“Strengthen Family to Strengthen Society, U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hears,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 95–96
“Our family life is perhaps our most precious asset,” Richard P. Lindsay, director of Public Communications and executive secretary of Special Affairs for the Church, said in testifying before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Family and Human Services.
“Marriage can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience,” and “the responsible exercise of parenthood is a joyful task as well as a challenging human obligation,” he said.
Brother Lindsay was one of four representatives of religious organizations invited to testify at the subcommittee’s hearings in late September. The other three represented Catholic, Jewish, and evangelical organizations.
Brother Lindsay is a former legislator and director of Utah’s Department of Social Services.
Messages and attitudes of many in modern society tell men and women that they are foolish to put the needs of children or spouse above their own, he said. “Marriage is pictured as a form of imprisonment, oppression, boredom, and chafing hindrance,” Brother Lindsay noted. And while dire predictions that the family is going to disappear may be exaggerated, “to any thoughtful contemporary observer, the tearing at the fabric of family life and the relationships of family members are self-evident.”
Brother Lindsay quoted Dr. Arthur Norton, assistant chief of the Population Division of the United States Census Bureau, who has reported that fifty-nine of every one hundred children born in the nation during 1983 will live with only one parent before they reach eighteen years of age. Twelve will be born to unwed mothers; forty will have parents who divorce; five will have parents who separate but do not divorce; and two will have one parent die. These figures suggest that single-parent homes are becoming the norm.
Brother Lindsay cited five reasons why U.S. society and the U.S. Congress both have a vital interest in preserving and strengthening marriages that will produce good families:
—developing children need stability and continuity in their lives;
—the family teaches to young citizens “public virtue,” or responsibility and duty and correct attitudes toward authority;
—the teaching of basic values underlying the nation’s democratic system of limited government should be kept within the home, instead of being forced on some outside agency;
—continuity in marriage and family ties is essential to the national system of jurisprudence;
—a reduction in divorce rates would cut the number of women and children living in poverty, and bring a corresponding cut in the size and cost of government programs serving them.
Poverty in the United States is rapidly being feminized, he noted. “More than 50 percent of the children in families headed by a female live in poverty, compared with only 8 percent in husband-wife families.”
Brother Lindsay told the subcommittee that anti-family trends, including abortion, pornography, and homosexuality, will have “disastrous” long-term social consequences.
“America’s public policy must be shifted to one which supports rather than denigrates families,” he commented.
He called for emphasis on “the sanctity of family life and all human life” in policy decisions; for careful review of welfare or tax policies which encourage the breakup of families so members can receive greater monetary benefits; and for an end to counseling and prescribing of birth control drugs or devices for minors without the knowledge of parents. Since the federal government became involved in family planning and contraceptive programs, he noted, the problems intended to be eliminated by these programs—teenage pregnancy, venereal disease, illegitimacy, and rising welfare costs—have all become worse.
Assaults on the family, especially since the 1960s, have made life-styles that used to be called deviant acceptable to many, but experts have warned that there is no substitute for the normal family, Brother Lindsay commented.
“It is deplorable that a great nation like ours has watched marriages collapse on a scale quite unprecedented, and stood by with apparent indifference.”
He called on committee members and other national leaders to set an example and speak out for family life, marriage, and responsible parenthood.
“A better tomorrow begins with the training of a better generation. This places upon us as parents the responsibility to do more effective work in rearing and guiding our children. The home is the place where character is best formed and habits established. When parents recognize this role, the family and nation move forward. When it is ignored, families and nations perish,” he said.