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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Re-valuing marriage.

Art Deco has a great point in his comment below:

There is so much to take a stand against: the unnecessary sexualization of adolescence, the witlessly jumbled order of the rites of passage which our youth are meant to pass through, the continuing elongation of the period of dependency in life of the young in the Occident, the severence of sex from its proper context, and the demotion of marriage. Every last one of these has a functional relationship to every other one.

Sexual experience is part of the foot race that young men are in with each other, and contemporary practice legitimated by common opinion and by the helping professions sanctions its frequent occurance in circumstances where young men are not under the constraining disciplines of having to earn a living or maintain a domestic life. The predictable result is a great many abortions and a great many bastards, not to mention the degredation of the sensibilities of the men and women so engaged. (My great-great grandfather had completed his schooling and apprenticeships and been fully responsible for earning a living for about eight years before he was married; he married at age twenty. Rather different from the biography of our seventeen-year-old studs of today).

O.K., we refrain from dirty jokes. That is not bad, but what needs to be done is to persuade young men to sit the foot race out and to persuade young men and young women that a decade or so of tomcatting about and of slopping about and of train-wreck relationships (with or without a bastard child as a souvenir thereof) is no way to learn to master the demands of adult life.

I think this is remarkably closely related to the discussion at Jeff's and Steve's about earlier marriage.

I think they are on to something, at least as far as getting married in the early 20s. I'll just add this to my other comments: if you really want to strengthen marriage, you are going to have to break the mentality that looks at men and women not as husbands and wives, not as fathers and mothers, but rather as units of productivity and consumption. There are strong structural disincentives to early marriage in our society right now, and they start with nontrivial concerns about providing for your family.

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