One of the things that radical feminists got right, and which doe-eyed romantics got wrong, is the fact that sex within marriage is manifestly an economic institution. But they then went on to wreck this insight by saying that this made marriage a glorified form of prostitution, when they should actually have made the connection in the opposite direction—pointing out that prostitution is of course a grotesque parody of marriage.
“They indeed will tell you that their researches have proved that if two things are similar, the fair one is always a copy of the foul one” (The Pilgrim’s Regress, p. 67).
In the meantime, the doe-eyed romantics have resolutely insisted that marriage is about “true love” only, and that to bring any economic considerations to bear on a subject like this makes it all seem pretty tawdry, and more to the point, a little bit sad. They don’t like “mercenaries” talking about love. It anchors everything right in the middle of real life, and the wrong kind of romantic can only take real life in small doses.
Nevertheless . . .
The challenge of not sounding mercenary acknowledged, I still want to say a few things about the economics of sexual purity. And the fact that I am doing so does not, despite appearances, mean that I have a heart of stone. These are simple economic realities, and we have done a lot of damage through ignoring them. The damage we have done is to men and women both, not to mention the devastation we have wrought to the culture generally.
Speaking of men and women generally, women have something that men really, really want. And they want it, to use an expression from the ancient philosophers, “kind of a lot.” Now it would be foolish to say that women do not have sexual desire, and so I am not saying anything so foolish. But it would be equally foolish to deny that the sexual desire of men is ramped up well beyond the levels found in women. For the purposes of my point here, it is only necessary that there be a marked difference between the presenting levels. The desires of men are more frequent, intense and superficial, and that is all that is necessary to create the scenario I describe below.
I am taking care to qualify this because I am stating out loud what everyone knows, but which our official thought leaders have determined to deny, and deny loudly. Taking one thing with another, allowing for the odd circumstances here and there, recognizing that when two bell curves occupy different places on a horizontal axis there are not a few exceptions to the general pattern revealed by that bell curve, we may take it as obvious that men are hornier than women. Everybody still with me?
Now I am not arguing that sex is the only issue involved in decisions to marry. But I am saying that it is one of the big factors, particularly among faithful Christians, who do not allow any other lawful sexual outlet. I am also arguing that as sexual standards fall in a society generally, this lessens the impact that sexual desire has in providing incentives to marry. Not only that, I am arguing that the remaining incentives are not strong enough to do the job, or they do the job with lopsided incentives.
A Sexual Marketplace:
So here’s the point. When the sexual marketplace is governed by the natural inclinations of women, the result is a sellers’ market. When the sexual marketplace is governed by the natural inclinations of men, then it is a buyers’ market. That noted, a reasonable civilization depends upon a strictly maintained sellers’ market. A buyers’ market can sustain a few institutions, but not very many—and the few institutions I would have in mind would be things like biker gangs, or boatloads of pirates.
The sexual revolution that began in the sixties has been profoundly inimical to women. Naturally this means that much of it was sold to us under the guise of feminism, put across to us as a great deal for women. But in a sellers’ market, using houses for an example, what happens when a bunch of homeowners start giving their houses away? This does not just affect the value of the houses being given away. All the houses are affected. The effect of this disastrous move would be to turn the sellers’ market into a buyers’ market.
A Culture Like Ours:
So suppose you are a chaste young Christian woman in a culture like ours. By culture “like ours,” I mean one where massive amounts of porn are given away for free, where porn has sapped the strength of men and helped to subsidize impotence, where we have a hook-up culture that expects women to put out by the second date, where virginal innocence is mocked, where birth control devices have absolved men of any responsibility for children they might beget, where no fault divorce made it really easy to break your sexual word, where readily available abortion has pressured women to make a bloody choice in the name of “her choice,” but which actually guards the absconding father’s choices far more than it does hers, where virtual reality robosex is about to take outsourcing to a whole new level, where women have to compete sexually against both men and women now, and where marriage laws have been reconfigured to discriminate against men.
In short, men are enticed away from the commitment to marriage by a host of seductions, and are simultaneously being chased away from marriage by draconian laws that make marriage a bad deal for men to enter into. It is almost as though somebody were doing this on purpose.
The Abortion of Marriage:
I know that there will be kickback to this last point, with people wondering what on earth I could mean by “draconian” marriage laws. That discriminate against men? There are many, but let me give you just one—one of the worst. Roe v. Wade certainly signed the death warrant for millions of young children, but Roe was also the abortion of the American family. If a man takes a vow to protect and provide for the children he begets with a woman he has married, and that woman contemplates an abortion, according to Roe, who makes the decision? The answer is the woman and her doctor. Under biblical law, no one should have the right to make that decision, but the fact that the husband and father is prevented from having any authority when it comes to saving the lives of his own children means that under the current regime, we do not really have legal husbands and fathers. Legally speaking, what we have is on-site sperm donors. And if you create a law where all lawful husbands are merely on-site sperm donors, it will not be long before a lot of men become off-site sperm donors. We have truly framed mischief with a law (Ps. 94:20).
The end result of all this has been a perfect storm, affecting young virtuous women most directly. I have talked to many pastors who have been confronted with the great pastoral challenge of having in their churches many more young women who are qualified for marriage, and who are interested in marrying, than they have young men in the same position. This social movement, this concatenation of really bad ideas, has left countless young women stranded, high-centered, and it has been a truly destructive cascade of miserable events.
It used to be that, when love, unrequited horniness, and money were all bundled tightly together, young men would find a girl, propose to her, and would marry in their early twenties. Not only that, there was once a generation when they would do this and they would stay married.
This is not to say that these halcyon days were a time when no husband never strayed. Of course not, and don’t be silly. But such behavior was greeted with widespread disapproval, and a man had to sneak off in order to be a sneak. Today if a man wants to live a life of sexual rootlessness, he may do so without incurring widespread social disapproval. What gets disapproval today is any hint of patriarchy—which may be defined as what happens when a man believes that his children are not bastards, and resolves to treat them as though they were not.
Highly-Sexed High Morality:
So healthy culture is one in which testosterone is not regarded as a public enemy. A healthy Christian culture is one in which testosterone is not regarded as necessarily resisting the work of the Spirit in our lives. Now the effects of such a testosteronic revival (a great name for a band there, and you’re welcome) will be a potent force. There will be a high standard of morality, and there will consequently be a high incentive for entering into a state of matrimony—as soon as possible, not as late as possible. The women will not resent this because they know that this is the way the world is. They will know that it conforms to God’s creational intent, and that it does not conform to the ideologies of egalitarian feminism. And besides, it is lots better than being abandoned and stranded by the neutered brethren of the limp-wrist.
Chesterton once observed that free love was the first and most obvious bribe that could be offered to a slave. Those who want their “subjects” to be docile and easily manipulated (and I include both civic and ecclesiastical leaders here) do not want to encourage the formation of molecular units that might be resistant to the requirements of the broader collective. This helps explain the friendliness of the state to porn and pot. Whatever other problems might arise, governing the lotus-eaters is an attractive proposition to a certain kind of corrupt ruler.
In short, a band of tightly-knit families is much more difficult to lead than dissolute men are. If the men are leaders in their homes, and are intensely loyal to their wives and children, then they are going to be that much more difficult to lead. At the same time, it really needs be remembered that such a collection, such a society, is the only kind that is really worth leading. They are the only ones who are going anywhere.
Lazy leaders do not want molecular families—they much prefer atomistic individuals. They will pay you to stay by yourself. They will entice you to stay by yourself. They will tell you all kinds of lies, lies driven by their socialistic and leveling envy. They want you to be an enervated and spent force. That is what lies behind all their bribes, all their blandishments, all their downgrades, and all their allowances for your pocket to be an electronic portal for porn-on-demand.
So if you are an unmarried young man, out on your own with a legitimate job, then you need to seriously contemplate joining the resistance. Find out her name, and ask.