In Sickness and In Health

Forty years ago, a study called the Hammond Report analyzed the smoking habits of half a million people. Its conclusion: Smoking is dangerous to one's health. It was a warning that ended up on every pack of cigarettes sold. Ten years later, a researcher took another look at the Hammond Report and found something that had been overlooked -- something just as hazardous as a pack-a-day cigarette habit -- that is, divorce. As Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher write in their book, The Case for Marriage, an enterprising Surgeon General might wish to slap a warning label on divorce decrees, reading, "Not being married can be hazardous to your health." Research is proving that those who get -- and stay -- married can count on much better health than those who don't. How much better? Waite and Gallagher found that divorced, single, and widowed people are "far more likely to die from all causes," including heart disease, stroke, car accidents, murder, and suicide. As for cancer, being married dramatically increases the odds of survival. "Even sick people who marry live longer than their counterparts who don't," they write. This happens in part because when people get married, they typically adopt a healthier lifestyle. Men especially give up what Waite and Gallagher call "stupid bachelor tricks." They give up drinking and driving, fighting at bars, and abusing drugs, they say. Wives not only discourage such behavior, they also improve their husband's health by cooking them healthy meals, encouraging regular sleep, and scheduling doctor appointments for them. Nagging, of course, can be irritating, but it works an important benefit in marriage. Husbands can improve their wives' lives, for example, by encouraging them to give up smoking and to get regular exercise. The emotional support a spouse can supply means that spouses recover more quickly when illness strikes, and this emotional support boosts the immune system. Recent divorce, on the other hand, is known to lower immune functioning. Even monogamous marital sex can help couples ward off illness. These health benefits come about because marriage seems "to provide individuals with a sense of meaning in their lives," according to Waite and Gallagher. A wife feels licensed to nag in a way that a girlfriend doesn't, precisely because both husband and wife know their lives are intertwined. These health benefits are one more reason Americans must do all they can to preserve traditional marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It's become clear that several Supreme Court justices are determined to impose same-sex "marriage," so-called, on America whether we want it or not. Legal scholars warn that the only means we have left to preserve marriage is to amend the Constitution. A Federal Marriage Amendment has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please contact us here at BreakPoint during Marriage Protection Week for more information (1-877-3-CALLBP). As Christians, we support traditional marriage for many reasons. But once again, scientific evidence is backing up biblical truth. This is wisdom we ought to share with our friends, especially those who are thinking of cohabitation or divorce. And let them know that anything other than faithful, loving marriage can be bad for their health. For further reading and information: Maggie Gallagher and Linda Waite, The Case for Marriage (Doubleday, 2000). Maggie Gallagher, "Why Marriage Is Good for You," City Journal, Autumn 2000. See Gallagher's website, Call 1-877-322-5527 to receive the "Speak the Truth in Love" resource kit ($25), which includes information to help you understand the debate and how to advocate for the protection of marriage. Also available is a complimentary Marriage Amendment Information Packet that explains the effect of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Read the text of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Robert H. Knight, "The Case for Marriage," Culture and Family Institute, 29 September 2003. John Rankin, "Conversations with homosexual advocates surrounded by the media . . . ," TEI Update #95, 9 October 2003. The goal of One Hundred Thousand Ministers is to enlist at least 100,000 ministers of the Gospel nationwide to affirm: Yes to Man and Woman in Marriage: No to Same-Sex Marriage. We only say "no" to something because of the prior "yes" rooted in the Gospel. Patrick F. Fagan, Robert E. Rector, Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., and America Peterson, "The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts," Heritage Foundation.


Chuck Colson


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