Marriage is good for the economy. Wedding invitations, photographers, bakeries, florists … if you've recently paid for a wedding yourself, you cringe at the thought of how much you just stimulated the economy. But when University of Pennsylvania professors Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers say that marriage is economically favorable, they mean something entirely different. Professors Stevenson and Wolfers in yesterday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch Op/Ed opine that same-sex marriage is beneficial for the economy … and not in the flowers and invitations kind of way.
Stevenson and Wolfers claim that marriage between man and wife has "evolved" over time. No longer does "separate roles, separate spheres and specialization" define a well-run family institution, but rather they claim we have entered an era in which "washing machines, dishwashers and microwave ovens have reduced the value to the family 'firm' of employing a domestic specialist." And with no need for a "domestic specialist" comes a change in the constitution of marriage. Marriage has become a canvas for the pursuit of pleasure and shared enjoyment or "hedonic marriage" as Stevenson and Wolfers term it.
Enter same-sex marriage.
Stevenson and Wolfers argue that modern "hedonic marriage" doesn’t need a breadwinner and a "domestic specialist," it doesn’t allow for a "nurturer" and a "disciplinarian," it wasn't purposed for procreation or child-rearing, and it definitely doesn’t require one man and one woman. With the purpose of pleasure-seeking, these professors argue that man and man can accomplish this just as well as man and woman.
If the purpose of marriage is as they say it is, then yes, I’ll agree that any combination of two, and why not three or four or five people, can pleasure-seek as well as any other combination. But the fallacy of their argument is the purpose of marriage.
Marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, an institution of God and a foundation for civil society, a strong social order providing a vehicle for long-term economic development and security within society, and a safety net for men, women and children. An abundance of social science shows us that men, women and children benefit economically, physically and emotionally from a stable, traditional two-parent marriage and family. If we want a thriving economy, we have to have thriving, two-parent, mom and dad, families.
Additionally, "domestic specialists" are not as obsolete as Stephenson and Wolfers would have us believe. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 5 million stay at home moms in the year 2010. Before the recession, a stay at home mom was present in 24 percent of married couples with children under the age of 15. As a side note, the disdain expressed in this Op/Ed over the "domestic specialist" reminds me a bit of the comment Democrat Strategist Hilary Rosen made in reference to Ann Romney being a stay at home mom who "had never worked a day in her life." No matter how specialized and sanitized dishwashers become and no matter how many attachments are included with the latest vacuum, technology will never replace the real work done by stay at home mothers (or dads for that matter). Childrearing and the needs of a child have not changed one bit in all these years over which Stephenson and Wolfers have claimed that parenthood and marriage have "evolved."
Finally, explain to me the following. Polling shows that a large majority of people still long to be married. A vast majority state that marriage is an important life goal of theirs. According to Forbes magazine, the percentage of the American populace that has ever married is 80 percent — still incredibly high. So if we've really moved on from the days of "Ozzie and Harriet" and the 2.3 kids and the white picket fence, and if marriage is just legalized pleasure as Stephenson and Wolfers presume, why do people continue to long for marriage? Is traditional marriage really as obsolete as these professors paint it to be?
If marriage in modern society is nothing more than a legal union for sensual gratification, then true, biblical marriage has been cast aside for ages. But therein lies the catch. From the very foundation of the world, marriage has been a God-ordained institution dedicated to productivity and the establishing of stability in society. To call marriage "hedonic" is an arbitrary statement and shows a lack of understanding of the institution as it was designed and intended.