The evolution of morality: marriage edition

Yesterday I talked about abortion. Some people seemed to have missed my point a bit. Obviously, abortion and abandonment of children existed prior to Roe v. Wade. Whether or not you believe that abortion is immoral, you should believe that people will always act immorally. The point is that our ancestors punished such practices and regarded it as a tragedy. We appear set to begin confiscating other people’s money to provide funding so that other people can get abortions. We’ve also taken the practice to an extreme. Love it or hate it, I don’t think it’s difficult to see how others find the modern situation abhorrent.

Today, we’re going to talk about another area that most citizens of the 18th Century would find repulse: the modern state of marriage.

(I think Devin first brought this up in a comment, but I can’t see to find his comment. If he elaborates, I’ll add to this post.)

Anyway, 20th Century "marriage" is a new institution that only vaguely resembles the previous form of marriage. Marriage – as understood prior to the 20th Century – is now outlawed.

Prior to the 20th Century, society depended on long-term contracts that could not be broken by the whim of one party. Marriage was such a contract. These contracts placed obligations on both parties and the contracts were enforceable.

Modern marriage, for all intents and purposes, places no obligations on the woman. It does place some monetary obligations on the man. In short, today, when two people agree to get married, they don’t actually agree to do anything.

This was not always so.

It’s also important to note that if a man and a woman wrote up an old marriage contract and signed it, no court in the US would enforce such a contract.

To people that lived in eras-gone-by, marriage – this enforceable contract between man and woman – was the cornerstone of society. With it: civilization. Without it: chaos.

Again, you may enjoy this new world of "freedom" (though it’s odd to call the prohibition on entering into certain contracts "freedom"), but it shouldn’t be hard to see why others would find it disgusting.

9 Responses to The evolution of morality: marriage edition

  1. ScottS says:

    What terms were enforceable in an old style marriage contract?

    I agree with your point, and I’m interested in laying out more explicitly what has been lost.

  2. Jehu says:

    If memory serves, Louisiana has a ‘covenant marriage’ option that may be close to what you’re looking for. Might want to check it out. I believe the terms for dissolution of the covenant are very old school.

  3. Jehu says:

    Any idea what the divorce rate among people with covenant marriages is? It’d be interesting to know how the combination of personal values signalled and different incentives affects the bottom-line outcome.

  4. […] The evolution of morality: abortion edition, The evolution of morality: marriage edition, Concluding thoughts on […]

  5. […] The evolution of morality: marriage edition, The evolution of morality: religion edition, and Concluding thoughts on […]

  6. […] Evolution of Morality: Abortion Edition“, “In Defense of Conservatism“, “The Evolution of Morality: Marriage Edition“, “The Evolution of Morality: Religion Edition“, “Concluding Thoughts on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: