Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Ding dong Ding dong . . .

I generally stay away from personal stuff here, but just so y'all know, my brother is getting married today so I may not get back to any heavy duty posting till Monday. (Need to take care of some of the aftermath tomorrow.)

In spite of the claims of many conservative people who don't like our new, more inclusive concept of marriage here in the state where Anglo-America began -- with Puritans no less -- marriage has taken various forms and had various meanings at different times and places. It most certainly has not always been between one man and one woman. (Read your Bible!) For most of European history, it was essentially an economic arrangement, with political and military considerations coming into the picture in prominent and powerful families. For those families, it was not about parenting, since they left that to servants. And powerful men were free to procreate with any number of different women. For the great majority of people, however, the essential nature of the family was that it was the basic unit of production. Children were above all an economic asset, and cherishing them was a luxury.

Today, we think of marriage as an intensely intimate emotional alliance, and we are disappointed when that aspiration is unfulfilled. Production, of course, takes place in bureaucratic corporations for the most part. While family enterprises do survive, children don't generally get involved in them, if at all, until they are grown.

My brother and his soon-to-be spouse have lived together for several years, and they have no plans to have children. So, I suppose, their choice is as illegitimate to so-called "Christian" conservatives as gay marriage would be. After all, the most common argument I have heard against gay marriage is that marriage is supposed to be about procreation. In fact, marriage is whatever we make of it.

So congratulations bro, and Meg. I'm sure you'll continue to make it work, even though it's now official.

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