Family is the fundamental building block of all human civilizations, and marriage is the foundation of the family. The institution of marriage is unquestionably good for individuals and society, and the health of our culture is intimately linked to the health and well-being of marriage. Unfortunately, the standard of lifelong, traditional marriage as the foundation of family life in our nation is under attack.
Battered by high rates of divorce and cohabitation, unwed child-bearing and the push for so-called same-sex "marriage" and civil unions, marriage is in a state of crisis. Recent cultural changes without historical precedent have influenced an increasing number of Americans to view this fundamental institution as optional, disposable and open to redefinition. In this context of marital decline, political and ideological battles rage between those who view marriage as a transient human invention – ready for updating and revision – and those who regard marriage as natural and fundamental to humanity – essential to a flourishing civilization.
When one considers the social structure of civilization, family is clearly the foundational unit upon which church and government rest. Families are created and held together by the lifelong commitment of a man and a woman who live cooperatively and raise and nurture the children born to them. Families are the building blocks essential to the formation of a community, and strong social structure arises from the foundation many families provide.
Not only is marriage vital to society, the benefits of marriage for individual adults and children are well-documented. In general, married people live longer, spend less time in the hospital, have higher incomes and enjoy greater emotional support. Children raised by their mother and father are less likely to live in poverty or drop out of school and are more likely to finish college. They are also at lower risk for becoming sexually active in their teen years.
This beneficial, cohesive family unit, however, faces unprecedented challenges today, including divorce, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births and fatherlessness – trends which contribute to lessened family, individual and community welfare. One study estimates that divorce and unwed childbearing alone cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year. 1
Throughout history, male-female led families have constituted the primary family units of human society. Current attempts to mainstream same-sex couples and multi-partner groupings include demands to redefine marriage with these alternative forms. In the United States, homosexual advocacy groups have succeeded in passing state laws that give same-sex couples the same access to marriage claims as heterosexual couples – with or without the name "marriage." On the heels of these actions, polygamists and polyamorists (proponents of group marriage) are also demanding recognition of their relationships as "marriage."
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