Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Decline In Morals

I'm having an interesting discussion at Moral Authority about the homosexual plot to destroy American values and take down American civilization.

That is not the first time American civilization took the short road to decline. Marriages were once decided on the basis of economic interests and personalities mostly by parents. And then by 1830 or so romance was all the rage and parents had lost much of their say in the matter. Would America ever be the same?

Between 1708/9, when Samuel Gerrish courted Mary Sewall, and 1835, when Theodore Weld courted Angelina Grimke, the rituals of courtship underwent profound changes. Parental influence and involvement in the selection of their children's marriage partner visibly declined. Young women and men were increasingly free to pick or reject a spouse with little parental interference. At the same time that courtship grew freer, however, marriage became an increasingly difficult transition point, particularly for women, and more and more women elected not to marry at all.

In seventeenth and early eighteenth century New England, courtship was not simply a personal, private matter. The law gave parents "the care and power...for the disposing of their Children in Marriage" and it was expected that they would take an active role overseeing their child's choice of a spouse. A father in Puritan New England had a legal right to determine which men would be allowed to court his daughters and a legal responsibility to give or withhold his consent from a child's marriage. A young man who courted a woman without her father's permission might be sued for inveigling the woman's affections.

Parental involvement in courtship was expected because marriage was not merely an emotional relationship between individuals but also a property arrangement among families. A young man was expected to bring land or some other form of property to a marriage while a young woman was expected to bring a dowry worth about half as much.
As you can see we have never recovered. Decisions that were once made rationally are now consummated based on half-witted ideas like romance.

The Puritans had the right idea
Puritan New Englanders, in sharp contrast, did not regard love as a necessary precondition for marriage. Indeed, they associated romantic love with immaturity and impermanence. True love, the Puritans believed, would appear following marriage. A proper marriage, in their view, was based not on love and affection, but on rational considerations of property, compatibility, and religious piety. Thus, it was considered acceptable for a young man to pursue "a goodly lass with aboundation of money," so long as he could eventually love his wife-to-be.
Giving up the strict rules has lead to ruination.
By the middle of the eighteenth century, parental influence over the choice of a spouse had sharply declined. One indication of a decline in parental control was a sudden upsurge in the mid-eighteenth century the number of brides who were pregnant when they got married. In the seventeenth century, fathers--supported by local churches and courts--exercised close control over their childrens' sexual behavior and kept sexual intercourse prior to marriage at extremely low levels. The percentage of women who bore a first child less than eight-and-a half months after marriage was below ten percent. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the figure had shot up to over forty percent.
So as I stated in a comment to Moral Authority in response to this comment:
The legitimizing of homosexuality is one lynchpin in a program to undercut Western sexual morality, and to disrupt the legal and social constraints that give weight, strength, and stability to the family unit.

You are not going to get that toothpaste back into the tube. The horse has left the barn. The culture has changed.

Western sexual morality as you think you remember it (I saw a study once that in the US in the 1700s about 1/3 of the brides were already knocked up - true? I haven't cross checked - [see above]) is gone.

You want to do something about Western morality? Forget gays. The bigger hole is adultery and divorce. If we could bring back stoning for adultery and 40 lashes for fornication we might get somewhere. It all started going bad long before women got the vote. But it didn't help.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

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