Marriage Is Just a Piece of Paper - Part 3
- Monday, July 23, 2007
Marriage: The Best Alternative
I truly believe countless lives would change for the better if people were told The Naked Truth about the benefits of marriage. Families could not continue to be in such disarray if true believers—not make-believers—began to evangelize their communities about marriage. It’s important to share what God says, but it’s more powerful to live the truth. How you live your life says more about you than anything you can ever say. A marriage revival will only occur when Christians obey God’s charge in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then . . . I will heal their land.”
“Evangelize at all times, and when necessary use words.”
—St. Francis of Assisi
Sex in America was a book that documented the most exhaustive research study ever done on married couples in the U.S. and it found that married people achieve the five basic things that almost everyone wants: long life, health, financial security, sense of well-being, and a happy sex life. Though living together is now generally accepted, its outcomes can’t compare to the benefits of marriage.16
Married people not only feel better but are actually physically healthier and live longer than single people.17 There are many mental and physical health benefits to knowing that there is another person who will take care of you when you cannot take care of yourself. Married people vow to care for each other “in sickness and in health, as long we both shall live.”
Married couples—who are mutually dependent upon each other, helping each other to meet their financial and career goals—are more likely to be financially responsible for their partners than live-ins, who place a greater value on their independence over dependability. Live-ins are more likely to control their own finances and protect their individual economic futures by having separate bank accounts, instead of working as an economic team.
Married men earn nearly twice as much as single men. This may be explained by the increased financial responsibility men feel when they marry as many men have been heard saying, “Marriage made me get more serious about my career and making a good living.”18
Married women also benefit from marriage in that they make more money than their cohabitating or single sisters, and they also have access to more of their man’s earnings. In addition, many married women report receiving considerable support from their husbands in their careers.19
Married couples are also better off financially because they monitor each other’s spending in a way that emphasizes “our budget.” For most marrieds, “Your money is my money, and my money is your money.” According to the authors of The Case for Marriage, “This financial union is one of the cornerstones (along with sexual union) of what Americans mean by marriage.”20
Finally, married people are emotionally happier on the whole than singles, and they have more stable and secure relationships within their communities.21
In some families, cohabitation is no longer cause for parental disapproval. But in many families, cohabitation is still immoral and embarrassing to extended family members. Live-ins from these families run the risk of damaging their relationships with parents and experiencing the withdrawal of parental and extended family support for the relationship. Additionally, the temporary nature of live-in relationships may limit access to grandparents for children who might end up switching sets of grandparents multiple times.
People who live together may seem to have achieved the same benefits as married couples, but those benefits vanish in the long run and they are no better off than singles.22 Because cohabiting relationships are temporary by nature, the benefits last for a relatively short time, and if the couple splits up rather than marrying, the benefits are lost at a high emotional and psychological cost very similar to what people experience in a divorce.23
Surprise! The vast majority of people might be surprised to learn that married couples have better sex lives than couples who are shacking up. Because marriage is the capstone of commitment in the relationship, it adds a deeper sense of internal security to one’s sex life. Married couples are more likely to perceive love and sex as intrinsically connected. This makes sex between married couples essentially more satisfying because the spouse’s intentions and commitment is not in question. Don’t get me wrong: Live-ins are having sex just about as often as married couples—but they are less likely to say they enjoy it as much as married couples do.24
It is often hard to distinguish between a lie in truth’s clothing and truth itself, so it’s no wonder why living together can appear to be like marriage: shared living space, diminished cost of living, convenient sex, even having and raising children together. I often hear, “We are just as committed as any married couple” . . . but the numbers don’t lie. Studies show a lower level of commitment between these couples, less dedication to the continuation of the relationship and less willingness to sacrifice to preserve the relationship. Moreover, these couples report lower levels of happiness, less sexual fidelity, more sexual dissatisfaction and poorer relationships with their parents.
Living together as a married couple is not an effective trial marriage. It does not provide divorce insurance and cannot compete with the rewards and benefits of a strong, committed marriage. Couples are better off in life’s measures of success and happiness (emotional health, physical health, personal wealth, general happiness and longevity) if they are married rather than living together. People need to know that Satan’s counterfeit of living together fails to bring couples the happiness and stability they desire in a close intimate relationship. Shackin’ fails to reap the benefits of marriage.
The current generation of young adults longs for satisfying and stable relationships that provide the essential things in life: long life, health, financial stability, a sense of well-being, and a happy sex life. Unfortunately, our American culture has deceived many into believing that they can achieve these things without engaging in the divine rite of passage called marriage. Some have accepted the flawed counterfeit known as shacking up, living together or cohabitating, and those who have chosen to adhere to God’s ordained union called marriage have become anxious about their ability to achieve it in a cynical, media-saturated world.
Their fears will be calmed through better pre-marriage education and counseling. The alternatives to marriage appear reasonable and attractive but will prove faulty over time and fail when compared to marriage. Educators, pre-marriage counselors, the Church, the media and parents must begin to proclaim the divine institution of marriage as essential to personal and family success. The Case for Marriage reminds us, “Support for marriage . . . does not require turning back the clock on desirable social change, promoting male tyranny, or tolerating domestic violence . . . Whether an individual ever personally marries or not, a healthy marriage culture benefits every [person].”25
There is a movement among young people across the nation. True Love Waits, The National Abstinence Clearinghouse, Club Varsity, and other organizations have led millions of youth to pledge to wait for sex until after they are married. These young adults have rejected the lies in truth’s clothing that many of their peers accept as the norm:
- It can’t happen to me.
- I’ll just practice “safe sex.”
- It (pregnancy) just happened.
- They’re gonna do it anyway.
- What two people do behind closed doors is nobody else’s business.
- I only listen to the beat.
- Sex is a natural bodily function that can’t be controlled.
- Peer pressure/Everybody’s doing it.
- It’s too late for me.
- Marriage is just a piece of paper.
The Word says that Satan often appears as an angel of light, cloaked in truth’s clothing. The Deceiver is like a mirage, holding out empty promises that will disappear and even lead you away from fulfilling the hopes you have for your life.
Not everyone who abstains from sex until marriage always lives happily ever after. But those who choose to live as God intended in the area of sexuality avoid the wide road that ultimately leads to death and destruction (STDs and AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, illegitimate births, divorce, etc.). Those who decide to follow God and not the world have chosen the narrow road, which promises life and peace.
When I hold up a hundred dollar bill while speaking, I ask the audience, “Who wants this?” The majority of people sit waving their hands around, shouting, ”Me! Me! I want that!” But the person who gets to keep it:
1. Sees the opportunity
Know the options and the consequences.
2. Makes the decision to get up out of his or her chair
Make a decision.
3. Ignores what their peers are, or aren’t, doing
Find others who will support your decision.
4. Comes down to the front and pulls it out of my hand
Plan and act.
The Naked Truth is that wanting something is not enough. If you really want it, you’ve got to get up and do something about it. Whatever choice you make, begin with the end in mind. That means, choose today whom to serve! All we have to do is open up the Bible to Proverbs 3:16 to discover that “the fear of the Lord will give you long life, riches, honor, pleasure and peace.” It is the best opportunity for lasting happiness for you, for your children and for the generations to come.
And that is The Naked Truth.
- Why is marriage so much more than a piece of paper?
- What do you think your wedding day will look like?
- What do you think your marriage will look like?
- Why is marriage worth waiting for when it comes to sex?
16Lee A. Lillard and Linda J. Waite, “Till Death Do Us Part: Marital Disruption and Mortality,” American Journal of Sociology, 1995, 100, pp. 1131-1156. R. Jay Turner and Franco Marino, “Social Support and Social Structure: A Descriptive Epidemiology,“ Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 1994, 35, pp. 193-212. Linda J. Waite, “Does Marriage Matter?” Demography, 1995, (32) 4, pp. 483-507. Sanders Korenman and David Neumark, “Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?” The Journal of Human Resources, 1990, (26) 2, pp. 282-307. George A. Akerlof, “Men Without Children,” The Economic Journal, 1998, 108, pp. 287-309.
17Popenoe and Whitehead, Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know About Cohabitation Before Marriage, note 4.
18Linda J. Waite, “Does Marriage Matter?” Demography, 1995, pp. 483-507.
19C.E. Ross, J. Mirowski and K. Goldsteen, “The Impact of the Family on Heath: The Decade in Review,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1990, 52, pp. 1059-1078.
20Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially, note 6.
22Popenoe and Whitehead, Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know About Cohabitation Before Marriage, note 4.
23Waite and Joyner, “Emotional and Physical Satisfaction in Married, Cohabiting and Dating Sexual Unions: Do Men and Women Differ?”
24”The State of Our Unions 2000: The Social Health of Marriage in America," The National Marriage Project (New Brunswick, NJ: The National Marriage Project, 2000), note 1.
25Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially, note 6.
From The Naked Truth, © 2007 by Lakita Garth. Published by Regal Books, www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Lakita Garth is a social commentator, media consultant and professional entertainer in Los Angeles. As a highly sought-after abstinence speaker, she has talked with millions of teenagers through motivational assemblies across the United States and internationally. She has also testified before the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Senate on teen pregnancy prevention, and serves on the executive board of The National Abstinence Clearinghouse. Garth, a runner-up to Miss Black America, has appeared in numerous commercials and television shows, including MTV and BET.
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