17 July 2008

On Marriage, Divorce and Concubines

I just came across a few articles I wrote for The Pitt News (opinions section) around 2000 during my undergrad days. I'll be posting them for the next couple 'o days.

Here it is:

Recently, I overheard two people talking on the bus about marriage. One said, "Yeah, I think I really love this guy. I think I'm going to end up marrying him. Hey, and if it doesn't work out, divorce is pretty accepted now, so it's no big deal."

Why would someone say such a terrible thing about the institution of marriage? I did some searching trying to answer this question.

I came upon a review by Kari Gold of a book by Maggie Gallagher titled "The Abolition of Marriage." Gallagher suggested that "the legal, social and economic supports that sustained marriage over the centuries have been dispatched with astonishing speed, and marriage has been reconceived as a purely private act, not a social institution. ... Thanks to no-fault divorce and the attitudes, norms and policies that support it, getting married now more closely resembles taking a concubine than taking a wife."

The institution that was created long ago for rearing children within the loving, mutual self-giving context of the parents' relationship is now severely diminished. Instead, marriage's primary mission is more the pursuit of self-satisfaction for each individual member of the couple.

I see something very detrimental in this trend.

Once something valued for its ability to please becomes less pleasing or unpleasing, even for a short time, it is then easy to exchange it for something more satisfying. This could suggest one possible motivation for divorce and adultery.

As far as I know, even on "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" (50 concubines for one millionaire!), the vow "for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part" is still said. It seems that it is said now purely for pleasure as just another romantic gesture. Really, how romantic are the words if they're not meaningful? It's just like perjuring oneself for personal gain in court.

As Gallagher wrote, "[We've come to] nurture a moral code that effectively turns abandonment into a virtue and self-interest into the highest virtue. ... Lacking any common good to appeal to in dealing with one another, we are driven instead to use selfishness as the currency of all exchange."

This selfishness could result in the sorrow of divorce for the couple. It could also result in distress for a divorced person's next spouse after another divorce. More importantly, the children could become deeply troubled by the mere fact that their parents are no longer together and could see it as their fault.

But one might ask, is it not better for parents to get divorced if they are always quarrelling? Not according to Laurie Lee in "Models of Marriage and the Law." She says, "[This trivial love] makes a paper house of marriage, flimsily built for instant collapse, haunted by rootless children whose sense of incipient desertion already dooms them to an emotional wasteland."

From this downward trend, society - of which families are the foundation - will continue to take a nose dive into despair. Those trained in this failing institution will continue to look for what their parents did, seeking pleasure at the expense of others' happiness. In response to their experience, they will more likely have multiple partners and/or equally unstable relationships. In turn, their lives will seem empty due to the depravity of any stability or true unconditional love, making them continue the cycle.

What is a possible cure? From observation, and some experience, I have realized that if commitment is a problem, don't get married. If the only way to get closer to someone is marriage and you genuinely desire to grow old with that person, marriage might be the way to go. Don't take marriage lightly.

Marriage commitment is becoming another dissolvable, shallow union without the total self-giving vow of the individuals within the couple. Further, just as in concubinal relationships, sex, which should be a beautifully symbolic expression of total immersion in one's marriage partner's life, is becoming a cheap thrill or means of control in and out of marriage.

In this continuing downward trend, children who eventually grow up in society will become more unstable because of this selfish training at home. Keeping this in mind, the Americans for Divorce Reform stated, "The best marriages are those where both husband and wife realize [from the start] that good marriages take work and effort; they just don't happen."

[Gutter Ball Master's] guides to true agape are Jesus, the Bible, his parents and his girlfriend.

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