HANNIBAL – Despite the persistent drumbeat that marriage is nothing more than an optional piece of paper, Janice Crouse told the crowd at the Missouri Baptist Convention Worldview Conference April 3 that the erosion of tradition marriage – especially since 1960 – is a major driving factor in many social ills plaguing the United States.
Crouse, a speech writer for President George H. W. Bush, author, and the executive director of Concerned Women for America’s think tank, said that marriage is on the decline. She quoted studies that suggest younger generations do not believe in love and an increasing number see marriage as obsolete. The average age of first marriages is creeping higher for both men and women and the divorce rate is 60 percent higher than in 1960.
She noted that public opinion and culture have been shaped by media, not science, have planted seeds that suggest marriage is no longer necessary nor has any real social meaning. Not only does that contradict the idea that marriage is a holy covenant instituted by God, but it runs contrary to actual scientific finds.
“Social science actually says that marriage is better for communities and individuals,” Crouse said. “We have to convince today’s young people that indisputable evidence shows marriage and family are the foundation for their happiness as well as the wellbeing of society. Throughout history, across cultures and across civilizations and across time, marriage and family have been the foundation of nations.”
Marriage, she said, is rooted in natural law, religious faith and cultural traditions that predate written history. Family and marriage are the links between generations and cultural traditions.
“Marriage matters profoundly,” she said, “and marriage is essential to happy families.”
Crouse quoted studies that say 41 percent of children in the United States are born to fatherless households. As an extension of that, the poverty rate in fatherless homes is five times higher than in homes with both a mother and a father, and two-third of all poor children are in fatherless homes.
“Social science research is unequivocal,” she said. “Children in mom-and-dad families have superior outcomes on every measure,”
Marriage and a traditional family benefit men and women as well, Crouse posited: Women are 62 percent more likely to be abused by a live-in boyfriend than a husband; married women are better off financially than their single counterparts and report better overall health and well-being. Married men are healthier, live longer, have more wealth, and have better and more frequent sex, than their single counterparts.
Later in the conference, she identified five sexual challenges in the 21st century. The challenges: casual sex, cohabitation, porn, sexual exploitation and same-sex marriage.
“Conventional wisdom says that if you tell a lie long enough, people will begin to believe it and that is the case with casual sex,” Crouse said. “We’re told that sex is great recreation and fun with no consequences.
In reality, Crouse noted there are dramatic costs of casual sex: Girls who are sexual active in their early teens are twice as likely than the average woman to get a sexual transmitted disease, and are 40 more times more likely to get pregnant than even a teen who waits just a few more years. In recent years, depression cases have doubled, suicidal students have tripled and she links the rise in part to the normalization of casual sex.
Cohabitation, living together before marriage, leads to the degeneration of marriage and the family as Crouse previously discussed. In 1960, 439,000 unmarried couples lived together. In 2010, that number had risen to 7,500,000.
“Contrary to what many young people think today, cohabitation does not lead to marriage,” she said. “In the 1970s, 60 percent who lived together three or more years got married. In 1990s, it was 40 percent. Marriage is down on the list of priorities, but sex? ‘Go right ahead.’”
The rise of immediate and easy access to pornography is a particular challenge in the 21st century. Crouse noted that half of self-professed evangelical men and 20 percent of Christian women admit to viewing pornography on an ongoing basis.
“The popular myth is that porn is harmless,” she said. “The reality is that pornography is the new crack cocaine. It is a cultural tornado that is breaking up marriages. It brings a third person into the marriage and betrays the spouse.”
The next challenge is sexual exploitation – prostitution and human trafficking.
“It is a violent swirling vortex of violence, forced labor and misogyny,” Crouse said. “There are more people in slavery now than in any time in human history; more than 30 million people. The war against johns, pimps and traffickers is the slavery issue of our day.”
Crouse said fathers are key to keeping girls and women out of sex trafficking.
Finally, Crouse tackled same-sex “marriage.”
“Proponents of same-sex ‘marriage’ typically focus on what adults desire, rather than what is best for children or families,” she said. “The homosexual activist claims that who they love doesn’t affect any once else. But it does matter. Counterfeits always devalue the real thing. In those countries and states where same-sex ‘marriage’ has been tried, marriage has weakened.”
Crouse noted that moves toward normalizing same-sex “marriage” are often a word game.
“This is not about ‘equal rights’ or ‘equality.’ It’s not about seeking equal rights or protection; it’s about demanding special rights.”
Koonce earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University in 2005.