I was busy with a newborn baby when all the discussion over The Atlantic magazine’s November cover story started circulating, so I’m coming in on this a month late. However, I think it’s such an important topic that it deserves a post. Kate Bolick basically opines that “traditional” marriage is on its way out and will be replaced by looser relationships. It’s hard to tell whether or not she’s happy about this idea, as the article is just a depressing read anyway, but we’ve heard these arguments before. In fact, they go back to ancient Greece and Rome, so no surprises here (for an enlightening read, I recommend The Social Results of Early Christianity, written in 1889 by Charles Schmidt–free on Google Books).
It is very easy for individuals to be dismissive of marriage when they look around at a society that is rejecting its moral foundations and decide marriage “just isn’t working out” any more. But we cannot afford to think individually when it comes to marriage, because marriage is where family comes from, and families include children.
We don’t really need extensive, longitudinal studies to demonstrate that children do better physically, emotionally, and financially when their parents are married and stay married (though those studies are certainly out there). We know that fatherless children face severe difficulties in life. (This is not a slam on single mothers who are not single by choice; it’s just the reality that children need their fathers.)
So when pundits begin proclaiming the death of marriage, I’m not ready to start carving its tombstone. Marriage wasn’t the invention of man, created at a whim. It is God-ordained and exists not just for mutual companionship, love, and security but for the formation of stable, thriving families. When we reject it and try to create substitutes, we end up harming those who are least able to protect themselves from the foolish choices of adults who should know better: the next generation. I’m optimistic, because I don’t believe the anti-marriage trend can hold (it never has managed to take strong root in the past).
I’ve bookmarked several pieces to share that offer other insights on this issue of “All the Single Ladies.” Lots of viewpoints here (from the thoughtful to the irate). These articles look at both the male and female sides of this issue. Toss the shells; keep the pearls.
- From The Heritage Foundation: “Bolick writes that she aspired to wed, though she ‘spent her early 30s actively putting off marriage’ and is now ambivalent about having children. Now a magazine editor as well as writer, she walked away from a serious relationship in her late 20s after struggling with ‘wanting two incompatible states of being—autonomy and intimacy.’The quest for independence is no doubt a product of the prevailing feminist winds that carried along today’s 30-somethings as we grew up amid “The Girl Project.” Read the full piece HERE.
- From National Review Online: “Kate Bolick has set the chattering class — not to mention the bar scene — abuzz with her cover story for The Atlantic, ‘All the Single Ladies.’ Because she passed up marriage in her late 20s and has now concluded that at 39 the possibility has passed her by completely, she declares the end of marriage as her generation’s contribution to history. Have all single 30-somethings come to a similar conclusion? Not quite, as you might expect.” Read the rest at THIS LINK.
- From William Bennett: “For boys to become men, they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction. It is true in all ages. Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them? Each generation of men and women have an obligation to teach the younger males (and females of course) coming behind them. William Wordsworth said, ‘What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how.’ When they fail in that obligation, trouble surely follows. We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood.” Read the full piece HERE.
- From Rob Ogden: “The statistics are overwhelmingly clear: Humans simply do better with fatherly authority, and especially with married parents, during their developmental years. As we’ve seen, a good man is he who takes responsibility not only for himself, but for others who cannot take responsibility for themselves. Kids suffer, perhaps more than any other group, from lack of male authority. … Men no longer need to grow into adults to enjoy adult pleasures. They won’t act responsible because, increasingly, they have no responsibilities. For these reasons, the good men have receded. I once heard a male friend say, “Why would I want to change things when sex is free? For kids and responsibility? Yeah right!” Piggish, but understandable. With free sex, and when culture teaches that responsible males are ridiculous, it becomes difficult to blame him.” Read the rest HERE. This is a bit of a rant, but so much of it is dead on target that it’s worth the read. It’s easy for “all the single ladies” to decry the lack of mature, marriageable men, but it’s a problem the so-called “women’s movement” created and now must deal with. Getting rid of marriage isn’t the answer; it’s the problem.
- From Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition: “I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men?” Read the full piece HERE.