[Music] near Christianity by Fiat Luis Christian Mary the last chapter was mainly negative I discussed what was wrong with the sexual impulse in man but said very little about its right working in other words about Christian marriage there are two reasons why I do not particularly want to deal with marriage the first is that the Christian doctrines on this subject are extremely unpopular the second is that I have never been married myself and therefore can speak only at second hand but in spite of that I feel I can hardly leave the subject out in an account of Christian morals the Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism for that is what the words one flesh would be in modern English and the Christians believe that when he said this he was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and it’s key are one mechanism or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument the inventor of the human machine was telling us that it’s two halves the male and the female were made to be combined together in pairs not simply on the sexual level but totally combined the monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of Union the sexual from all the other kinds of Union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total Union the Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure any more than about the pleasure of eating it means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting by chewing things and spitting them out again as a consequence Christianity teaches that marriage is for life there is of course a difference here between different churches some do not admit divorce at all some allow it reluctantly in very special cases it is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world I mean they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body as a kind of surgical operation some of them think the operations so violent that it cannot be done at all others admitted as a desperate remedy in extreme cases they are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment what they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another or when either of them falls in love with someone else before we consider this modern view in its relation to chastity we must not forget to consider it in relation to another virtue namely justice justice as I said before includes the keeping of promises now everyone who has been married in a church has made a public solemn promise to stick to his or her partner till death the duty of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality it is in the same position as any other promise if as modern people are always telling us the sexual impulse is just like all our other impulses then it ought to be treated like all our other impulses and as their indulgence is controlled by our promises so should it be if as I think it is not like all our other impulses but is morbidly inflamed then we should be especially careful not to let it lead us into dishonesty to this someone may reply that he regarded the promise made in church as a mere formality and never intended to keep it whom then was he trying to deceive when he made it god that was really very unwise himself that was not very much wiser the bride or bridegroom or the in-laws that was treacherous most often I think the couple or one of them hoped to deceive the public they wanted the respectability that is attached to marriage without intending to pay the price that is they were imposters they cheated if they are still contented cheats I have nothing to say to them who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on people who have not yet wish to be merely honest if they have now come to their senses and want to be honest their promise already made constrains them and this you will see comes under the heading of justice not that of chastity if people do not believe in permanent marriage it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep it is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty in Christian eyes of fornication but one fault is not mended by adding another unchastity is not improved by adding perjury the idea that being in love is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all if love is the whole thing then the promise can add nothing and if it adds nothing then it should not be made the curious thing is that lovers themselves while they remain really in love know this better than those who talk about love as Chesterton pointed out those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy the Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passions own nature it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do and of course the promise made when I am in love and because I am in love to be true to the beloved as long as I live commit me to being true even if I cease to be in love a promise must be about things that I can do about actions no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way you might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry but what it may be asked is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love there are several sound social reasons to provide a home for their children to protect the woman who was probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her but there is also another reason of which I am very sure though I find it a little hard to explain it is hard because so many people cannot be brought to realize that when be is better than see a maybe even better than be they like thinking in terms of good and bad not of good better and best or bad worse and worst they want to know whether you think patriotism a good thing if you reply that it is of course far better than individual selfishness but that it is inferior to universal charity and should always give way to universal charity when the to conflict they think you’re being evasive they ask you what you think of dueling if you reply that it is far better to forgive a man and to fight a duel with him but that even a duel might be better than a lifelong enmity which expresses itself in secret efforts to do the man down they go away complaining that you would not give them a straight answer I hope no one will make this mistake about what I am now going to say what we call being in love is a glorious state and in several ways good for us it helps to make us generous and courageous it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty and its subordinates especially at first our merely animal sexuality in that sense love is the great conqueror of lust and no one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centeredness but as I said before the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs being in love is a good thing but it is not the best thing there are many things below it but there are also things above it you cannot make it the basis of a whole life it is a noble feeling but it is still a feeling now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity or even to last at all knowledge can last principles can last habits can last but feelings come and go and in fact whatever people say the state called being in love usually does not last if the old fairytale ending they lived happily ever after is taken to mean they felt for the next 50 years exactly as they felt the day before they were married then it says what probably never was nor ever could be true and would be highly undesirable if it were who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years what would become of your work your appetite your sleep your friendships but of course ceasing to be in love need not mean ceasing to laugh love in this second sense love as distinct from being in love is not merely a feeling it is a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit reinforced by in Christian marriages the grace which both partners ask and receive from God they can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself they can retain this love even when each would easily if they allowed themselves be in love with someone else being in love first move them to promise fidelity this quieter love enables them to keep the promise it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run being in love with the explosion that started it if you disagree with me of course you will say he knows nothing about it he is not married you may quite possibly be right but before you say that make quite sure that you are judging me by what you really know from your own experience and from watching the lives of your friends and not by ideas you have derived from novels and films it is not so easy to do as people think our experience is colored through and through by books and plays on the cinema and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves people get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on being in love forever as a result when they find they are not they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change not realizing that when they have changed the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one in this department of life as in every other thrills come at the beginning and do not last the sort of thrill a boy has that the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the RAF and is really learning to fly the thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in the beautiful place by no means in those cases if you go through with it the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest what is more and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction the man who has learnt to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening this is I think one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies it is simply no good trying to keep any thrill that is the very worst thing you can do let the thrill go let it die away go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time but if you decide to make thrill of your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially they will all get weaker and weaker and fewer and fewer and you will be a bored disillusioned old man for the rest of your life it is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all andum it is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly and hopelessly trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy another notion we get from novels and plays is that falling in love is something quite irresistible something that just happens to one like measles and because they believe this some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance but I’m inclined to think that these irresistible passions are much rarer in real life than in books at any rate when one is grown-up when we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic of course we ought in one sense to admire and love these good qualities but is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall or shall not turn into what we call being in love no doubt if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs and our body’s full of alcohol which will turn any love we feel into that kind of love just as if you have a rut in your path all the rain water will run into that rut and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue but that will be our own fault before leaving the question of divorce I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused the Christian conception of marriage is one the other is the quite different question how far Christians if they are voters or members of parliament or to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws a great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for everyone I do not think that at least I know I should be very angry if the has tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine my own view is that the churches should frankly recognize that the majority of the people are not Christians and therefore cannot be expected to live Christian lives there ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage one governed by the state with ruled enforced on all citizens the other governed by the church with rules enforced on her by her own members the distinction ought to be quite sharp so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not so much for the Christian doctrine about the permanence of marriage something else even more unpopular remains to be dealt with Christian wives promise to obey their husbands in Christian marriage the man is said to be the head two questions obviously arise here one Why should there be a head at all why not equality two why should it be the man one the need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent of course as long as the husband and wife are agreed no question of a head need arise and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage but when there is a real disagreement what is to happen talk it over of course but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement what do they do next they cannot decide by a majority vote for Ana Council of two there can be no majority surely only one or other of two things can happen either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote if marriage is permanent one or other party must in the last resort have the power of deciding the family policy you cannot have a permanent Association without a constitution – if there must be a head why the man well firstly is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman as I have said I am not married myself but as far as I can see even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door she is much more likely to say poor mr. X why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own headship there must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husband whom they rule but there is also another reason and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside the relations of the family to the outer world what might be called its foreign policy must depend in the last resort upon the man because he always ought to be and usually is much more just to the outsiders a woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world naturally almost in a sense rightly their claims override for her all other claims she is the special trustee of their interests the function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head he has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife if anyone doubts this let me ask a simple question if your dog has bitten the child next door or if your child has heard the dog next door which would you sooner have to deal with the master of that house or the mistress or if you are a married woman let me ask you this question much as you admire your husband would you not say that his chief failing is his tendency not to stick up for his rights and yours against the neighbors as Duras Lee as you would like a bit of an appeaser you

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