A couple months ago I was dismayed by an article in Time magazine's "Life" section. Under the header "Social Norms" was this gem: "Everything but the Ring. More couples are deciding to live together and raise a family. Why bother getting married?"(May 25, 2009).
The photos of famously unmarried couples (like Oprah and her steady of 23 years) and the quotes from "committed unmarrieds" gave the impression that this new family trend is stable and here to stay. One "CU" told his partner, "I'm not with you because there would be legal speed bumps to get through if we weren't. I'm with you because this is where I want to be."
But the research findings aren't as rosy. "The majority of cohabitants either break up or marry within five years," the author reported. I suspect that foregoing the formality of marriage due to a fear of commitment doesn't make the breakups any less painful, especially for any children involved.
"Why Marriage Matters"
I showed my displeasure about that article in a blog post. So it's only fair that I point out Time's seeming about-face on the subject of marriage, in their cover article about "Unfaithfully Yours" (July 13 issue).
The news angle was the infidelity of high-profile figures like Mark Sanford, John Ensign, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer and Jon Gosselin. But the essay "Why Marriage Matters" made some very powerful points. For example:
"The reason for these appeals [including from George W. Bush and Barack Obama] to lasting unions is simple: on every significant outcome related to short-term well-being and long-term success, children from intact, two-parent families outperform those from single-parent households. A sociologist has measured factors such as longevity, drug abuse, school performance and dropout rates, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior and incarceration—and in all cases, the kids living with both parents drastically outperform the others."
God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman. He designed it to be a stable foundation for raising a family! And a stable foundation for society!
Marriage under attack
But, as the Time essay points out, the two-parent family is "under constant assault." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "reported in May that births to unmarried women have reached an astonishing 39.7%. How much does this matter? More than words can say. There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage."
Of course, a two-parent family doesn't guarantee successful children, and a single parent can raise wonderful children. There are biblical keys that can help all families in their relationships.