Letters to the Editor

Liberals and marriage

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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Dear Editor,

It is expected that middle-class members of the intelligentsia will be responsible for shaping discourse and setting standards. But it appears that, in Jamaica, intellectuals get their training from subcultures of the masses.

Recently, I wrote an article castigating the lauding of the pregnancy of an unmarried woman. Since Jamaica is now experiencing a wave of liberalism, the piece got intense backlash online. Some accused me of having antiquated views and others resorted to attacking my character. The outlandish point was even made that illegitimacy is an acceptable norm in Jamaica.

Despite what liberals may believe, studies overwhelmingly indicate that marriage is more advantageous for children than residing in a single female parent-headed household. In addition, regardless of their position on common-law unions, these unions are in no way equivalent to a marriage. No one should understand the importance of marriage in securing legal and economic benefits than Jamaican liberals, who are also eager to see homosexual couples marry. Furthermore, the argument is also being made that under the Property Rights of Spouses Act (2004), women in committed relationships with men are entitled to a share of his assets, if the union dissolves after a five-year period. But a woman benefiting from the law is contingent upon a variety of factors, such as proving her contribution to the relationship and bringing a claim to the courts within 12 months.

Jamaican intellectuals have fashionable ideas about non-marital cohabitation and single women raising children that are specious. Other than the existence of empirical data disproving such inane views, there is a plethora of anecdotes indicating the instability of liberal positions. The harsh reality is that children, especially boys, are more likely to listen to male figures. Hence, a number of women face great stress when they have to be working multiple jobs to support their families and discipline a petulant son at the same time. These women should not be venerated for being single mothers, but provided with assistance.

Besides anecdotes, studies have indicated that children raised in such homes have worse life chances than those living in homes where their parents are married. According to Popenoe (1996), children in single-parent households are more likely to be poor. Boys raised in such settings also have a greater propensity to commit crimes.

In Jamaica, the situation is no different, with male teenage gangsters being less likely to have strong father figures in their lives. Therefore, it is not surprising that these young men have used the gang as a substitute for their families.

More recent research, such as from Wilcox and Lerman (2014), has found that children in intact unions achieve more academically and obtain higher earnings than those raised in single female-headed families. Educated Jamaicans should cast relativism aside and accept that not all arrangements are useful for human flourishing. When such individuals proffer arguments in the name of relativism they expose the bankruptcy of their moral and intellectual thoughts.

Lipton Matthews


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