Legislating Marriage is “Statist Hubris”
An Economist Speaks in Support of Traditional Marriage
NEW YORK, February 17, 2010—Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, an economist who studies love and marriage and the founder of The Ruth Institute, said that Americans are confused about the true nature of marriage “because we live in an era of big government.”
“Big government did not create marriage,” she said. “Government does not create marriage. Marriage is a natural reality that preexists the state.”
Morse spoke to students at The King’s College in New York City on Feb. 8, 2010, as part of the college’s Distinguished Visitors Series.
She has spent her career actively speaking against a declining understanding of lifelong, committed marriages in America. She said, “The human is wired for community with others. Christianity teaches us that man is not made to be alone. The human is made for love.”
Through her work, she strives to show Americans that civil society requires a traditional understanding of marriage. In fact, she said, “Statistically, the most dangerous situation for the child is to live with a cohabitating, single parent.”
Morse stressed that same sex relationships are likewise unsuited to proper parenting. She said that different sexes are not interchangeable in a relationship. “A two-male couple is different from a two-female couple is different from a man-and-woman couple,” she said. Each mix has different properties, a fact that must be taken into account from the child’s perspective.
She expressed concern that a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples is “a step too far.” She said, “For the state to make a proclamation that mothers and fathers are intrinsically interchangeable and that nobody’s allowed to say otherwise, that’s not really true.”
Marriage is a natural reality, which “every society has known.” To believe that government can give or take away marriage, she said, is “statist hubris.”
Morse said, “Libertarian theory and conservative theory generally has been very weak in its understanding of civil society.” Though the proponents of these philosophies can speak about the free market or constitutional division of powers, she said, “What we don’t understand is how the civil society functions on its own.”
Marriage creates a structure for civil society, she said, because “when a man and a woman have a child together, what you’re asking is that they invest a long period of time cooperating in order to bring that child up into adulthood.” From this standpoint, she advocates life-long commitments in order to bring all children into adulthood.
Article contributed by Chris Ross, Class of 2010.
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