It’s easy to look at a correlational relationship between A and B and decide that A caused B or that B caused A. A case could be made for either one. And people often do that. The trouble is that correlation does not indicate causation. A could cause B. B could cause A. A and B could both be influenced by C and have nothing directly to do with each other.
News articles in the past year have talked about how more and more children are being born out of wedlock and how many people are putting off marriage because they cannot afford it. I’ve even seen articles about people considering divorce now because the Affordable Healthcare Act makes healthcare too expensive if they remain married. Some are saying that marriage is only for the wealthy.
“‘Marriage has become a luxury good,’ said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.”
– New York Times: “For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage” 17 February 2012
The idea is that wealth leads to marriage.
But what if it’s the other way around. What if marriage leads to wealth? (see Deseret News: Can marriage reduce poverty?)
Last April, Elder Ballard made this statement:
The real question, of course, is about cause and effect. Do some sectors of our society have stronger values and families because they are more educated and prosperous, or are they more educated and prosperous because they have values and strong families? In this worldwide Church we know that it is the latter. When people make family and religious commitments to gospel principles, they begin to do better spiritually and often temporally as well.
And, of course, societies at large are strengthened as families grow stronger. Commitments to family and values are the basic cause. Nearly everything else is effect. When couples marry and make commitments to each other, they greatly increase their chances of economic well-being. When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket. And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly safety nets are required.
– Elder Russell M. Ballard, That the Lost May Be Found, April 2012 General Conference
Marriage is not a luxury in our society, it is an absolute necessity.
As I look at our small family, and even before the addition of our little Iddo, marriage had already provided great benefits. Having two people take care of and support the home eased the load on both of us. Working together we were able to accomplish more than we could have individually. Our marriage put the power of two behind each of our endeavors.
And now that we have Iddo, I have no idea how single parents do it. How do they take care of a baby, take care of the house, work, take care of themselves? I don’t even want to try it. I look back at my childhood and know that my life would have been incredibly different if one of my parents had not been around.
Not all families can be the ideal of two parents, especially with the mother in the home. But throwing up our hands and saying since not everyone can have that we shouldn’t all strive for it will throw the baby out with the bath water, in a sense almost literally. Because those babies who grow up not understanding the importance of a nuclear family will suffer the devastating effects.