A commenter on the previous post asked what I thought the raison d’etre of marriage is.
After I found out what that meant (sorry, I don’t speak any other language but English, and sometimes I wonder about that) my thoughts are as follows.
The reason and/or justification of marriage is, or should be, the happiness and well-being of the two adults who enter into it. I know this is not the historical definition: for much of Western civilization, economic, inheritance and/or property issues were the main reasons for marriage, and love did not (usually) enter into it. (In other words, wives were viewed as walking inheritance machines, owned by the husband for the express purpose of procreation. That must have been a heck of a realization for the children, to know you were conceived for the sole reason of preserving the property. Still, that’s the way they were raised, so they wouldn’t have thought much about it.)
It’s not that way anymore, thank God. In our day and age, most of us don’t expect to inherit money or property; we expect to work for it. With marriage divorced (pardon the pun) from inheritance issues, it becomes instead a vehicle for long-term commitment, and the welfare of those who so commit. As such, children don’t even have to enter into it, except if and when the adults involved wish it.
That’s as it should be, in my opinion. I’m sure some will construe such a definition as “selfish,” but then the question becomes why? What does selfishness or unselfishness have to do with the begetting and raising of children? I’m sure we’ve all seen non-parents who spend their lives in the service of others (think Mother Teresa) and parents who are the nastiest, most self-absorbed people you can imagine, to the detriment of their children.
In other words, childbearing and marriage should be two entirely separate issues, neither one contingent on the other.
Of course, to carry such an idea out requires universal sex education and birth control, and (frankly) women being encouraged to put themselves first, instead of the current ridiculous emphasis on “motherly sacrifice.”