February 15, 2013
It’s anybody’s guess…where the economy is headed. And lots of people are guessing.
With Obama duly sworn in for another four years, we are headed into uncharted waters. Tuned to the daily news reports, we try to gauge our economic plight with familiar terms: taxes, spending, deficit, sequestration, budget, interest rates, short sales and austerity measures.
But one thing is missing from the discussion of America’s economy…the economics of family. And it is no small thing.
We have come to treat the financial and the social parts of our lives as two completely different and isolated realms. In politics, people are known to say, “Economically, I am a conservative, but socially, I am a liberal.” At election time, we hem and haw, trying to decide whether to vote for economic issues or for social issues. We couldn’t be more wrong.
At the very time when we pray for economic recovery, America seems ready to abandon its commitment to traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Economically, our failure to support traditional marriage is also a financial decision.
Marriage is not just about a wedding cake, a piece of paper and insurance benefits. It is the foundation of society, the supporting structure for building families and caring for children. While we try to guess whether the GDP will go up or down next month, we do not have to guess about the consequences of deconstructing traditional marriage.
The Brookings Institute has extensively studied the phenomenon of out-of-wedlock births in America:
Since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites. Every year about one million more children are born into fatherless families. If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great. The policy implications of the increase in out-of-wedlock births are staggering.
Sadly, as we continue to keep count of the number of children living in single-parent homes, we do not seem to have the stomach for considering our personal and cultural failures that have brought us to this point. We want a strong economy. We just don’t want to fix the economy at the personal level.
We have reduced marriage to the trivial. We declare it as unnecessary for fathers and mothers, men and women. Conversely, we declare it to be the “a right” for those in same-sex relationships.
Our ambivalence about marriage is quite apparent in the educational programs being used to teach the next generation of Americans. Teens are taught that they can have sex “when they are ready.” We encourage their readiness for sex by supplying baskets of condoms and pills. Now, judges have secured Plan B drugs for children of any age “if they have an accident.” And if Plan B should fail, our government will assist our children in getting an abortion.
We are totally fixated on how to NOT have families. Nowhere in any of our educational plan for teens do we teach them about constructing families…about the positive link between sex, marriage, and children. This is not just a sexual issue. And it is not a religious dogma.
It is economics! It is basic Economics 101. Marriage between men and women is an issue that should matter to government because it is the strongest foundation for our economic system.
If we want to revive our economy, we must open a national dialogue that truly respects traditional marriage as a valuable institution worthy of our support. This dialogue must be more than media-friendly sound bites demanding same-sex marriage. The same-sex debate has completely derailed our understanding of marriage.
If we want economic recovery, we must start by restoring the economics of family. And these economics are grounded in the security of healthy marriages between men and women.