Why is marriage an issue?
6/5/2002 12:00:00 AM - Marvin Olasky
During this marriage month, Washington folks are debating the
Defense of Marriage Act that would help states to stand up against gay
"marriage." That act should be passed, but compassionate conservatives
should at the same time acknowledge a difficult truth: Heterosexual adultery
creates more havoc in America than homosexuality does, yet ministers and
rabbis all too often make their peace with this No. 1 culprit.
Why? For many pastors, the task is too daunting. They would have
to battle the worldview -- call it Playboyism -- that has the dominant
advertising space throughout much of American culture. Movies, ads and talk
shows all suggest to men especially that either being single or acting that
way offers varieties of physical pleasure and a sense of psychological
Surveys show the reality is very different, and just what we
would expect from reading the Bible: Married sex beats unmarried sex in both
quality and quantity. But that's not what a Martian coming to Earth and
viewing the lies of both popular and high culture would suspect.
Lies, once believed, have consequences. Promiscuous singles even
in their 20s have problems, but as young bodies become old and loneliness
swamps lust, the abc's of alienation, brokenness and confusion become even
more evident. Sometimes, though, reality doesn't sink in until people are 40
or even 50, and by then decades are gone and cannot be replaced. The
situation is better for people who resist Playboyism enough to get
married -- but even after, that temptations sink many ships, as the divorce
When I was in college and graduate school, I did not believe in
God, and I bought what James Bond movies and a host of others were teaching
even then: The good life is sleeping with many different women. Since
becoming a Christian a quarter-century ago, I've often thanked God that He
did not make me handsome or rich. If He had, I would have sinned sexually
more than I did, because I had to work very hard for opportunities.
Now, I wonder what would have happened if, instead of getting
married, I had bought the lie? What if at age 51, I did not have a wife with
whom I have shared a quarter-century of faithful love and four sons of whom
I am very proud? Assuming I had not died of or been debilitated by some
disease, I would still be among the saddest of men.
Playboyism leads not only to personal tragedies, but to enormous
public effects. When a man and a woman marry, poverty takes a hit: the
Journal of Marriage and the Family reports that never-married mothers are 10
times more likely to be on welfare than married mothers. When a man and a
woman stay married and faithful to each other, sexual promiscuity drops not
only for their generation but the next: The National Health and Social Life
Survey found that teens whose parents remain married are much more likely to
abstain from sex and avoid problems that include out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
Let me reiterate that being anti-Playboy should not be confused
with being anti-pleasure. A famous Christian declaration from the 1640s, the
Westminster Confession of Faith, includes some Q and A. The most famous
question is this one: What is the chief end of man? -- end meaning purpose.
The answer goes, "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Forever begins
right now, and God has given us numerous ways to enjoy Him, including being
in bed with the person to whom you're married.
All through this month of June, the biggest wedding month of the
year, we should thank God for marriage. We should pray for the legislative
defense of marriage, but even more for its cultural defense, because if we
forsake the first institution God established for the creatures made in His
own image, what will stop us from relinquishing every one of His kind