07 May “60’s, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll”
From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
As you know, two weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court listened to oral arguments on whether or not to allow states to define marriage as a man and a woman. Many Americans are numb with disbelief. How did we come to this point?
This did not happen overnight. It actually began several decades ago in the 1960’s. We invite you to join a free Webcast tomorrow morning, where UFI Board member Bill Duncan and other respected experts discuss how the moral revolution of the 1960’s has impacted the American family, and what lessons from the past might help us in the task of family reconstruction which lies ahead. Register here: http://www.frc.org/events/sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll
Today’s alert also gives an overview of the major cultural revolutions over the past few decades, along with a silver lining that may yet help the next generation establish successful marriages and families of their own, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules this summer.
United Families International, President
As the World Turns: Three Revolutions that Changed Marriage
For most Americans, the “American dream” still includes marriage. Almost all adults “list marital success as one of their most important life goals,” and “the vast majority of teens say they want to be married and stay married for a lifetime.” Even “inner city African-American single mothers — the group least likely to marry — desire a successful marriage as fervently as their middle class peers.”
Why then, over the past half-century has America been culturally “divorcing” itself from marriage? Marriage rates have fallen, perceptions of marriage have changed, and some people see marriage as “just one lifestyle among others.”
The breakdown of marriage in America has come about because of three major social revolutions over the last fifty years.
The first social revolution was the sexual revolution of the 1960‘s, when the young adults of the “baby boom” generation challenged existing social norms. Their new attitude–that we are sexual beings and should not deny ourselves–paved the way for sex outside of marriage to become what it is today –“normal”– even expected. The invention of the birth control pill in the early 1960’s and the legalization of abortion in 1973, further increased sexual activity outside of marriage, through the false promise of “freeing” women from the “burdensome consequence” of unwanted children. (Tragically, the sexual revolution culture has only proven over time to hurt women.)
The second major revolution to impact marriage was the “divorce revolution.” It began in 1969 in California, with Governor Ronald Reagan making “what he later admitted was one of the biggest mistakes of his political life,” by signing the first no-fault divorce law. By the early 1980’s almost every state included some form of no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce suddenly allowed “one spouse to dissolve a marriage for any reason–or for no reason at all.” But in so doing, it undermined the concept of marital permanency, essentially making every marriage more vulnerable to divorce. As a result of this social experiment, “since 1974, about 1 million children per year have seen their parents divorce.”
A third major change to marriage came with the “cohabitation revolution.” “To a large extent cohabitation is an offshoot of the sexual revolution. . . and the divorce revolution accelerated the practice.” Cohabitation has become increasingly accepted as an alternative to marriage, or a way to “test drive” a relationship before committing to marriage, “with both rationales clearly shaped by a fear of divorce.” However “no research to date, shows that cohabiting before marriage improves the odds for the average couple.”
Over 50 percent of couples who cohabit before marriage are broken up within five years, and 75% of children born to cohabiting parents will see their parents’ relationship dissolve. These broken relationships often lead to “serial cohabitation” and/or single parenting — all fragile family forms that put children at risk.
“Free Love” Isn’t Free
Sexual freedom, easy divorce, and cohabitation were ironically propelled under the banner of “free love,” yet all this “free love” isn’t really free. Government picks up the pieces of broken relationships through its welfare and judicial systems. It is cautiously estimated that “family fragmentation costs U.S. tax-payers at least $112 billion each and every year, or more than $1 trillion each decade.” Divorce and unwed childbearing create heavy costs on society, because of higher rates of crime, drug abuse, education failure, chronic illness, child abuse, domestic violence, and poverty.
However, the greatest costs of these relationships are not being paid by the taxpayers, but by the children. A 2006 study found that children in single-parent families “were three to six times more likely to experience child abuse. In fact, the most dangerous place in the world for children is in a home where the mother is living with someone other than the child’s biological father. Children raised outside of intact marriages also struggle with “higher rates of poverty, mental illness, teen suicide, conduct disorders, infant mortality, physical illness, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminality.”
Despite experiencing some of these negative outcomes — and perhaps because of it — many children from divorced and single parent families still want something more for their own future. They want real, life-long marriage. Surveys show that “today’s young people identify a happy and lasting marriage as one of their highest personal goals in life.” However, some of them don’t know how to achieve the “secure and loving family” they desire, because they have never seen one.
Laws and policies should do all they can to protect the institution of marriage, but the most powerful impact on young people still comes through religious teachings and parental efforts within the home. It is encouraging to know that “the primary reason why teens say that they do not have sex is because it is against their morals or religion.” Studies also confirm that “parents have an enormous influence on their teenagers.” Parents are their first and best teachers.
The greatest gift a parent can give their child is a good marriage. Today’s youth need to see their parents modeling what healthy marriage is. Married couples can strengthen that resolve by remembering that marriage is much more than companionship or intimacy–it’s a promise:
“I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them—it was that promise.”1
Perhaps the next moral and cultural revolution needs to begin within our own homes.
We invite you to join us for a free Webcast to listen to UFI Board member Bill Duncan and other respected experts discuss how the moral revolution of the 1960’s has impacted the American Family, and what lessons from the past might help us in the task of family reconstruction which lies ahead.
The Capitol Hill Symposium, cosponsored by The Family in America and the Family Research Council, will feature a panel discussion of the topic: “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Family Policy Legacy of the Sixties.” Featuring:
- William C. Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation
- Ryan C. MacPherson, Professor of American History at Bethany Lutheran College
- Anne Roback Morse, Media Coordinator at the Population Research Institute
For more details or to register for the event, please visit the registration page at:
The webcasts will be posted for future viewing at: http://www.frc.org/university