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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
a speech by Don Feder, Coalitions Director of the Ruth Institute to The Family Symposium 2021 of the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum – May 14, 2021
I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be with you today, to once again address the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum – this time, on the importance of marriage to both individuals and society.
I can’t imagine anything more important. Marriage is central to everything that concerns us as family advocates: Having children, the protection of innocent human life, childrearing, social stability, and curing existential loneliness.
Civilization will rise or fall, based on whether marriage as an institution is renewed or continues on its current course of decline and eventually fades to oblivion.
Marriage is as old as humanity itself.You might say society began when men and women first started committing themselves to each other in marriage.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, is largely a family history. It’s the story of Abraham, who married Sarah, their son, Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and Jacob, Rachel and Leah, and their descendants.
In the beginning, God did something no government agency or social program has ever succeeded in doing – He created a family through marriage. In the beautifully poetic words of the King James Bible: “Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”Also, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” From this we can see that marriage is an essential part of God’s plan for humanity.
Why one man and one woman? Because male and female complement each other, psychologically as well as physically. The Vatican’s Charter of the Rights of the Family notes: “The family is based on marriage, that intimate union of life in complementarity between a man and a woman.”
There’s a more mundane version of this in the movie “Jerry McGuire,” where the title character tells his wife, “You complete me.”
Perhaps we take marriage for granted because it was once such a natural part of life that it required no justification. You didn’t need to explain to people why they should marry any more that you had to explain to them why they should breathe or eat.
But now, given that state of the institution worldwide, we need to offer a rationale for marriage, especially to the young.
So, why marriage? Here are five reasons:
If all of this is true, then why is marriage everywhere declining. Pope Francis warned: “Marriage and the family are in crisis. The revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom but in fact it has brought spiritual devastation to countless human beings.” The devastation is all about us.
Powerful forces are working against marriage:
The epitome of the Sexual Revolution is Cultural Marxism.
Almost a century ago, Georg Lukacs, a Hungarian intellectual and one of the fathers of Cultural Marxism, wrote that traditional culture must be destroyed for the workers’ paradise to emerge. Lukacs observed: “I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch…Such aworldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.” By the “old values,” he meant faith and the family – founded on marriage.
Antonio Gramsci, an Italian contemporary of Lukacs, said much the same thing. According to classic Marxist theory, the Russian Revolution should have been the catalyst for revolution worldwide.
Instead, until the Second World War, Bolshevism stopped at Russia’s borders. Writing in the 1920s, Gramsci concluded that family and church gave workers what Marxists call a “false class consciousness,” which meant that even though they were part of the proletariat, they behaved like bourgeoise. So, the only way for communism to succeed was to eliminate religion and the family.
Thus the decline of marriage is a milestone on the road to revolution -- to radically remaking society.
Without marriage, we will enter a brave new world where individuals live largely by and for themselves and social arrangements are transitory and utilitarian. Procreation will be increasingly rare.
To counter this, we need to return to our roots – especially the Bible, a handbook for family living.
Once upon a time, even the United Nations understood the primacy of marriage and family.
Article 16 of the 1948 United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights acknowledged that the family, based on marriage between man and a woman, is “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” and, as such, is “entitled to protection by society and the state.”
To say the family based on marriage is “the … fundamental group unit of society,” means it’s the foundation. Demolish the foundation, and the entire structure collapses. Marriage is the glue that holds society together.
That’s why marriage matters, and the fight for marriage is the fight for our future -- the fight for civilization itself.