A “social disease” epidemic is rampaging out of control, with no end in sight. I’m referring, of course, to the growing and ever-more-acceptable custom of cohabiting without benefit of wedlock. It was formerly called “shacking up,” but I guess that term is very politically incorrect in these enlightened(?) times.
A further and more regrettable result of the “failure to wed” syndrome is the dramatic increase in the number of babies born to parents who not only are not a married couple, but who have no intention of ever entering into that state of togetherness and joint responsibility.
If you think I’m embarking on a religious rant, think again. When I was twenty years of age, I got married for what I assumed would be the one and only time. The ceremony took place in a church, with family members and friends in attendance. Sadly, that marriage did not last, as did not a couple of others subsequently entered into in haste. Of those, one was performed by a preacher, the other by a Justice of the Peace who was a close friend of the bride.
My point is that I have had marriages of a religious nature as well as those of a civil, secular type. They were all quite legal and equal in the eyes of the law.
My last marriage (and I do mean last) took place one September evening in the Decatur County Circuit Court Room. It was ably performed by the esteemed Judge John A. Westhafer. Both sets of parents and both sets of siblings were present, as was a friend couple who acted as matron of honor and best man. That ceremony took place twenty-eight years ago. It was what seems to be referred to these days as a “civil union,” but right at the top of our white and gold document are the words “Marriage Certificate.” That document is has been on display in our master bedroom every day for all those years. The fact that it is not a religious document is meaningless.
So, I say let the politicians waste their time, and ours, arguing about what constitutes a marriage and what doesn’t. I already know the answer.
The answer I don’t have is what to do to achieve a turn-around in the “failure to wed” situation. I believe it to be tied closely to the well-documented “failure to mature” or “extended adolescence” of which I’ve written prior to now. I also believe that the divorce rate among earlier generations has contributed mightily to the present avoidance of marriage.
It is also sad that the present day trend to cohabiting out of wedlock is recognized and accepted by many churches, possibly because they feel the situation is out of control and they’ve given up the fight. Religious institutions--at least many of them--are somewhat similar to business institutions in that they “go with the flow” in order to sustain their membership rolls.
I write these thoughts with no intention of imposing “morals” on my fellow citizens.
I write them because I believe the present acceptable practice of cohabiting without wedlock and producing huge quantities of babies-without-married-parents will, in the long run, have a mightily deleterious effect on our nation.
Not so long ago, an unmarried couple living together was called a “Common Law Marriage.“ It was viewed in a very unsavory light by communities. Now, that “common law” has become a “common practice” out of which no good can come.
I believe it to be a fact that “Common Law” couples do not endure and thrive as well as those in happy, congenial legal marriages, whether or not of a religious nature. I further believe that children born to unwed couples pay a heavy penalty, both in loving relationships and material welfare (not to be confused with “welfare” welfare). There are, of course, many exceptions, which some readers will no doubt be quick to point out, and that’s fine with me.
(Regarding marriage, and being both realistic and practical, I wouldn’t condemn a reasonable “practice” period prior to actually tying the knot.)
Call me preachy if it will make you feel better. I’ll stick with the principles I’ve lived by.
Feel free to express your thoughts, pro or con, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resident of Rush County; native of Decatur County