Star Parker recently wrote that “Marriage and Family Reduce Crime.” According to Parker,
There's a general assumption in public policy discourse that economic policy and social policy are separate universes.
When economic policy is the topic, we think about taxes, government spending, business, jobs, etc. When social policy is the topic, we think about marriage, family, children, abortion, etc.
But, in reality, the line between economic policy and social policy is ambiguous, if it exists at all.
She cites a study that suggests that pregnancy is an amazingly effective intervention reducing the parents’ propensity for criminal behavior.
Other studies have shown similar correlations. And some have pushed back against such studies. A couple of years ago, The Federalist published an essay, “Why It’s Cruel and Stupid to Politicize Marriage and Hard Work as ‘Racism.’”
Proverbs has a lot to say about the relationship between a person’s “economic policy” and one’s “social policy.” Specifically, it warns young men against a way of life that will lead to poverty and social decay.
Proverbs is a book made up of several sections. The first one, chapters 1 through 9, features two warnings about temptations to evil. These warnings stand out because they are the only ones where Solomon speaks in the voices of the tempters.
Speaking as a robber gang, he invites,
“Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol [the realm of the dead] let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse” (Proverbs 1:11–14 ESV).
Then, as an unfaithful wife, he entices,
“I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home” (Proverbs 7:14–20 ESV).
These two temptations seem to be related. Along with herself, the wife offers enjoyment of the luxuries that her husband had provided, showing that in both cases there is a temptation to seize the riches of others. In both cases Solomon compares the person who gives in to temptation to a trapped animal.
With these paired temptations, we have a warning against theft and adultery. To express it with alliteration, from the point of view of Solomon’s ideal reader, a young man, Solomon wants him to turn away from things opposed to work and wife. Robbery is mentioned at the start of Proverbs, but it goes on to warn against other temptations to avoid honest labor. As is reiterated in many ways throughout the book, sons need to avoid sloth and women who are available outside of marriage.
This double warning goes back to the purpose of the human race. In the first story of the first book in the Bible, we are told that God gave us a commission:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV).
Humanity’s basic task is productive labor and family formation. They go together.
That’s why it’s significant that Solomon says that robbers are stupider than animals (Proverbs 1:17–18). And it’s equally significant that he says an adulterer is trapped like an animal (Proverbs 7:22-23). Humans were meant to have dominion over the other creatures, so when they devote themselves to the opposite, they degrade themselves.
And that’s also why it’s not an accident that “Progressivism” embraces both socialism and sex outside of marriage. They go together.