
Most agree that the family is the basic unit of our Society, and that the household is the basic economic unit. The most reliable and least expensive level on which to prevent and to solve problems is in the home.
So if the family is the basic institution from which all larger institutions are built and on which our larger economy depends, what is it that galvanizes and shores up and preserves the basic unit?
The answer is marriage. Committed marriages are the glue that holds society together.
Without the commitment of marriage, households and families turn into unstable and unpredictable arrangements-of-convenience that are frighteningly easily dissolved and disbanded.
Over eons of time, marriage has always been a beautiful blessing of voluntary devotion, a symbol of sacrifice, a bond of declared and unconditional love, a banner of caring and a promise not to give up.
It is a privilege and an honor and a delight to demonstrate our deepest love by making the commitment of marriage. Men and women from the dawn of history have made marriage the milestone of their lives and the foundation of their chosen priorities and life style. It is a way like none other to show our love and prove our devotion.
And the commitments made by marriage partners to each other translate into commitments to the children that come within the marriage and produce a security and identity for those children that lifts them toward their potential and their place as responsible members of society.
If we need still another perspective from which to appreciate the value and the beauty and the desirability of marriage, maybe we should observe the gay rights movement which recognizes the power and importance of the marriage commitment and is thus willing to fight so hard for it.
So here is the huge irony: What the gay movement is demanding and fighting for is what our broader society is devaluing and throwing away! Whatever your position is on this issue, it should remind us all that marriage is a beautiful and sacred privilege that should be honored and valued and never taken for granted.
But there is no question-the institution of marriage, from the macro vantage point, is in serious decline. Fewer and fewer couples who live together are married. And half of all children now being born in this country are born to unmarried women, most of whom are cohabitating.
When couples say that they don’t need some ceremony to prove they love each other, they are missing the point. The point is not ceremony, the point is commitment-commitment that is lovingly and willingly made, commitment to actually share life together-real life with all of its ups and downs.
And that commitment is the only thing that can make families and households strong enough to be the basic unit of our society.
Richard and Linda Eyre are among the most popular and prolific speakers and writers in the world on marriage and family. Visit them anytime at www.TheEyres.com, www.EyresFreeBooks.com, or www.valuesparenting.com.