Marriage is one of society’s foremost incubators of virtue – those attitudes and habits of behavior that promote health and well-being in the individual and all those with whom he or she interacts. Despite all the derogatory jokes about the oppressive, irksome nature of marriage, the data clearly show that married couples are healthier, happier, and live longer than those who remain unmarried. Social scientists try to parse out whether this association is the result of happy, healthy, positive people tending to marry with higher frequency or whether being married tends to make people happier, healthier, and more positive in their outlook on life.
Logic and common sense, however, face no such obstacle. To take just one instance, ordinary folks look at the following set of facts and draw the obvious conclusion that marriage does make a difference. In 1976, only 35 percent of all 20- to 34-year-old males had never married; these never-married males accounted for only 31 percent of the male labor force but half of the unemployed males of that age group. Now, a little over 30 years later, 61 percent of 20- to 34-year-old males have never married; they comprise only 57 percent of the males of that age in the labor force but they account for nearly three quarters (74 percent) of all of the unemployed males 20 to 34 years of age. Unlike social science researchers, people in business concerned with holding down expenses recognize which workers have not learned the habits that make them reliable workers. And so, when cut backs have to be made in their work force, they have no difficulty determining which are the least valuable workers and thus the ones they are going to lay off first.
Two people who set out on the path to build a great marriage will almost certainly produce a bumper crop of virtue; moreover, the virtues that marriage cultivates will be in evidence not only in the quality of their personal, private relationships but also in the public aspects of their lives in the broader community. This accounts for why married couples are the backbone of communities.
Beneficial outcomes are inevitable since the ingredients of a great marriage are attitudes and habits of behavior that are, in essence, virtuous. No matter how intense the passion and physical attraction at the outset of a romance, over time a couple cannot build a great and lasting marriage unless both partners learn – and make a habit of – such virtues as unselfishness, self-control, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Only when their commitment to one another is evidenced in these virtuous behaviors will they come to completely trust and respect each other. With these in place, they can fully depend upon each other and enjoy each other totally.
Of course, nothing is certain in life; accidents or illness may occur which pose insurmountable economic challenges, but barring these, the mutual support afforded by a happy marriage is the best possible guarantee of the development of a productive, self-reliant, self-sufficient, freedom-loving family unit capable of providing the sort of environment required for the nurturing of healthy children. We can be confident of this because God in His wisdom designed marriage to effectively serve both the unifying and procreative functions. A couple that pursues a great marriage lives in conformity with God’s design, and thus, many virtues as well as great happiness arise naturally as a by-product of their respectful treatment of one another and others.
The nanny state, on the other hand, is something altogether different. Instead of political leaders thinking of ways to encourage family units to behave virtuously and thereby become strong enough to be self-sufficient, we have politicians who pander to the voters with promises of government largess, selling the notion of having government take over responsibility for life’s difficulties, all in the guise of compassion. In the process of buying votes with promises of things like government subsidized health care (promising, of course to pay for it by taxing somebody else), these power hungry politicians help create a population steeped in attitudes of victimology and dependency, of self-indulgence which looks to government to relieve them of the inevitable negative consequences of risky, irresponsible actions.
Today, leaders in Congress are proposing to fix yet another mess that earlier ill-conceived legislation created to begin with. The rise in health care costs in America is the consequence of a history of politically-motivated legislation too long to address in this brief article. Suffice it to say, nothing is more certain to produce abuses in the utilization of any resource, whether it be health care or water, than for government or business to make it available to the public at little to no cost.
On the one hand, the nanny state, with its ever increasing regulations and handouts, encourages the development of weak, immature, self-indulgent people who expect the government to care for them. Marriage, on the other, helps to build a strong nation by encouraging the development of morally strong and thus self-sufficient people who are capable of making their own choices and who expect to earn their own way. In a very brief time we shall see whether today’s generation will succumb and heedlessly go down the path of “bread and circuses.”
Tyrannical political leaders wanting more and more power have baited their traps and seek to seduce the public into letting them increase the size and power of the already bloated government. They may very well succeed unless we recognize those privileges that we enjoy, those that we take for granted, and hold so lightly. Dare we forget that our freedom and independence were only a distant dream until they were bought for us with horrible sacrifice and the blood of patriots who declared, “Liberty or death!” Unless we remember how priceless our heritage is, it could very well become a thing of the past, beyond the reach of our grandchildren, swallowed up by a relentlessly expanding bureaucratic state. What will future generations say of us if we blithely let politicians trade us phony promises of security for our liberty until bit by bit it becomes, once again, only a dream.