D. Beliefs about the family
We discussed in chapter 7 the importance of laws that give protections and economic incentives to stable family structures, promoting the idea of marriage as a union of one man and one woman, giving incentives for couples to stay married and bear children, and encouraging, as far as possible, that children are raised in homes with both a father and a mother present (see pages 256-57). All of these factors contribute positively to economic development within a nation. In this section, we want to call attention to the cultural values that must be adopted in order to support such policies.
The society honors marriage between one man and one woman
We gave reasons in a previous chapter to show that there are significant economic benefits for a society that encourages marriage between one man and one woman, particularly the educational and behavioral advantages to the children raised in such families (see 256-57).
The biblical teaching on marriage encourages this important value. From the very beginning, when God created Adam and Eve, he told them that together they should bear children: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).
But were Adam and Eve actually a married couple? Yes, because the early chapters of Genesis call them “the man and his wife” (Gen. 2:25). In fact, that same chapter of Genesis views the relationship between Adam and Eve as the pattern for all marriages to follow on the earth, because immediately after God brings Eve to Adam, the biblical narrator says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This verse pictures a pattern in which a man departs from the household of which he has been a part and establishes a new household. Jesus quoted this passage when he taught about marriage in general in Matthew 19:3-6.
In addition, it is clear from the Bible that sexual faithfulness to one’s partner is an essential component of marriage, for adultery is regularly viewed as a sin. The command, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14), is found in the Ten Commandments, and it is reaffirmed several times in the New Testament (see Matt. 19:18; Rom. 2:22; 13:9; James 2:11).52
Promotion of sexual faithfulness will also help to counteract the widespread incidence of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, which are so harmful in many poor countries, especially in Africa (see discussion on 241-42).