As gasoline prices continue to rise and the fear of inflation looms, politicians, commuters and soccer moms are looking for ways to save money. While alternative fuels and penny-pinching might be in our future, a study conducted by Georgia State University economist Ben Scafidi has determined the high rates of divorce and unmarried childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year.

Divorce and births to unwed mothers cost Oklahoma taxpayers more than $400 million a year, according to a study of “family fragmentation” commissioned by four groups advocating more government action to bolster marriages.

“Our society clearly pays a price both in moral and monetary terms when children are raised outside a traditional family with a married mother and father,” said state Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa.

In a related story reported by Michael Mcnutt, State Department of Human Services Director Howard Hendrick is quoted as saying, “About 35 percent of the children in single-family homes in Oklahoma live in poverty; that compares with about 10 percent of children in two-parent homes.”

“The better job we can do of giving kids the benefit of both parents-that really ought to be the story here in terms of the importance of this to the kids,” he said. Divorce is declining among people with college educations and higher incomes, Hendrick said.

According to Hendrick, out-of-wedlock birth rates in the state increased from 30 percent to 41 percent the past 10 years. Nationally, it’s gone up from about 32 percent to 38 percent in the same period. Sponsors of the study said theirs is the first to gauge the cost of “family fragmentation”-both divorce and unwed childbearing.

The study was sponsored by the New York-based Institute for American Values, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Families Northwest of Redmond, Wash. and the Georgia Family Council, an ally of Focus on the Family.

Leaders of groups working to strengthen marriages in Oklahoma have hailed the report and we agree! Nobody enjoys high gasoline prices, increased food costs or economic inflation, but who can deny the high cost to society when the traditional family is unraveled. The solution for this price increase is obvious and available at little expense, but it will require commitment.

Rep. Mark McCullough was right when he stated that our society clearly pays a price both in moral and monetary terms when children are raised outside a traditional family with a married mother and father.

For this reason, if for no other, every Oklahoma Baptist should do all they can to encourage and support healthy families. For some, this means helping younger parents by offering to take care of the kids so Mom and Dad can go on a date, for others it will mean seeking out an older couple who might serve as a family mentor. Seeking marital counseling will be a must for some who read this editorial. And for those who are choosing to live together outside holy matrimony, may it serve as a solid reminder that there will be a high price to pay without the commitment found only in marriage. We can pay the price now or as the study indicates, we will definitely have to pay later. To learn more about the study, visit