Marriage Culture

1. The Culture of Fornication

In evaluating the culture of fornication (the practices and ideas that cause the prevalence of sex before marriage), we males must not simply regard our own experices, saying "I got lucky then" or "I'm good with women" or "I'm a loser" or "I'm a moral person." We must evaluate the culture of fornication on the basis of what it has done for the general health and good of society. We have to back up, see the big picture, and review what has transpired. I would say that many people have gotten hurt, and bear feelings of rejection and sexual unworthiness. Others have become addicted to temporary relationships and nonrelational sex. The frequent change of partners has increased the danger of sexually transmitted diseases. The practice of sex before marriage has encouraged the idea of sex as entertainment, apart from its procreative responsibilities- hence the increase of abortion. The legalization of abortion itself was a statment of the right to view sex apart from its procreative function and created purpose.

Let us compare modern "fornication culture" with common practices in older or traditional marriage cultures. In a traditional culture, a worthy young man has the full support and involvment of his parents, his larger family, and perhaps even the community in seeking a virgin wife. In our fornication culture, he must rely on his personal charm with women, competing with other male charmers, thus making it more and more unlikely that he will have a virgin wife. Young people in our fornication culture use sex to cement relationships, because there is no covenental bond of agreement between the families to cement it financially prior to sexual union. Financially, then, the couple are on their own, exploited by the larger society, relying on interest loans for education, business and real estate, rather than on the traditional no interest loans of their parents. Since college is the place that parents have "arranged" for their young people to meet, college becomes a sexually charged atmosphere unsuitable for learning and for focusing the male on his career. Women, being less distractable by visual stimuli, often end up doing better than men in their college careers. Instead of "a man leaves his mother and father and cleaves to his wife", you have "a young person leaves mom and dad and cleaves to his or her peers." The children's collegiate independence from their parents is thought today to be a necessary "learning experience", but traditionally the financial help young adults recieved, collegiate or otherwise, was given with strings attached. It placed some limits on the girl's mobility. It sought to encourage responsible behavior by her suitor, and to see if they were worthy to be "invested in" for marriage. Marriage was a financial investment by the parents. Now college, with its coed dorms, is the financial investment made by parents. Traditionally parents saw to it that young people found each other. Now, they just send them off to college.

If, after a process of evaluation, we determine that a different sort of culture would produce better fruit, we must "take up our cross"- the responsibility to "love our neighbor"- by working to change the way of thinking of young people who are in the process of finding mates, and we must also change the way of thinking of those who influence them. We must also change our habits, thoughts and cultural assumptions ourselves by a continual rigorous self denial, a violent assault on our "natural" way of thinking, realizing that it is ingrained by years of cultural reinforcement, stemming from patterns and ideas going back many generations- "mental weeds" that must be uprooted and cultural half-truths that must be set straight.

If we determine that a different sort of culture is needed, we must berate our cultural pride, the pride that congragulates ourselves for our success in our own cultural context, by seeing that we too, are "losers", and yet we must admit to the fact that we cannot change what is past. If we men determine that we should have married a younger woman, and that the general cultural good would involve men marrying women on the whole younger than themselves, with an age difference greater than is now typical, we must not divorce our wives or seek out young mistresses, if we have already determined that the more important principles to cultural health are marital stability and faithfulness. Yet we must not regard our own marital fidelity as a sufficient expression of our cultural responsibilities; we must persuade the young to find couplings at the age difference that we have discovered later in life is best for lasting and economically strong marriages. This is especially true if we have influence on them as parents.

An evaluation of our culture must not only be an evaluation of our own experiences, but also those of others according to our capacity for empathy. This capacity can extend back in history and across cultural lines.

Having made such an evaluation, I feel I must try to focus peoples' attention on the conclusions I have thoughtfully and sympathetically made. As a musician who was part of the culture of fornication, playing for audiences music which supported a "loose" concept of sexuality, playing for young people herded together culturally by coeducation who bounced around socially and lacking parental involvement in their social needs, I feel responsible to report my criticisms of our cultural patterns and to encourage others to question the mental assumptions that go with them.

"Unless a seed dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit." I must die, and so must others who wish to change things for the better. Only by self sacrifice can we burst out of the confines of ourselves and out of the "culture of self". The process of slaying cultural pride will pave the way to establishing a more mutually beneficial kind of cultural pride, the sort of group pride in which each individual identifies sympathetically with others and seeks their good as well as one's own, congratulating the group's or the community's growing cultural strength.

Our culture has it's strengths to be proud of. It has valued the potential of the individual and insisted on the individual's rights to make his or her own choices. Yet there is a lie that hides behind this partial truth, a lie that we as a culture ought to be ashamed of. It is the lie that asserts that 'we ought not to hamper other's freedom by seeking to control or influence them.' Let's question that assertion. Is it true in all cases and at all times? If a child is running out into the street, about to meet a speeding truck, should we not seek to detain that child? That is an obvious example. But what about the adolescent child? Or what about women in general, who are on the whole more vulnerable than men? Should adolescents entering the sexual foray have no watchful parent ready to run and save them? "I realise that they are growing up, and that I must let go." Yes, let go, but not all at once, and not without at least an ongoing communication about what is happening! Not at least without counsel! Not also without some control, the ocassional extreme measure of detaining an allowance or financial support for higher education. And should not institutions of higher education be partially accountable to the parents who have supplied the funding for the young person ariving at their realm of authority? Should not parents expect that some small degree of "parental" control and protection be passed on to the institution that weans them from youth into the role of adults who themselves will lead their children? So we see that exclusive cultural emphasis on "individualism" is often just the laziness of people who naturally are in place to guide and to protect: parents and educators. How much should they guide? How much should they intervene with rules? Don't just assume the amount of persuation or control by your own cultural habits of thought. Examine other cultures; consider ways they protect their own; consider also how they may be overbearing and oppressive in some cases.

Oppression takes many forms. We are often weak and selfish, and given the opportunity by our culture we will be oppressed and will oppress as our culture permits by its values. These values tolerate, shame, and legally constrain behavior.

"Oppression" is not always recognized as such. Capitulation of authority is often regarded by our culture as noble, as a release from oppression, but it opens the door to other authorities to oppress. It leaves individuals vulnerable to be preyed upon, either by their physical weakness, as in the date rape of a girl allowed too much dating mobility, or by their moral weakness, as in the case of the young man given too much freedom of contact with women, who is seduced into sexual activity before he is ready to support children and to commit himself in love. These examples are forms of oppression, or misuse of power and "authority" if you will- the authority and power of individuals released to misuse by other authorities that capitulated. Even the oppressor is oppressed by the autonomy given him or her. The male seducer is oppressed by a society that grants him freedom to disipate his sexual energies, and applaudes his success in doing so, watching as he loses economic focus and cultural strength over time. The female seducer is oppressed by commercially driven values that grant her freedom to make ill-gotten gain from exploiting men through her beauty, destroying her capacity for blessing a man and her own self with the beauty of her soul. Men are exploited as their sexual and economic power is drained off through pornography, strip joints, and prostitution, leaving them less able to compete with other males sexually, economically, or emotionally. The culture condemns them and applaudes the "competitors" in a "free market" society that "gets over" on them. The culture of "individual choice" condemns the weakness of the individual's lack of self control but takes little or no responsibility for allowing this weakness to be exploited. Back behind all of this is not just bad laws or bad teaching in school; it is bad parenting. It ought to be considered that in some cultures, it is not enough for parents to "counsel" the direction of the teenager or twenties ager's "free choice." They also control their older children's sexual and economic direction and provide for it as well. Parents in some cultures provide suitors for the girl; they arrange meetings and chaperoned "coming out parties." They empower their youths, providing money for marriage, support for the male's education and the female's dowery.

Our society could even be said to "oppress" the "date rapist" and the "sexual harrasser" to some extent, not to put it too strongly. Perhaps we have capitulated unduly to the value of granting to the female social and economical mobility in her sexual prime. We have left single men with the frustration of trying to endure years of financial preparations for marriage while constantly surrounded by sexual and social stimulation.

"Date rape," why do we call it that? Is it not that we have capitulated to the value of individual choice in dating so completely, leaving females mobile for their courtship or sexual choices and opportunities to meet men, and leaving men the frustration of trying to postpone marriage for financial reasons while surrounded constantly by the confusing and dissipating sexual stimulation of these highly mobile and financially competetive females, who are ever present at school, at work, at bars and at private clubs? Can men always be so platonic, so courteous, so chivalrous, so postponing of gratification? Should there not be a place for them to focus on their careers without the ever present distraction of young women?

Our single women visiting Arab cultures report men fondeling them on the street, regarding them as "up for grabs" if they are alone walking about without a veil. "Some guy came up and started fondling my breast without a word" said one girl. "It was as though he was just testing a piece of fruit."

"Americans are experts in pornography", one Arab was quoted as saying in something I read. What is a typical "plot" in such entertainment? It is the "college girl gone wild", the 18 year old girl, barely of consenting age, away from her parents, who is fondled boldly in a semi-public place. It is the fantasy of female mobility taken advantage of, without consequences of parental, legal, or moral approbation.

While Arabs fondle the occassional mobile woman, Western men are seeing scores of mobile women constantly. Unable to respond to this stimuli because of cultural shame and the laws against molestation and harrasment, many privately resort to pornography as a safe and legal outlet for this aggravated desire. Billions of dollars are spent in secret; it's legal; and it's hidden from the public eye. Only the video renter knows.

While any culture ought to have moral values which shame deviant behavior, this is not always mercifully sufficient. Some legal restraint is sometimes useful. Pornography should be restrained legally, but that in itself is not enough. It should also be asked if the undue mobility of females in their prime should be discouraged or moderately curtailed, to relieve some of the pressure and temptation that men endure. Is it right for a culture to encourage as much mobility to young women as ours does? Is it an either-or between two cultural extremes? Are there no gradations or is there no happy medium to be sought? Or does it have only to do with laws and rights? Are not our values effecting our social environment as well? And do we not often absorb the values of the dominant economic sector of our society, that is, the corporate world?

I am not advocating or suggesting any strong legal or moral restraint on female mobility in travel, in education, or in courtship situations as much as I am asking: Why are the single women out there in such numbers in the first place? Is it not because of a prior failure to provide them with marriage partners in the prime of their desirability and childrearing ability, and the failure to provide men with a sufficient economic base and the societal approval and opportunity to seek younger women that fully please them and to show these women that they are financially ready for them? Women then must often settle for men who are either economically weaker or only somewhat economically stronger, who are similar in age, which they meet at college or at work. Many men pride themselves on not being so unsophisticated, "redneck" or chauvinist as to question this high degree of female careerism, though some dare to complain that children are being neglected. But to complain about the general male disempowerment in the wake of the "young professional woman" career ideal is unforgivable and unworthy of consideration to our culture's way of thinking, for it seems to attack our most basic agreed upon values. We are generally anti-collectivist, but especially pro-freedom, pro-competition, and pro-individual choice. To question the limits of these values in any way by suggesting that the overall cultural good be a part of an individual's choice is to invite mockery. Lazzie faire free market is applied to everything. Therefore women are to compete with men without even considering other issues at all. People forget that empowerment is not only through competition; it is also through voluntary cooperation.

Culture is cooperation.


2. The Economics of Culture
3. The Economics of Marriage
4. Age Difference
5. Outline