Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Marriage Has Been Arranged

Speculative Catholic links to a post by The Dawn Treader asking whether arranged marriages might be saner and result in less divorces than the current American standard.

Goodness knows, I'm not pleased with the general state of marriage in America, but I can't say I'm terribly impressed with the idea of arrange marriages. I've read some fairly detailed suggestions (most of them from very conservative Protestant types who figure its Biblical -- but given the political and cultural synergies between conservative Protestants and Catholics these days, I suppose one must expect the occasional bad idea to get shared along with the good ones) in regards to bringing back arranged marriages, as well as the various theories of "Christian Courtship".

Now in part, I'm struck by the fact that if arranged marriage were the norm, MrsDarwin and I would never have got together. Not that her family dislikes me or mine her, but rather that we're from different states and our families never met till after we were engaged, though we met each other's families. Nor can I imagine either one of us would have wanted to be married off to anyone in our family's respective social circles.

I think the problem which proponents of arranged marriage have correctly identified (and honestly, I'm not really sure anyone is all that serious about the idea) is that many people in the wider culture and in Catholicism have made the leap from "if it my responsibility to find someone I love to marry" to "if I no longer love the person I'm married do, it's my responsibility to 'fix' the situation".

The very nature of an arranged marriage, on the other hand, underlines the fact that: You're now married to this person, you might as well make the best of it.

Nonetheless, the solution doesn't seem to be to cease to make marriage partner selection the business of the partners themselves, but rather the reinforce an understanding that although marriage is a state voluntarily entered into, it is not an 'at will' state. You freely choose to get yourself into it, but you don't afterwards have the latitude to freely choose something else.

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