Saturday, February 22, 2014

Marriage - On the Decline Since 1769

I sat back in my recliner, turned on Modern Family and pulled out my ipad for a read of the daily news. I begin by scanning the daily column and found, as expected, an opinion piece regarding marriage in this great Nation. 

I read, "It is with the utmost concern I acquaint you, my young friends, that marriage, an ordinance of God, so honorable in itself, and so absolutely necessary for the maintenance of society, is at presence greatly on the decline." 

Emphatically, I nod my head. Whoever this columnist is knows how things are going. "Amen," I solemnly muttered under my breath, "on the decline." 

I continued reading, hooked by the intoxicating prose, "I am sorry to say there is too great reason to fear it proceeds from the gaiety, levity and extravagance, which so dreadfully appears throughout the whole nation." 

"Ah, yes." I say, "It is all those gaieties that are afflicting our once great nation with all of their gaiety."

Returning to the article I start to wonder why is this type so unclear and faded? I find myself struggling to read the remainder of the column.  I realize the article doesn't look like the CNN homepage, or Google News. Scrolling up to the top of the webpage I see that someone had switched my internet bookmark from CNN to "The Virginia Gazette - December 07, 1769."

I shuddered. I had no idea that marriage had been on the decline since before the founding of the Nation.

"No, that's not true...That's Impossible." I shout.

Unable to tear myself way from the page, I continue reading my newspaper of yesteryear and find an article from the February 4, 1773 Virginia Gazette, "It is one of the greatest unhappiness of our times that matrimony is so much discountenanced, that in London, and other great cities, so many never marry, and that the greater part have got into the unhappy and unnatural way of wasting the best years of their lives in a giddy round of vain amusements, and criminal pleasures."

I don't know about you, but I had the feeling that with the young people so busy wasting their lives with vain amusements and criminal pleasures, no wonder 1773 wasn't a good year for marriage.

Things had to have gotten better for marriage at some point.  I had to find it, that golden age of marriage that everyone speaks of and yearns for with such longing and nostalgia.

And then, a light shown through the darkness. Our Country's founding must have saved marriage and put it on the right course. But alas, in 1855 marriage still found itself in a losing battle as it was threatened by insidious plots and schemes.

The New York Times reported, "A series of efforts, skillfully devised and carried forward with systematic ingenuity and perseverance, of which the ultimate aim is to subvert the present organization of society - destroy the institution of marriage. . . the disgusting and detestable Free Love system, which is obtaining a wide and alarming currency throughout the County."

So the 19th century wasn't so good for marriage; maybe I will find that ethereal age of perfect marriage in the 20th century.

Maybe not.  In 1920, things still look grim and mildly despondent. "In some of our States the grounds for divorce are such that the marriage relation is terminable practically at will. A marriage bond which is dissoluble at will, or practically so, is not a foundation upon which a civilized society can endure. To say that men and women may live together for a time and then, with legal sanction, separate and form new alliances as often as they please, is practically to abolish marriage and to substitute a system of legalized free love. And this is the situation which we as a nation have reached. We have now to face the question whether the institution of marriage in any real sense is to continue among us." 

It would appear that since before the founding of our nation there have been voices and we hear voices today within society that continue to argue that marriage is on the decline and that forces are gathering that will "subvert the present organization of society - - destroying the institution of marriage." I, on the other hand, believe that marriage has evolved and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of society.

Marriage has made several adjustments that we now accept as positive and ultimately beneficial to society; despite voices at that time claiming those same changes would destroy the civilized world. Somehow the "Free Love" system has not destroyed all that is good and holy and after hundreds of years, marriage is alive and well.

What can I say, I'm an optimist. Marriage, in whatever form it takes, will continue to be a contributing part to society despite voices that continue to predict, as they have since 1769, that marriage is on the decline.

No comments:

Post a Comment