Two primary models of relationships between man and woman compete in our society.

On the one hand, we have the sex and encounter driven model. The hellfire club, of meeting, dalliance, of the sexual “freeing of men and women”, celebrated by the likes of Mr Sullivan just the other day. The relationship is centered on the couple and their relationship. If that relationship wanes, there is no reason over-riding reason to continue, in fact the “model” insists or suggests that the pair break off to form new “better fresher” relationships. This lifestyle produces much pleasure and works at some level. Modern technology with (relatively) reliable birth control, the mechanization of industry opening up more and more of the workplace to being “equalized” between the sexes, and the anonymity of modern society all foster this model.

The other model, is the “older” generational model. This model is the one in which one’s relationship is held in context with those between grandparents, parents, children, and grand-children in mind when one forms a relationship. The relationship is centered on family or poetically, hearth and home. If that the couples relationship wanes, there are many strong reasons for that to be re-kindled. The “model” insists on it.

To distinguish in the following I will refer to these as the relational or generational models of family.
The Shakers in the 19th century were a Christian Protestant monastic community, whose members took a vow of celibacy. When an entire faith community takes such a vow, this vow will not survive over-long, because of the lack of children and that primary means of continuing that society. So too, the relational model has a similar structural weakness. It does not sufficiently care for the children in its midst to effectively pass on the virtues necessary to pass on the mores, customs, and praxis to the next generation.

Abortion-as-birth control as is commonly practised, of course sits firmly in the camp of the relational model. Megan McCardle pointed out once, that the problem of gay marriage, abortion, and no-fault divorce so on is not how it affects or doesn’t affect the wealth and middle classes. The problems that arise disproprortionally fall on those with less margin for error. All of these issues at their core dance around the relational/generational divide over how to view marriage.

One you can build a lasting society around. The other you can’t. You can have a small (wealthy) subset of the population which dallies with relational family, but I’d suggest that there are dire consequences when that percentage rises.

Filed under: CultureEthics & MoralityMark O.

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