Marriage Civilizes

Shocking news:  there’s another trashy and dehumanizing reality tv show out there.  Apparently, this one involves a rapper who fathered children by 10 different women, and their life “together” as they compete for attention and whatnot.  The “star” of the show is also the subject of a petition condemning his behavior.

Not much need be said about the subject of this petition.  His condemnation is both obvious and deserved, and I’d wager that most of us pity the women & children involved.  Far more interesting, I think, are the grounds on which he was condemned.  It’s kind of sad that the petitioner has to reduce the moral problem to having unprotected sex with women you’re not emotionally connected or bonded with.  This is the most common sexual ethic in 21st century America, but as I’ve written elsewhere, this ethic of protection & affection is nothing more than a selective reduction of the real rule written on our hearts:  “no sex outside of marriage.”

The ethical inadequacy of protection & affection is almost painfully clear.  After all, the rapper was emotionally connected with the women; rampant lust clearly involves emotion.  I suppose most people think of “emotional connection” as the kind of romantic affection that has some tendency to keep your attention on one person at a time.  But how precise can you really be when if comes to that kind of emotion?  And is the problem really that he didn’t feel quite the right way about the women?  How do any of us even know that deep down in his heart he doesn’t feel the right way about all 10 but doesn’t let it show in the usual way?

Perhaps we can learn more about this peculiar condemnation from the fact that the rapper is targeted, but only a little is said of the 10 women who were participating in the same shameful activity (and later in in the video, even this is framed in a way in which the blame for their involvement is placed on him.)  I suppose these women might (or might not) have felt romantic affection for him (again, how we can we possibly know this?), but they certainly had sex that was no more protected than their partner’s was.  I had always heard that the double standard went the other way, but I generally see more judgment cast on the behavior of the players than the women who are eager to become involved with them.  Why, I wonder, is this kind of one-sided condemnation so prevalent?

As I’ve blogged previously, both sexes can be promiscuous, but they tend to pursue promiscuity in different ways.  Sexually barbaric men tend to be polygamous while sexually barbaric women tend to be hypergamous–they trade up to the highest status man available to them.  The show is a sad example of both on display along with the tragic complimentarity of the two.  The rapper maintains a harem of concubines while said concubines compete for attachment to a man with a certain level of wealth and social prominence (I can’t help but notice that this kind of competition rarely involves accountants.)  Though only one is condemned by the petition writer, there are two barbarisms to consider here.

Trying to reduce “no sex before marriage” to a loose serial monogamy (in which you merely need to have some level of affection for your mate and show them a little bit of courtesy regarding disease and children) is ultimately an attempt to rein in polygamy without infringing on the indulgence of hypergamy.  Emotional attachment is, I would assume, difficult to maintain across all members of a harem.  However, staying “true” to one person for only as long as you feel like doing so is entirely consistent with trading to a more exciting mate when the opportunity arises.  Serial monogamy doesn’t prevent promiscuity–it only makes sure that promiscuity occurs in a way that sexually barbaric women prefer.

We often hear that marriage is important because it civilizes men.  This is true enough, but it’s only half the story.  ‘Til-death-do-us-part marriage is equally important for civilizing women.  The base instincts of men and women may be different, but we are all sinners, and we all have them.  Forgiveness for that corruption requires Christ’s atoning sacrifice, but even the mere restraint of wickedness requires more than just protection & affection–it requires marriage.

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
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