I believe that my computer issues are temporarily resolved.
That is, if the above statement did not just jinx the entire thing. :)
I risk computer sacrilege today to bring you a special sort of treat. As I have mentioned before, I collect old books. I am especially fond of books in which the previous owner has left their thoughts. But only second on my list of favorites are old medical texts. (Yes, I like to point and laugh, knowing, full well, that in a hundred years someone will run across one of my old textbooks and be astounded by the utter stupidity I called my science).
Whilst reading through a book I acquired only today I discovered this gem. It is an essay titled The Purpose of Marriage contained within the chapter: Sex Hygiene. I thought it especially fitting bearing in mind the recent inundation of arguments on that very same subject.
First, a disclaimer:
1. These are not my thoughts. They were shamelessly copied out of a book.
2. This is a book that was published in 1937.
3. The authors of this particular bit are no doubt either decrepit past the point of caring or dead (past the point of caring) so raving about their idiocy will not do anyone any good. :)
4. It really is funny and it really is okay to laugh.
Bearing all of this in mind:
"From the standpoint of society, the real purpose of marriage is the creation of a home into which children may be born legitimately and reared in decency and self-respect. We do not mean by this statement that young people should have in mind only such a purpose in the selection of a mate, but we do mean that they should carefully consider the responsibilities of parenthood before they enter into a relation of such consequence. The fitness of a given individual to be a father or a mother is really more important than the fitness of the same individual to be merely a husband or a wife.
The prospective bride or bridegroom should consider the family tree of himself or herself and of the preferred mate. It will be well to consider whether or not a given man is likely to be able to provide for a family, or whether a given girl is of the domestic or maternal type who will enjoy caring for babies. The couple contemplating marriage should frankly discuss the probability of children being born and should come to some agreement in such matters before the ceremony of marriage has been performed. It will be well also if by some means they may attempt to determine whether or not they are probably sexually compatible. In other words, young people should “fall in love intelligently,” a phrase which has been much ridiculed by those who believe that love and marriage should never be considered in any other light than that of the moon. Many will protest that we are seeking to take the romance out of marriage. On the contrary, we are really trying to preserve the romance so that it may last and last and last. In our observation the marriages which have been carefully worked out are more likely to be permanently and solidly “romantic” than those which have been consummated in a fever of something or other which passes in the moonlight as true love.
It is the nature of the young of the species to desire the company of the members of the opposite sex. In our eagerness to disclaim everything related to sex we have tried to make ourselves believe that the purposes of such an attraction are entirely or largely idealistic and platonic. Scientific candor forces us to admit, however, that the real purpose of such an attraction is that the species may be reproduced. Nature has no other purpose. If Nature alone were consulted, there would be no such thing as conventional marriage, and as a result there would be no such thing as the civilized home, and, indeed, no such thing as civilization itself. Marriage, by which we mean conventional marriage, has been evolved by man as a means of rising above the chance mating of the animals and as a device for placing about human offspring the care and protection of parents who continue to love each other after the heat of sexual passion has waned.
However much we may disdain the methods of Nature, we cannot divorce ourselves entirely form them. The wise couple will not even attempt to defeat the purposes which Nature has in bringing them together, but will try to sublimate and use those purposes and in this way attain the purposes both of Nature (that there be children) and of convention (that they and their children be properly established in a real home).
Strangely enough, there are persons who, though they are perfectly capable of normal relations as a parent, are exceedingly anxious to avoid such responsibilities and privileges. We believe this to be an unnatural attitude for the reason that if it were universalized it would mean the end of the biological species to which we belong. All animals and plants have the urge to reproduce themselves, and we must agree in such case that the instinct is natural and fundamental. Many species of animals do not, however, breed well when domesticated, and man, the most domesticated of all, responds somewhat in this way. As men and women become more divorced form natural settings and pursuits, as they become more artificialized, more “educated,” more “civilized,” they tend to have smaller and smaller families, and for that reason the race has been and still is dying out at the top. Personally, we doubt if such “education” is really education, and if such “civilization” is really civilization in the highest sense, but such is the custom of the times. It is doubtless the reason why many people consider the bearing of children to be common and plebian.
Since the day of creation our ancestors have every one of them been hardy enough to live to the age of sexual maturity. Every one of them has escaped a thousand accidents which, had they had less wit or strength, would have been fatal not only to themselves but to their progeny as well. Every one of them has had the normal instinct to reproduce himself or herself and has been sufficiently comely to be sought and accepted by a member of the opposite sex. If one should believe that man was created some six thousand years ago, the fact that our ancestry goes back to the day of Creation without a break is quite remarkable, but if one believes that man and animal life has existed for millions of years and that during that entire time there has been no break in the continuity which leads to you and me the fact becomes amazing. In the gigantic relay race that is life, a billion ancestors have passed the torch from one to the next in never-ending sequence until the present generation is reached. It is almost unbelievable that men and women should fail to see the significance of, and that they should seek to avoid taking place in, so extraordinary a procession.
The real, the primary purpose of marriage, then, is children. That two persons should enjoy the constant society of each other is most fortunate but is really of little concern to anyone but themselves, unless there are children. When there are children we have the setting for an ideal home. That two persons should quarrel and fight is again of little importance to anyone except themselves, unless there are children. When there are children in such a distraught home there is tragedy. The couple without children is very likely to separate for some trivial reason, and such marriages are commonly highly unstable. Judges are much more free in granting divorces to childless couples than to those who have dependent children to consider. For a long time the courts have been considering a childless marriage somewhat in the light of a “companionate marriage.” If a particular marriage is fruitless from the standpoint of the propagation of the better elements in society it is worthless except as a medium of convenience for two individuals.
When one considers the importance of the relationship which the person to be married is about to assume it makes him wonder why society has been so careless in permitting any Tom, Dick, or Mary who can find a willing mate to enter into such a contract. The parent, in addition to his or her duties as a provider or housewife, must furnish the biological inheritance, must serve as nurse, physician, dentist, teacher, preacher, legal adviser, companion, administrator, and adviser to the child. The parent should be an authority on mental hygiene, infant care, dietetics; he or she should speak the mother tongue with accuracy, beauty, and force; he or she should train the child in proper habits, in obedience, thrift, industry, appreciation of truth, beauty, and virtue. The parent who has usually had not a word of scientific or even practical training in child care and guidance is responsible for the education of the child before he goes to school and all of the time during school except for the about six hours a day, five days in the week, and six to nine months in the year.
In spite of all these facts, society requires of the applicant for a marriage license less than that of the applicant for an automobile driver’s license, and much less than it asks of a man who is applying for a job sweeping the streets or hauling the garbage. Obviously we must not demand too much of the applicants for a marriage license, but surely it is not unreasonable to demand something of them. In most states of the Union, or more likely in all of them, anyone can get a marriage license if he is persistent and can find a partner. It is said that in time of old, parents had the power of life and death over their children and could make away with them or sell them into slavery. Atrocious! Nevertheless, parents still have the power of life and death over their children. Parents can neglect their young, and frequently do neglect them, so that they die of the results. We have in mind parents who are probably ruining a child by refusing to have him circumcised; another parent who will not permit a child’s tonsils to be removed, though they need removal badly; another parent denied a child antitoxin and the child died. Other parents are condemning their children to slavery to vicious habits, or to physical defects that could be corrected, or to modes of living that will make their lives miserable. The parent still has the power of life and death over his children, and for this reason should be a person who can and will administer such power wisely.
In consideration of the great importance to society and to the individual it seems as if the schools would have worked out a method long before this time of imparting instruction that would really “help solve the problems of life.” Children are taught nearly everything except what might be expected to help them support or care for a home and family. In recent years girls are being taught domestic science—which is the most important of all sciences—but many such courses are quite impractical. Biology courses can, and occasionally do, give a valuable insight into the problems of life. As a rule, however, they are as barren of living relations as the Sahara.
The family is the real unit of society; the home is the place where the unit lives, and marriage is the bond which holds the family together until the task is really finished. A community of good homes is one with good schools and churches, flourishing business enterprises, and loyal community interest. The teachers have little trouble at school; and policemen patrol the district only to protect it; there are no riots, no antisocial manifestations, no need of the strong arm of the law. A community of vicious or wretched homes, on the contrary, is a constant menace to every good thing. All the policemen, all the teachers, all the jails, all the hospitals, all the correctional institutions in the world will not be able to undo the ills that are bred in those ugly homes. It is impossible to purify a stream by planting flowers along its banks and leaving the source foul. Likewise, society can never rise higher than its source—the family in the home.
Society is compelled in various ways to try and assume the relations which should have been assumed by the parents. But so often the parents will not, or cannot, or do not accept their responsibilities, and in such cases organized society can do no less than to attempt to palliate the evil. We go to great expense to stand in loco parentis for these children who are obviously unfit for the problems to be met in modern life. There is nothing else to do about it. We have permitted these people to be born and to be abused; now we must take care of them. It seems that at present they are rather rapidly increasing, and society is assuming more and more responsibility for them. All which costs money and much money.
The ultimate purpose of marriage is superior children. Legal marriage gives these children a name; it gives them property rights; it gives them citizenship; it establishes their legal status; it places the protection of the state about their home where they may be born and reared in security. In addition to these legal bonds there should be other bonds which hold father, mother, and child in a tight and compact unit. Any relation which will strengthen that bond is of the greatest possible consequence, while any relation which endangers the bond is pregnant with the dire results for the individual and for society at large.
An ideal family is like nothing so much as a beautiful flower. There is present in each a male or father element and a female or mother element. Beautiful in design, arrangement, color, and fragrance, the parts of the flower act together as a unit for the production and preservation of seeds—children—until they have attained such a degree of maturity that they may be safely entrusted to the dangers of the outside environment. But such means the perpetuity of the species is insured so long as the flower shall continue to exercise its primary function—the production of seeds—the rearing of children."
--Excerpted from Modern Home Medical Adviser, 1937
Perhaps some day I will share with you the authors’ thoughts on masturbation or sexual frigidity (It’s all your mother’s fault!). Tut, tut, tut. ;)