Let’s hear it for marriage

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Support families – all of them

By Joanna Adams

How about a shout-out for the month of June?

Named for the Roman goddess of marriage, June has been the go-to month for weddings since ancient times. For centuries, the reasons for the popularity of June nuptials were more practical than romantic. For example, babies conceived after a June wedding would be born in the spring and thus would have a better chance for survival.

Traditionally, the groom has stood to the right of the bride during the wedding ceremony. In the olden days, if someone were to swoop in to kidnap the bride (and steal her dowry), the groom would have quick access to his sword to defend her.

These days, marriage itself could use a defender or two. Troubling trends are afoot.

While marriage statistics remain relatively stable for college graduates, the marriage rate is sharply plummeting for those with a high school education or less. The divorce rate hovers around 50 percent. Forty-one percent of new marriages end in divorce, as do 60 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages.

The “partnering and repartnering” syndrome has become more the norm than the exception. As a consequence, children who grow up in intact families are becoming the exception rather than the rule.

The new norm in America is to have your first child before you marry — if, indeed, you marry at all. According to the June issue of The Atlantic Monthly, 58 percent of first-time mothers are unmarried.

Our nation is in the midst of an important conversation about same-gender marriage. My hope is that we will, in addition, have a long overdue conversation about marriage, period. As we talk, let us also begin to act. Here are a few suggestions:

• Support public policies that encourage two-parent families. Far too frequently, tax and welfare systems penalize couples of low income who choose to marry.

• Remember the children! They need the assurance of sustained support and safety, whether they live with one parent or two, with a grandmother or an aunt or an uncle. Just one adult who loves and cares for a child can make all the difference.

• Support families, whatever their shape or form. It is the family that transmits or does not transmit values and life skills. At home, kids learn to trust and love, to be accountable and practice self-restraint. Or not.

• Never stigmatize single parents. Remember that marriage is not for everybody, and that most marriages that end in divorce do so for good reason.

• If you are married, try to forgive more and judge less. It’s better to be connected than right.

Marriage and family are the two basic structures that have undergirded human society since the beginning of time.

For the ordering of life, the well-being of the community and the birth and nurture of children, there is nothing better.

Joanna Adams, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, writes for the Higher Ground blog at Highergroundgroup.org, where this column originally appeared.

5 comments Add your comment

Tee Randall

June 9th, 2013
8:14 pm

Forbid marriage until age 28 – Only then after extensive mental and psychological testing. Too many unqualified parents in the world. Let’s bring this up in Home Ec in high school. Instead of teaching how to cook, maybe they will teach proper parental responsibility.

War Eagle

June 9th, 2013
8:12 pm

Marriage is a joke. As Jeff Foxworth says “happy wife, happy life. Or you’ll be happy with half your stuff”. It is better to just live as boyfrined and girlfriend so that if you get sick of each other, you are not spending thousands of dollars on attorneys.


June 9th, 2013
8:28 am

Pastor ADAMS, Why is that YOU and many religious Leaders Like YOU are silent about Governor Deal and Mayor Reed’s non support for The Tens of Thousands of Uninsured Georgians who live and work overwhelmingly in and around the City of Atlanta?

Many of them being overwhelming CHILDREN? Does NOT YOUR GOD say to You and Your supporters. We must Care and advocate for the least among US?


June 8th, 2013
10:46 am

Georgia has one of the most liberal no-fault divorce statutes in the U.S. and, probably not coincidentally, one of the highest divorce rates. All either spouse needs to cite to terminate a marriage is “irreconcilable differences,” which can mean practically anything.

Jack ®

June 8th, 2013
5:04 am

When high school-aged youngsters get married, almost immediately there’s a realization that a lack of money is a big problem. The bloom is off the romance regardless of how starry eyed they were in school. Then a baby comes along and the real world is more than they are equipped to handle. They see their peers going on to college; see them laughing and going places which are denied the new young parents. But try telling these young people they’re making a mistake and they’ll laugh at you.