Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Divorcing the State

This is a column I wrote more than eight years ago, so I thought it might be new to a lot of the readers here and therefore worth reproducing. It's an attempt to submit some basic historical facts into the discussion and thereby demonstrate that the primary cause of the Marriage 2.0 debacle and its negative societal consequences is increased government interference with intersexual relations. That is why looking to government to fix the problem is not the answer, getting the government entirely out of the situation is.

It was not until relatively recently, in historical terms, that marriage was considered the legitimate business of state government, still less the federal government. Prior to 1987, in Turner v. Safley, when the Supreme Court described marriage as “a relationship that can receive tangible benefits including government benefits and property rights,” there was still some lingering question of the federal government’s power to intervene with the formerly sovereign states of the Union in defining the concept.

The involvement of government in the form of the state in concerning itself with marriage is also relatively new. Virginia’s first legal code consisted of the Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, enacted in 1610 by Sir Thomas Dale. In this code, Virginia’s Christian ministers were required to record all christenings, marriages and burials they performed. Not until 1631 did the House of Burgesses create marriage licenses.

But these licenses were not required for marriage, and not until 1853 was the Virginia licensing procedure taken away from the churches and given to the county and independent city clerks. Other states made marriage licenses mandatory sooner – in Indiana, for example, county marriage licenses were became necessary in 1800 although the state government did not become directly involved until 1958.

As is almost always the case with everything upon which government lays its venomous hands, it did not take long for the lethal effects of the transformation from a religious sacrament to a government contract to appear. Divorces per 1,000 population rose from .38 in 1900 to 2.4 in 1960, then peaked at 5.3 by 1981.

Divorce rates have fallen slightly since then, to around 4.9 per 1,000, [NB: it has now dropped to 3.4 per 1,000] but this is mostly due to the decision of young men and women to delay marriage if not avoid it altogether.

There is a significant difference between marriage – the religious commitment between a man and one or more women – as it has been known in every historical society for at least 6,000 years, and the modern concept of state-granted civil marriage. Self-styled conservative “defenders of marriage” justify their support for state involvement, mostly in the form of tax breaks and social security benefits, in much the same way that left-liberal justify everything – it’s all for the children.

As usual, however, this mistaken notion has worked out about as well as every other government intrusion into the economy and culture. The number of children being produced in the United States has dropped to its lowest level since 1909, when birthrate figures were first calculated. The number of children living with two parents is also at an all-time low, while 33.8 percent of all children are now born to unmarried mothers. So, by every metric, the idea that government can support or defend marriage is a complete failure.

And now, of course, governments from coast to coast have begun to define the concept so widely as to eliminate it altogether. However, cultural conservatives should not dread this – nor do I think they should attempt to circle the wagons in one last attempt to thwart the lavender tide by passing yet another amendment that the corrupt courts will confound with a disingenuous circumvention of logic, reason and reading comprehension.

Instead, if they are truly interested in restoring marriage and the family to their proper places as the twin bulwarks of civilized society, they must leap at the opportunity to remove the state, at all levels, from the process entirely. Marriage is a sacred trinity of a man and a woman before God, there is neither room nor reason for a fourth party to enter into the relationship, still less one that corrupts and destroys the tripartite relationship.

Marriage survived for 6,000 years without government, in less than 1 percent of that time, the government has nearly managed to destroy it in this country. There is nothing to fear from removing government from the equation – indeed, doing so will only strengthen true Christian marriage.

As for the other, non-sacramental commitments that may be announced, what of them? With or without a government document, they cannot and will not be married, exactly as they weren’t before government became involved in the process. And it is only through the illegitimate power of government to counterfeit a redefinition of the concept that these anti-traditionalists have a hope of creating these charades in the first place.

The State and Marriage is a joining made in Hell, conducted by the Devil. This is one divorce that conservatives should embrace with all alacrity and enthusiasm.


Lucas said...

Well said, Voxman.

Joe Blow said...

Like everything else the government touches, pretty much.

Though a fair bit of the destruction of marriage has come at the hands of the neo-Marxist-driven "progressive" movement. In Gramscian/Marcusian revolutionary theory, one overthrows the existing social order by destroying social institutions, including formal ones such as the law and existing government, and informal voluntary social institutions such as marriages, civic associations, Boy Scouts, etc. The purpose of course is to bring about a utopian paradise. For the most part, the neo-Marxists really only have the destruction part down pat. The participants in the destruction, the footsoldiers, are there for their own purposes and mostly want only the social validation and approval of their own choices - sluts don't want to be called sluts (similar to philandering men), divorcing women want to be told it's not their fault that they decided to leave, and gays want to be told that all of us heartily approve of their (distinct minority) sexual habits.

Unknown said...


Solemn Sentinel said...

Good post, but comming from a game point of view, how do you convince a womans hamster that she is in fact married if there is no legal binding? You can go through the whole process of having a wedding with all the witnesses, but if a woman later decides she's 'not married enough' your kinda screwed. Of coarse the idea would be not to marry a batshit crazy woman to begin with, I think I answered my own question...

Trust said...

You are far less screwed than you would be if she decides to.not be married with the full force of.the government at her disposal

Trust said...

You are far less screwed than you would be if she decides to.not be married with the full force of.the government at her disposal

Stickwick said...

Trust, not necessarily. In some states, shacking up for a certain number of years constitutes a legal union, and she can still rape you financially if she decides she wants out. Also, if you have children together, you're stuck with the government interfering in custody matters unless you two can work out a custody arrangement amicably on your own. And even then, she can change her mind at any time and bring the full weight of the courts down on you.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

In terms of Game, women are more submissive these days when they are "cohabitating" with men. When they get married, they are less inclined to do so.

Government has, whether it intended to or not, destroyed the proper role of Game in marriage and, in effect, created more BETA males in marriage.

And seriously, if the prospect of divorce means losing half your stuff and, more importantly, half your paycheck, you'll go BETA very quick in order to survive.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Without the state, who oversees the disputes that occur during divorce and inheritance?

Daniel said...

I likely am missing your sarcasm, but indulge me to play it straight:

the Church. Christians are warned against entering into disputes, against coveting and against courts as general principles. The second a Christian has fallen into one of those three - it is game over for the outcome - possibly the worst of all possible ones.

Outside of Christian marriage, the same agencies that oversee other disputes, if it comes to that. Just because one person sues another in civil court doesn't make the lawsuit an interest of the state, especially if it is a juried suit.

Daniel said...

Yet Game provides the countermeasure: stop caring about girl interests, like "stuff" and focus on the mission at hand. She can have half, plus a stipend, plus the kids if she really wants to fight that hard, because I'm so freaking awesome I have extra awesome in store to subsidize my bum selection for a wife. Now, will I fight to keep her gains to a minimum? Yep. She didn't earn it (don't work, you don't eat).

But do I ultimately care that it is a stacked deck? Stack it a little higher, Mein Fuhrer, and watch me work some real magic.

It helps not to marry stupid. If she is smart enough to appreciate your awesomeness, she's also not so stupid as to trade whole stuff in exchange for half stuff and a bag of beans called "exile from Awesometown."

When there's a line waiting to get in, hamsters are dying to spin the wheel around your axis.

Mr. Nightstick said...

So you do involve the state in marriage by reducing marriage to just another contract of sorts.

Stickwick said...

It helps not to marry stupid.


I look at women in their 30s, 40s, and later, divorcing their husbands, and wonder what in the world they're thinking. Unless they were foolish enough to marry a real loser the first time around, they're unlikely to find someone better. And if they're thinking they're better off alone than with the nice, boring, reliable guy they married, they're oblivious to the direction in which the world is going. There will come a time in the near future when these foolish women realize that having just about any kind of husband is vastly preferable to being alone.

I'm at least wise enough to see good wifely behavior as an investment. I work hard at keeping my husband happy, because I'm already at an age where, in spite of how fabulous I think I am, being on my own would be teh suck. I can only imagine how much worse it would be to be 60+ and alone. If a wife invests a lot of quality emotional capital into the marriage early on, it'll pay off all kinds of love and security dividends when she's at an age when nobody else will give a damn about her.

Houston said...

Last week I was present at a Christian covenant wedding: Pastor, vows, ring exchange, witnesses. Zero state involvement. Perhaps significantly, the couple were elderly (a widower and a widow), financially independent before they married, and with grown children. It was a blessing to watch.

Houston said...

"If a wife invests a lot of quality emotional capital into the marriage early on, it'll pay off all kinds of love and security dividends when she's at an age when nobody else will give a damn about her."

I cannot imagine dumping my wife, or running around on her, after her looks fade. She's been too good to me.

JCclimber said...

Divorce? She gets a writ of divorce (you get one too) to notify everyone that your commitment before God and family and friends was entered into fraudulently and you are going back on your word of honor in front of God. You divide your stuff equitably, as submitted to a panel of deacons/elders/etc in your church, you know, the people you have to face all the time in your community.

Children default to the custody of the father, as the head of the household.

Inheritance is governed, as per the will of the deceased. It only became complicated when people foolishly turned to the government and hence started requiring lawyers.

Daniel said...

Marriage is indeed a contract of sorts - a covenant. In terms of Christians, it is a covenant between three: God and a man and wife.

But you are reversing parent and child. Even in secular dealings, contracts are not creatures of the state. In fact, the state is the creature of a contract.

You most certainly can have contracts between numerous people who are in no way beholden to the state, so your "reduction" is in error.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Just as the nation is required for freedom. The king, magistrate, judge, priest, etc. is required for marriage.

I'm rather surprised that Vox subscribes to this utopian ideal.

Trouble said...

Methinks Mr Nightstick is a troll

Aaron B. said...

Mr. Nightstick, the problem isn't that marriage is a contract. The problem is that it's a contract created by the state, and the people entering into it have no say in what it contains.

I program web sites for a living. Say I meet a woman who does web design, and we decide on a contract for her to do design for my sites. We can decide for ourselves how and when she will get paid, what services she's expected to provide, what penalties apply if she fails to deliver or I fail to pay, and even how we will settle things if we decide to end the relationship. It's all up to us, within some very wide limits set by things like the minimum wage. The state isn't involved, and won't be unless one of us charges the other with a breach, and then the state will only be responsible for determining which of us violated the letter of the contract; it doesn't get to decide what's "fair" outside that.

In marriage as currently administered by the state, none of that is true. Imagine that I and that same woman fall in love and want to live together and have kids. We don't get to decide what our marriage contract requires of us. (Pre-nups are an attempt to do that, but they seem only a little more powerful than wishful thinking.) The state tells us what's required of us, what is grounds for divorce, and even what's required of us after the contract is broken. My bride and I agree on the traditional view of the marriage debt, or that she should stay at home, or that our kids will be raised in a certain religion? Too bad, the state won't let us write those things into the contract, so if one of us changes his mind, the other has no recourse except divorce, and even then our grievances will mean nothing in the judgment.

The state says marriage means one thing, period, and if you want to play, that's what you have to sign up for. In fact, if you try to play without signing up, many localities will treat you as if you signed up anyway, as others have pointed out. A couple applying for a marriage license has fewer choices than someone getting a driver's license -- at least at the DMV you get to choose whether to be an organ donor.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Don't get me wrong. I'm not defending the current system. I'm just saying that man, wife, Jesus is fantasy land thinking and would like to hear more of just how Vox thinks that would work.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

"There will come a time in the near future when these foolish women realize that having just about any kind of husband is vastly preferable to being alone."

I met such one woman today, a new client, an absolutely gorgeous thirtysomething Persian woman.

During our initial conversation, as I asked increasingly penetrating questions about her financial situation and by extension family life, she admitted (with tears in her big brown eyes) that she made a mistake, that she wished she had stayed with her soon-to-be ex-hubbie, that she didn't know how good she had had it with him.

Funny, but it's rare to encounter such women.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

*one such woman

Daniel said...

Utopian? Hell, I'm living proof. The State doesn't validate mine. Unless you are into group sex, the king, magistrate, judge, priest, etc. do not consummate the marriage. That they can endorse or deny a marriage before or after the fact is irrelevant to who has entered the agreement.

Daniel said...

Your reality is frighteningly narrow. Man, wife, Jesus is the norm in my circle on the Christian side (non-Christian side even has a few man-wife only that have endured for 40+ years.)

Are you misunderstanding something or am I?

Mr. Nightstick said...

I think it's because you are talking about a marriage while I am talking about the system. The system that you describe could only work after Christ's return and in those days there is no marriage.

Mr. Nightstick said...

Then one day, hopefully far in the future, you and your wife will die and then the state will insure that your assets pass to your heirs, the produce of your marriage. The reason the state is needed is it insures a third party, such as a bank, decides not to keep your money from your heirs. Maybe you are so fortunate to have it all figured out but I don't see how we could base a whole system on your example.

JCclimber said...

What's really amusing, Nightstick, is that per the examples provided above by Vox, this is exactly the way it was for hundreds of years. The state dictating the contract of marriage is a recent development. As per Vox's statements, it is about 1% of the history of marriages.

I don't see how you could think this could only exist in fantasyland, since we have the vast majority of history as a real world example.

Aaron B. said...

The state may be needed to make sure my assets go to my heirs, whether I was married or not. What does that have to do with marriage?

Mr. Nightstick said...

JCclimber - You can't go back. Common law marriage requires common law which is not what it used to be.

Aaron B. - Lots of things that I am too lazy to go into.

Anonymous said...

I note that divorces are cited as having risen by 1900 (beginnings of women's suffrage), rose much higher by 1960 (beginnings of modern feminism), and peaked in the early 80s -- at which point fewer people were getting married (as is noted) and those who still were were the ones whose marriage survived the 60s/70s. Ie, if you didnt get divorced then, you probably never would. The point being in the earlier days, women didn't have much in the way of rights, and were often essentially considered property, an area in which governments have always taken a keen interest. Although it annoys me that I would need to get a license to get married (a waste of my time and money), the fact remains that men and women being in "relationships" (that often result in children) is a phenomena that far predates governments as we know them and will not be going away. Governments need to acknowledge this simply because it's so fundamental to the societies they govern. Unless governments want to take a complete hands off on issues such as but not limited to inheritance, who is responsible for providing for children, whether my gf/wife can be forced to testify against me, whether i can be married to my 12 year old daughter, and whether I can be married to more than one person then government is going to be forced have some kind of legal definition of marriage and what the legal ramifications of being married or not are. I really doubt it's workable for them to just say we are going to completely ignore all that.

I contend that marriage did not "survive 6000 years without government". The Romans certainly had laws about it. The US government flatly told Utah it would not be accepted as a state unless it ditched polygamy. Whether in the form of property rights or the current marriage laws that only existed after the rise of feminism, governments have been quite involved in marriage because it is not practically possible for them not to be. Don't blame government for destroying marriage, blame post-Christian philosophies.

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