America’s Secret War Against Marriage
The famous 19th century socialist Robert Owen included the family, along with marriage and private property, in his ‘triumvirate of evil’, which, he asserted, has ‘cursed the world ever since the creation of man’. Gloria Steinem, the famous celebrity feminist, once declared, ‘We have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage…By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God…We must understand what we are attempting is a revolution, not a public relations movement.’ Novelist and feminist Toni Morrison concurred, announcing, ‘The little nuclear family is a paradigm that just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for white people or for black people. Why we are hanging on to it, I don’t know.’ Feminist author Vivian Gornick made the observation that, ‘Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession… The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family—maker is a choice that shouldn’t be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that.’ Linda Gordon, a radical feminist writer, attempted to rally her sisters by announcing, ‘The nuclear family must be destroyed, and people must find better ways of living together.’
This war on the institution of family was recognized almost half a century ago. Herbert W. Armstrong in 1976 accurately predicted where it would lead. The threat, he wrote was twofold. First, there is the prophesied breakdown of traditional marriage and family relationships. Added to that, he continued, “there is a widespread and aggressive conspiracy to destroy the institution of marriage” (Plain Truth, July 1976). As alarmist as that might have seemed in 1976, who can deny it today? “This is a war which is being vigorously and fanatically waged,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “Every subtle method is being employed to capture the minds of those of pre-marriage age.” Clearly, those minds were captured.
The majority of people in the America today are not married. US tax returns about 20 years ago, 60% filed as married, 40% unmarried, and today 40% married (including same sex “marriages”), 60% unmarried. Many more Jews are electing to get married later, more likely to divorce, and more are not getting married at all.
The irony is that the American constitutionally guaranteed inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness, is now like a cat chasing its tail. The 75-year Harvard University longest longitudinal study on happiness found that only those that had a loving relationship, almost invariably in a marriage, found happiness. The dictates of the cultural revolution makes people ill-equipped to form a committed long-term loving relationship, so that instead of love and the consequential happiness, depressing loneliness pervades. As the Harvard study stresses, it is the quality of the relationships. You can be alone in a crowd and in a marriage.
WHAT DRIVES THIS CULTURAL REVOLUTION?
For one, people have become commodities. Just look at common language. When you are asked for your net worth, you without even thinking about it answer how much money and assets you own. To illustrate how insidious this gets, I had one boss who told one of his employees, “If I could do better, you wouldn’t be here: If you could do better, you wouldn’t be here.” To me this speaks volumes about relationships, “If I could do better, you wouldn’t be here: If you could do better, you wouldn’t be here.” No wonder more people in America are getting divorced, than getting married. They can do better!
ELIMINATING FAMILY VALUES
By eliminating family values, the new normal lacks the fundamental Jewish values that cement mutually satisfying life-long relationships. Instead of the Jewish way of finding the good in the other, they perpetuate a mindset of fault finding so that the focus in dating becomes what is wrong, the incessant vigilance for “red flags”, losing sight of what is right with the relationship. Instead of providing you with the basics, unconditional acceptance of yourself and the other, unwavering commitment to maintaining mutual respect, the capacity to forgive, and overcoming a natural self-protective fear of intimacy and vulnerability, the necessary and sufficient ingredients in forming a loving relationship, they are helping you fall into a downward spiral, down the rabbit hole.
HOW IMPERVIOUS IS OUR BUBBLE?
We, observant Jews live in a bubble, but this bubble is not impermeable.
As an illustration, when someone tells a shadchan, “I need someone who” they are parroting today’s mainstream mantra. If it is all about “I” and “need” then it’s all about taking. In stark contrast, the Jewish view of love is not taking but giving. Ahava comes from the root word meaning give so that love is a state of givingness.
Jews survived millennia of exile by their distinct religious, cultural and social rubrics, a point made salient every year during the Pesach seder. We have to be vigilant of the negative influence of mainstream culture that threatens to extinguish our continued existence as a people.
HOW WE RELATE IS DICTATED BY TORAH COMMANDMENTS
Renewing our days as of old, we need to distinguish ourselves from mainstream values and relate to each other as Hashem commanded us. By observing these interpersonal torah commandments, not only will your marriage be deeply, invariably, and mutually satisfying, not only will you find happiness, not only will you live longer with better health and brain function, but more importantly you will be zoche for the shechina between you and your spouse.
In the words of Rabbi Akiva:
דרש רבי עקיבא איש ואשה זכו שכינה ביניהם לא זכו אש אוכלתן
סוטה יז ע”א