Is Marriage Really Dying?
Yes, there are whispers in the air that marriage as the most basic of all social institutions is preparing to go lie in its coffin…
Duncan White, who is in charge of Relate’s 2,000 counsellors, believes that only one in five of long-term couples will be married by 2030, and at least eight in ten births will be outside marriage.
Italy is facing a swift and dramatic collapse of the institution of marriage, according to a prominent Italian demographer and statistician.
First of all, let us review how actually the institution of marriage held its roots in the ground of our social culture all through the world in the very first place.
It happened in all the cultures on earth especially at a time when there were almost no interactions among them owing to the large geographical distances practically insurmountable in those days.
The marriage institution was conceived when the members of our species turned from being hunters and gatherers to being farmers who invented how to grow plants on chunks of land rather than gather them in forests.
It was a great leap forward that changed the mankind’s culture extremely fast. No more were people required to live in large communities sharing everything everyone had with one another. Now everyone started living alone on their own chunk of land.
The Problem Arises:
The problem arose when it came to sex and reproduction. In the old days of community living, anyone could have sex with anyone else out of their choice for that particular episode of interaction, and the children mothers delivered didn’t belong to individual fathers (no one knew who one’s father was!) but belonged to the community on the whole. The system worked very well and there was never any problem.
So, the problem arose when it came to sex and reproduction with humans as farmers rather than as hunters and gatherers. As they had started living individually now and doing farming individually, they needed and started collecting tools to help in farming. Thus took place the concept of private property in the human culture.
The private property was there forever but their owners were not immortal. Mothers could pass it on to their children after their death, but fathers didn’t know who their children were and thus found themselves in great trouble. Even mothers didn’t know who the fathers of their different children were.
A Male Problem:
Hence the need to curb the natural human instinct of choosing the sex partner spontaneously every time one had it with another was felt by the male members of the society. The female members never had any problem with it in the very first place.
Males being stronger, more aggressive and more cunning were somehow able to dictate their terms which ruled that a woman shall have sex with only one man all through her life so that the man was certain that her children were his children too.
It was not a trivial issue to tackle as it went against the basic instinctive drives that every human including men and women alike was born with. Hence a plan to curb the basic instinctive drives was devised by creating a moral faculty in the mind in the form of commandments form God as a concept of the omnipotent being who created and ran the world. One who wouldn’t listen to and follow His commandments would be punished in this life and in the life after death.
The commandment said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
Adultery simply meant violating the rule of having sex with one partner chosen for you to live lifelong with.
To give it a widespread social sanction, the institution of marriage was conceived and established along with bestowing a high moral status to it. Any natural drive that instigated people to violate this high moral value was looked down upon as the basic sin.
“Thou shalt not commit any sin” was the basic tenet of the commandments.
Even today adultery is considered to be a sin although no one really bothers much about it simply because it has the force of our instinctive drive behind it.
Times Are Changing:
Times are changing. Old values are being questioned as we just saw above in our linked reports in the beginning of this article.
But the question still remains where it was when the institution of marriage was conceived the very first time.
What else if not marriage? What about reproduction? What about the fatherhood?
It’s very interesting to note that ALL cultures on earth conceived of the same solution for the problem of fatherhood even when they could not communicate with one another owing to large geographical distances between them. And it was despite the solution going against the most basic instinctive drives of our species!
The Fatherhood Question:
In case we vote against marriage, do we propose going for a DNA test when it comes to determining the fatherhood question today?
But the fatherhood doesn’t only come with genes; it also comes with nurturing the children by bringing them up to fulfill their optimum human potential.
Back to Community Living:
Should we go back to our first tried and tested model of the community fathering the children?
That’s not a bad idea, but we would need to form communities first and start living in them. Of course these communities wouldn’t be of hunters and gatherers living together in caves but of the emotionally modern, academically educated and culturally enlightened humans living together by choice and not under compulsion.
But it sounds to be a very distant dream in practice even if very much feasible theoretically!
So, until we are able to convert our dream into practice, we are bound to stay with marriage.
Marriage is dying… but there is nothing else to replace it yet, so long live marriage till it can!
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