Making Marriage Cool Again

Can we make marriage cool again? I’m John Stonestreet, and this is The Point.

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I used to love Dr. J.  Remember him? That silky smooth basketball scoring machine that played for the Philadelphia 76’ers? His twisting, up and under, reverse one-handed layup against the Lakers is still one of the great NBA highlights of all time. Well, this weekend, you can hear an interview that Chuck Colson and I did with a different Dr. J: Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and President of the Ruth Institute whose mission is to “promote life-long married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.”

That’s a loaded statement, but here’s the jist: when it comes to marriage, Christians are better known -- especially among young adults -- for what we are against rather than what we are for.  As we struggle to prevent marriage from being re-defined by activist judges and legislators, we also must show why a proper understanding of why life-long married love is the most beautiful option for individuals and society. So listen to Dr. J this weekend on BreakPoint this Week -- either by radio or at For the Point, I’m John Stonestreet.

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Love this conversation... on the point of whether marriage is desirable, research of younger generations says yes and no according to Glenn Stanton. Younger generations have a higher opinion of the significance of marriage, but are more skeptical that life-long married love is possible for them. In other words, they value it highly because they've seem how destructive it is when it fails, but that failure has made them cynical about whether it is really possible.
I think the "hunger" is innate (at least it is with my young daughters!), but we are dealing by and large with a generation that hasn't seen it work. So, to avoid failure they cohabitate.
For more, catch the current BreakPoint this Week with Jennifer Roback Morse and next week's with Glenn Stanton. They articulate this very well!
The real point, I suppose, is that marriage is an anomaly in a hyperindividualistic, socially libertarian society. Marriage is a communitarian institution. It's religious implications are important, but the fact that Christians have always recognized the marriages of other religions, even polytheists indicates that it is at minimum an agreement between the partners and between the couple and the community.

Now consider a society in which people think in individualistic terms and are indifferent to the role one another play because in fact they will be as forgotten as the latest customer in Starbucks. Picture too, a society in which transfer of wealth does not depend chiefly on inheiritance. In such a case marriage is devalued to sentiment. In this same society the idea of sexual discipline is considered barbaric. It is a wonder that it is respected as much as it is; those who want such a society and insist on living in it have no reason to desire it. The fact that some do shows their inconsistency and also shows that sentiment has it's attractions.

Now in this same society there are subcultures that maintain a more communitarian ethic, a system in which people do in fact answer to one another. In those societies marriage does in fact mean something.

Now our own society contains both. The first type, in which marriage in fact is an anomaly, chosen for sentiment and rejected when it becomes inconvenient. And the second type of system in which marriage is a necessary part of the foundation.
Because some people still respect marriage, respect their partner's honor and respect their own, Ellen.

It is like Christianity. In a time when everyone had to go to church everyone went to church. When not everyone has to go to church, a greater portion are their without being pressured to do so.

Right now we are a society in a betwixt and between state. I always thought it a paradox that people want to have Free Love and Marriage in the same society; because in such a situation marriage becomes an anachronistic symbol, rather like European monarchy. The only thing that can be gotten in such a situation from marriage that cannot be gotten by not-marriage is limitation of one's partner, and an emotional satisfaction which is dubious when divorce is an option. And a pretty ceremony. However apparently not everyone who thinks along those lines has thought that through.

Be that as it may, not everyone thinks of marriage in those terms. The more conservative still think of it as a promise to the community(which it is at minimum) and to God(which the more conservative tend to believe).
Then why do people still desire marriage in our society? There is much more to desiring marriage than a process of elimination due to societal pressure.
The most important point Ellen was that the reason marriage was desirable before was process of elimination. If certain forms of behavior, and other forms of behavior that carry the implication of those forms are improper without marriage then people will want to get married. Where there is no penalty for not getting married and no reward for marriage then there will in fact be less marriage.
Good question. Because the most important aspect of my thought was not the admittedly crudest(though not to be treated with gnostic disdain) aspect. The most important aspect was it's related assumption; that in fact if such behavior carried a social stigma outside of marriage, then it follows that behavior that is widely assumed to include that will also carry such stigma. And that therefore the only alternative to behaving as it is expected for an old maid or an old bachelor to behave is marriage. Under such circumstance, anyone who does not wish such a life must marry. The key point is that people to a large degree desired marriage by process of elimination.
My first thought was to say, "Perhaps a better question is, 'Can we make marriage desirable again?'"
Your phrasing was generic. You said "hungry"(which is different in connotation from desirous just to begin with). Then you said "people" not this person or that person. Then you said "marriage", not "marriage to this person or that person."

Furthermore, while I was a bit crass, and of course that is not the most important part of marriage, that is the distinguishing element, and the reason why it is not the same as "sharing a dorm room".
Quite true. But the word you used was "hungry". And as a side note, the time people were hungry for marriage was also the time when there was a stigma attached to satisfying hunger by other means.
We humans have appetites for far more than food, Jason.
Biology Ellen? If you want people to be "hungry" that is.
Has marriage ever been "cool"? As in, "Dude! Cool!"

Perhaps a better question is, "Can we make people hungry for marriage again?"