Sometimes, I hate the Ensign.
Now it's even claiming that social science is behind marriage. Not that far off. After all, social science is behind marriage. But not for the reasons they state.
Here's my egocentric point by point refutation of the 21 points that they cite.
Summary from Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-One Conclusions from the Social SciencesFamily
1. Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children.
Fathers are around more often when families are wealthy, as are marriages.
2. Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage.
Why? This is purely a cultural statement and proves nothing about what would happen in a culture absent marriage.
3. Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.
I'll buy this one, but poor people are also more likely to do both of these things and (surprise) grow up outside an intact marriage.
4. Marriage is a virtually universal human institution.
So is racism. Universal and good aren't the same thing.
5. Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers.
I agree with this effect, but it's much more due to economic circumstances to begin with than these factors.
6. Married couples seem to build more wealth than singles or cohabiting couples.
They're richer. Not terribly shocking.
7. Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.
I'll buy this. Single men have less incentive to make money, although you could call that good as well. Score one for the Ensign!
8. Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure.
Economics explains this one too: especially given the lousy quality of schools in poor neighborhoods, where the above is much more rampant. I will say that parental involvement in education is key.
9. Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs.
Economics clearly explains this as well.
Physical Health and Longevity
10. Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.
Economics again. Rich people are MUCH healthier than the poor.
11. Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality.
Better prenatal care for the wealthy.
12. Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teenage children.
I agree with this one, but economics play a role here. I also think there are substantial issues with reporting of D&A abuse. I'll still give the Ensign a point.
13. Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.
Wealth. Health. Life.
14. Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.
Same as above. Three of these four are basically making the same point.
Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being
15. Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.
Divorce is certainly very stressful. I'll give a third point.
16. Divorce appears significantly to increase the risk of suicide among both adults and their adolescent children.
Another point. Divorce is bad.
17. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers.
Another point. The wealthy tend to have similar rates of depression to the poor, although this may be due to underreporting among those with less access to mental health professionals.
Crime and Domestic Violence
18. Boys raised in single-parent families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
Poor people are much more likely to be criminals.
19. Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime.
Adults that make it to a culture of marriage or that aren't in jail during prime marrying years are certainly less likely to be criminals. Also, they're less likely to be victims because they don't live in Hell quite so often.
20. Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women.
Wealth explains that too. Rich people don't beat each other up as much.
21. A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse.
Ditto number 20.
I've wasted a lot of space to tell you that economic factors alone are a better explanatory factor in sixteen of these twenty one cases. Three of the five that did score have to do with the dissolution of marriage and the mental health impact of Daddy being in one day and gone, never to return in the next. And, I believe that in those five cases, other factors can offer competing interpretations.
Bottom line: STOP DESECRATING SOCIAL SCIENCE, CHURCH. AT LEAST QUOTE THE GOOD STUFF.