Ferdinand Bardamu has a post titled Ehe macht frei: why Laura Wood and other conservatives and traditionalists just don’t get it where he takes strong issue with conservatives shaming men into marriage:
What offends me most is that her contention that the commenter is “evil” for warning men against marriage due to the risks involved.
As a supporter of marriage I take great offense at this as well. I don’t agree with what appears to be the majority MRA view that all men should refuse to marry, but I resent the attempt to shame those men who choose not to. Given the likely results to innocent children, telling men they must marry despite radically changed laws, a complicit church, and a debased culture is what is evil. How many millions more kids are Laura and others willing to feed to the divorce wood chipper in order to keep up the facade of marriage and the church as a healthy moral institution in the west?
Simply put, we don’t live in a culture which can back up any assurances it gives to men who enter marriage in good faith. As I wrote in my previous post Old rules or new? there is no moral authority which is currently acting to ensure that women honor their side of the marriage contract. Therefore, there is no moral authority in a position to shame men for choosing not to marry. This fixation on the speck in the eye of unmarried men is wholly misplaced. They should be shaming the church for standing by for decades while the women (and men) in attendance divorced at the same rates as atheists.
Laura’s own Catholic church can’t be counted on to stand up for marriage, as Solomon II shares in Solomon II’s Confession. Solomon II’s eight year marriage was annulled by the Catholic church at the request of his wife’s powerful father following her miscarriage while Solomon was overseas on business:
When I landed back in the U.S., she was gone. Her parents had taken her back to Brazil to recover. I lost her father’s respect, which meant my marriage was over regardless of what she felt. “If a man can’t take care of his wife, then a father will take care of his daughter.” said the man who has a handwritten letter from Ronald Reagan saying “Thanks for letting me and Nancy spend the night” hanging on his parlor wall. He was a powerful man, so the papers were filed and a call was made to the Vatican faster than you can ever imagine. Just like that, I was single again in the eyes of God and the U.S. Government.
His isn’t the only story of a trigger happy Catholic church when it comes to annulments. What would you say Laura to those men who honored their vows and the church one day decided their marriage wasn’t really for life? Would you say man up and marry again in some grotesque game of Lucy and the football? Next time my church is bound to get it right. Or maybe double or nothing? What would you say to the other men you are trying to shame into marriage? Don’t worry it might not happen to you? Or When the mass is given in Latin all is well? Is there some trick to getting a real marriage out of the Catholic church? Perhaps couples need to check that the priest who marries them doesn’t have his fingers crossed during the ceremony?
Rex makes a similar point in his letter to Laura which started the discussion:
It would be different, perhaps, if we were living in a non-atomized culture, a culture characterized by strong communal ties, a much higher level of homogeneity, etc. But that isn’t our situation. We don’t live in a culture where responsibilities can be ‘imposed’ on persons outside of voluntary choice.
Laura dismisses his point in her response:
The sphere of “direct voluntary choice” is significant but quite small. When I drive into a city, I cannot choose to drive anywhere I wish, but conform to roads already laid out. I am naturally obligated. Driving on the sidewalk or into buildings would not be to my benefit anyway. Similarly, all people are constrained somewhat by what society teaches them is good, by the roads that are laid out for them.
Telling men not to marry isn’t like telling someone to drive on the sidewalk or into a building. It is like telling someone to avoid a certain road due to an abundance of potholes or warning them not to move into a high crime neighborhood. The city might suggest steering around the potholes and not going out out after dark, but it doesn’t have the right to tell others they have a duty to take risks they are legitimately not comfortable taking. If the city feels that more people should drive on a certain road or live in a specific neighborhood they should focus on making those options more desirable. Likewise, if we want to encourage more men to choose to marry we need to focus not on shaming them but in creating an equitable framework for marriage.
Furthermore, even if you believe that men have a general moral obligation to marry, you can’t suggest that men have an obligation to marry a woman who isn’t highly likely to keep her vows. In fact, because of the likely future impact on children, men have a moral obligation not to marry a woman unless he can determine that she is highly likely to keep her vows. I’ve never found an example of someone shaming men into marriage which didn’t omit this crucial point. Additionally, unless you have a foolproof method to guarantee a woman has this quality you have to leave this assessment up to the individual man.
Given the state of our culture including encouragement and incentives to women to divorce, there will be a large number of men who won’t be able to find a suitable wife. If anything, far too many men are marrying now.
I have another moral objection to telling men (or women) that they have an obligation to marry. Doing so weakens the moral grounds for insisting that they keep their solemn vows. A marriage entered into under coercion has a significantly weaker moral underpinning than one entered into freely. Coercing men or women into marriage weakens marriage.
No one should feel obligated to make a promise. But once a promise is freely made they should be expected to honor it. This is the exact opposite of the situation we have today; men are told they need to “man up” and marry, and women are told they don’t really need to honor their marriage commitment.
I encourage those men interested in marriage to marry, but only if they understand and accept the risks and can find a woman with the moral force to keep her side of the agreement.