Is marriage a privilege for children?
Children especially benefit from the institution of marriage. Those living with their married, biological parents are generally better off physical, financially, and emotionally than children who grow up in female-headed households. Children in these fatherless homes face a higher risk of physical and sexual abuse. They tend to graduate at a lower rate and get pregnant out-of-wedlock. They face a higher risk of school suspension and expulsion, and criminal activity.
The consequences of the breakdown of the family are obvious. Black Americans have lower rates of marriage than whites. That puts black kids at a serious disadvantage.
Pat Fagan, PhD, of the Marriage and Religious Research Institute (MARRI), wrote about how low marriage rates among blacks are denying these children of the “privilege” that flows from an intact family, focusing on Minnesota, the center of the George Floyd riots:
The contrast between Whites and Blacks on rates of marriage is probably greater in the Midwest than anywhere else in the country.
- For family intactness Minnesota ranks at the top or in second place in the nation, every year.
- Yet, the Midwest (which includes Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee) has the lowest rate of black marriage in the country (see the chart above).
Though among Blacks Minnesota Blacks rank relatively high on marriage rates (20%), that is still more than three times lower than for Whites (62% intactness when teens are 17 years of age).
The New York Times issued a report that concluded black men were less upwardly mobile because of systemic workplace racism, but as Dr. Fagan pointed out, it’s the lower marriage rate that impacts black men’s upward mobility. Or lack thereof.
Who is to blame for denying black children the privilege of marriage? Anyone who undermines the family is to blame.
“Do black pastors preach Christ’s teaching regarding Christian marriage and chastity to black teenagers?” Dr. Fagan wrote. “Chastity is the great protector of marriage and children. So many Christian pastors talk much about the need for justice yet avoid this, the biggest justice issue, which also is their mandate from the God they serve. They can do more than anyone else in the country on marriage and chastity should they have the courage to teach what Christ taught. They are most to blame.”
Dr. Fagan also names government schools and teachers, so-called experts, and parents.
“It is time for black parents to come together and, out of the experience of their own suffering, and their wounded lives, begin to figure out how to give to their children that which even their pastors are conspiring not to give to them: chastity and marriage. Government cannot give this, though government can (and should) enshrine in law the right of every child to the marriage of his biological parents. But only mothers and fathers can give their marriage to their children. Even after a mistake, the poorest single parent can (with heroic effort) pass on to his or her child the ideal of chastity and marriage. These parents are our hope.”