Marriage isn’t just love and commitment

Published 6:37 am Sunday, April 22, 2012

Column: Guest Column, by Chuck Darrell

Is marriage only about encouraging loving and committed relationships — or is it more?

One of the arguments made by those who oppose the Marriage Protection Amendment is that marriage is only about encouraging loving and committed relationships.

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Certainly marriage should only be entered by loving and committed couples, but marriage is not simply about recognizing the love and commitment of the adults involved in the relationship.

Chuck Darrell

Marriage is primarily about channeling the sexual passion of men and women with its inherent potential for creating children into a stable family unit that provides the best opportunity for any child born of that union to be known by and cared for by his or her mother and father.

The noted liberal British philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “But for children, there world be no need of any institution concerned with sex. … It is of children alone that sexual relations become of importance of society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.”

David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and a self-described liberal Democrat, said of marriage:

“Marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation.

“Marriage (and only marriage) unites three core dimensions of parenthood — biological, social and legal — into one pro-child form: the marriage couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and father, accountable to the child and to each other.”

Why is it so important for children to be loved and raised by their mom and dad?

A recent report by Child Trends, a nonpartisan research organization, summarized the scholarly consensus on marriage this way: “Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

Can a man teach a daughter how to be a woman? Can a woman teach her son how to be a man?

Fathering expert Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School explains in “FatherNeed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child”: “Fathers do not mother.”

Psychology Today explains: “Fatherhood turns out to be a couples and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”

A father, as a male parent, brings unique contributions to parenting. Likewise, a mother, as a female, uniquely impacts the life and development of her child, as Dr. Brenda Hunter explains in her book, “The Power of Mother Love: Transforming Both Mother and Child.”

Do we really believe, in our heart of hearts that a mother and a father don’t matter?

Men and women bring diversity to parenting; each makes unique contributions to the rearing of children that can’t be replicated by the other. Mothers and fathers simply are not interchangeable.”

Do we really want to shift the focus of our marriage laws away from the interests of children and society as a whole and onto the desires of the adults involved in the relationship? Clearly, social science proves what we know in our heart to be true: children need both a mother and a father.


Chuck Darrell is director of communication for Minnesota for Marriage.