The pope and Biden must discuss marriage

The pope and the president will meet at the end of this month before the G-20 meeting, and social justice is undoubtedly going to be a topic of discussion.

Pope Francis recently launched a tweetstorm with a myriad of calls to action. But unfortunately, he left out the single biggest item that reduces poverty and closes the income gap in the West: healthy and fruitful marriages.

This is an area where the pope could and should have a lot to say. Indeed, the pope declared 2021 the year of St. Joseph, who has the title of “Pillar of Families,” so such an argument would seem to fit well.

The understanding of the social benefits of marriage are now so robust that ignoring them should be a source of embarrassment for any policymaker. And yet, it is nearly always left out of these conversations.

Research from the Institute for Family Studies found that 97% of millennials with a high school diploma who got a full-time job and who had a baby only after getting married didn’t live in poverty.

The income gap is growing in America largely because of the rapid growth of single-headed households. Single people, particularly single men, earn far less than their married counterparts.

Earlier this month, Pew released research on the numbers of people who are unmarried or live without a romantic partner. The study found that as of 2019, 38% were not living with a romantic partner during their prime working years, as opposed to 29% in 1990. Further, Pew found data that reinforce the Institute for Family Studies research that unmarried adults are less likely to be economically prosperous, have less access to benefits such as health insurance, and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as binge drinking or drugs, which in turn lead to a lower life expectancy.

How’s that for social injustice? But the data supporting marriage don’t end there.

Let’s keep in mind that children conceived in married homes are the most likely in our culture to avoid adverse childhood experiences, which means they are the most likely to thrive in school and in life as an adult.

Women who live in married homes are the safest from any form of violence. Women who live with a man who isn’t their husband are the most likely to suffer from domestic violence.

Children conceived in cohabiting homes often become victims of fatherlessness, as 40% lack a father by age 3, and 70% won’t have a father in their lives by age 12. This is the personification of social injustice. A child cannot choose his or her home life.

Yet, despite all of this, we continue to pretend the various and ever-changing sexual whims of grown-ups are the most important considerations.

Without a doubt, encouraging marriage as the means of creating a more just society is the core message Francis should advance when he speaks to President Joe Biden. He is best positioned to make this case. Plenty of folks in the media will endlessly repeat the many other ideas Francis laid out in his tweets.

If you still doubt this is relevant to their conversation, consider that Biden leads a nation that annually breaks new records for collapsing birthrates and marriage rates. The number of people getting married annually has dropped 31% since the year 2000 and 61% since the year 1970.

In 2020, the birthrate in the United States hit 1.64 per woman. Across the West, there’s a pandemic of fruitlessness: Germany’s birth rate sits at 1.54, Italy’s birthrate is 1.32, and Poland’s is at 1.44. The Catholic Church has frequently spoken out against euthanasia. How frequent will euthanasia become in a world with too few adult children to love and care for the elderly? How will vast social welfare programs get funded to help the poor when too few workers exist to pay for them?

Yet, many of our Western leaders fixate on Malthusian policy prescriptions to combat climate change. Awards are given to royals who live the example that children are a disease on society. The climate change that needs to occur is entirely around marriage and the family.

My colleague Dr. John Van Epp and I have been studying the issue of marriage for years, and the problem of leaving marriage outside of the conversation of poverty and social justice is a symptom of a much larger problem. Churches and policymakers only give lip service to the institution.

Church leaders universally say they value marriage. Most churchmen would probably agree it is the most important human institution, the core building block of society. Yet, we allocate money to those things we value. And church spending says we don’t value marriage. In our recently released book, we cite new research that shows 82% of Catholic parishes and 85% of all churches in the U.S. spend zero dollars annually on marriage and relationship ministry.

Biden and our policymakers need to hear a pro-marriage message from Pope Francis because no one else can give it on the world stage. Western leaders do not need yet another voice speaking about issues that are both wildly popular among our elites and ubiquitous in every form of media. In conversations with Biden, Francis should integrate marriage into any discussion on combating inequality and poverty in America or the West.

J.P. De Gance is co-author of Endgame: The Church's Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America.

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Tags: Family, Pope Francis, Joe Biden

Original Author: J.P. De Gance

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