“What does it smell, feel and look like?” I’ll ask.

The answer is usually, “The same as the one-dollar bill.”

“If you had to choose between your bill and my bill, which would you pick?” I ask. Of course, he wants the larger bill!

But my next question is, “Why would you want my bill? After all, isn’t it just a piece of paper?”

The Naked Truth is that one piece of paper has greater value than the other. People have been known to mug little old ladies, rob banks and steal others’ identities to acquire money, which at the end of the day is “just a piece of paper.” The larger the number written on the paper, the more it is valued. That’s why some people counterfeit: If they can’t earn it, why not copy it?

Now, we know money gets respect, but what about other paper? Try presenting your favorite Pokemon card to the Highway Patrol when he asks you for your driver’s license, registration and insurance. Let’s see how far you get.

Or how about going to the state lottery officials to collect the $87 million jackpot with the card you made for your mom on Mother’s Day in the second grade? How much cash do you think you’ll collect with it? You guessed it—nada!

The reason some forms of paper command respect and esteem is that their value has a direct relationship with an object or activity. Paper money issued by the government represents something of real value, such as gold or silver. A lottery ticket and its numbers are related to the jackpot. A registration tells the policeman your relationship to the car you’re driving, and your license tells him that you have been deemed a legal driver by your state.

My marriage license, though it’s printed on a piece of paper, has value because it defines my relationship to the man I sleep with every night as wife—not wifee, shortee, friend with benefits, significant other, partner, or anything else. This paper says we are legal and legitimate, and we are driving this life together.

Given the choice, most people will choose items of greater value over lesser ones—or will they? Why is this true about other forms of paper but not about the marriage license, which gets about as much respect as toilet paper these days?

When I shared with an acquaintance in the entertainment business that I was getting married, he remarked, “Why in the world would you want to do a thing like that? You should just live together . . . after all, marriage is just a piece of paper.”

Today, living together has become a popular counterfeit to marriage and one of the most deceptive lies in truth’s clothing. The wedding day is documented with more than beautiful photos—it’s sealed by a piece of paper called a marriage license, and The Naked Truth is that it’s not just any piece of paper.

The marriage license represents a marriage, which is the cornerstone of bringing people together in a family. Marriage is a social institution that has been tested and reaffirmed countless times over thousands of years and is deeply rooted in every society around the world. When marriages and families are healthy, communities thrive—and when marriages break down, communities break down.

Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton popularized the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” However true this may be, the corresponding African proverb was completely ignored by her and the press: “The ruin of any nation begins in its homes.”

Marriage is the means to a stable and enduring family, but it has taken a backseat to cohabitating (also known as shacking up or living together). Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, many people have come to view marriage as an old-fashioned, outdated institution that has no relevance in modern American culture. Many view marriage as “just a piece of paper.”