Below is an excerpt of Tony Perkins' "The State of the Family 2004" address.
Autor: ---- Fuente: Family Research Council

The most fundamental institution in our society today is that of marriage. Created and sanctioned by God himself, the union of one man and one woman is the very bedrock of civilization. Marriage has withstood the test of time and it is sacrosanct. The first marriage ever to take place was between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with the Creator officiating. God said, "It is not good for man to be alone," so he fashioned Eve from Adam's rib. They were intended for each other, to become one flesh, to live together, to rule over the earth together, and to procreate. Social science confirms that the married state is consonant with our nature and good for the individual spouses; studies have consistently shown that married people are happier, healthier, live longer, and are better off financially.

Marriage is also the safest place for women and children. According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, children from broken or never-married families have greater rates of long-term poverty, serious child abuse, developmental and behavioral problems, and are more likely to end up in jail as adults. Studies also show that divorced, separated, or never-married women experience higher rates of violent abuse than do married women. But it doesn't take a scientific study to understand the benefits of marriage and the reasons it should be maintained as a social norm; for most of our history as a civilization, common sense sufficed.

Marriage is good. But the institution of marriage is under attack. In fact, half of all marriages today end in divorce. In 1960, 393,000 American couples got a divorce. In 1996, that number had exploded to 1.15 million couples. Another alarming trend is the number of couples skipping the altar and opting instead to live together. The number of cohabiting couples has literally skyrocketed, from almost half a million in 1960 to nearly 5 million in 2000. When no-fault divorce was legalized in 1969, the assertion was that it would make getting out of a marriage easier and therefore couples would be less intimidated to tie the knot. In reality, no-fault divorce clearly communicated the opposite message. Marriage is no longer sacred. Since the courts cheapened society's greatest institution, more couples no longer saw the need to enter into a marital covenant. Instead of making it easier for couples to walk the isle, it has prompted couples to walk away from marriage.

But cohabitation is no substitute for marriage. Studies show that cohabiting relationships are likely to be unstable while cohabitants are less healthy emotionally than married couples and are at a higher risk for later divorce. Children born to cohabiting couples are likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, experience greater educational difficulties, and are more likely to be economically disadvantaged.

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