By: Pat Fagan, MARRI Senior Fellow
Avery Pettway, MARRI Intern
It is natural to measure the success of agriculture as an industry by its harvest, but a farmer’s harvest is more of the result of good farming, rather than the source of it. In order to understand the cycle of growth and health upon which a farm’s prosperity relies, we must look first to how the farmer sows and even how he prepares to sow.
Just like the farmer, society must invest in its own future by ‘sowing seed.’ At MARRI we attempt to diligently demonstrate the need for people to take care of their future harvest—the health and even the very existence of the coming generations—by sowing and cultivating good seed in the present time.
When the families in our nation delay marriage and reduce the frequency of childbirth, and when communities and leaders are encouraging such behavior, we fail to lay the proper foundations for a successful harvest and a continuation of a healthy, robust society.
We see this happening in other nations—Greece, Italy, Spain, and Japan come to mind—where the decline of demographic health is linked to lessened fertility and marriage. These countries have seen their average family size shrink and their economies sputter for want of young families … the growers of the next crop, the next generation. As the family goes, so goes the economy. Unfortunately, we see evidence that our own nation is headed the same direction:
But the economy is not the only institution that suffers when the sowing (sexuality) goes wrong.
It is the task of MARRI to show the United States how intrinsically interconnected are our fundamental institutions of government, marketplace, education, and religion with what is the most fundamental institution of all—the family. We believe (and the data illustrates) that the thriving of the three “person-forming institutions”—the family, church and school—is key if the other two (marketplace and government) are to thrive and hold a sustainable and competitive role in the global arena.
So what is the ‘good seed’ we ought to sow? Philosophers through the ages have dealt with this question, most foundationally Plato and Aristotle. How are we to rightly prepare for a harvest of health and societal growth? The focus of this blog from here on will be to present the evidence from the social sciences that cast light on the road to strengths and weaknesses. In particular we will examine the sexual trends, for that is where it all starts (where people start and are brought into existence). Are they helping or hurting our families, thereby helping or hurting our basic institutions?
We will explore what has become our basic thesis—as all the data of the social sciences mount over the decades—that the main task of society, of individuals, of families, and of communities is to grow the young, intact, married family that worships God weekly. If that is done, all the problems of society diminish in size and intensity and all its strengths grow. It is a thesis that the social science data—but not too many social scientists—seem to uphold. Therein lies the future excitement of this blog: a good public discourse on the fundamentals, and on the predictions and cautions to which the data point.