--Report, National Marriage Project, University of Virginia
Our third consecutive posting about the importance of marriage.
I am stunned by the simplicity of William Tucker’s assertion--in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human--that monogamy is the bedrock of civilization.
David DesRosiers summarizes Tucker’s book in a recent (conservative) Washington Times article. Before civilization, there was polygamy:
it made natural-selection sense for a man and a woman to pair off for hunting and gathering, and this condition lasted 5 million years. In the safety of the jungle, polygamy works for the alpha male and the offspring are attended to.However:
Once [humans left] the jungle [for] the open plains, sexual equity becomes a requirement of survival for the offspring. “Civilizations are born,” Tucker writes, “when two people trust each other, namely a man and a woman. At this moment, we come out of the cold isolation of nature and begin to construct something that we call human society.”Tucker claims polygamy made a comeback 10,000 years ago with farming, because those with the most land and largest herds took a greater share of women for themselves. But then, Tucker’s reasoning takes an important, counter-intuitive twist, as he claims:
monogamy, just like polygamy, is an elite-driven enterprise. Monogamy requires self-restraint and forward thinking among the strongest. These powerful few recognize the bellicose logic of polygamy and choose sexual equity because of the internal peace and prosperity that follows.To support his findings, Tucker points to “the founders of Athens and Rome, who legislated sexual equity into their founding laws,” to “Christianity, which ordains and spiritualizes monogamy,” to “the Victorians that made sure that monogamy was reflected in the general mores and public policies.”
We have alpha men, but Tucker says monogamy requires alpha women:
The feminine vipers of the harem are replaced with astute and virtuous women who stand by their men — and up to power. “The real reason why monogamy prevailed in Western Civilization was not because of examples from the Bible, but because the Catholic Church had a crucial ally in a new icon of Western Civilization — the Virtuous Woman.”DesRosiers concludes, “Culture is a product of human choice and necessity. What made man and the ‘West best’ is our monogamy. Sexual equity creates better societies.”
Comment: Today, we have “alpha women.” Good. But Charles Murray has told us we’d be better off if on the subject of marriage, our “alpha”-dominated national elite “preached what it practices” (they already marry each other), because the lower class has lost the old virtues--lost them since the 1960s “triple revolution” of sex, civil rights, and equal rights for women.
The dominant culture currently only preaches marriage for gays. We need marriage for children. And for these children, we need the ideal of monogamy that our own marriage vows swear us to follow.