by Theresa Notare
February 27, 2004
Children are the hope for the future. Their well-being should be foremost among society's greatest concerns. Every child deserves a mother and a father committed to one another in marriage.
The nature of marriage reveals to the world the wholeness of the human race, men and women who compliment one another. The marriage of a man and a woman and that openness to parenthood, go together — nature designed them to be that way. As with the nature of heterosexual intercourse itself, marriage is both unitive and potentially procreative. These two meanings of marriage are inseparable. And society itself benefits greatly from traditional marriage, because it provides the best environment for children.
Sociological data over the past twenty years demonstrate clearly that certain modern trends are injurious to children. For example, premarital sex and cohabitation involve no long-term commitment between the man and woman who engage in sex and become pregnant. Many children born of such unions end up living well below the poverty line. Divorce is another example and perhaps even more difficult because often one parent does not want to divorce and is forced to parent alone. While many single parents work hard to raise their children, they know how difficult it is to be both father and mother to a child. And the data continues to show that children whose parents divorce often carry great emotional trauma long after they have grown into adults.
The institution of marriage — the union of husband and wife is so important to the life and stability of a nation that there are laws to protect it. As the U.S. Bishops said in their recent statement, Between Man and Woman: "It is not unjust to deny legal status to same-sex unions because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities." "The state," said the bishops, "has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others."
In all the rhetorical volleys in the media by gay activists, social commentators and politicians, few are talking about this essential piece of the marriage puzzle — the life and well being of children. Every baby comes into the world with the great possibility of contributing to society. And society has a vested interest in supporting traditional marriage. The family — husband, wife and children — is truly the foundational building block of society.
Theresa Notare is the Assistant Director of the Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.