Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Missing Element

Image result for left at the altarI know I've been on a bit of a jag about marriage and feminism, etc., recently. But, really, it's been an interest of mine since, oh, I don't know, I got married.

Actually, even before that. I was raised in a family. Like some of you. My parents' marriage was typical and a-typical. I suppose the opening words of Anna Karenina might apply:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Was it a happy or unhappy marriage?

I don't believe in that dichotomy. It doesn't really apply very much in the world of men, They had good spots and bad spots. Put it this way, it was good enough that all three of their sons would get married, and so far, all of them continuously for more than 15 years.

On the other hand, I am highly critical of marriage stuff and gender stuff. Even insofar as it appears in the lives of Catholics.

However...

The problems and blessings of marriage are Christ-facts.

Consider this video. It is argued not by one person who is clearly right and one person who is clearly wrong. And that fact is what makes it interesting and worth thinking about. It is also what led me to see once again the importance of this single law: marriage with Christ is one thing, marriage without Christ is something else, doesn't work and is basically of no interest to me.

In this video we have Turd Flinging Monkey (henceforth TFM) criticizing someone from Prager U (henceforth PU) I respect both entities. But they are like children in the market place: "We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn." (Mt 17) In other words, they are playing around with ideas and missing the key point. Why doesn't either side acknowledge the role that Christian theology has played in marriage? Why do they treat it like it's a purely natural institution and that the issue of marriage today can be dealt with on a purely naturalistic basis, when what we have here, the crisis that both sides are attempting to address, is what results when you take away the benefits, values and virtues that Christian discipleship brings to marriage, though not its expectations. In other words, the high view of marriage that we have in the West about marriage came by way of Christianity, a view that replaced the Roman view that had dominated before that. Do you honestly think that Muslims, Hindus and the Chinese look at marriage the way we do, or that the differences between us are insignificant?

Yes, there are some commonalities. Marriage is about sex, children and common economies (original word, oeconomia was Greek for household management, btw) in every culture. But is this really what PU and TFM are disagreeing over? PU says marriage makes men better, and he is pretty much correct; TFM says it makes too many men victims, and he is pretty much right. But how can they both be right? Because a good thing, marriage, very often goes wrong. It's like credit cards - very useful but potentially very harmful; or guns.

No one talks about the good of marriage, it seems to me, without being influenced by the Christian tradition. Why does PU do it? I don't know precisely, but you can bet that an at least tacit espousal of Christian principles lies underneath. Why does TFM complain about marriage today? Because he wishes the Christian view of marriage were true (at least tacitly, unconsciously), that is to say, obtained in real life. From my study of MGTOW, I have been forced to conclude that these men do not hate women; they hate the way women are today. Who can blame them? And, who can blame these terrible women for acting and being the way they are, seeing that they are no longer protected by Christian assurances?

You cannot have fidelity, faithfulness and fruitfulness - the good around which the Christian understanding of marriage is based - if you do not consider these goods as laws of conduct binding your conscience and your eternal fate.

PU wants to argue us into marriage by saying that men work harder and make more money in marriage. Pretty weak argument. The alternative that TFM gives us, doing your own thing, spending your own money, working and playing as much or as little as you want, is weak too - whom does that make happy for very long? PU says that men spend less time in bars when they are married - who said that is bad? Sitting around drinking with your friends doesn't sound too bad, does it? You need to give me something more than a traditional Christian view of life disguising itself as an economic argument! PU is either confused or dishonest. Probably confused.

Christianity's view of marriage is the one we all dream about, but the one for which hardly any of us are willing to sacrifice. We want the white dress without the virginity; the veil without the 'unknowing' it signifies; we want to be desired without being sexually fruitful; we want fidelity without the concrete bonds fidelity implies; we want faith given to us without giving faith to the other; we do not trust and so cannot act in a trustworthy manner.

Because of all of this, I don't care about pagans' discussions about marriage. It's like listening them discuss when they should get vasectomies. Tune out. Because of this, I don't care about their weddings, the children they raise in insecure homes because they are not willing to give these children the security they deserve from marriage as I understand it.

To MGTOWs, I say, become Catholic. It teaches everything the absence of which has so hurt you!

To Prager and other conservative entities preaching the benefits of marriage, I say, unmask the true value of marriage! It's not economic or psychological, first of all; it is these things because it is, first of all, spiritual. You cannot save marriage by arguing its economic and otherwise materialistic and selfish benefits. All of which it has, certainly, but not because they are sought for themselves.

I am not suggesting that marriage is easy and free from the bad aspects that our post-Christian culture brings with it into marriage - are any wives truly free of the influence of feminism? are any husbands truly free of the utilitarian view of marriage Marxism espouses? I have never met any not like this. Having a road map does not guarantee that you will be able to read it properly, nor that the person you are sharing half of the driving with won't drive you into a river. But without the map, you are almost guaranteeing that your journey will fail. In the absence of the Christian faith, what are you relying on for guidance in marriage? Inspiring Facebook memes? Parents and friends with ruined marriages and who provide advice that is always only about how you must put yourself first? As Tolstoy implies in Resurrection, you will never get the difficult spiritual advice we need from people, but the stuff that's easy and that we all want to hear is really easy to come by.

“Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers”

- St. JP II

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