10 Years Later, The Manhattan Declaration’s Defense Of Marriage Is Even More Needed By Jonathan Lange for The Federalist
The most fundamental duty of government toward marriage is to recognize its reality and enforce the legal contract at its heart. This is what the Manhattan Declaration called for 10 years ago.
The Manhattan Declaration, released ten years ago today, is an appeal to everyone who considers himself a Christian to recognize that the sacred nature of marriage is no reason to be silent about its public benefits. Rather, precisely because Christians know both the sacred and the secular value of marriage, they owe it to their secular neighbors to defend it. In so doing, they are not merely defending principles, they are defending millions of people who have been defrauded by government institutions.
For nearly 50 years millions of men, women and children have been robbed by state and federal governments. I am not referring to taxes, unfunded mandates, or to federally planned inflation. I am referring to the government’s dereliction of one of its most basic duties—to enforce marriage contracts.
Marriage, of course, is far more than a contract. It is a sacred covenant. But it is a covenant with an economic impact. Christians recognize that marriage signifies the holy bond between Jesus and His church. But anyone can see that it bestows tangible goods on husband, wife, and any children who are conceived in the conjugal union.
Those who reduce these tangible goods to tax privileges and social standing demonstrate an astonishingly deficient understanding. Tax benefits and social standing are not the content of marriage benefits, they are its results. Because of its intrinsically high value to society, governments support it and incentivize it. But the most fundamental duty of government toward marriage is to recognize its reality and enforce the legal contract at its heart.
Marriage Secures Children’s Rights
When a woman enters motherhood, (Latin: “matrimony,” French “marriage”), her energies are refocused in fundamental ways. The physical, psychological, and emotional demands of pregnancy and child rearing affect every area of her life. Marriage serves as a legal contract to guarantee her the support of the child’s father both during these affected years and beyond.
When a man enters fatherhood, his life changes as well. His chromosomal connection to the child creates a legal and social obligation that is enforceable by law, whether he is married to the mother or not. Marriage seals his obligations to the mother while obliging the mother to cooperate with him in raising the child.