The Good News magazine is dedicated to showing solutions to our problems. No doubt some of our greatest challenges lie in today's marriages and families. Almost everywhere you look, the family is in trouble.
You can tell something is seriously wrong when the U.S. president proposes spending $100 million to promote marriage and, as happened several months ago, is soundly criticized by various individuals and groups declaring that whether people marry is nobody else's business.
But does marriage matter? Is it the government's business—or anyone else's—whether people marry or whether they stay married?
Several key statistics reveal why some national leaders think it's crucial to promote marriage to successfully battle poverty. Notice these sobering numbers about the state of marriage and the family in the United States:
- About half of first marriages, and up to 60 percent of second marriages, end in divorce.
- Single women as a whole are five times more likely to be poor than those who are married.
- Children living in single-parent homes are four times as likely to live in poverty than those in two-parent families.
- Compared to those raised in two-parent families, children of single-parent households are twice as likely to drop out of school, three times as likely to have an illegitimate child and far more likely to use drugs and engage in other antisocial activities.
- One third of American children are born out of wedlock.
You'll find many more disturbing numbers elsewhere in this issue, including some from other countries showing that the family is rapidly becoming an endangered institution throughout much of the Western world.
Civilizations, like most other structures, are constructed piece by piece. Marriage is the basic building block of the family. The family is the building block of the community. The community is the building block of the city. The city is the building block of the state or province. The state or province is the building block of the nation. The nation is the building block of civilization.
If any of these building blocks are faulty, the entire structure begins to falter and, if not shored up, will eventually collapse.
Sadly, as the statistics cited above show, the cracks that started to appear in earnest a generation ago are steadily widening. Crime, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual perversion, child abuse and the like are among the bitter fruits we're reaping. No community, nation or civilization can survive if such problems continue to worsen.
Just what changed in recent decades to bring about such profound shifts in attitudes toward marriage and family? One major change has been the loss of stigma surrounding divorce and illegitimate children.
A generation has been brought up on the idea that absolute good and evil don't exist and that the only real sin is to suggest that someone else is living the wrong way and that his actions will cause harm to himself and others in the long run.
Thus the traditional family modeled in classic TV programs like Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet are out and Sex and the City and Temptation Island are in. Movies, TV and music undermine marriage but push promiscuity, assaulting the very foundations of society.
But it doesn't have to be that way for you and your family. Be sure to read the articles in this issue to discover the real solutions to some of the many problems threatening today's families. GN