This is not to say that being raised in an intact family is a guaranteed ticket to success, or that children in non-traditional families have no hope of doing well. But as a group, the odds strongly favor the children raised in intact families. It’s really a question of giving our children the best possible chance to succeed. Cohabiting couples may wish it were otherwise, but in general their lifestyle doesn’t serve their children -- or the wider society in which they are raised -- as well as the traditional family does.
What is it, exactly, that makes the intact family such a strong force for good? Among other things, it gives its members a sense of belonging -- a desire that appears to be imprinted on every human heart. An intact family, more so than other types of households, imparts that belonging and gives its members a firm foundation for acceptance and success.
When that foundation is damaged, the need for belonging doesn’t go away. As Heritage expert Ryan Messmore has noted, it often is simply transferred to the state, which is happy to assume (in a decidedly imperfect manner, to be sure) the functions of the intact family. Not surprisingly, liberal politicians have long tried to win votes by using language that appeals to the urge to belong. President Lyndon Johnson spoke of America as a “family,” as did Walter Mondale when he ran for president in 1984. Unfortunately for liberals, nothing -- not even the most well-intentioned nanny state -- can replace the traditional family.
The bottom line is pretty simple: Society needs a critical mass of intact families to function effectively. That’s why the debates about same-sex “marriage” and cohabiting couples merit more than a shrug of the shoulders. Don’t bite your tongue and hope these issues will go away. They matter deeply -- and they need people willing to speak up for traditional values. For the sake of our country, let’s hope more people summon the courage to do that.