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Marriage and Civilization

Prostitution may be the oldest profession, but that’s because marriage is the oldest institution.

Thus begins a series on marriage, family and the status of men and women when it comes to their interactions. I’m writing this series because, as a historian and mythologist, I was asked to comment on statements made on the Institute of Marriage Research website, link posted below. The website is pro marriage. I am pro marriage as well. Nonetheless, there is a difference between my philosophical approach to marriage, and the one espoused by the Institute.

I do not hold a Christian view of marriage. I hold a civilized view of marriage. I warn you, up front, there is nothing liberal about my approach. I am a traditionalist. What does that mean? Any tradition that holds our civilization together, so that our civilization can evolve, is a good tradition. Modernist views of anything goes is tearing our civilization down. Modernism is liberalism on steroids.

There are many traditional families out there who are not religious. I suggest these family members are traditionalist because they know family life is good for them. Tradition works. There are many reasons why tradition works. One is this: The traditional family is about the community at-large. Here's another, and this is important: it helps to control male behavior, because men have a tendency to violence and sex and sometimes the two go together. Here's another reason. The family is about close personal relationships. The psychological effect of knowing one has a home, and people at that home, is a mighty one. Strong families do build a strong civilization. Because members of families have more confidence than singles do.

Marriage bestows place. Married with children gives you a place on this Earth, that is not all about you. Singles tend to live self-centered lives, unless they are devotees to some sort of selfless organization, like religious callings or other causes that help others and relieve suffering.

Here's the reality check: It is married men who have been the innovators and inventors of much of our civilization. (I can hear the feminists gnashing their teeth!) Hunter-gatherer men, before civilization, belonged to extended families. The group was not more than 100 people strong. They had no possessions. The women and children were, more or less, equal members. It is thought that anyone could have sex with anyone else. Yes, it was an open relationship among the group, but one knew one belonged to the group. There was no alone thing going on. Because human beings cannot survive on their own. (This is another biological fact modernists ignore.)

About 12,000 years back, human beings decided to settle down in one location. The question to ponder is why? What happened?

There is no one single answer to this. The mythology gives us clues, but no definitive answers. However, civilization is a homo sapiens thing. Not only would we invent permanent structures, we would remember how to build them, plus innovate and improve those buildings.

The next question is the chicken/egg question. What came first, a change in the relationships between individuals, or did we change because we now had a location with buildings to come home to? We started farming, and had a steady supply of grains and vegetables, and animals to eat. Families ran farms. Each member was needed and cherished for their usefulness. Now the family unit did things together, in one place. As civilization grew, these families intermingled and established relationships with one another. And by this, the towns turned into cities, and cities into nations.

For this remarkable evolution, the relationships between men and woman had to change. A part of this change had to do with the behavior of the men themselves. The dynamics of individuals having sex with whomever they wished to have sex with, had to go. It was religion that forced this change. Religion and civilization go hand in hand.

Modernist eschew civilization. But they don’t want to be hunters of food, just hunters of sex. Indeed, modernist call this an advancement in our civilization, that individuals need not belong to a family. They need to belong to themselves. Everyone is fluid. And the threads in the seams of our civilization are unraveling.

The thing I don’t like about liberalism is that it romanticized sex and marriage. It is part of the enlightenment, that people should love first and marry secondly. This led to the practice of giving marriage a try out, and its cousin, going from relationship to relationship. This practice is uncivilized. A nation that divorces as often as we do isn't doing anyone any favors, least of all, themselves, or worse, their children who are left to be tossed about and weaponized against the other parent.

Do you really think these are advancements in civilized behavior?

We have divorced ourselves from nature. However, nature will have her way with us, because we will die, no matter how woke, or conservative we are. In spite of vaccines and wishes, we will succumb to death and a return to the Earth. Nonetheless, between birth and death, there is a life to live. It is what we did with that life that matters at the time of our death. The question to be asked, is were we cherished? Did someone truly love us, at that third level, as C.S. Lewis explained, was the highest level of love because it didn’t have to be returned?

Which leads us to the question: How did love enter into our civilization?

That answer will be supplied in the next essay.

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