Marriage and the Common Good

Chuck Colson
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Posted: Oct 14, 2003 12:00 AM

“Losing [the debate about marriage] means losing marriage as a social institution, a shared public norm,” writes columnist Maggie Gallagher. “The question is not whether this is a battle we can win, but whether it is a battle we can afford to lose.”

Gallagher is right. As we fight this battle to keep the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, we have to be careful to articulate the value of marriage in ways that make sense to the general public. That’s why this week has been designated “Marriage Protection Week,” and it’s why BreakPoint is focusing this week on the benefits of marriage.

Recently Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (R) spoke at the Heritage Foundation (requires RealPlayer to watch) about the “Necessity of Marriage.”

He began by reminding his audience that one of the purposes of government, laid out in the Preamble to the Constitution, is to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

The “general welfare” is not about individual gain, said Santorum, but about the common good—what is beneficial to all Americans. In contrast, the so-called “right to privacy,” which has been at the heart of many of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions, has only self-interest in mind. The right to privacy—which is not even in the Constitution, but rather has been “found” by an activist court—started with the sexual revolution and has led to many so-called “rights” that are similarly self-centered. These include abortion and, now, with the Supreme Court’s recent Lawrence decision, the right to any form of consensual sex. Santorum called the right to privacy a “me-centered” right.

In contrast, he said, marriage promotes the general welfare; it’s good for all of society. Promoting two-parent male/female marriages “affirms what the founders understood, promoting the common good.” Marriage itself illustrates this when spouses seek “to give of themselves to each other, rather than being self-interested.”

And the social benefits of marriage go on. According to a Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report, “child poverty would be nearly a third lower today if the traditional two-parent family had not deteriorated over the past three decades.” Marriage, according to a 1994 Justice Department report, also reduces the risk that both men and women will become victims of violence.

And, of course, marriages sustain the nation’s population, providing a future workforce. In Japan and many European countries, as people opt for singleness or for childless marriages, the growing elderly populations have too few young people working to support them.

Santorum acknowledged that the institution of marriage faces a lot of problems—problems like divorce and domestic violence. “But that doesn’t mean we should weaken it further” by redefining marriage to accommodate same-sex relationships, he said. It means instead that we need to shore it up and promote the “right way” to do marriage.

Please call us here at BreakPoint (1-877-3-CALLBP) so that we can send you more information on Marriage Protection Week. This is crucially important. After all, as Maggie Gallagher put it, “marriage is a word for the way we join men and women to make the future happen.”


For further reading and information:

Visit the official website for Marriage Protection Week .

Marriage Protection Week, 2003 ,” by the President of the United States of America , a Proclamation, 3 October 2003 .

Call 1-877-322-5527 to receive the “ Speak the Truth in Love ” resource kit ($25), which includes: A special CD interview with Dr. Robert George, professor of jurisprudence and professor of politics at Princeton University, discussing why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment and with Dr. J. Budziszewski of the University of Texas-Austin arguing philosophical reasons to oppose same-sex “marriage;” an article by William Bennett, “Gay Marriage: Not a Very Good Idea;” a fact sheet with Frequently Asked Questions about homosexuality and same-sex “marriage;” a special CD and workbook by Chip Ingram (“Living on the Edge” radio), Homosexuality: What do you say to a gay friend?; and a Corporate Resource Council study on The Health Risks of Gay Sex. Also available is a complimentary Marriage Amendment Information Packet.

Maggie Gallagher, “ The future of gay marriage ,” Townhall.com, 7 August 2003 .

Maggie Gallagher, “ Why Marriage Is Good for You ,” City Journal, Autumn 2000.

Maggie Gallagher, “ The Stakes ,” National Review Online, 14 July 2003 .

Maggie Gallagher, “ What Marriage Is For ,” Weekly Standard, 4/11 August 2003.

See Gallagher’s website, www.MarriageDebate.com.

See the Heritage Foundation’s research page on marriage and the family .

The Marriage Amendment ,” First Things, October 2003.

Trouble in the Church ”—In this interview with “ BreakPoint” Managing Editor Jim Tonkowich, Dr. John Yates II, senior minister of the Falls Church in Falls Church, VA, discusses the current crisis in the Episcopal Church: the election of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual, to be bishop of New Hampshire. They discuss how the Church should approach the issue of homosexuality.