The Economic Costs of Sin

Imagine the following social experiment: You divide up Americans into two groups. Those who agreed to live by traditional moral values live in certain states. Those who reject traditional values take up residence in other states that would allow them to do whatever they pleased, morally speaking.

After 20 years, which states would be better off-economically speaking? The traditional values states would be far better off, because the liberal states would be spending $500 billion dollars every year dealing with the economic costs of their moral decisions.

Senator Jim DeMint and David Woodard outline those costs in their book, titled: Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong. As the authors note, “As elected officials and judges continue to throw traditions overboard from the ship of state,” conspicuously absent from the political debate “is the mounting cost in dollars [and] debt.”

For example, there is the cost in treating sexually transmitted diseases. Research shows that more than half of all Americans will contract a sexually transmitted disease at some point. The cost: Some $17 billion in higher taxes and health insurance costs every year. And that does not include secondary costs, like treating cervical cancer, infertility, birth defects, and brain damage. And yet, our government does little or nothing to discourage premarital sex.

And then there are the huge costs of out-of-wedlock childbearing. Welfare costs alone to single-parent families amount to $148 billion per year. We pay indirectly, as well, through costs associated with child abuse-much more common in single-parent homes-and in higher crime rates.

We know about this at Prison Fellowship. We see it in the faces of the inmates day after day. Crime and incarceration rates are soaring-so much so that corrections budgets in many states exceed education budgets. And what is the leading cause of crime? Fatherless families, the lack of moral training during the morally formative years, according to respected studies.

Americans spend billions on abortions-mostly to single women-not counting the expense of treating post-abortion medical and psychological problems.

We also pay huge economic bills associated with pornography and government-sponsored gambling. We pay for the easy availability of divorce and for the choice of many to cohabit instead of marry. In time we will, like Scandinavian countries, be asked to pay the economic costs of destroying traditional marriage.

As DeMint and Woodward write, the quest for unfettered moral freedom has come at a very steep price-a price we all pay, whether we engage in these behaviors or not. And at the same time as we pay-more and more each year-we are being told we are narrow-minded bigots if we speak out against the destructive behaviors that are causing the increased costs.

The economic costs-not to mention the costs in human suffering-are why you and I need to speak out. We ought to insist that our lawmakers support policies that make good economic sense and relieve human misery. Instead of making biblical arguments, which sadly, most people do not listen to anymore, we ought to make prudential ones: that encouraging destructive behavior is destroying the economic health of our nation. And it is demonstrable.

If special-interest groups and liberal lawmakers tell us to pipe down and stop trying to “impose our morality” on everyone else, we need to remind our leaders of that little clause in the Constitution: the one that talks about promoting the general welfare.

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