Navigation key

The Article Archives

In Defense of Marriage - Part IV

July 28, 2008
tweet this  share this on facebook  

Marriage is designed for sex and sex is designed for marriage. Nonmarital sex ultimately harms the individual and society. Marriage, as I have already shown, is also exclusively heterosexual in that it conforms to the biological design for human sexuality and fulfills the reproductive principle. While same-sex couples may enjoy an emotional bond and engage in sexual acts, they are unable to achieve this one-flesh union because there is no biological communion such as that achieved through procreative acts. In the absence of this biological principle, sex becomes merely instrumental for self-satisfying pleasure and therefore falls into the same destructive category of self-centered acts that characterize all nonmarital sex.

Any deviation from this proper relationship for sex (i.e., marriage), as well as its proper biological design (i.e., homosexual), is a perversion of human sexuality; history demonstrates that such deviations will inevitably undo those societal goods associated with marriage and the natural family.  

So what are these “goods” that derive from marriage? According to the eminent University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite, there are a multitude of documented benefits unique to natural marriage that would be nullified if marriage were altered. For example:

Married people live longer, are healthier, have fewer heart attacks and other diseases, have fewer problems with alcohol, behave in less risky ways, have more sex—and more satisfying sex—and become much more wealthy than single people. (As quoted by Robert Browning in a book review of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher).

Regarding mortality, studies reveal that “mortality rates are 50 percent higher for unmarried women and 250 percent higher for unmarried men than they are for married women and men” (Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage [New York: Broadway Books, 2000], 47). In regards to men matched in every respect except marital status, nine out of ten married men who were alive at age forty-eight made it to sixty-five; only six out of ten bachelors lived to the usual retirement age (Waite and Gallagher, 50).

Mortality rates for homosexual men are even higher. According to a study that appeared in the International Journal of Epidemiology, which examined the homosexual community in Vancouver, Canada, “Life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men” (Robert S. Hogg et al., “Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, 26 [1997]: 657).

Another overlooked benefit of marriage is that of physical security for women. While some may want you to believe that marriage facilitates the oppression and subjugation of women, the reality is that spousal abuse is not the primary source of domestic abuse in this country; it is nonspousal abuse. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the US Department of Justice, of all violent crimes against domestic partners (male/female) that occurred between 1979 and 1987, boyfriends or ex-husbands commit the overwhelming majority of crimes. In total, 20 percent of women report having been assaulted by their partner. However, husbands presently living with their wives committed only 9 percent of these crimes. The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that being unmarried puts women at a much higher risk of domestic abuse.

Abuse within male homosexual relationships is as high as 46 percent (“Domestic Violence in Gay and Lesbian Couples,” Among lesbian couples, some research shows that the lifetime prevalence of physical assault among women living with female partners was 35.4 percent. Given that same-sex “marriage” would exist in name only without its essential defining elements, its application to homosexual couples would, most likely, not serve to arrest the high rates of domestic abuse among gays.  

To illustrate that marriage is unique and its benefits derive from a particular social understanding that is beyond the mere fact of men and women living together in a sexual relationship, consider cohabitation. Cohabiting couples seldom accumulate wealth in the same way married couples do. They are far more tentative about their relationship, less inclined to invest together in homes, stocks, and furniture, and more likely to do such things as keep separate bank accounts and take separate vacations (Waite and Gallagher, 110–123). And finally, the physical and sexual abuse of children is much higher in cohabiting families than in married families (Waite and Gallagher, 135).

Many believe that living together prior to marriage serves as an effective testing ground, increasing a couple’s chances for a long-term, healthy marriage. However, four decades of sociological evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that just the opposite is true. In fact, cohabitation not only fails to prepare couples for marriage, but actually contributes to decreased marital stability in the future. According to studies, couples that cohabitate prior to marriage have substantially higher divorce rates, ranging from 50 to 100 percent higher (Axinn and Thorton, “The Relationship Between Cohabitation and Divorce: Selectivity or Casual Influence?” Demography 29, 357–374).

Cohabitation is not related to marital happiness, but it is instead related to lower levels of marital satisfaction, higher levels of marital disagreement, and marital instability (Booth and Johnson, “Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Success,” Journal of Family Issues 9, 261). The dissolution rates of women who cohabit premaritally with their future spouses are, on average, nearly 80 percent higher than the rates of those who do not (Bennett, Blanc, and Bloom, “Commitment and the Modern Union: Assessing the Link Between Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability,” American Sociological Review 53, 127–138).

One possible cause for the instability inherent in cohabitation is the lack of social reinforcement for fidelity that is implicit in marriage. Research again reveals that currently cohabitating and postmarital cohabitating individuals are less committed to their present partner in regards to the possibility of sexual encounters with others outside of the current relationship (Cunningham and Antill, “Cohabitation and Marriage: Retrospective and Predictive Comparisons,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 11, 89).

In regards to homosexual couples, the concept of fidelity is a popular myth. In the book The Male Couple, the author reports that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years, “Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships” (McWhirter, The Male Couple [Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall] 252, 253).

Cohabitation among heterosexual couples is much closer to marriage—yet even here we see the adverse affect this modification of marriage and the natural family has had on the deterioration of the family and the loss of essential societal benefits. In short, marriage and the natural family function as the cornerstone of civilization; even the slightest deviation from this absolute definition destabilizes this vital institution and begins to produce a series of deleterious effects. Do we really believe that redefining marriage in even more radical terms will somehow improve the situation?

© 2008 by S. Michael Craven

Back to Top

Response from : John  

July 28, 2008 9:25 AM

This series is superb. The question is: What the appropriate way to deliver this information to those most impacted by this cluster of sexual sins? We are more like Roman society than Western (Christian) scoiety so "what" do we do to speak the gospel to "this" culture effectively? As you point out again and again the "missional" question is the one the American church must come to grips with if it is to speak to how people ought to behave. We have moralized the cultural issues and our good news is not good to them. We have three things we must do, as the church: "We must believe (creed)...thus we must behave (ethics)...thus we must belong (community)." Our narrative is rooted in creation, incarnation and recreation. In a time when the church has almost entirely rooted our narrative in "my personal experience of salvation" this message is even more important to a people scorched by the sexual revolution.

Thank you Michael for showing thousands of people how to do both. You have shown us why ethics matters but you have kept it rooted in the indicative of the gospel. Bravo!

Response from : Glen O'Blenes  

July 28, 2008 10:46 AM

I've read all four articles to date and Michael Craven is to be commended for having the courage to speak about such a devisive subject in today's society. It is difficult to argue with history and the facts, but we all know the liberal activist groups all believe what they want to believe in spite of the evidence. We can only pray that they will hear the voice of our loving God speaking to them through this work.

Response from : Charles Adkins  

July 29, 2008 9:18 PM

Your article was very good and informative. Many people believe that sex is the narm for today, but that's not the way God intended it to be from the beginning. He instituted marriage between man and woman; not man and man or woman and woman. When people live in willful rebellion against God and His Word they end up doning things that are not natural. Humans stoop lower than animals. Has it ever been heard of a male dog with another male dog or a female dog with another female dog? That is against nature and you won't find that. But humans without God will stoop lower thana a dog. The same sex cannot reproduce and sex was given by God to be enjoyed within the marriage relationship and for the purpose of reproduction to replenish the earth. Therfore, man with man and woman with woman cannot fulfill the will of God . Our generation need the information that you have made available. Keep up the good word. God said that the person who commits fornication sins against his own body. People don't know that sex kills the body and destroys the sould and spirit.

Response from : Jessee Ure  

July 31, 2008 5:15 PM

Thank you so much for your work in this pivotal issue. I have been searching for some kind of copy of Unwin's work, but all I can find are other paraphrases. We are working on a keynote focusing on defending the traditional family, and it would be very valuable to us. Could you guide us in how we could find a copy of both of his works that you cited? Thanks again.

Response from : Sheila  

August 1, 2008 12:30 PM

I appreciate your reasoned and well written contribution to the defense of marriage. I have been contemplating your statement in your closing paragraph: "In short, marriage and the natural family function as the cornerstone of civilization; even the slightest deviation from this absolute definition destabilizes this vital institution and begins to produce a series of deleterious effects." It caught my eye, with the use of the phrase the "natural" family, as I am Director of an organization that is working to educate on the significance of respecting the marital relationship, in its natural form, as understood through natural law. To those opposing the distortion of the very meaning of marriage through including same sex unions, I would propose a deep look at the distortion we impose on the marital union when we contracept and sterilize it. Unlike infertility, which is a disease process, deliberate sterilization of the marital act is a deviation from the natural state of marriage, and we need only look at what has happened to marriage since the widespread acceptance of contraception to see its deleterious effects, the legalization of same sex unions being the most recent.

Response from : Ida  

August 14, 2008 8:45 AM

Very well written article. As someone who had a good marriage for 28 years but is widowed I know how absolutely happy I was to be committed to one person alone but also how God honours and blesses married couples and their families.

Response from : Doris Baker  

June 3, 2011 9:25 AM

I gained a lot of knowledge from all the statistics. It should be published in the newspapers to bring awareness of the benefits of a traditional marriage.


Return to topics Return to articles
Back to Top

Respond to This Article

Form Authentication: 

Refresh the page if  
image does not appear  

Please enter the form validation code
you see displayed above.

Your Information:
You must include your full name. Submissions that do not include both first and last names will not be posted.



Email Address:


Respond to This Article:

Your comments will be reviewed and either approved or denied publication.


Back to Top

Navigation Key

 Return to topics
 Return to articles 
 Read article with responses 
 Respond to this article