A Look In The Rear-View Mirror
Over the past century Marriage 1.0, also known as Traditional Marriage, the marriage of our ancestors, was replaced by Marriage 2.0.
Marriage 1.0 was strictly patriarchal. Men had massive authority in their families and legal power over their wives. Divorce was extraordinarily rare and universally looked down upon. The legal system largely enforced marriage as an institution and resisted any alterations to the marriage covenant. While imperfect, Marriage 1.0 afforded our ancestors a stable platform on which to build western civilization.
This started to change in dramatic ways as feminism took root in the west and began to challenge the patriarchal power structure. By a variety of mechanisms, but especially through changes in the legal system and cultural media influence, men began to lose power over their home, children, and wives. No Fault Divorce, allowing for marriages to be easily dissolved by either party for any or no reason, is perhaps the clearest point demarcating the shift from Marriage 1.0 to Marriage 2.0 in the west.
Marriage 2.0 replaced Marriage 1.0 slowly, one court ruling and feminist influenced sitcom episode at at time. The shift was gradual enough that it went largely unrecognized by the average man. Thus, most men still got married, not knowing that the deck was increasingly being stacked against their success. As the divorce rate skyrocketed and children of divorced parents were forced to endure the ghastly consequences of divorce, marriage itself began to be taken into question. Marriage rates steadily fell as men began to more carefully examine what they were signing up for at the alter. The prospect of losing your wife, wealth, children, respect, and much more without recourse persuaded many men to avoid marriage altogether. Secular men especially, not fearing God's judgment, have increasingly opted to avoid marriage in favor of non-committed promiscuity. Arguably, this is one of the core tenants of secular Red Pill dogma: marriage is for suckers.
The Church's Response
Most men in the church have not followed their secular peers in rejecting marriage outright. Desiring to obey God they continue to marry, attempting to do Marriage 1.0 despite the legal realities of Marriage 2.0 being in full effect. Christian men are effectively LARPing at Marriage 1.0 and are thus afforded no legal protections at all if their wife acts out in rebellion. Certainly, Christians have proven to be better at maintaining marriage than their secular peers, but this does little to comfort the Christian man raked over the coals when his wife acted on rebellious sinful impulses.
What has the church done to oppose Marriage 2.0? Largely nothing unless you count running the white flag up a pole an act of resistance. The church has all but ceded the public square to secular society. Having lost it's legal and cultural authority, the only true remaining "sanction" a church can impose is to excommunicate those that violate their marriage vows. This right to dis-fellowship is typically only exercised in the most conservative of churches in the most heinous of situations; the vast majority of evangelical fellowships refused to exercise this last remaining sanction. For those congregations that do excommunicate covenant breakers, is it effective? In my experience, no. Given the disunity of the church in the west it is far too easy for the excommunicated member to find a home at the congregation across town. Thus, even the last remaining sanction the church is able to impose is rendered ineffective.
Given this anemic response from the church it is no wonder that secular globalists intent on the destruction of the family have pressed onward with their assault on the family. Emboldened by their largely unopposed victory, the very definition of marriage, a union between a man and woman, was put under siege. Their success in this is evidenced by the now common linguistic concession: Biblical Marriage.
The Ship of Theseus
One of my favorite philosophic and logical problems of all time is that of The Ship of Theseus. The question goes like this: Imagine a ship. Over time, as parts wear out, they are replaced. Given enough time, eventually every part will be replaced. Once every original part is replaced, can it still be considered the original ship?
Like the ship, marriage is being replaced part by part until it is no longer as it was originally created. The question is this: is Marriage 2.0 even marriage at all? The church does not seem to want to content with this question. As a result, pastors and elders continue to push their congregants toward state recognized marriages unaware of the significant legal, financial, and spiritual risks involved.
At some point marriage, as it is modified by cultural, political, and legal pressures, ceases to be marriage at all. At what point this transition happens is debatable, but nonetheless there is a "line in the sand" for each of us that presents an irreconcilable redefinition.
Imagine it was federally legislated that once married, a man is legally required to be castrated if the marriage ends in divorce, even if the wife divorces him for no reason at all. Would anyone suggest for a moment that this represents God's design for marriage as found in scripture? No, though far-fetched, this would be a perfectly clear example of marriage being modified into something entirely different and unsupportable.
But is it that far-fetched?
Consider what a man signs up for today when he gets married. Each time a man says "I do" he is accepting that if his wife divorces him for any reason at all there is a likelihood of him:
- losing a large portion of his assets
- losing custody of your children
- being forced to provide ongoing financial support for the ex-wife and children he doesn't get to see much anymore
- being stigmatized as a deadbeat loser
- having his foreign travel privileges revoked if he fails to make child support payment
The list goes on. Is this God's design as found in scripture? Not even close. So why does the church continue to insist that men sign up for this wicked and dangerous covenant? The reasons are many, but ultimately they boil down to poor theology of what the church is and how it relates to the state.
At some point, as men continue to wake up to the reality that marriage as a state sanctioned institution has been corrupted, the church is going to have to rethink its approach to marriage entirely.
Simply reverting to Marriage 1.0 is not possible. Marriage 2.0, as a present reality, isn't going away without complete cultural revolution. Instead, it is my belief that Marriage 3.0 will be the only way forward.
So what is Marriage 3.0?
Marriage 3.0 is non-state sanctioned binding covenant arbitrated solely by the church.
What this means is that rather than seeking a marriage certificate honored by the state, a couple seeking to be married make vows witnessed by their congregation, elders, and God. They are then held accountable to these vows by the same community. Breaking these vows in groundless divorce results in the application of the stiffed possible sanctions by the church community and total excommunication.
For this to have any effect whatsoever, the church has to become something costly to be excommunicated from. While not a silver bullet single solution, this is not ineffective. Consider the Mormons or Amish. Their communities are so tightly knit, so beneficial, so cohesive, that being banished from them is a costly thing not to be taken lightly. Evangelicals have much to learn from this.
However, this is not sufficient. There must be a secular legal component involved. Prenuptial agreements have been met with contempt by most contemporary pastors, mine included. He once said something to the effect of, "Prenuptial agreements are planning your future failure before you even start." At the time, before I recognized the reality of Marriage 2.0 and all it entails, it made sense to me.
Now, however, I want to present an alternative perspective:
Prenuptial agreements remove temptation from the women and preemptively defeat the incentive to divorce for monetary gain.
Consider the man has his act together and is successful in his career and is building his wealth. Under Marriage 2.0, as his wealth increases his risk in getting married increases, acting as a disincentive towards marriage. Imagine a woman who marries such a man. Under Marriage 2.0 her incentive to divorce him and walk away with his wealth grows with each passing year. This is an ungodly incentive structure that would be wise to diffuse ahead of time.
That said, it is unfair to a woman to walk away with nothing if a divorce ensues. If a woman stays home to raise kids, there is an opportunity cost of the wages she would have earned if she had stayed with her career. Perhaps the prenup (or partnership contract since they aren't legally married) looks something like this:
- All wealth (in the amount of $xxx,xxx) belonging to the man at the time of marriage will remain his in the event of a divorce.
- $xx,xxx per year of marriage will be granted to the wife in the event of a divorce; all remaining wealth is to be retained by the man.
I am no lawyer, and common law marriage among other things may make this exceedingly complex in many regions (paging u/Red-Curious), but arranging legal contracts rather than marriage contracts may be a possible alternative to counteract the unjust and inherent misandry of Marriage 2.0.
A Conversation To Be Had
Marriage, if it is to continue as a recommended and beneficial institution, must undergo significant re-examination by the church. Foremost, we must recognize that men who opt out of marriage are not necessarily non-committal loafers looking to simply co-habitate. It is necessary that the church recognize that opposition to marriage, in it's current corrupted form, is grounded in rational aversion to needless risk. Further, it is important to recognize that men being inherently possessive in nature are inclined towards commitment and loyalty. If the underlying concerns men who are avoiding marriage are addressed in the form of Marriage 3.0, men will likely return to the institution to the benefit of families and society at large.
I do not pretend to have all, or any, of the answers. My hope is that this post will begin to spark creative thinking and productive conversations. It seems clear to me that cultural deterioration will continue for the foreseeable future and this issue will become increasingly relevant.