“If marriage provided no other benefit than this—providing the very best environment for the rearing of children—we should promote marriage.” – WFA President Julaine Appling
One Sunday last month, our church had Parent Dedication. It’s a time when we dedicate the parents who had children the year before. This year six young couples stood on the platform holding children ranging from newborns to almost one-year-olds.
As I looked at those young families, I was struck again with how beautiful God’s plan is–men and women marrying and forming new families and bringing in to this world the next generation. Barring unfortunate situations, the adorable little boys and girls proudly on display in their parents’ arms that Sunday, will experience a good life—largely because they were born into homes with a married mom and dad.
It has become profoundly clear that this one factor gives these children a distinct advantage over children born into single-parent homes or even homes where their mother and father may live together but aren’t married.
If marriage provided no other benefit than this—providing the very best environment for the rearing of children—we should promote marriage. Instead, marriage is, in general, discouraged and disparaged, resulting in people shunning it in alarming numbers. That’s a dangerous path for churches, communities, states and our nation.
To help present the good of marriage to the nation, the National Marriage Week organization several years ago began promoting National Marriage Week February 7-14 each year. The idea is that churches and pastors especially will take advantage of some of the ideas National Marriage Week offers and will highlight marriage as God intends it to be. They encourage pastors to preach on marriage, celebrate the marriages in their congregations with vow renewals and testimonies, host married-couple date-nights and community-wide marriage enrichment activities.
National Marriage Week also encourages governors to issue proclamations extolling the public good of marriage. We are very pleased that for the third straight year, Governor Scott Walker, at our request, has publicly proclaimed February 7-14 as Marriage Week in Wisconsin.
The proclamation in a formal sense expresses what I sensed during the Parent Dedication service. As the Governor says, marriage “connects fathers and mothers to their children” and “a healthy, loving marriage deserves special respect because it … creates the safest place for children to flourish and to enjoy the full emotional, moral, educational and financial benefits of both parents.”
Note the emphasis in the proclamation on the future generation.
Governor Walker recognizes the importance of marriage as the foundational institution for the next generation of Wisconsin citizens. He knows that having a healthy next generation is imperative if Wisconsin is going to be strong and prosperous in the years ahead. Getting couples married, keeping them married, and encouraging them to have children is truly in everyone’s best interest.
At the conclusion of the Parent Dedication, our pastor encouraged all of us to come congratulate the couples and assure them of our prayers. I enjoyed talking with these young people and letting them know how encouraging it was to see them model God’s plan. One of the mothers, looked at me and quite defensively said, “Well, my sister is a single mother and she and her children are doing just fine.”
That brief conversation concerns me. It tells me that perhaps 30-somethings who are truly born-again Believers and who attend Bible-teaching churches, at least some of them, have bought into the idea that while they have chosen to model God’s plan, they don’t see a problem with people choosing not to model God’s plan. Live and let live seems to be their approach, especially since so many close family members are now making other choices or find themselves in a different situation.
That’s a dangerous approach. God’s plan is always best. We forget that to our peril—personally and as a state and nation. Yes, some children in these households will come through pretty well. But make no mistake; the odds are stacked against them.
At a time when the forces of evil are seeking to destroy God’s plan for marriage and family, Christians should be ardent champions and defenders of this institution that is designed for our good and God’s glory. We trust churches and pastors all across the state will take Governor Walker’s words to heart and will take time this week to purposefully champion the institution of marriage and champion the marriages in their congregations for the sake of today and tomorrow.