Redefining marriage will not raise low birth rate

A recent report suggested that the low birth rate in Singapore can be tackled by reducing barriers to marriage through cohabitation, relaxing divorce laws and undermining the definition of family (Marriage, families under stress as norms change; May 17).

Singapore should be discerning when it comes to following prevailing ideologies. Increasing the acceptance of alternative lifestyles, casual sexual relationships and single parenthood weakens the family unit.

We must affirm the intrinsic link between marriage and family, where there is an inherent biological connection and the interests of the child is protected.

When the marriage culture collapses, child poverty and crime rates soar and welfare spending escalates.

The removal of all legal and policy distinctions to include non-traditional family structures inevitably legitimises broken families, and impose social costs to society.

Gender equality should not be sought after for its own sake. Rather, it should be given a place grounded on rational ends.

We should go the way of gender equality as far as giving both men and women equal access to resources, opportunities and protection, as individuals with inherent dignity under the law.

However, when gender ideology is extended to deconstruct the family into a genderless institution and biological differences are ignored, gender equality becomes undesirably contrary to human nature.

Relaxing the divorce laws will also not increase the marriage rate.

When no-fault divorce laws were introduced in the United States in the 1970s, it taught people that marriage is only about the desires of adults, not the needs of children.

If liberalising divorce laws changes society's attitudes and behaviours about the permanence of marriage, legalising same-sex unions changes society's attitudes and behaviours about the purpose of marriage.

It will teach future generations that marriage is not about children but about coupling. Fewer people will get married to have children and more people will still have kids out of wedlock. Illegitimacy starts a chain of negative effects on society.

We can believe in redefining marriage, or we can believe that every child needs and deserves a father and a mother.

But we cannot have both.

Eileen Tan (Madam)