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Phase 6 of The Father- Son Relationship: Young Manhood

Tags: , , , , Catholic, chastity, child well-being, commitment, contraception, culture, family, fathers, happiness, MARRI, marriage, men, mothers, natural family planning, Pat Fagan, religion, sex, sexuality, society, Uncategorized No comments

My son, as a young man you are already master of your own ship and free to sail any sea and visit any port! But no matter what you do, the single biggest task ahead of you is choosing your wife, you companion for life. She will have a huge effect on your life and what the sum total of it will be in the end.

Over the years we have talked a lot about matters sexual so that you prepare yourself to thrive sexually. Once married you begin that wonderful sexual exchange. Most moderns think they have to “try it out” first to see if they are compatible, but they have it all wrong.

In the chart below from a national federal government survey you see a pattern that has been replicated many times: Sex before marriage is a threat to the marriage, and therefor to children and the future of society.  Because most moderns are totally unaware of this threat, and given its implications for the stability of marriage and family and its impact on the children of these men and women — and thus on all society— I think this is the most important chart in all of the social sciences. 

Add to this that those who enjoy the sexual the most are virgins at marriage who worship God weekly. They have the most rewarding sexual relations,[1] and the most enduring marriages. These insights have motivated me to raise you to be chaste. Your future wife will be very grateful.

I assume you will select a chaste girl. Anyone else is a big risk. But there are other important criteria for selecting your future wife, and, though some think it too calculating to consider all the attributes you want in your wife, I don’t, because, done right, it gets you thinking the right way. You can daydream about the physical attributes you desire but those attributes will likely fly out the door when you meet “her.” 

What do you want most in her?  I suspect the most important attribute is kindness. A kind person loves in small details, and your life together will be made up of millions of small details with occasional big ones thrown in.  

The next attribute is ‘hard work’: Is she tough on herself when it comes to work? Life is made up of loads of hard work.

Cheerfulness ranks very high. To be with a cheerful person is always so much easier. And you will be with her for the rest of your life. Better still: Can she stay cheerful even when she suffers?

Kind, hardworking and cheerful! That is a winning combination for a great partner — assuming you, too, are kind, hardworking and cheerful. When you spot such a woman do not waste any time: You will have lots of competition.  But make sure you see her in her family setting. That is where her “ordinary self’ is most likely to be seen. How she treats her family is how she will treat you, once the honeymoon phase has passed.

However, this first level of “filtering” is not enough. You both will have to assess openly whether you are “in the same business.” What is it you both want to have achieved together by age 70? And what do you want to be remembered for after you die?

The biggest issue for agreement is having children, for they will be your biggest, toughest project. Bringing new persons into existence is the greatest thing you will do together, and it is the ultimate purpose of marriage. This used to be an easy decision for women in the past: Culture shaped this expectation. Today women have professional choices and often have invested heavily in acquiring professional competence, and an anti-culture pushes in the opposite direction. Women today have more weighing up and deciding to do. They can “have it all” if they live a normal length because early childbirth gives both children and a long career later in life, whereas postponing child raising can lead to childlessness or a much smaller family than desired. Some women can manage both at the same time but normally with fewer children and more stress. You need to discuss this before getting engaged. Children are at the heart of marriage and you both need to agree.

How many children you have will be determined (all other things being equal) by the size of your heart and her heart. However, all things are never equal, so each child is a new decision. And this gets us to the heart of sexual relations and the huge mistake most modern couples make: They choose to contracept as their way to decide the size of their family. But, given the evidence we now have on the effects of contraception, we know that it is not only a stupid move, it is also an anti-human move. And, given its effects on communications within marriage, it is bad for the children too.[2]  Also deciding to contracept is deciding not to talk about having children! For many it is hard to break that silence… and they get into the habit of avoiding “tricky areas,” a real danger in marriage. (By the way both the pill and NFP have similar rates of success in spacing children). 

The best way to go is to enjoy sexual relations the way God made them: Natural intercourse, fully experienced. It is much more enjoyable, as long as you both are ready. But it will get tricky for your wife if you, her husband, are not very attuned to her pregnancy desires. Some couples want and are capable of having as many children as they can.  They don’t count the cost, are prepared to pay the bill and they just “go for it.”  But many couples are much more cautious or fearful. As a good husband you will always be aware of your wife’s stance on having a new child and will conduct yourself accordingly. You both will talk about this a few times each month. At times (at her request) you will restrain yourself. Your wife will know she has a gift of a man who is concerned to never force sexual relations on her when she is afraid (for whatever reason) of conceiving another child. And when you resume it is like a new honeymoon. It really helps keep marriage alive.

The whole world knows that Catholics are supposed to practice sexual intercourse this natural family planning way, but what the world does not know is that the biggest reason many Catholic women turn to the pill is they don’t trust their husbands’ ability to be self-controlled and not to “use” them!

The couples who control their fertility through bio-tracking and communicating about it are — rather naturally, over time, great communicators. The acquired ability to communicate in this delicate area develops the ability in other critical areas.

Though sex is one tough area for young couples to talk about clearly, it has a rival: Money. It is will be very enlightening for you and your fiancée to make a joint budget, before engagement, on how you are going to use your combined monies, not just for the first year — that is easy when you are both working — but for the years you will have your first and second child. Budgets are sobering and bring you right into the “non-romantic” part of life where unity is more difficult but also much more important.[3]  If you both agree in advance on your budget are off to a great start. If you agree on both children and money have it made! I hope you do this hard work before you get engaged. You both will then have an enormous sense of “the freedom of togetherness” when you have it done.

Such togetherness and unity will determine the strength of your children. No matter what else you achieve, nothing compares to bringing children into the world and raising them as strong adults. Bill Gates’s three children are a much bigger contribution to the human race than is his Microsoft. They are priceless, Microsoft is not. The market puts a price tag on it every day. It will disappear; they will exist forever, and their children and so on for generations to come. You might achieve much more than Bill and Melinda Gates if you want to… with the right woman.  


[1] Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels; “The Social Organization of Sexuality”  (1994) and Michael and Gagnon “Sex in America, a Definitive Study” (1994).

[2] And there is increasing evidence of biological harm to children — sometimes.

[3] In days of arranged marriages budgets were a key part of the negotiations.  The parents did the math.  Today young couples have to do that unromantic work.  Like of old, it is best done before the deal is struck. It is a key part of marital dependence on each other.

Phase 5 of the Father Son Relationship: Growing in manly sexuality from the beginning.

Tags: , , , , , , , , adolescent sexuality, chastity, culture, Dating, family, fathers, love, MARRI, marriage, men, men's health, Pat Fagan, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized No comments

You may remember my promises to you when you were a baby. Among them were:

I will teach you how to spot and win the sexual battles that will take place inside your head and your heart.

I will teach you why you should not masturbate. (Your wife will thank me — without ever telling me).

I will teach you how to have the sexual control you will need for your marriage bed.

The most strategic battles on matters sexual take place in your mind, heart and imagination,  just as they do still for me, and did for your grandfathers and all men who have ever lived. This is a battleground littered with fallen soldiers. Many men get wounded and pay a heavy price before recovering. Some men never recover. Some men cease to be soldiers and become “sexual terrorists”.

The sexual energy within us is much like the energy of the atom: it can be harnessed for great good. From it came you, your sisters and your brothers and all your cousins and all the friends you love to be with. However, like the atomic bomb, sexual energy can be massively destructive, when children are aborted, spouses are unfaithful and marriages break up, when sexual abuse or deep marital conflict distorts the sexuality of children, who, when they become adults, in turn often damage others.

The prefrontal cortex in the two lobes of your brain do two different types of tasks: one side is oriented to being creative in the discovery of new things and in exploring the world; while it is doing that, the other side spots and avoids dangers. As you drive a car, you need both sides working well: the side that gets you to your destination and the side that avoids the accidents you or others could cause along the way if you did not brake, or turn, or signal at the right moment. You could say one side is liberal and creative, moving on to new goals while the other side is conservative: preserving the good you already have by keeping it safe. Every issue in life needs both these capacities. 

In matters sexual there is the creative dimension (union with an attractive spouse and the generation of children) and a protective dimension: avoiding traps and dangers. The dangers are not always on the outside. Many of them pop up from inside: the images that jump, unbidden, into your imagination, or when a beautiful woman passes do you “look” at her (as opposed to seeing her), i.e. assess her physical beauty and even begin to daydream about her. You cannot avoid developing habits in this domain; the issue is which habits you choose to develop. This is a big fork in the road in the life you will choose for yourself (and for your future spouse and children): letting “sex go wild” in your imagination or controlling it for its true purpose. Bad habits can grow from seemingly small habits: looking at an attractive woman a second time or, on the other hand, deliberately looking away and entertaining other thoughts and images. You will be tempted in many other ways in the years to come: watching movies that arouse you sexually (the directors know what they are doing — as do the actors and actresses); going to places or bars you know will lead to similar temptations; going to parties that lean that way.  The list will grow as you grow older.  

That you feel these attractions and sexual desires is natural – you are a man and your hormones are sending you all sorts of mating messages. But you have to decide — and decide early — you are going to enjoy these sexual pleasures only with the one person who will be yours for life, after you both have pledged yourselves to each other in matrimony.  

To so decide, and to keep your promise, will take training. But the benefits are great — and will spill over into many other areas in your life:

  • You will become prudent as you develop a sixth sense of when events are likely to lead in the wrong direction.
  • You  will develop the virtue of temperance as you deliberately grow the habit of not enjoying an innocent pleasure (like a good ice cream) so that you will have at your disposal the capacity to resist forbidden pleasures when you need to. 
  • You will gain wisdom as you talk these things out with someone you trust – me your father, or a good teacher, or a priest— someone you admire and can trust as you learn how to battle and learn how to heal the wounds from battles lost. These are people who love you and also understand this war (they have to fight it too) and will teach you how to move forward. 
  • You will grow in courage and humility as you talk about battles lost.  Catholic Christians have the added benefit of Confession – for this and other wounds in the battle for virtue.
  • You will grow in piety: having regular quiet time with God as you talk it all through with Him also.  For Catholic Christians it makes sense to talk it through with the Mother of God. Everyone who does reports great help in this area. 
  • You will grow as a friend – as you help your friends avoid situations before they develop and as you call on your friends when you need support for a battle that looms.

The wonderful thing about this battle is the joy and happiness it brings; losing the battle always brings sadness and a big letdown.  Beforehand, the temptation promises a false happiness that looks fantastic but afterwards leaves a bad taste.  It is a fool’s gold.  Did you know that the data show that those who are virginal when they marry, and who worship God weekly, have the best and most frequent sexual pleasure!! This is one of life’s biggest secrets. Virtually no one knows this.

These battles will come your way in your teen years, starting with puberty. Twenty and thirty years from now you will still have to fight them —when you travel alone or when you are in business situations that could cause you temptations.  To be faithful to your wife and your children decades into the future, you need to start now.  It is wise to learn to battle from the beginning, and it is much easier. 

One area of battle for every male is the temptation to masturbate. Many moderns believe it is all right, but they are fooling themselves and ignoring ancient wisdom and modern research.  Pornography addiction happens only through masturbation. 

Masturbation, when practiced frequently, changes the mind, the imagination and the heart: the object of pleasure becomes an internal image, not a real person.  When this becomes habitual — as happens with frequent use of pornography — it can lead to a sexual disability — erectile dysfunction (ED) — which means that a man cannot fully satisfy his wife because he has lost his capacity to be aroused except by pornographic images. ED used to be an old man’s debility.  Now, because pornography is so widespread Viagra and other pharmacological props have a huge market among young men who suffer from this psychosexual disease. 

Pornography is so destructive that boys and men can lose their natural interest in women — in Japan, which has a long tradition of pornography, a significant portion of single 30-year-olds have lost interest in the opposite sex. Married men can lose interest in their wives — and instead become obsessed with print and digital pictures, or only be able to make love to her by having these images in his mind.  By this stage they are in deep trouble in all the areas related to their sexuality: their intimate family relations, their friendships and their readiness to relate with God. The good news is it is possible to overcome this addiction, but it is better by far to take the path to becoming a chaste young man. 

There is another practical reason to live purity: to gain that control of one’s sexuality that a married man needs so as to be able to do without sex for a while, for his wife’s sake: A wife, who for whatever reason shouldn’t get pregnant, has to be able to rely on her husband’s self-control during her peak fertility days. Many women do not have such husbands and as a result use contraceptives[1].  Thus, a husband who lacks self-control becomes a grave danger to his wife and his marriage. 

Purity of mind, heart and imagination results in a cheerful happiness that makes life worth living, a cheerfulness that is very attractive, and that good women spot quickly. Purity is a great ringer of wedding bells and a great aphrodisiac.

I hope you will come to me when you have questions.  And I hope you begin to pray to your future wife’s guardian angel, too.  By the way, belief in guardian angels is universal.  It cuts across all levels of religious practice (including those who never worship), all cultures, and all religions. 

On every level there are very strong reasons for deciding to be pure and wholesome. Your happiness, your future wife’s happiness and your children’s happiness depend on it.


[1] Within the year we will have a series of synthesis papers on the psychological, sociological, demographic, biological and neurologica effects of contraception. They are myriad.

Taking Care of the Low IQ Poor

abstinence, caring, Census data, chastity, child well-being, church, culture, economic well-being, family, inequality, Pat Fagan, poverty, Prayer, Uncategorized No comments

Raj Chetty’s work, carried by The New York Times and now The Office of the Census, has made Americans more aware of the proportion who stay stuck at the bottom of the income scale.

From the work of many but especially Charles Murray we know that the bottom 10% is largely composed of those of low IQ… those with an IQ lower than 80.  They are not too bright. And in today’s more and more complex world they are at greater and greater disadvantage through no fault of their own.

The Army refuses to take anyone with an IQ in that category, so that route, effective for many as a first step up and out, is closed off to them.

Many groups help the “mobile” sector of the poor.  But the low IQ group is stuck and with little help and increasing isolation, abuse and crime. This was well depicted in the TV series “Wired”.

The need for community: A place to belong to with close others all around.

In a different era, in different political regimes such as the Middle Ages in Europe, but also in Asia, smaller communities were much more aware of these slower folks.  The good lord of the manor took it as his duty to provide for these — often by support of monasteries, but also by the provision of basic simple (though back-breaking) work. 

 Family and extended family has always been the primary source of support and is so today. But for the poor, family is now fragmented, sometime multiple times (multiple fathers for one set of children by the same mother).  The welfare state aids and abets this arrangement, essentially fostering fragmentation rather than unity and community.  Without marriage, community is virtually impossible and functional community is non-existent.

Those who are less gifted need, more than anyone else, family and community to whom to belong.  But for this they also need leadership capable of building community — of fostering belonging.

Our political order makes such virtually impossible.  Out wealthy and gifted live far away from the poor and the slow of intellect.  They feel no obligation and have absolutely no ties of relationship with or responsibility for them. 

They need help and leadership.

Leadership implies hierarchy.  An acceptable hierarchy is possible only under accepted norms of “the good”, i.e. shared moral norms.  As the good community can only exist upon good family life, a trusted hierarchy for community leadership necessitates a sound set of values, norms or principles around family issues, i.e. sexual issues.

Where can the poor find leadership anchored in a sound set of sexual issues today? In the same place they have always been found: in their places of worship. The worship of God always leads to sexual order —marriage, chaste living, fertility and putting family obligations first: to spouse and to children.  Well it always used to. Today a number of religious groups deny the need for chastity before marriage.

The welfare state does not promote nor address these issues. Our wealthy leaders (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg), if they believe in these values (and the personal lives of some seem to indicate they at least believe in marriage if not in chastity), are afraid to talk this way in public.

So, our low-I.Q neediest— those who most need leadership and a guiding culture—- have neither.

 But one source still seems probable and, in many areas, provides some of the leadership: the churches.  But, sadly, so many inner-city churches do not lead nor preach marriage for the poor and therefore not capable of developing community for the poor.  While chastity for the poor is unheard of. 

The poor, like everyone else, no matter their income, education or IQ, need marriage and chastity and bear the same consequences as everyone else.  One could say they need it even more.  The joy of a life with a good wife or husband is within reach of every class, rich or poor.  And for the poor man or woman, the greatest joy is their simplest and frequently their only one: helping each other by going through life together even when it is so tough.  Such a poor man with such a wife is really a very rich man.

 May we find it within all the human resources of the richest nation on earth and in history, the people who can lead the way forward for our slower brothers and sisters.

Neither the welfare state nor the elite (including the media which is under the control of the elite) teaches or leads this way.  Good relationships need community and prayer and worship (see Mapping America) much more then they need material goods.

 This richness will be brought to the poor by those who love God and love His poor.  And where it is happening it is almost exclusively through them.

We need a religiously base Peace Corps for our inner city poorest — and least bright…those with an IQ below 80: a good 10% of our population.  We had our past versions of this: religious orders of priests, nuns and brothers and the Salvation Army.  The middle ages had monasteries.  The 21st century needs its own new form of this perennial solution, its own from of dedicated, organized, effective love.

It will come.  Keep an eye out.  

Chastity and Freedom

chastity, children, culture, family, religion No comments

The family is the most sexual of all organizations. But given the sexual chaos of modern times, new families who want to succeed in their task of child-raising must quickly find a community of other families of like mind.  They are most likely to find such families at their place of worship if the sexuality taught there is a family and child centered sexuality.

The data show (see chart below later) that central to family sexuality is an ethos of chastity, necessary for marital unity and stability and out of which flow myriad benefits.  Without chastity the family is no more a thriving family than a monastery without celibacy is a monastery.

Chastity is now central to the public argument for religious freedom because such families need their freedom of association and freedom of action to raise the next generation to live the same strong family life.  They need freedom to teach their own way of life: marriage till death do us part, and raising their children to do the same.  Much as the Amish fought and won their freedom of association and way of life, so too other religious communities are now finding they too must fight and win a freedom which they had assumed was theirs without asking.  It had been so.  It is no longer.

If we want our religious freedom we have to be able to make the argument for teaching chastity as a way of life, not as a “risk reduction strategy”.  Chaste family life is easy to defend in the public debate because it is far superior to all other ways, by any measure of human thriving.  Teenagers (who have yet to experience life and learn its hard lessons by experience) need to understand that there are lifelong consequences for “sowing wide oats”, as the most important chart in all the social sciences makes clear:

They need to be very familiar with the data (with the lessons of life experience) that the totally monogamous couple (only sexual partner ever: their spouse) is the least likely to divorce – by far. And that one third of women who have had only one other sexual partner (normally before marriage) are likely to divorce within five years, and that those who had two such sexual partners (other than their husband – again most likely before marriage) have a fifty percent chance of divorce within five years — and that half of their children will be raised without their father present.

Chastity may be difficult but it is central to a family-centered life.  And it is also central to justice for children.  There is no free lunch on this issue, not for teenagers, adults nor for society itself.

If churches and parents do not make the strongest case possible for the chastity-based family (and on its fruits and benefits it is an easy case to make) they will not get their religious freedom.

The rest of society may think such families are weird (despite the data) but they will likely respect them for the path they have chosen.

The future of the First Amendment rests on the freedom to teach the centrality of chaste family life.   We will not win I if we are ambivalent or shy.

Millennials and Conservativism

chastity, child well-being, commitment, community, family, fathers, happiness, intact family, monogamy, mothers, parents 1 comment
Society is a network of relationships between its citizens. Each citizen’s capacity to relate to others increases or decreases the social cohesiveness and strength of a nation, and each one of those individual citizens’ capacities to relate has been significantly shaped by the family which formed them. As any family therapist will tell you, these family relationships, in turn, are significantly tied to the relationship between the father and mother of that family. As their marital relationship goes, so goes the intra-psychic strength and the social capacity of their children. The marital relationship changes everything in the family. Multiplied a hundred million times in the U.S., it has a massively compounding effect on society—for strength or weakness.

Thus, the relationship between the mother and father figures in a family is the most foundational relationship in society, the “DNA” that influences all the relationships that emanate from it. How the shopkeeper responds to his customers, or the professor to her students, is often quite tied to how they experienced their parents’ marriage. When a marriage breaks apart, it affects a child’s behavior and relational capacity. When a parental relationship is never transformed into marriage (e.g, in out-of-wedlock births or cohabiting households that break up) it alters the child’s social capacity.

Thus, the future of society is structured by the social ordering of this primary sexual relationship. That is the heart of the culture wars.

Change the DNA of the body, and you change the body by altering its whole functioning process. Alter the sexual relationship, and you alter everything else. Political philosophers are very aware of this. Marx and Engels saw this as absolutely necessary for their massive project: the permanent altering of society along the lines of their utopian dream.

Others see this connection even if they do not desire the same outcome as did Marx and Engels. Most bright Millennials understand it. They see that society has to pay a certain price for the sexual choices permitted to them today —choices that were not sanctioned in times past. They will even admit and accept that the innocent children of these sexual acts will have to pay the price. Many are prepared to see such prices paid, and therein lies the dilemma.

Marx and Engels wanted this sexual restructuring; many Millennials accept it. Though Millennials are certainly not all Marxists, it hardly matters: In the cultural and political contest of the day, they will stand aside and let the coercive liberal state march forward in the direction laid out by Marx and Engels.

Are we doomed to some form of coercive Marxist state as our future because of the sexual choices many in our society treasure? Other than widespread religious conversion, I do not see much potential for change in the right direction; hence, I invite your comments. Is religious conversion the only route?

Chastity, Monogamy, and Divorce

chastity, divorce, intact family, Jay Teachman, John Boyd, MARRI, monogamy, NSFG, polyamory, virginity No comments

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director, MARRI

Christianity gave the world a social order that was based on monogamy, the fruit of Christ’s teachings on marriage, divorce, adultery and fornication.   He raised the bar higher than any prophet or moralist ever had.  It was a tough standard and even his closest followers balked when they realized the implications:  “In that case it is better that a man not marry.” (Mt. 19:10).

But Christ knew what was possible to those who embraced His way, and gradually, as Christianity spread and as Western Civilization was formed stable monogamous marriage became more and more the norm.  The different Christian nations and cultures had different ways of protecting the chastity of their youth, especially that of their young women: think of Spanish chaperoning.   Virginity until marriage and monogamous, stable marriage definitely became very common, and the rare event was the total breakdown of a marriage.  America today is very different.  Fifty four percent of our seventeen year olds have parent who have split.  We have become a culture of rejection between the two sexes.

The chart above gives more than a hint of why our present sexual culture is linked to the break-up of first  marriages:  the number of sexual partners that a spouse has had prior to marriage, and — with expectations of controversy for this hypothesis — especially the number of sexual partners the new wife has had.   
While the stability of the first marriages of both men and women seems linked to their sexual histories, and wives who are non-virgins are more likely than their husbands to divorce, relative to their sexual history.  The rates of stability for virginal men and women are quite similar, but the correlational difference between the husband being his wife’s second sexual partner has more impact on the stability of their marriage than does the analogous for him.  And if he is her third sexual partner the impact increases, approaching a 50 percent breakdown. 
The initial correlation for men is less dramatic, but is steadily negative and for both men and women whose first husband is their fifth sexual partner the probability of marital breakdown is similar and disastrous: one in two.    
This data is from a recent MARRI analysis of the NSFG 2006-2010 data, yet to be published on-line.  Though it is only correlational its fits with other more rigorous analyses of similar, earlier data from the same survey, for instance that by Jay Teachman.    
The stability of marriage is strongly dependent on life-time monogamy, and seems weighted more to the monogamy of women.  
Such seems to me the case the data makes.   It is uncomfortable data for modern young men and women but, to quote John Boyd:  “The most important data is the data that does not fit.”  This interpretation needs to be challenged and the best way to do that is to see if rigorous analysis (regressions for a start) comes to the same conclusion.  In the answer lies the strength of the next generation. 

The Basic Tasks of Society

chastity, economy, education, family, generations, religion No comments

By: Pat Fagan, MARRI Senior Fellow
      Joshua Kelsey, MARRI Intern

As is shown in the diagram above, it is helpful to understand society as a relationship between five basic institutions or the five fundamental tasks: Family, Church, School, Marketplace, and Government.  Each institution is really a gathering of people to perform a core task that is essential and irreplaceable.  If all five tasks are well-performed, society is doing well. If one of them is not engaging properly with its given task, society begins to limp. If two institutions don’t perform well, society’s limping gets more pronounced, and so on.
At the base of society lies the family—the begetting and raising of children, the next generation.   Without this task society will disappear.  Because the family is focused on producing the next generation, it harnesses sexuality for its ultimate end.  Because children need the love and care of both their father and their mother (and thrive better when such is the case), marriage is the solid foundation.  Though the child comes naturally from sexual union (very little work), marriage comes only with a lot of work and effort.   Since everything else in the society relies on the strength of the family, marriage is key to the success of society as a whole.  A society is as vibrant as its fathers and mothers are solidly married.  The object of it all is the next generation.
The church (shorthand for all religions—church, synagogue, mosque) is where man can orient himself to the big questions of existence:  Is there right and wrong, life after death, a creator God?  Should I keep my word, love those in my family, forgive those who hurt me, give to the needy?  This is important work and like everything else in life, the more one works at something the better he does it.  Worshiping God in community normally involves all these aspects of this task of religion.  As this blog will illustrate repeatedly, the more people worship the better they do—on every outcome.  This little known finding is so universal and so powerful that it ought to be commonplace in our national thinking and discussion.  Its object is the good person. 
School (education) is the task of passing on critical knowledge to the next generation so that they can build upon the knowledge already gained from previous generations.  Education almost always has two actors: the pupil and the teacher, the player and the coach.  Education is not confined to the classroom: it goes on, first, foremost and most powerfully, in the home; it goes on at work; in the cinema; in the library; in the newspaper.   Its objective is passing on sound knowledge and insights.
These three institutions—family, church and school— are all “people forming” institutions; they “grow” the person.  Their object is the “goodness of each individual”.
The marketplace is where we meet our physical needs of shelter, food, and clothing—a most fundamental task, without which we would die.  We gain these physical goods through an exchange of our labor for the goods we need.  Savings are stored labor of the past (our labor or others’).  The more productive labor a nation has, the more goods it has.  Working, and learning to work productively, is a key task of the family: both for its own continued existence and for the capacity of the next generation to feed, clothe and shelter itself.  When people refuse to work, they become dependent on others for their needs—this weakens society and, ipso facto, reduces the economy.
The government has the task of using force for the good of society, mainly protecting our freedoms from “bad people”:  external enemies of the intruding armies of attacking nations, or internal enemies who would rob, injure or kill us or our family or friends.  Because both threats exist, it is the primary job of the government to protect its citizens from both these evils.  Laws lay out what government considers right and wrong, and it backs this up with the policeman, the judge, the jail, or even the execution… all manifestations of force, even the ultimate force of death.  For this reason, our police need to be above reproach, for they alone have the power to execute on the spot.  No other person in society has this power.  The object of government is to protect its citizenry’s right to do good.
These two institutions, though they have some influence on the person, are not primarily “people forming institutions”.  They are there on behalf of the instruments needed to live:  physical needs and safety. They are instrumental institutions.
All of these fundamental tasks of society are not only important—they are irreplaceable.  And at the foundation of them all is the first, the family.  Thence comes the next generation and every actor in every institution.  There also are all these basic tasks executed… family, religion, education, marketplace and government.  Thus it is there that the education of the future citizen in all five tasks begins and is most shaped.
Thus the most important of all tasks is the bringing of the next generation (the baby) into existence.   Therefore the most important relationship in society is that of the relationship between father and mother.  The stronger that relationship, the stronger the children (as all the data continuously illustrate). 
The way marriage is structured and carried out determines the functioning of the rest of society. 
The presence or absence of marriage structures the family, and as family is structured so is society structured—strongly or weakly, in every institution: the family itself, the church, the school, the marketplace and the government.
These relationships are as powerful as the laws of physics: they cannot be denied, overlooked, evaded or cast aside without society crumbling.  Many societies today seem intent on that pathway, but that is for future blogs and for the data to illustrate. 

This paradigm of the five basic institutions is the framework within which we will blog on the research MARRI does and that others of note do.   Tune in for continued education, and join in for continued discourse!