Although ordained by God (Gen. 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6), the institution of marriage is under heavy assault in Western culture. Just talk to college students! The National Marriage Project (NMP) recently performed extensive polling among various classes of Americans and concluded:
• Among the educational middle (a high-school diploma and maybe college…but no four-year degree) marriage is “foundering,” and among the least educated…marriage is “fragile and weak.” (according to Susan Olasky, World, 1/15/11, 61)
Such negative assessments about marriage are truly lamentable, especially if what the NMP concludes is correct:
• “If marriage becomes unachievable for all but the highly educated, then the American experiment itself will be at risk. The disappearance of marriage in Middle America would endanger the American Dream, the emotional and social welfare of children, and the stability of the social fabric in thousands of communities across the country.” (62)
This might sound alarmist to many. However, the stats seem to support the assessment of the NMP. According to LifeSiteNews.com, 1/31/11:
• Two medical students at Cardiff University studying existing data on the relationship of marriage to health have concluded that “stable, long term, exclusive relationships” lead to “more healthy lifestyles and better emotional and physical health,” and have a marked effect on longevity.
• Authors David Gallacher and John Gallacher cite a Cambridge study of “one billion person years across seven European countries that found that married persons had age adjusted mortality rates that were 10-15% lower than the population as a whole,” and that this statistic alone makes stable marriage “probably worth the effort.”
• The authors found that “physical and mental health benefits seem to accrue over time,” citing a 30-year longitudinal study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry which found that “the duration of a relationship was associated with better mental health scores, while the difference in mortality rates in favour of marriage, increases with age”
• “Exclusive and supportive relationships confer substantial mental and physical health benefits that grow over time.” (. The study, titled “Are relationships good for your health?” was published in the British Medical Journal on January 28, 2011.)
This conclusion is further justified when we look at the fate of children outside of the traditional marriage. In The Case for Marriage, Gallagher and Waite claim:
• “A preschooler living with one biological parent and one step-parent was forty times more likely to be sexually abused than one living with two natural parents.” (159).
Despite today’s dismal assessment of marriage and the human desire to sample fruit outside of its bounds, the studies seem to suggest that God did know what He was doing when He established monogamous, heterosexual marriage. It also demonstrates His concern for us!