Rethinking Marriage

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The reason why voters in Washington State, slightly more than half of them who actually voted, approved Referendum 71 is because they do not understand marriage as we on the other side do. It’s simply that simple.

Marriage, in their minds, is about love or sharing property and lives. It’s about building a house and co-habitating.

These are all nice things, and absolutely necessary for a successful marriage. But like a car without wheels, it’s missing the big point.

Marriage, ultimately, is about building families. What is a family? A family isn’t just a group of people. It’s a very, very special group of people.

At the head of the family is the father. He is a man who has agreed to protect and provide for everyone within the family. He represents masculinity, discipline, rigor, and is the outward face of the family. The family depends on him not just for their food and money, but he is the spiritual backbone as well. He lays down the spiritual law of the family, and describes the ideal that the family aspires to.

Equal to the head is the mother. Although she does not preside over the family, she does lead and she does share in the awesome responsibility of providing for and protecting the family. (Take careful note of the word “preside”. Note that a president is not a ruler. He merely stands at the head and brings order where there could be chaos. The President of the United States rules no more over the Senate and House than a father could rule over his wife.) The mother is a nurturer. Her talents and responsibilities lie chiefly with child rearing and home making. This isn’t because mothers are inferior to fathers. This is because they excel at this role in ways a father never could hope to. As a father, I admit I lack the compassion my wife has for my children.

And the whole point of the father and the mother is the children. The children are brought in, normally by childbirth, but occasionally, adoption, and they become the product of that holy union. They own their parents as much as their parents own them. And their parents spend the rest of their lives, until their death, providing for the needs of their children. Not because they expect monetary compensation, of course, but because they love each other and they love their children.

We have marriage so we can have families. And the point of families is to love the children. As a society, we have a direct interest in seeing successful families. We expect each generation to rise up and keep the laws and participate productively in our economy. One day, the next generation will be feeding us, making our clothes, running our hospitals. If they grew up in a house of love, then their lives will be filled with love. That love will come back to us. Otherwise, their lives will be dark and empty, and we will find ourselves living among a dark and empty race of men.

We have lost the family ideal in our culture. It’s been degraded by unceasing attacks since the early 1900’s. The attacks took the form of first downplaying the importance of motherhood and homemaking. By portraying mothers as imbecilic or simple, and by downplaying the importance of breast feeding and the simple nurturing touch and simple acts of kindness in favor of a military-like education regime, the women in the early 1900’s were taught that their role as mother wasn’t important.

Instead, in the early 1900’s, masculinity and fatherhood was exaggerated. It’s the father who tells people what to do, who goes out and builds skyscrapers and societies and organizations and companies and charities. It’s the father who leads the ideal lifestyle, a lifestyle to which women should not aspire because they are the lesser sex. With this tyrannical power came tyranny in the home. Fathers were not presidents but rulers. Their families suffered for it.

This was clearly wrong. It sounds absurd today, extremely sexist, to even say the things that were popular back then.

The second wave of attacks came in the feminist movement. Feminism is not and never was about making women into women. Instead, like the words in 1984‘s dictionary of double-speak, it is about turning women into men. Now that women were thoroughly degraded and abused by overworked, alcoholic husbands, the women rebelled and declared independence from the family. The pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. Now, any identification of the obvious difference between the sexes is labeled “sexism”, as if pointing out that a black man’s skin is a darker hue than a white man’s skin is racism.

The sufferers in the second wave were the children. Now they had an overworked father and an overworked mother, neither of whom could lead the family after 10 hours of work just to put food on the table and a boat in the yard. The children, even in affluent neighborhoods, were left to the streets. They were raised by the TV, a mechanical device that has no heart.

These children grew up without ever learning about the purpose and point of families, or even the purpose of life. So they engage in all kinds of bizarre and destructive practices that are absolutely ruinous to the institution of the family and society in general.

The new generation, a group of children born to single mothers incapable or uncaring, is growing up with a foreboding sense of doom. There is no father, no mother, no one in the world who cares for and values them. They are left alone in this dark and dreary world, to fend for themselves by whatever means necessary.

I am, of course, generalizing. With every generalization, there are exceptions. Not every American behaved in this broken way. A very large number heard the siren song of the breakup of the family and said, “No thanks.” Even when things were bad or worse, a lot of people behaved in ways that made things better. We all seem to know a single mother who keeps it together and whose children are astounding success stories. We also know of working women who still manage to raise 5 boys. And there are cases where abusive fathers didn’t manage to completely screw up their kids.

However, I state unequivocally that all of society’s problems stem from this single fact: Our families are broken.

Marriage has been downplayed as the rock upon which families are built. First came fairy-tale notion of perfection and eternal bliss between two people. Strangely missing from this fairy tale were the dirty diapers and the dishes, as well as long hours with nothing to show for it but old clothes and a meager living. Now marriage is portrayed as an institution of oppression, either as shackles to the modern human’s sexual escapades or a way to keep homosexual couples down because they are not afforded the same “rights” as married couples.

When we realize the predicament we are in, and understand the cause of it, we, as a society, will demand that we elevate in all ways possible the institution and ideal of marriage. We won’t allow marriage to be redefined from what it really is.

Yes, marriage must be between one man and one woman. And the purpose of marriage must be to build families capable of raising children in love and security. Note all the responsibilities of married couples towards their children in our law. If you don’t feed your kid, you go to jail.

Yes, in marriage property should be shared equally. So we mandate that by law. It’s not a “nice to have” bonus of marriage. It is an “agree to this or you don’t get married” condition. Quid pro quo between the state and the married couple.

Yes, in marriage, divorce should be rare and difficult. Again, not a “nice to have”. It’s “agree or else.” We, as a society represented by the state government, demand that married couples do everything in their power to resolve their differences before they even consider dissolving that union. If they can’t agree to that, don’t get married.

Only married couples with stable incomes and clean, orderly homes should be allowed to adopt or handle foster children. Why? Because every child deserves a mother and a father, and when the state has determined that a family is wholly unsuitable for child-rearing, it should only place them in homes capable of child-rearing.

In all things, the focus isn’t love or sexual relationships or cohabitation or property rights. It’s about raising children in the best environment possible. And that environment can only be found when a man and a woman love each other and commit themselves wholly to providing for and protecting their family.

If we allow the discussion to be about love or sexual relationships or cohabitation or property rights, then we will lose the argument every time. But if we talk about the children and the necessity of providing for the next generation, then everyone will agree that stable homes with a mother and a father who love each other are the only way to go. And we’ll use the instition of marriage to get the results we want.

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One Response to “Rethinking Marriage”

  1. Danny H Says:

    This was a well thought out and written article about marriage and its real core purpose. How wonderful it would be if these values were more passionately believed and clearly taught in our homes and public school system. It’s amazing that we can live in such an advanced, enlightened society and have such simple truths almost entirely lost to our understanding or at least ignored by those whose ideals have been warped by the popular and selfish opinions of the worldly.

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