• Marriage •
October 21, 2005
October 19, 2005
Can we live without loyalty? James Q. Wilson argues that the decline of marriage and loyalty now threatens to undermine our social cohesiveness and to produce a generation that cares little about loyalty and prizes freedom over character.
October 4, 2005
September 29, 2005
Women are increasingly seeking inappropriate IVF treatment because they do not have the time or inclination for a sex life and want to “diarise” their busy lives.
Wealthy career women in their 30s and early 40s, some of whom have given up regular sex altogether, are turning to “medicalised conception” – despite being fertile and long before they have exhausted the possibility of a natural conception.
They are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for private IVF treatments – even though they have unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects – because they believe it offers them the best chance of “instant” pregnancy.
Further: Michael Dooley, a gynaecologist, obstetrician and fertility expert, said that in the past five years he has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of patients seeking “inappropriate or premature” IVF treatment.
“Many of these couples are simply not having sex or not having enough sex,” he said. “Conception has become medicalised. It’s too clinical. There has been a trend away from having sex and loving relationships towards medicalised conception.”
Mr Dooley practises at Westover House clinic and the Lister Hospital, both in south-west London, and a clinic in Poundbury, Dorset. He said: “I have people who come to me for IVF who haven’t got time for sex. Those people don’t care about looking for a lifestyle or maximising their natural potential.”
So, the contraceptive revolution allowed sex without conception. Then the bio-tech revolution allowed conception without sex. Lost in all this is any biblical (or even organic) understanding of marriage and the meaning sex within the marital relationship. Procreation is severed from the one-flesh relationship and pregnancy is scheduled like business appointment.
I cannot think of a more graphic example of what happens when human beings begin to think of themselves as autonomous units, whose desires and needs can be disconnected from transcendent purpose and organic function. Sex, marriage, and procreation can be fully disconnected and then can be independently directed. George Orwell must be laughing from the grave.
On the marriage front, The Telegraph also reports: Marriage is in terminal decline, Government figures showed yesterday. Within 25 years nearly half of all men in their mid-forties and more than a third of women will not have walked up the aisle.
In the same period, the number of people cohabiting will have more than doubled to nearly four million.
The figures published in a Population Trends report by Whitehall actuaries prompted fresh warnings from family campaigners that Government policies had marginalised marriage.
September 29, 2005
Sociologist James Q. Wilson — one of the most influential public policy analysts of our times — considers our culture’s conflicted state of mind on the issue of marriage. As always, his ideas are worthy of serious attention. Wilson’s article, “The Ties that Bind: The Decline of Marriage and Loyalty” is found at In Character.
The problem our society, and indeed any society, faces today is to reconcile character and freedom. The Western world is the proud beneficiary of the Enlightenment, that cultural and intellectual movement that espoused freedom, endorsed scientific inquiry, and facilitated trade. But for a good life, mere freedom is not sufficient. It must work with and support commitment, for out of commitment arises the human character that will guide the footsteps of people navigating the tantalizing opportunities that freedom offers. Freedom and character are not incompatible, but keeping them in balance is a profound challenge for any culture.One aspect of character that appears connected with marriage – and is even included in the marriage vows of many religious traditions – is loyalty. But what sort of loyalty is meant here? The word comes from the French loyauté, which in turn derives from the Latin legalis. In feudal times, it meant fidelity to one’s oath to a master. The nineteenth-century American philosopher Josiah Royce said that loyalty was the supreme moral good, but surely that cannot be right. As critics have pointed out, a Nazi is not regarded as a moral person because he is loyal to Nazism. Even being loyal to the state in which one lives can be destructive if the state is headed by an evil ruler or is constitutionally illegitimate.
September 17, 2005
Here’s a bit of common sense verified by science and modern medicine. Delaying marriage often leads to a delay in having babies. Now, BBC News reports that women delaying children until after age 35 are risking both health and heartbreak.
Over the last 20 years pregnancies in women over 35 have risen markedly and the average age of mothers has gone up. Writing in the British Medical Journal, the London-based fertility specialists say they are “saddened” by the number of women they see who have problems. They say the best age for pregnancy remains 20 to 35. Over the last 20 years the average age for a woman to have their first baby has risen from 26 to 29.
September 16, 2005
September 14, 2005
In “The Court, the Constitution, and the Culture of Freedom,” Peter Berkowitz argues that an expansive concept of human liberty lies behind the Supreme Court’s tradition of jurisprudence. He goes on to argue that this progressive understanding of human freedom is likely to mean that the nation’s high court will one day decide that access to same-sex marriage is nothing less than a right guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
September 10, 2005
Danielle Crittenden, author of What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us, has written a must-read article, “The Cost of Delaying Marriage.” The article has recently been republished by Boundless.org. This is an issue I address often, and I appreciate Crittenden’s thoughtful analysis — as well as her perspective as a woman.
Crittenden [married to David Frum, by the way], observes that, as recently as the 1950s, most young women married early. Her analysis:
In this sense, we lead lives that are exactly the inverse of our grandmothers’. If previous generations of women were raised to believe that they could only realize themselves within the roles of wife and mother, now the opposite is thought true: It’s only outside these roles that we are able to realize our full potential and worth as human beings. A 20-year-old bride is considered as pitiable as a 30-year-old spinster used to be. Once a husband and children were thought to be essential to a woman’s identity, the source of purpose in her life; today, they are seen as peripherals, accessories that we attach only after our full identities are up and running.
The article is really important. Her intelligent celebration of marriage is refreshing: What we rarely hear – or perhaps are too fearful to admit – is how liberating marriage can actually be. As nerve-wracking as making the decision can be, it is also an enormous relief once it is made. The moment we say, “I do,” we have answered one of the great crucial questions of our lives: We now know with whom we’ll be spending the rest of our years, who will be the father of our children, who will be our family.