One of the things I find interesting in the Culture War debates is the absolute refusal of the culture warriors to take a serious look at what our cultural laws are really based on. They are based in defining boundaries through which male sexuality and male aggression can be safely expressed. The ten commandments are our first codified examples of creating acceptable limits for male behavior.
This is not me being a raging feminist, this is me looking at the facts. These rules and regulations have often been accompanied by other cultural norms which place women and children secondary to the primary objective of controlling men. In one sense women and children can be seen as the reward men received from other more powerful men for allowing themselves to be controlled. Dowries and spoils of war come to mind.
Western society with it's no fault divorce laws is now experiencing what happens when one of those cultural barriers is softened. We have more of our children being raised in non traditional family settings--mostly single women--than in traditional marital settings. Two of our American heroes this year, Michael Phelps and Barack Obama, were raised by single mothers after their fathers took off. America no longer practices the traditional one man one woman marriage, it is engaged in practicing serial monogamy. In Europe the tradition is legal wife and sexual mistress.
I could make a pretty good historical case that the 'traditional' marriage laws are not natural at all but actually contrived economic arrangements which fly in the face of natural male sexual expression, which is to spread the seed in the interests of genetic diversity. There have always been social arrangements, some of them politely covert, which actually accommodated this tendency to spread the seed, especially for men who wielded power.
Gay bashing amongst the religious right is not about gays threatening the institution of marriage. Gay marriage does not threaten heterosexual marriage. What gay marriage does do, is force the admission that in the West, traditional marriage is failing to sustain itself. That particular horse got out of the barn a long time ago, and with it male dominion within marriage.
Legally empowered women will not stay in abusive or dead end marriages. Empowered women don't see the need to be the boundary by which male behavioral expression is controlled. Raising children and establishing behavioral boundaries, is tough enough without having to extend the same efforts to immature husbands or boyfriends.
If our religious leaders were serious about their concerns for our children, they would do well to re-evaluate their positions. If Western culture has made a mistake, it's been in not demanding more personal maturity from it's men. We have to stop making heroes of men who act like irresponsible teenage boys and lionize those mature men who understand they are a necessary and important part of healthy communities.
In a previous article I quoted John Paul I, who made the very valid point that mature relationships are not based in sex, but in love and companionship. He stated that relationships based in sexual attraction are actually divisive in that once the sexual attraction wanes, people too often find there is no other attraction to sustain the relationship. Unfortunately the children of those marriages are not a six or seven year proposition.
Our divorce statistics would indicate we are not doing a very good job of pointing out the differences between sexual attraction and real lasting love, but that's not surprising because traditional marriage was not really about love and companionship. It was an economic agreement and/or a religious rite legitimizing sex.
We're in new territory now, and it's a territory in which both women and men have to take equal responsibility for their actions, and that includes the fruits of their loins. So far we haven't quite gotten the hang of this, but I believe we will. It takes time for society to adjust to new paradigms, and realistically speaking, the idea of equality for women with in context of marriage hasn't been around that long. I suspect this means it will be awhile before men really understand that society needs them to accept their own parental responsibilities as a separate issue from their marital responsibilities. Raising our children is not just a woman's issue.
In the meantime religious institutions, which are still living in and preaching the old paradigm, are hell bent on wreaking as much damage as they can before they expire. Rather than admit they no longer have much control, they seem to prefer hanging on to the illusion of control by endlessly haranguing us about the evils of abortion, feminism, gays, secularism, and threats of eternal damnation.
They bellow about the evils of gay men and feminists while being strangely silent about male exploiters in government and the corporate world. They speak about the evils of various New World Orders, while stealthily making pacts with proponents and moneyed men of the Old World Order. Now that the West has stopped listening, it seems they are turning their eyes to the South, as if they and their interests haven't exploited the South enough.
They remind me of old bulls past their prime. Those bulls will bellow and bellow and look for herds with very young bulls to intimidate. Frequently these bulls will leave their home pastures in their search for a new heard. Eventually you find them all alone bellowing at nothing. That is the real natural law.
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