(Disclaimer: Elvis Costello likely would not support this post, but this song has a handy title. It’s a gem from 1978.)
One hears these days, more and more, pronouncements along these lines:
Religion is ok and everything, you know, it’s good for when you have problems and that sort of thing. But not when it permeates the rest of your life.
What drives this tepid endorsement? Can one be too Christian for his own good? It is actually a rather odd statement, because it seems religion is particularly not good at solving problems, if that is construed as giving you what you want. This attitude, which amounts to lip service, would seem to be a cocktail mixed from several prevalent spirits: an underlying theme that religion causes evil, a fear of being a “fundamentalist”, the acceptance of moral relativism, and the idea that religion curtails the individual’s freedom and pursuit of happiness. Starting in reverse order… Continue reading
In reading this article on CNN, I was struck by how our culture has completely forgotten what marriage and love are. In the article, one couple is interviewed where, though married, they live in separate homes. The reason is the father claims the kids don’t need a new mother and the wife claims that living separately helps the marriage and allows each partner to maintain their respective space. In reading the comments by CNN readers, most focus on the happiness of individuals within marriages, some going so far to say that if it makes you happy, then do it.
The idea of placing one’s happiness, so long as it brings no harm to others (but even here, we see a gray area), as the central theme to one’s morality has become quite popular in America. The above example is perfect; the obligation of husband to wife and of wife to husband, the obligation to be self-sacrificial, to be selfless, and to become one is viewed as immoral by the masses because such obligations supposedly prevent happiness. When happiness is prevented and said happiness wouldn’t necessarily bring harm to any other individual, our culture looks at the prevention and views it as wrong.
When this is applied to marriage, what we have are two individuals who come together in a legal sense, but who remain two individual. Though minimal sacrifices are made, each individual seeks to continue on in his or her independence and individuality. The idea that one can have a successful marriage that ends centers on the idea that happiness is humanity’s ultimate ethical end. Under the view that happiness is central, a marriage can be successful as long as both parties are happy. Once both parties have decided that the marriage makes them unhappy, they can peacefully obtain their divorce and be on their ways. Thus, the marriage was “successful” because both were happy for a time and amicably divorced.