- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 19, 2001

Edwin J. Feulner hit the nail on the head: Lack of proper regard for marriage vows is at the root of much of what ails America (“Taking a vow on marriage,” Commentary, April 29). He notes how a study of Oklahoma´s economy led Gov. Frank Keating to conclude that disregard for the sanctity of marriage drags down not just society´s moral tone, but our pocketbooks as well by fostering the evasion of all responsibilities.

Mr. Feulner applauds Louisiana´s attempt to legislate seriousness in marriages by instituting “Covenant Marriages” harder to get into and harder to get out of. He concludes that “the tide is turning in favor of marriage” and that we all need to recognize and support positive behavior.

His last point is key: The acts of legislatures and the epiphanies of government officials are useful only as reminders to all who exercise any authority and we all do to some extent to support positive behavior. At the very least, that means none of us may disrupt any marriage or lend ourselves or our enterprises to the disruption of marriage. After all, for most Americans, marriage is already a strong commitment hopefully far more serious than any legislature could make it. Churches and synagogues pronounce couples married until death do them part. Most of us choose to believe in that vow. So the question is: How can those of us who run business and professional enterprises avoid undermining these most solemn assumptions of responsibility?

Clearly, the director of any business or foundation that provides a room for employees to use in a way that undermines marriages would indicate powerfully with deeds a disrespect for the institution of marriage, regardless of what he or she might say. One example: The Democratic National Committee, at the party´s Los Angeles convention, showed its disdain for marriage by scheduling a soiree at the Playboy mansion moved only after embarrassed donors threatened to withhold funds.

Acts of commission or omission that are not as glaring nevertheless contribute to supporting such actions or undermining marriage. Many companies organize conferences and board meetings, covering certain hotel expenses and travel expenses for their employees. The responsible officials need not inquire whether every trip or room they pay for is or is not being used to abuse a marriage. But, now and again, they are going to stumble into knowledge of the fact that they have paid for something that has broken a family, taking yet another chip out of the foundation of society. Then what?

Perhaps we are so overconsumed with political correctness and a person´s right to privacy that we forget what we truly believe for just a moment, thereby condoning certain behavior. In such situations, we are tempted to act as if nothing has happened and to continue funding the behavior of the people in these situations. We say, “It is their private affair.” But, no, it isn´t. It is also the affair of whoever knowingly facilitates it, thereby damaging society by participating in the devastation of a marriage. Perhaps we fear that our clients or donors would be put off if we do the right thing. But if the fear of God does not lead us into the paths of righteousness, perhaps the fear of mammon should.

Those of us who employ, organize and pay must act on our responsibility to support positive behavior. To the extent we do not, we are, in fact, running against whatever tides may be favoring marriage in America. The country deserves better.



French C. Wallop is the chief executive officer of Corporate Consulting International.

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