Thursday 22 August 2013

Falling in love or/and being married


Secular culture does an accurate job of depicting what it is like to fall in love, that delightful and painful state - indeed it does this to the point of tedium and way beyond.

But secular culture uses falling in love as a weapon against being married - as if it was a case of falling in love versus being married.


By contrast, secular culture does a very poor job of depicting what it is like to be married.

Secular culture fails and fails to depict the reality of marriage.

Indeed it does the opposite of failing, it successfully depicts marriage as the fading of the in-love state, as an impediment to falling in love; as at best cozy companionship and fun with kinds but at worst prolonged boredom and torment - in a word secualr culture depicts marriage purely as a material state.


So, secularism depicts falling in love as a spiritual state, THE spiritual state (one and only, the only self-justifying thing) but being married as an ANTI-spiritual state.


How strange (if it were not deliberately evil) that secular culture actually is (non-specifically, but assertively and un-boundedly) spiritual, when it comes to falling in love - yet so aggressively anti-spiritual about being married!


Christians ought to do better - and real Christians generally do DO better in practice - but the spirituality of marriage remains private (as it should, as a rule).

But the proper privacy of specific real spiritual marriage is compatible with the necessity for public depictions of the spirituality of marriage - marriage as an 'artistic' thing (artistic in the sense of real - really real!- but not autobiographical).


Why are they not more cultural depictions of the spirituality of marriage - of being married?

(I use the term spirituality to refer to the highest things, the most desired things, the things that produce the deepest and most lasting happiness).

The answer is obvious - because secular culture wants to destroy marriage.


But why are there not more, a lot more, Christian depictions of the spirituality of marriage? We need them.

Why don't more Christian churches set themselves up to help their young people marry, and marry well? Surely it ought to be a major priority? Surely it ought to be discussed from the pulpit and at the highest level?

To hear pro-marriage discourse from a church leader is sometimes like attending a social policy lecture, or a political speech - where in all this is the spirituality of marriage?


Where is the depiction of ideal marriage as a high and also profound path to God, offering glimpses of Heaven on earth, the family as a microcosm of the church and the human condition - a discussion of the potentially eternal consequences of marriage and family such that its delights do not fade but are forever, yet its sufferings are healed?


Everybody knows - because public discourse is full of it - that falling in love really is delightful, life-enhancing, self-validating and the rest of it - despite that it is also a state of torment, jealousy, disgust, despair and the rest of it.

Hardly anybody knows - because it is not in public discourse - that being married and having a family really is all of this, but more so.



dearieme said...

"Secular culture does an accurate job of depicting ...": by "secular culture" I assume you mean above all the telly and Hollywood.

I'm sure there are many things that sc depicts badly (though none, perhaps, as important as marriage). For instance, I don't think I've ever seen an even vaguely persuasive depiction of work.

Perhaps sc can't depict well anything that is long-lasting or profound: it's excitement that it depicts well - the Exploding Helicopters of life.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - You are right that work is not well depicted in general (I am very interested in finding out about people's work, but there isn't much on the subject) - on the other hand there is a vague a unrealistic cult of 'cool jobs' (or high status jobs) which are put forward as hugely satisfying and totally absorbing such as to be well worth giving up or delaying marriage in order to obtain - the kind of jobs people do for nothing (i.e. pay to do - eg the arts and media); and the kind of high paying jobs that the media/ social scientists complain are excluding various victim groups (CEOs of major corporations, surgeons and the like).

Interestingly when people get these 'excluding' jobs, they usually find out the hard way why they are paid so much. Then they demand that the jobs be made less onerous - while keeping the same pay, of course; and without admiitng that this amounts to reducing the standard of competence.

asdf said...

The problem with depicting work is that so much of it is boredom, mediocrity, tedium, and politics. That may just be the white collar professional world, but does anyone really want to watch people sit through an hour long meeting where nothing gets done and everyone is halfway asleep? Even depicting it in a shortened montage doesn't really work, as it is the sheer time that is wasted that one has to experience to understand modern work.

Any realistic depiction of work is going to have long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of actually getting something done and with results that are often a random effect of market conditions and internal politics. Tell me, who wants to sit down to watch that in their free time (after likely putting up with it all day).

The Crow said...

A successful marriage is a lot like successful meditation. Nothing noticeable happens.
Yet it manages to form the luxurious carpet upon which one sits, a background against which other things happen.
Successful marriages have become so rare, because everything has become about self. This is the inevitable result of secularism.
Secularism celebrates the individual's life experience, by removing the very experience that life is about.

Maximo Macaroni said...

You are right, Bruce, that the big salaries usually require that a lot of boring work gets done. But the high-profile "cool" executive finds someone else to do the actual job and then just plays golf a lot and gives speeches as a token for some victim group. That's the kind of "work" liberals think they deserve and envy. They couldn't and wouldn't do the work of a real executive.

Arakawa said...

Ah, so, in terms of finding a basis for marriage, it's possible to look for something like the Mormon notion of exaltation through marriage – that a harmonious family is the unit capable of governing worlds; or like Tolkien's justification for his writing – where he felt the sense that he was either creating or exploring a different

... but leaning more towards the latter, in the sense that Tolkien's understanding was both _personalized_ (can easily be adjusted to a different writer's temperament, without distorting the basic truth glimpsed at the bottom of it), and doctrinally catholic (fitting into mainstream Christianity rather than the Mormon doctrines)?

So, a picture similar to the one painted in 'Leaf by Niggle', but that motivates marriage and family, rather than art....

('Leaf by Niggle' works well for what it does, because it is a succinct explanation not only of why Niggle works on his painting in spite of the indifference and distractions of the broader world, but it also gives a sense of what sort of effect his efforts have in eternity on himself and on others, even though in earthly terms his artistic activity is imperfect, and only one leaf from the painting winds up preserved in a gallery.)

And then further and further exploration of the same question of marriage, through other cultural depictions, by various people.

(Well, there is that, and then there is what specific denominations can do to create an environment that is helpful for marriage. I can't comment as much on this aspect of things.)