Civilized societies value family as the most important and basic unit of governance. Alternatively, a hallmark of totalitarian regimes, which are savage, is the replacement of the family with the state. Totalitarianism resents loyalty to any societal unit other than itself. And it is this absolute weakness that will always prevent a totalitarian state from offering true Civilization as you’d find it in a free strong-family society.
This is particularly important to know for people living in a sub-civilized society. As long as families are allowed to live among themselves (children are under the care of their own parents), it is possible to have a civilized society that is just one family in size. Then, if that family can find additional similarly civilized families to associate with, their society grows. If it could grow to the size of a village or township, all the better. The goal of the founding fathers was to have that civilization spread through the United States (and if that experiment worked, have other sovereign states adopt the plan). But a family doesn’t have to wait until the world changes; the family can live the laws of civilization and enjoy many of the benefits, at least within the walls of the home.
Families have the responsibility to safeguard women and children for the greatest benefit of both current and future generations. Families provide food, shelter, clothing, education, spiritual guidance, and training in how to live a civilized life in a civilized society. Elderly are honored for their wisdom. Youth are honored for their potential. Women are honored for giving and nurturing life, among their other abilities. Men are honored for providing and protecting, among their other abilities. Families are the main economic force, as well as the very means whereby civilization can perpetuate. Civilized societies therefore protect The Family as sacred.
A hallmark of civilized society is the importance of marriage as the only acceptable place for sexual relations. Every society that decides to try devaluing fidelity in marriage eventually (and often quickly) sinks into decadence. Sex within marriage not only provides offspring, it cements the bond between the two parents, so that the child will grow in a home of love and protection and guidance. No other situation is even remotely as beneficial for a child.
Humans being mortal, there will be incidents where some children will be raised without both parents. Ideally, there should never be divorce (a necessary evil in response to decidedly uncivilized behavior). But there will be death, which is inevitable. Nevertheless, in a healthy, peaceful society the abundance of intact, healthy families can help compensate for the few homes that don’t have the child’s two living parents.
It is probably possible to quantify what percentage constitutes a critical mass of functional families that can compensate for a smaller percentage of problem homes without an undue toll on civilization. But, in general, the more family health, the more civilized the society.
Sex Outside of Marriage Is Always Wrong
This is such a simple concept, and so many problems would be settled if people would believe it. It’s an essential of civilization. Every time a society attempts to “progress” or “evolve” beyond the old-fashioned notion of virtue, it slides into decay. Every time. This decay happens so frequently, and is currently so widespread that the need for virtue must not still be self evident. So we might as well spell out the reasons.
Human Children Take Time and Consistency to Bring to Adulthood
Human children grow slowly. It takes close upon two decades to get them from birth to functioning on their own, capable of supporting themselves, reproducing, and raising a civilized next generation. It requires consistency and care from someone with a stake in the child’s success. It takes a pair of parents, providing both male and female role models and ways of nurturing.
The best (really, the only) way to plan for children to be raised by the same two (one male, one female) parents throughout their growing up life is for those two parents to be permanently bonded to each other. To be married. (See Why Marriage Matters,Marriage isn’t as ephemeral as just a declaration of love between two lovers; it is a commitment to each other and to the entire society that they will stay together for life. This commitment establishes a family, the most basic unit of civilization. There isn’t any way to break up a family that doesn’t harm civilization.Therefore, there isn’t any possible way for sex outside of marriage to be acceptable behavior without harming civilization. Without the attitude of its sacredness, it is impossible to maintain virtue (chastity). And without virtue, families are always harmed.
Look, for instance, at what happens when two young people, believing they are in love, give in to sex. They have just admitted to each other that they value their own desires over the needs of the society they live in. They are both lessened for that selfishness. But what if they recognize that, though what they did was wrong, they could marry and move on? Yes, they could alter their course—what religious societies call repentance, change their thoughts and actions for the future. And if it is true that they love each other, they could go forward making a happy home, with very little harm to society. So, while society wouldn’t condone the mistake, it can easily forgive.
What if the couple decides not to marry? What if they realize they were just young and foolish, and gave in to selfish desires? They could stop, and go their separate ways. Again, it would be possible to repent—change their thoughts and actions for the future—without society being very much degraded for their temporary lapse. Because society never approved. Nor did they require society to grant approval. They realigned themselves with civilization’s requirements following their lapse.
What if a pregnancy resulted from their foolish episode? If they have any hope that they actually can love each other, then they can marry quickly, because forming a family in which to raise their offspring is the highest priority (a much higher priority than the honor of a big wedding celebrated by all their friends). Even if they’re too young to know how to establish and maintain a healthy family, the society around them—their parents, their church, their friends, counselors—can give them guidance and assistance as they finish maturing. It makes the beginning of their family more difficult than a more reasoned, more mature decision, but with effort and help they can succeed in sustaining, rather than degrading, civilization. So, again, while society doesn’t condone the sex outside of marriage, it can forgive without being decayed.
If the couple find themselves in the very sad situation of being pregnant while also realizing they are incompatible, then, again, the highest priority is the need for a family for the child. There can be no civilized focus other than that child whom their behavior brought to life. A child needs, and is entitled to, a loving two-parent family. The two young people should do everything within their power to make sure the child gets this entitlement. This is a much greater concern than whether they themselves love the child and want to be near him/her.
[Note: I am not advocating here that some distant government entity step in and make these difficult decisions and insist that the child be adopted out. I am advising that, for the sake of society, the child’s welfare must be of greater importance than what the foolish accidental parents may want. There should be pressure from society—again, from their family, their church, their friends and mentors—to help these young people see society’s need for them to value the child. Societal pressure and expectation, even shame, coming from a truly civilized society, is much more likely to bring about the best choices following mistakes than rigidly written laws could do. But laws should make it possible for society to be supported in the pressure.]
Let’s assume that, if these two people are at all susceptible to civilizing influence, then they want for their child what every child is entitled to. If they themselves cannot provide the child’s family, then adoption is the most likely way to provide it. The least that can be expected from the young mother is to bring the child to term and then give the baby to a loving two-parent family, being willing to grieve at her own loss of the child because the child gains so much. That’s a lot to expect of an immature young woman, but civilization requires that it be expected.
The young man absolutely should be held accountable. (This has historically been a major failing of many attempts at civilization.) Society should decide how. My personal belief is that, if marrying the young mother was not what he could do, then he should, for the next 18 years at least, provide support, possibly a trust for the child’s college or other needs, taken out of everything he earns until that child is an adult. This should be done even though the adopting family is expected to be able to provide; it is necessary for the sake of civilization that the young man be held responsible. And the young biological father should have no expectation of visitation; he gave up that right by giving up the opportunity to be the father in a marriage with the mother. Sexual indiscretion does not entitle a male to being honored as a father; he has to actually be one, in partnership with the mother, to earn that. Individual communities may find other solutions, but civilization requires that the father be held accountable for his actions.
Adoption should never be seen as the mother not loving the child enough. It should be seen as the positive, probable, expected course for such a situation—without prolonged stigma to the mother, and certainly without stigma to the child. As long as both biological parents provide for the child’s needs, society can forgive without civilization being decayed.
I believe that, in a truly civilized society, there will never be insufficient families willing to adopt. Children are too highly valued, and fertility problems come up frequently in nature. [Note: Undervaluing children and celebrating or causing infertility to avoid inconveniencing adults who choose to be sexually active without forming a family are two signs of a decaying society. The documentary Demographic Winter is a good source.] But, hypothetically, if the young mother were unable to place her baby in an adopting family, she could, if her parents stepped in to assist, raise the child at home. This is, self-evidently, less valuable to civilization. There’s a child without both parents, and the mother’s choices caused that to happen. So her folly can never be condoned. But it can be forgiven, because civilization, no matter how far advanced, is made up of imperfect human beings. The way society sees the situation is what affects whether society is decayed by it. And if this type of situation were rare (which it would tend to be if there were serious stigma against it), then society could absorb the difficulty for the individual child. While maintaining that adoption should be the usual choice, I believe civilized society can allow the young mother to get her own answer through prayer about whether she should keep her child.
I have seen a number of cases where the young mother decided to keep the child to raise, with help from her parents (usually in cases where the surrounding family was good at support and guidance), and within a few years the young mother was able to marry well, have the child adopted by the new husband, and the family goes on almost as if the mistake had never happened. A challenge I’ve seen these families face is, the child, as a teen, usually, starts realizing that their parent made a mistake in getting pregnant with them in the first place. So they ask, “Do you wish you hadn’t done it?” It’s a tough situation to put that parent in. They have to be sorry for their wrongdoing in order to pass along the values of civilization. But they have to also express love for this child. There has to be a way to say, “I trust that the Lord would have given you to me, the very person you are, because you were meant all along to be my child. And knowing that, I would very much have preferred giving you the surrounding family setting you deserved. So I regret what I did. But I am never sorry that you’re my child.” It’s a tough extra challenge to handle.
A successful outcome for a child kept by a single mother is nearly impossible to accomplish in cases where the young biological father insists on visitation rights. I clearly differ from our current society on this issue, but I think greatly enhancing responsibility to males for out-of-wedlock sex, while refusing to reward them with the supposition of any right to parenthood is worth enforcing—even through force of law, for example, garnisheeing wages and refusing to grant visitation privileges. There may be individual exceptions, of course (for instance if the young man was willing and able to step up to marry the mother and provide for the child, but the mother refuses to marry him, so he is doing all he can to be a responsible father). But the point is that society must not condone or reward the male, who physically suffers less automatic responsibility from the act. Individual local societal and government entities can decide how the goal is reached.
Exceptions Must Be Rare
I’d like to note here that making the exception has to be rare, or else society cannot absorb the harm without decay. Making up a small deficit from ideal can be managed without much notice, just as it can in a family budget. But making up a large deficit, while simultaneously reducing the means for society to compensate for the deficit (raising children in the most likely way to bring them up to be responsible adults) inevitably causes damage to the society as a whole. It’s a fact borne out in inner cities in this country and in every culture in the world today where marriage is devalued. A large percentage of children being raised without both parents in a loving home means a significant decline in adults who know how to raise the next generation to be civilized.
What I just described seems very far from where we are now, with almost a majority of couples living together before marriage, and a stigma against virginity as a strange thing, like being too ugly or unappealing to have been capable of attracting the opposite sex. Some time ago I saw an innocuous Disney TV movie where they needed a virgin to break some ancient curse, and there was a teenage boy who ended up being the only choice; he was embarrassed for it to be known, and the characters around him seemed embarrassed for him, even as they were grateful that he was available to break the curse. Clearly, even in the sanitized Disney world of entertainment, the assumption is that “normal” people consider sex outside of marriage on par with kissing; only “abnormal,” and possibly socially rejected people don’t engage in sex at every opportunity.
But civilization, as I defined and described it, was pretty nearly the description of the time and place where I grew up. I went to a large suburban public high school, with nearly 650 in my graduating class, so this wasn’t an isolated small town. I had lived in the same house through elementary, junior high, and high school. So, of that class, I personally knew all but a few dozen. In my graduating class there were two pregnancies. Both of the young mothers were pretty, likable girls, and we felt heartache for them. Both girls married the young men who fathered their child. So, to my knowledge, there were essentially no out-of-wedlock births that year just a few decades ago. (I had no way to track out-of-wedlock births in the few years of young adulthood, but the knowledge I have suffices for this discussion.)
When I went away to college, I found that many of my roommates had come from high schools where easily 10-15% of the girls in their class got pregnant, which seemed shocking to me, but statistics show it was fairly common at the time. In my graduating class, 10% of the girls would have been over 30 pregnancies. But we only had two. Why the difference?
It was a very religious community. Intact families with both parents were the rule. Parents and youth leaders taught the value of remaining virtuous—for both girls and boys. There was, in fact, nearly as much stigma for a boy who “sowed his wild oats” as for a girl who “slept around.” As teens we had an expectation among ourselves that we would keep to that standard.
While there were exceptions who went to “keggers” (beer parties) on the weekend and found other rebellious ways to experiment in decadence, most of us filled our lives with fun and wholesome activities that looked suspiciously like a 1930s Andy Hardy movie. Our football team went to the state tournament. Our basketball team took the state 4-A title. We had an award winning drill team. We had an excellent music program. The high school provided math through calculus as well as several other advanced placement subjects taught by some exemplary teachers. Add to that a great support system through church, and there was a lot to keep a teen positively occupied and out of trouble.
The day before my 20th reunion, a group of about 15 of us got together, with our families, for a backyard pool party at the home of one of the group. Pools were rare there, because of the long winters, so we had held many parties at this girl’s house during junior high and high school. She had since bought her parents’ house, so it was a great opportunity to relive old memories and introduce our children to some of our history. Of that group of 15, who had all since married and had children, there were no divorces. None. (I may also be correct in saying not a single one of us came from a broken home; our parents married, had children, and stayed married.) Certainly among the total graduating class there were a few divorces. But looking at those of us who had stuck together because of certain things we had in common—mainly our church interests, but also music and honors math and AP English—we had an uncommon success rate.
This was maybe an unusual time and place. My sister, who went through school eight years behind me, found differences. The walls of the elementary school were littered with profane graffiti—something that was unheard of when I went to the same school. Even though I’m sure many, particularly boys, sometimes used profanity among themselves, I simply can’t imagine the elementary kids I knew swearing at a teacher. Or at me. It just didn’t happen. (The infamous F—word was never spoken in my presence before I was an adult; I didn’t know it existed.) There was more rebellion in junior high (7th through 9th grade), with a group who sneaked out to smoke at the side of the building. But drugs at the junior high level would have been very rare. Drugs were beginning to become a problem in my high school, and were a serious problem nearly a decade later, although still pretty mild compared to today’s inner city schools. It would have been possible, probably easy, for me to get drugs if I’d wanted them, but never once did anyone offer them to me or suggest that I should try them.
I wouldn’t say my community was the “ideal” and only way to live. But, despite a deteriorating outer society, it was highly functional with many signs of civilization. So for me there’s a reference point for understanding some of what makes a culture civilized.
What Decay Looks Like
With the string of scenarios above, about how to deal with the unwed mother, I was creating a hierarchy of social behavior, attitudes toward sexual behavior. Uppermost on the chart is civilization. The lower on the chart, the more decadent the society, down into savagery. [It is my personal belief that every savage society decayed from a culture that was once much more civilized. Since organization deteriorating into chaos is a more natural direction than chaos forming into organization, this seems a logical assumption. To gain organization requires adherence to design—civilization isn’t an accident; it is chosen.] The cutoff lines are my suggestions. Civilization has principles that must be adhered to, so for that area, above the 45th parallel on the spherical model, we can get a hard and fast line. Savagery is one of those things where “I know it when I see it,” and we can agree on the extremes. In the middle, cutoff lines are less relevant than the idea of decay.
Place on the Sphere
* Society agrees that sex outside of marriage is never acceptable. When sex outside of marriage happens, the people involved change and recover, preferably by marrying. * When sex outside of marriage happens and a child results, the people involved provide for the child to have a family by marrying or by adopting out the child to loving married parents, with the biological father held accountable for helping to provide for the child’s future.
This upper section is the 45th parallel and northward. Mistakes happen, because people are human, but there is a recognition of what is right and an attempt to correct the error.
* When sex outside of marriage happens and a child results, the people involved risk that the child won’t have two parents, but the mother raises the child with help from her extended family, and hopes to marry later to provide a father; the biological father is held accountable by providing for the child but does not expect fatherhood privileges. * When sex outside of marriage happens and a child results, the people involved risk that the child won’t have two parents, and the mother raises the child without significant help from her extended family; the biological father provides for the child and in exchange expects parental rights, which custody may be determined by family courts. (still some admission that the people caused the problem, still some sense of guilt and shame.)
This middle section is still north of the equator, but there is no attempt to correct the mistakes, so consequences of the mistakes are permanent and likely to lead to worse errors.
* When sex outside of marriage happens and a child results, the people involved insist that their parental rights are just as valid as those of married couples, and they insist it is their desire to have the child, rather than the child’s needs, that should determine custody and acceptance by society; they do not regret their behavior and may repeat it, and may further expect society to subsidize them when their lack of marriage causes poverty for the child(ren). (Significant damage to civilization; can only be made up for if the numbers are small—which requires stigma against those who act this way.) * When sex outside of marriage happens and one of the people involved is married, the people involved have broken a contract with each other and with society; if the marriage trust cannot be repaired, then divorce would be warranted. The spouse at fault could make recompense for the broken trust by being required to sustain the wronged spouse (giving up most of the property, rather than equally dividing) while losing custody to children. The individual family can determine, depending on the repentance of the wrongdoing spouse, whether there can be contact with the children on some limited basis not forced upon them by courts. (shows that society still disapproves of the adultery) * When adultery leads to divorce, but the wronged spouse is not given preferential treatment in child custody or division of property. (shows that society devalues the harm done by the adultery) * When divorce is considered “no fault” and can be granted for any reason, so that adultery is considered on par with “we just don’t share common interests anymore.” (show that society undervalues marriage as a covenant both between the two married people and the covenant between them and society) * When people live together without marriage, but plan to eventually marry, they see sex inside and outside of marriage as equivalent, and possibly see marriage as an additional burden or connection they may not be sure they want. (society suffers, because the marriage covenant loses its meaning) * When people live together without thought of marrying, and they expect society to accept their lifestyle choice as equivalent to marriage, the strength marriage lends to society is weakened.
This section is below the equator toward the lower 45th parallel. There is some recognition that civilization exists, and certain behaviors might be preferable but there’s no dedication to do those things—essentaially where we are now in most of America.
* When people have sex with partners they do not have any kind of committed relationship with, they are promiscuous, a savage behavior that cannot lead to civilization, and risks producing children without a home, thus perpetuating lack of civilization. * When people either live together without marriage or follow it with marriage, and produce children, but fail to see marriage as permanent, then they break up easily, removing the children from the stability to which they are entitled—showing adult desires supersede child needs. They still, however, provide home and shelter to children, according to court orders. * When people who have produced children break up and then fail to provide either stability or financial needs for the child—failing to pay child support for example. * When people who have produced children break up and feel no compunctions about abandoning children without providing either occasional care or financial needs. (This is a common outcome wherever marriage is devalued: examples, Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, US inner cities.) * When people who have produced children not only fail to provide stability and financial needs, but also neglect the child’s safety—possibly leaving the child unattended at home. * When people who have produced children not only fail to provide stability and financial needs or safety, but also cause harm to the child through emotional abuse. * When people who have produced children not only fail to provide stability and financial needs or safety, but cause not only emotional abuse but also physical abuse. * When people who have produced children not only fail to provide for the child’s needs, but also abuse the child emotionally, physically, and sexually. * When people consider sexual abuse of a child acceptable. * When people insist that sexuality is a natural human behavior devoid of moral meaning, unattached to marriage and family, then they devalue family. * When sexual activity is considered love and intimacy even when love and intimacy are missing, then love and intimacy lose their definition. * When sexual activity replaces intimacy as a goal, fewer people find actual love and intimacy. * When people seek sexual stimulation as if it were a life goal, they seek for it in new and unnatural places—leading to unnatural experimentation that cannot lead to reproduction or family. * When people view sexual stimulation as their right, they justify seeking it where it was not offered—rape, incest, and child sexual abuse result. * When people who are devoid of moral sense regarding sexuality, they are likely to lose moral sense regarding life—abortion, suicide, murder. * People are savage. Civilization is gone.
This is the savage section, below the 45th parallel in the southern hemisphere. No amount of technology or government organization can compensate for the savagery that happens here.
The term slippery slope has been used so often that it has ceased to be taken as a serious argument, even when the description is valid. I prefer the term decay, because visually we know what it looks like. Something starts out whole, and then small things eat away at it, deteriorating and tearing it down. It happens to teeth, to trees, to buildings; we have seen things in decay. The end of the story is either total rot and disintegration, or someone steps in to remove the cause of the decay and repair or rebuild what was once whole.
Whatever visual metaphor you use, the fact remains that, if society values marriage and family, it has to value sexual abstinence outside of marriage and complete fidelity within marriage. Any deviation from that ideal is decay, and there is only so much decay society can tolerate before civilization sinks into savagery.
In the early part of the last century, a researcher named J. D. Unwin had the idea of studying the effects of marriage on civilization. His belief going in was that he would find marriage didn’t matter very much; he was a progressive thinker, rather than conservative, prior to the study. Unwin studied numerous cultures throughout the world and throughout history, wherever he could get data to identify them through several criteria. He was surprised to learn that marriage not only mattered—it was the number one indicator of the “energy” of the culture. He had a special definition for energy that was morally neutral, but indicated ability to grow, likelihood to expand or for the culture to spread. He found that the indicator of energy was the virtue of women and their fidelity within marriage. Inheritance, provision for offspring, perpetuating the culture—all these related to knowing who the father of a child was. If paternity mattered and led to requirements by the men, then the women’s virtue was necessary to obligate men.
Cultures differed in how they maintained this virtue: arranging marriages, constant supervision, men never being left alone with women, etc. And punishments for failure were sometimes severe (as they are in some cultures today). But as soon as the culture became casual about the value of virtue, Unwin could identify that within the third generation of decay, a more energetic culture would overpower the previously strong culture. Always. Every time.
I would expect that to be predictive in today’s world. In cultures where “free love,” meaning sex without commitment, is the norm, marriage almost ceases to have meaning. Children are devalued. More than 50% of children are born out of wedlock, in some cultures more than 70%. Many of these children are abandoned by one or both parents, and are much more likely to live in poverty. Abortion as a means of birth control is common. Birth control by any means is looked on favorably. Birth rates plummet below replacement levels, and a number of societies are in a death spiral (aging population, overtaxed middle adults in their productive years, too few children to grow into productive adults to replace the current producers). If there were no invaders, these cultures would be likely to put themselves out of existence within another couple of generations. But in many of these countries there are invaders—not necessarily armies of invaders, but immigrants, generally illegal but not prevented from invading, who come in and, not only fail to assimilate to the existing culture, actually insist that their culture be adopted. It’s happening today in France, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden.
Despite the “sexual revolution” of the 60s (read that as serious decay to civilization), the United States isn’t there yet, except in some inner-city pockets, and as portrayed in entertainment media. Alone among the world’s more advanced cultures, the birth rate in the US is still at replacement levels (2.1 births per woman), and except among inner-city poor and Hollywood elites, more children are born within marriage than without. And even though supposedly 50% of marriages fail, many of the failures are people previously divorced. So, actually, well more than half of first time marriages last a lifetime, a great benefit to the children produced in those homes.
We’ve learned a lot in the last 35 years about the effects of devaluing families. [ See Why Marriage Matters, note 1.]
Because family is the basic unit of civilization, family is the key to civilizing the whole. For each and every family where two people marry, have children, stay together, create a loving atmosphere in which to civilize the next generation, there is a seed to the future. If there is only one family that does it, that family can be its own small civilization. Living as a civilized pocket among a savage outer culture is painfully challenging, but it can be done. (Read Noah’s story.) And it must be done, by one family after another, if civilization is to recover.
As more families choose to do it, and join together in communities (faith communities, towns, eventually cities and states), then they can be the civilizing influence. Their lives will look so much happier and more prosperous than the savage lives around them—because as a rule they will be happier and more prosperous—then those who are savage simply for want of being taught to be civilized will seek the knowledge and have a source where they can learn to be civilized instead of savage.
Marriage Is Essential
Preserving the institution of marriage, with the traditional meaning is essential: man/woman, monogamous, committed for life, raising offspring and passing along civilizing influences to them. Without this particular meaning for marriage, held throughout millennia and every civilized culture in history, civilization is not possible. So the essential societal need is to preserve marriage and to restore it to its previous honor—or else there is no hope for civilization among us.
Placing Behaviors/Beliefs on the Sphere
The most important orientation for Civilization is north/south. If we can keep above the equator, we can enjoy more civilized societies. If we keep above the northern 45th parallel, Civilization thrives.
The longitudinal orientation indicates the moral values held by the either smaller or larger interests. Marriage is a good example.
In even the most primitive societies, marriage is civilizing if it means a commitment to form a permanent family. On the simple island society we talked about in the economics section, there is no overriding “government” except a commitment to God to be honest in dealing with one another. As there arise disputes among otherwise well-meaning people who have conflicting interests, the people might develop a way of judging—an arbiter or judge whose decision would be binding. Or they might develop a sheriff or police force for protection of their lives and property. That is simple government. Such a simple government could serve for the purpose of granting legal marriage. A church in this simple society could also serve the purpose. The important thing is that a declaration of commitment to form a permanent family—encompassing the concepts fidelity, lifelong ties, and commitment to the children that come from the union—must be made, with a written and public declaration, made freely by both of the parties to the marriage, and accepted by the society they declare to.
A marriage is much more than just a declaration of love between two consenting sexual partners. It is a commitment to society as a whole to keep these commitments that create an additional Civilized unit within society. It is public, not simply private. So, depending on the size of the society, every level has an interest: family level, church and community level, city and county, state or province, nation, and even global. Truly Civilized nations do not attack and afflict one another. So when one nation’s marriage laws meet the civilizing criteria—permanence, fidelity, and commitment of father and mother to children—we honor each other’s marriage contracts.
Problems have arisen, mostly in the last decade or two, when other nations (and other states within the United States) declare marriage to be something other than what civilizes, something lesser that dismisses any or all of the three criteria—when a government entity declares marriage to be something else and then insists that other governing bodies must accept the contract.
It is essential for Civilization that marriage retain its meaning. Couples who “shack up” do not contribute to Civilization; they indulge themselves, nearly always lack permanence, fail each other and fail their children. We do not honor them as equivalent to marriage because they are not. Couples of the same gender—who nearly always lack permanence and fidelity, have no capability of producing children and fare no better at raising children than other unmarried parents do—should not be honored as equivalent to marriage because they are not.
Whether the issue is raised by individual couples, by regional or national organizations, or even international organizations, the nearness to the civilizing 45th parallel is what matters. But it is easier for families, communities, and other smaller interests to reach the Civilization zone when the larger entities don’t fight them on it.
Unwin, J. D., Sex and Culture, 1934. The following portion of an article might be useful, from “Defining Marriage and Making Cream Sauce,” by Richard G. Wilkins and Linda Nuttall, Meridian Magazine, April 2004: “Giambattista Vico, after completing an exhaustive study of ancient history, concluded in 1725 that marriage between a man and a woman is an essential characteristic of civilization. Without strong social norms that encourage a man to direct his sexual attentions to a single woman and thereafter care for their mutual offspring, Vico concluded that chaos ensued. Marriage, he wrote, was the 'seedbed' of society. “British anthropologist J. D. Unwin reached the same conclusion some 200 years later. In his 1934 book, Sex and Culture, Unwin chronicled the historical decline of 86 different cultures. His exhaustive survey revealed that 'strict marital monogamy' was central to social energy and growth. Indeed, no society flourished for more than three generations without it. Unwin stated it this way, ‘In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and postnuptial continence.’ “In the 21st century, the findings of Vico and Unwin are confirmed by hundreds of sociological studies which document the impact of marital forms and marital dissolution on men, women and children. Those studies speak with a surprisingly uniform voice: enduring marriage between a man and a woman is the best environment for the social, physical, mental, emotional and economic development of men, women and children. Without stable marriage, women suffer, men suffer – and children suffer the most. Every deviation from the ideal model of enduring monogamous marriage between a man and a woman increases the suffering of men, women and children. “Marriage, therefore, is more than an intimate association between two people. It civilizes men. It protects children. It generates social energy. It fosters individual and collective growth. It teaches norms. It creates culture.”