Santa Clarita Signal • Opinion Column • For Sunday, October 12, 2014
Marriage Makes A Comeback
David W. Hegg
By virtue of a happy providence my wife and I were in Venice, Italy when George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin got married. No, we weren’t invited. No, we didn’t see them or any of their guests. And yes, we had planned our trip long before they were even engaged. But still it was fun being in one of the world’s most romantic cities at a time when, for just a few moments, the nobility of marriage was being celebrated in grand style.
It seems marriage is making a comeback. Every week another movie star, or professional athlete, or other member of the celebrity corp announces an upcoming nuptial, and it makes me smile.
Now, I’m not saying all these folks are once again embracing a philosophy of sexual purity, or that they are entering into marriage in the right way or for the right reasons. Some may, but that’s not my point. My point is simply that, after so many years where marriage was held in contempt by those who claim to be re-making our culture, it seems to be making a comeback. It even seems to be fashionable again.
I remember the hugely popular sitcom Friends, and how each of the friends routinely had sex with whomever they happen to be “with” at the time. This sexual freedom was like the wallpaper of the show. It was always there, lurking in every episode. Yet, in the end, they all got married!
Perhaps unwittingly, the writers were telling the world that multiple sexual partners just couldn’t satisfy the human desire to love and be loved. The initial excitement of consecutive hook-ups leaves the soul longing for permanence in a relationship where physical intimacy isn’t the goal, but the symbol that two lives have been joined in radical, life-long commitment.
Leading edge sociologists are telling us that adolescence, once thought to end around age 18, is now extending into our 30’s. Perhaps this explains why many are not thinking maturely about so many things until much later in life. But at some point we all move from thinking about becoming successful, to wanting to have lives of significance.
In the realm of relationships, success is too often considered in terms of personal pleasure. The predominant desire of young men in our culture seems to be to bed as many women as possible. Apparently, this makes them something in the eyes of their peer group. But at some point the myth of their greatness is exploded by the realization that they always end up alone, riddled with the knowledge that no one loves them. Their lives are momentary, frivolous, and ultimately without any lasting significance. They have left a trail of damaged lives in their wake, and it has damaged them as well.
When this reality hits, perhaps they begin to think maturely about the meaning of life, and realize that, at its core lies a desire for unconditional acceptance and love that cannot be sustained in a relationship built on physical pleasure alone.
Of course, a few celebrity weddings don’t mean our society is once again considering marriage as essential. But at this point, I’ll take any good omens I can get. The sexual revolution of the 60’s has given us the societal mess we’re experiencing now. Myriad single parent homes, predatory males making date rape commonplace, the ranks of foster care swelling beyond belief, and more and more children having children all speak to the fact that our supposed sexual freedom has brought about great bondage.
It’s time we started living beyond our sexual desires and once again championed restraint, delayed gratification, and most of all, the sanctity and nobility of marriage. And if George and Amal, against the wonders of Venice, can remind our world that marriage is something to celebrate, then I’m all for them.