That's exactly why! (Or, an examination of marriage)

There is a principle that I do not see explicated, but I consider important. I refer to binding oneself, either through the law or otherwise, to avoid making irrational decisions. This binding is in itself quite rational. Since this is rather abstract it is necessary to provide several examples of different sorts.

You perhaps know that in is the US and UK and probably elsewhere there is a medical consensus against allowing sterilisation to younger women that desire it (unless, perhaps, they have 'too many' children already). It is difficult or impossible for women under 30 (let's say) to find a doctor that will perform the procedure. The argument for this restriction is of course that younger women are more likely to regret it later when they meet a new man and wish to have children with him. And that is quite true, but is exactly the reason they should be allowed sterilisation! Because everyone knows that love gets both sexes to do irrational things, and that the decision initially that the woman never wants children is rational, the reverse later is not. So a young woman desiring sterilisation is making a rational decision now, to avoid making an irrational decision later, which should be allowed and encouraged - a perfect example of my principle. This argument equally applies to men wanting sterilisation, of course, but is less applicable in practice.

The last paragraph assumes of course that elective sterilisation is not immoral and so should be allowed at all, which one is not required to accept - but if one does, the above holds. Other examples carry the same kind of qualification.

Another kind of example is that we prohibit people from entering into certain contracts. The example everyone gives is that we do not allow contracts that amount to slavery. Another - and even the strongest defenders of assisted suicide and euthanasia should agree here - is that no one may contract to be killed on some future date, irrevocably. These may seem different, but they are the same principle; here we are binding people NOT to do something that would force them into a decision that might later be irrational to have made, even it was rational at the time of the decision. The very lawfulness of such types of contracts, then, is coercive in that some people will make such decisions that should not even according to the person's own moral compass.

One from history that illustrates a certain case particularly well - and I know many people now will say that slavery is absolutely wrong, but it's necessary for this example to stipulate that it isn't - is that most American slave states (before the Civil War) enacted legislation severely restricting or prohibiting the freeing of slaves. To understand the importance of this, you must know that it was very common for slave-masters or their near relations to have sex with female slaves, often resulting in children. Most cases of manumission in the later years were of these mulatto children, driven by natural paternal feelings toward them. This was known, but freeing slaves for any reason threatened the justification for Southern slavery (i.e. based on race), and so a law was necessary. I don't doubt that some people voting for those laws themselves had mulatto children they would have freed otherwise. What we can see here is that, if race-based slavery was OK, then freeing slaves for that reason would be irrational. So, a rational action - passing the anti-manumission law - was taken, to prevent all men from such irrational action in the future. This is a third case of my principle; consisting in directly outlawing irrational actions that people would otherwise take due to their human nature.

All these cases do involve the law. Even those that are analysed as a matter of private contract involve the law, because the State decides what contracts will be enforced, and there is no neutral position on that. This by the way is another argument for government power - that these and other things, that are clearly justified, are not possible without it. (If there were no government power currently illegal contracts would be enforced by private thugs.)

And now finally to marriage. Marriage is a sort of agreement, though the law treats it differently than any other contract. It is also normally (and preferably!) entered into for reasons of love, which is an irrational aspect of human nature. For both reasons, whether and how marriage should be allowed are definitely under the purview of my principle, and of the law. We are thus led to ask whether marriage should be recognised by the law at all, and if so, what are the terms of such marriage. These questions can't be escaped by appealing to tradition, as traditional views and interpretations of marriage are very different than the modern, and it is probably impossible to change all the way back even if we tried. It is a consensus in the men's movement that marriage today in Western countries is unfavorable to the man. But it is not sufficient to tell men not to marry; even if they understand completely the argument, they still will, as they are carried away by the irrational beliefs of love, and the existence of marriage allows women to demand it (or seem to) as a condition of a continued relationship which is the coercion described above.

THEREFORE, it would better that there be no marriage at all than the sort so unfavorable to men that we have now. It is no objection that feminism, in the absence of formal marriage, tries to impose obligations on men equivalent to those in marriage, for as that state (cohabitation, etc.) is entered into for the same reasons as marriage and has the same purpose it must be considered actually a form of marriage, for the purpose of this argument.

It is not then necessary for one to oppose all marriage on principle to oppose marriage as it currently exists, and even those of us that want a patriarchal form of marriage should support a movement to abolish the state of marriage, though it is not their first choice. Best of all probably - and the reverse of what the modern trend is - would be to have marriage legally _only_ about children, making no difference in anything not involving the children. This would satisfy the objections of those father's advocates that insist we have recognition of men's parental rights, which I do not of course oppose.

This is the prime reason that I think we ought to oppose gay marriage, as it further normalises marriage as the state all should aspire to, and cuts off questioning about its nature. Its official recognition is rapidly spreading across the civilised world. The opposition to it that has been displayed in our media seems to be exclusively based on the morality of homosexuality, but frankly I think that horse has long left the barn. Approving gay marriage doesn't grant any moral approval to homosexual acts that doesn't already exist, and it's not likely to turn anyone gay that wasn't already. So that isn't the correct angle to look at.

In my judgement, the correct angle is what it means for marriage itself - that is why it is relevant here.

In the USA there have recently been reports that employers that were offering health care to same-sex unmarried partners of employees now can give it only to married partners, both homosexual and heterosexual. Now obviously in countries with a more decent health care system this issue doesn't arise, but it still reflects how someone is thinking of marriage as a fundamental indicator of status.

We can plumb history to see what marriage really should mean. Of course, we can't take at face value anyone's statements about what marriage means, because they are all colored by social biases, but there are things we can see. One of these is that marriage was always associated with children. It was always thought to be one of the purposes, if not the chief purpose, of marriage to legitimise the couple having children and to recognise the father's paternity and rights over his children. Of course there were always marriages that didn't or couldn't produce children, but those can be explained a secondary result of social acceptance of the institution; it is definitely true that sometimes children were thought to make the marriage more 'real' socially or legally.

The second aspect we must know from history is one that seems crazy from our modern perspective: the historically prevalent non-use of contraception. I don't mean that couples chose not to use birth control, or didn't have a reliable method, it's that they _didn't even consider it_. Children were thought of as essentially the natural accompaniment of a sexual relationships and under that philosophy the modern idea of a 'planned' (or unplanned) child made no sense. Therefore marriage could not have been meant to strengthen planned families, but to regularise unplanned ones! And this is why same-sex marriage was never seriously considered by anyone; homosexual couples obviously can't have children. Yes, the modern world provided some methods for them to legally have children, but they can't have the unplanned births that, from the above, justify marriage. It's only after we lost sight of that that anyone could think same-sex marriage should possibly be considered equivalent to opposite-sex marriage.

So what is the idea of marriage that could replace one based on child-bearing? One that could remain strong in the present day where the stigma of living together unmarried has for all practical purposes disappeared? The answer is the legalistic one, the very one that gives us so much trouble. The idea that marriage should consist of a bundle of legal or legalistic entitlements based on the idea that society ought to signal its sanction of your union (which is what the gays want), ignoring the fact that unmarried people don't get the same entitlements or believing it not to be important, because, as mentioned above, marriage is the 'normal' state for people.

I consider that a disgusting attitude and a relic of an age in society (the early-mid 20th century) when it seems that men were officially viewed practically only in terms of what they could provide for women. Yes, it has been present at other times too, but the reason hardly changes, no matter what lies it is couched in.

This is an essay created by Andrew Usher. Please do not edit it; but only comment in discussion.

Also see the original Usenet thread in which a portion of this was posted:!topic/

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