Marriage and an Affirmative Alternative to Shame

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Glenn Reynolds has put up a post emphasizing “exactly how much family really matters when it comes to helping kids out with important life events and transitions on the financial side,” meaning that “a major goal of social policy has to be the formation of two-parent households.”

Oddly, the post never mentions marriage, which has historically been the model of two-parent households.  Of course, the institution has been overwhelmed by the issue (which ought to be understood as a wholly separate matter) of homosexuality, and Reynolds was an early supporter of same-sex marriage.

Not mentioning marriage in a post about “two-parent households” seems like a pretty strong acknowledgment that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships implicitly meant removing children from the definition. Where does that leave somebody who acknowledges the importance of social institutions for the health of society?

… when the “dorky pastor types” held sway, illegitimacy rates were much lower. Shaming works to control behavior, and lefties know it — just announce you don’t recycle at a faculty cocktail party if you don’t believe me. Lefties don’t mind shame as a tool for behavior control. They just oppose shaming when it’s not in support of their favored policies.

So, we’re left with shaming young men not to impregnate young women and to help support any children whom the relationship creates.  One can’t help but be sad about the outcome if this is where the alliance of progressives and libertarians on an issue leads.  Rather than leave alone an institution that recognized the undeniable biological difference between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, progressives would have us continue trying to sterilize the population and allow maximum ability to kill children who manage to be conceived anyway, with a heavy legal burden that leaves the man as a second-class participant in the relationship.  To the extent that they don’t subscribe to that approach, libertarians would have us return to social shaming.

I can’t do otherwise than conclude that it would be better to maintain a social institution, recognized in law, that draws young couples toward responsible relationships before there are children involved, rather than prodding them after the fact.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    Something never mentioned in arguments over marriage is the “accumulation of wealth over generations”. As a practical matter, people inclined to husband capital are probably likely to select marriage. Oh well. what’s the adage “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”?

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