I guess it had to come to this. We live in such a moonbat age that what comes out of the lips of some politicians becomes more bizarre with each passing month. Consider the recent proposal by a German politician that marriage be restricted to just seven years.
Gabriele Pauli has argued that anyone wanting to stay married beyond seven years should have to apply for an extension. The partnership would otherwise be automatically dissolved. She said, “I firmly believe marriages of the future should be locked in to a time period. The basic approach is wrong … many marriages last just because people believe they are safe. My suggestion is that marriages expire after seven years. I know that after this period many marriages reach a crisis point. It is false to go around with a notion that marriages are always super and intact.”
A number of issues arise here. Marriage throughout human history has always tended to include the element of permanency. We speak of “till death do us part” in our marriage vows. The idea is that the exclusive union of one man and one woman is to be a lifelong relationship. That has been the basic understanding of marriage through the ages.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead put it this way: “No matter how free divorce, how frequently marriages break up, in most societies there is the assumption of permanent mating, of the idea that the marriage should last as long as both live. . . . No known society has ever invented a form of marriage strong enough to stick that did not contain the ’till death us do part’ assumption.”
Or as J.D. Unwin of Cambridge University argued, marriage is seen as the crucial element in the development and maintenance of healthy societies: “Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy. . . . Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development.”
But we of course live in a throw-away age. Unhappy with your old 17 inch monitor? Throw it out and get a new 22 inch flat screen. Tired of your 2005 Ford? Chuck it and get a 2007 BMW. Tired of your three-month-old job? Get a new one. Tired of your wife of two years? Divorce and move on.
That is the sort of world we live in. We demand instant satisfaction and gratification, and anything less is simply jettisoned. We no longer see the value of commitment, of working things out, of making sacrifices for those things which are important.
But the truth is, anything of value and importance in life needs to be worked at. If you want a great garden you have to work at it. If you want to be in top physical condition, you have to be willing to sweat a lot. “No pain, no gain” is the motto for those involved in athletics, sport and other demanding work.
Yet when it comes to relationships in general and marriage in particular, the motto seems to be, “no pain, no pain”. We simply do not want to put the hard yards into making relationships work. Selfishness demands that we take the easy way out. Commitment demands that we make the sacrifices and hard choices to make a marriage work.
We see this in other areas as well. The rise in de facto relationships indicates an unwillingness to make binding commitments. This fear of commitment and long-term obligation can even be seen in the trend toward pre-nuptial agreements. While they are designed to mitigate legal and personal hassles in divorce, they are really a statement about fear of obligation. It is really putting up the white flag of surrender before a marriage even begins. It is an opt-out clause for those who seem to have trouble opting in and staying in.
Other questions arise here. Why a seven year period? Why not five or 15? Seven years is a terribly arbitrary figure. Indeed, why not make it seven months or seven weeks? Why trap all those poor people in a marriage for seven years? That must be a violation of their human rights!
And what about the politician who has made this outrageous proposal? It should come as no surprise to learn that she is twice divorced. That explains a lot.
Indeed, have you ever noticed that those proposing radical policies often have some personal reasons for doing so? Many of the radical feminists came from broken and dysfunctional families. Many of those in favour of drug legalisation are of course happy to partake of the stuff themselves. Most of those who argue for all restrictions on pornography to be removed are likely to be avid porn users.
Dysfunctional private lives can lead to dysfunctional public policies, in other words. Thus character counts, and people with major character faults will tend to want to replicate their experiences on a wider scale. But in spite of the German politician’s wishes, most people know that marriage is – or should be – about permanence, about commitment, about trust and about faithfulness.
But in an age of progressive thinking and radical politics, the majority will have to fight for such values. As George Santayana once quipped, “the chief aim of liberalism seems to be to liberate men from their marriage vows”. Indeed. Our modern enlightened elites may think their ways are a sign of progress. Many others might argue that they in fact are an indication of regress.