Valerie J. Steimle is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). She has been writing as a family advocate for the past 20 years. Valerie is the mother of nine children living in southern Alabama and is the author of four books and a weekly newspaper column, Thoughts from the Heart.
Our country is in a quandary. The people of America are completely confused. We have been arguing, debating, and fighting over the institution of marriage for some time now. We are confused by many opinions of whether the institution of marriage should be changed or expanded. Studies and research have shown over decades that without the binding legal contract of marriage between a man and a woman, our nation will buckle under confusion and instability. Studies on the affects of marriage on the family for the last twenty years, still attest that couples who are married and stay married contribute positive forces to society in happier and healthier children, less crime and abuse in the community and better mental health overall in society. In all three areas listed, the lifestyles of those who stay married improve greatly.
1. Confusion and insecurity decrease: After years of research and study all the evidence points to the fact that marriage is the very glue which binds our culture together. It’s the very base of our security and well-being. From the writings of David Blankenborn, Fatherless America: Confronting our Most Urgent Social Problem, he reports: “The most important causal factor of declining child well-being is the remarkable collapse of marriage, leading to growing family instability and decreasing parental investment in children.”
Married couples who stay together create a most remarkable phenomenon. We are linked together by our parents from one generation to another. This creates stability. Imagine if the majority of our great-grandparents did not stay together in marriage as it has developed today. Generations of mass confused and insecure posterity would result and there would be no stability. In April of 1991, Gordon B. Hinckley, late president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stated, “How wonderful a thing is marriage under the plan of our Eternal Father, a plan provided in his divine wisdom for the happiness and security of His children and the continuity of the race.” The success of our society depends upon couples marrying and staying married as couples. It is the sense of who we are as a people.
2. Crime and abuse decrease: An interesting thing happened in 1996. Congress overhauled the welfare laws making it necessary for couples to marry if more welfare is to be dispersed to families. Five years later in a report from Blaine Harden in the New York Times, August 12, 2001, Two-Parent Rise after Change in Welfare Laws, he writes: …”There is a widespread agreement among welfare experts that something remarkable has been going on in poor urban communities, particularly in the last five years. The confluence of positive trends includes falling rates of crime and drug abuse, the greatest decline in child poverty, particularly black child poverty since the 1960’s, and sharp increases in employment among mothers who head families, especially those who have never been married.”
It is concrete evidence that having two parents committed to each other help many social ills: poverty, drug abuse, and crime, to decrease in occurrences around the country. From an article written by Bruce C. Hafen, former Dean of BYU’s Law School and LDS author, published in the June 1994, Ensign. In regard to the need to strengthen families, he writes …” the fabric of society is literally coming apart at the seams—those permanent seams of human interconnectedness we call kinship and marriage. In a society that seems ever more angry and unhappy, many children, parents, and spouses are turning their hearts not toward one another but toward their own self-focused needs.” Having a committed help-mate is so powerful in everyone’s life; the effects are far out reaching any government social program or organization. It is the core of our own well-being.
3. Overall behavior and mental health increase: There are a growing number of children who are suffering from many different kinds of mental and behavioral problems: depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders and suicide. How can we reverse this trend? From a study released in 2003 through Dartmouth Medical School by 33 psychiatrists, neurologists and social scientists called Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities, it states: “The human brain is biologically hardwired for enduring attachments to other people and for moral and spiritual meaning”. The report also stressed the importance of “authoritative communities that set moral frameworks for children, the most important being the family.”
This is irrefutable evidence that married couples need to stay together to raise their children in an “enduring attachment”. Parents are the best enduring attachment for their own children otherwise anxiety, depression, and other behavioral problems run amuck. By parents committed in keeping a kind and loving relationship with each other and their children, the cause of instability and disintegration of mental health would be improved tremendously.
We need the institution of marriage. Our society and culture depend upon us staying married to properly raise emotionally stable children. Our safety and well-being rely on the stability of married couples committing their life to each other and working together to stay together.
By changing the marriage law to include same sex couples, we are not expanding the marriage covenant, we are destroying it. As a country, we need to realize how important getting married and then staying married is to the human race. We need to realize that we are to encourage single mothers to work towards a happy, healthy husband. It is the only way our society will survive and survive with happy, healthy citizens.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose teachings affirm families as the foundation of society, and affirm, as well, the potential for eternal families through Christ’s ordinances, proclaim their beliefs on families in what is known as the Proclamation of the Family. Follow the link to see what modern prophets and apostles have declared regarding the significance of the family unit, gender differences, and the cooperative efforts of men and women in strengthening families. Other religious traditions also support families and encourage inter-generational respect, love, and unity among them. Share your thoughts on strengthening families with us. Learn more about Mormon families here.
Strengthen your family by attending church.
Guidelines for a strong family.