Enderverse on Traditional Marriage

Friday, March 6, 2009

I found a very good argument in favor of retaining traditional marriage from an unlikely place, Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets:

You are lonely and humans are not designed to be alone. It’s in our genes. We’re social beings. Even the most introverted person alive is constantly hungry for human association. You are no exception, Bean.

Let me tell you what I know, not as a scientist, but my life as a man. I have always been as lonely as you. Never as intelligent, but not a fool either. I followed my mind into my work, and let it be my life. I was content with that, partly because I was so successful that my work brought great satisfaction, and partly because I was of a disposition not to look upon women with desire. In that era, of my youth, the governments of most countries were actively encouraging those of us whose mating had been short-circuited to indulge those desires and take no mate, have no children. Part of the effort to funnel all of human endeavor into the great struggle with the alien enemy. So it was almost patriotic of myself in fleeting affairs that meant nothing, that led nowhere. Where could they lead?

I tell you this so you understand that I know something of loneliness, too. Because all of a sudden my work was taken away from me. From my mind, not just from my daily activities. I could not even think about it. And I quickly discovered that my friendships were not . . . transcendent. They were all tied to my work, and when my work went away, so did these friends. They were not unkind, they still inquired after me, they made overtures, but there was nothing to say, our minds and hearts did not really touch at any point. I discovered that I did not know anybody, and nobody knew me.

When a man‘s life is bent so that his desire is not toward women, it does not change his longing for meaning in his life. A man searches for something that will outlast his life. For immortality of a kind. For a way to change the world, to have his life matter. But it is all in vain. I was swept away until I existed only in footnotes in other men’s articles.

Here is the meaning of life: for a man to find a woman, for a woman to find a man, the creature most unlike you, and then to make babies with her, with him, or to find them some other way, but then to raise them up, and watch them do the same thing, generation after generation, so that when you die you know you are permanently a part of the great web of life. That you are not a loose thread, snipped off.

Shallow as it had to be, it is still the truest thing I ever found. Even men who do not desire women, even women who do not desire men, this does not exempt them from the deepest desire of all, the desire to be an inextricable part of the human race. It’s hardwired into all of us. Not just sexual desire—that can be twisted any which way, and it often is. And not just a desire to have children, because many people never get that, and yet they can still be woven into the fabric. No, it’s a deep hunger to find a person from that strange, terrifyingly other sex and make a life together. Even old people beyond mating, even people who know they can’t have children, there’s still a hunger for this. For actual marriage, two unlike creatures becoming, as best they can, one.

I’m not talking about politics or hurt feelings. I’m talking about a trait that the human race absolutely needed to succeed. The thing that makes us neither herd animals nor solitaries, but something in between. The thing that makes us civilized or at least civilizable. And those who are cut off from it by their own desires, by those twists and bends that turn them in another way—those who are cut off because they think they want to be cut off, they are still hungry for it, hungrier than ever, especially if they deny it. It makes them angry, bitter, sad, and they don’t know why, or if they know, they can’t bear to face the knowledge.

If you leave this world without your children in it, without having made that bond with such an alien creature as a woman, then your life will have meant nothing to you, and you’ll die in bitterness and alone.

The woman I’m going to marry is a good woman, a kind one. With small children who have no father. I have a pension now—a generous one—and with my help these children will have a home. My proclivities have not changed, but she is still young enough, and perhaps we will find a way for her to bear a child that is truly my own. But if not, then I will adopt her children into my heart. I will rejoin the web. My loose thread will be woven in, knotted to the human race. I will not die alone.

3 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

Orson Scott Card is not an unlikely source for extremely conservative views. In fact, he is the most likely of sources for conservative views. This should be a surprise to no one.

Pearl said...

PersonalFailure,

You say that as if Conservatives and their views are vipers that ought not to be touched with a ten foot pole. "This should be a surprise to no one."

WIJG,

I appreciated the reference. There is wisdom here in the idea that having children is not just for the joy of having children (though that is certainly a part of the whole), but for the knowledge that two together have used their sacred and natural reproductive potential to contribute to the continuation and preservation of society.

Chairm said...

It is neither extreme nor conservative, and certainly not "extremely conservative" to believe that this is

"the meaning of life: for a man to find a woman, for a woman to find a man, the creature most unlike you, and then to make babies with her, with him, or to find them some other way, but then to raise them up, and watch them do the same thing, generation after generation, so that when you die you know you are permanently a part of the great web of life. That you are not a loose thread, snipped off."

* * *

It is neither a religious nor an irreligious view that:

"Even men who do not desire women, even women who do not desire men, this does not exempt them from the deepest desire of all, the desire to be an inextricable part of the human race. It’s hardwired into all of us. Not just sexual desire—that can be twisted any which way, and it often is. And not just a desire to have children, because many people never get that, and yet they can still be woven into the fabric."

Democrats and Republicans and Independents can agree that this is

"a deep hunger to find a person from that strange, terrifyingly other sex and make a life together. Even old people beyond mating, even people who know they can’t have children, there’s still a hunger for this. For actual marriage, two unlike creatures becoming, as best they can, one."

* * *

In absolute numbers, more liberals and moderates, combined, have voted for state marriage measures across the country, than have conservatives.

Likewise, more Democrats and Independents, combined, have cast votes in favor of marriage being a union of husband and wife, than have Republicans.

In the recent vote on the California marriage amendment, the margin of victory was delivered by a combination of Yes voters who identified as openly homosexual and Yes voters who identified as irreligious persons.

* * *

So when an SSMer tries to herd people based on identity politics, challenge him on the principled basis for his doing so.

What is the core meaning of SSM and what are the legal requirements (the stuff that is made mandatory by the Government) the defines that core meaning in the Law?

Expect a lot of huffing and puffing and name-calling. But maybe one day an SSMer will respond with substance.

We can live in hope.

Orson Scott Card's writings suggest that he does.

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