Monday, December 20, 2004

Defending Marriage

You better have tenure (or not care about getting it) to write something like this -- or to write a book like Steven Rhoads's last one about the differences between the sexes. Luckily, for us and for him, Rhoads has it.

In his latest piece, Rhoads uses the recent acceptance of Turkey into the EU to discuss, of all things, adultery. Turkey almost didn't make it because they wanted to make adultery a crime. The first Islamic nation to enter the EU brings with it the hope that it can show that Islamic values are not incompatible with liberal democracy. Nevertheless, "For some reason the Turks find the West licentious and have no desire to imitate our culture."

Feminists in Europe and Turkey have lead the charge against the law, but statistics show that an overwhelming majority of women support such laws.

Deception, guilt, venereal disease, and ultimately marital breakdown are the results of adultery. And with the disintegration of marriages come significant risks, both economic and psychological, to children. "Family income goes down. Education and health outcomes sink. Teenage male crime rates double in single parent homes and triple if moms marry their lovers. Correspondingly, teenage female pregnancy rates double." In the relevant literature, family structure explains more about crime than race or low income. Additionally, children with absent fathers are more likely to experience emotional instability and die sooner than children with both biological parents present.

Rhoads cites statistical evidence indicating that men who favor the adultery laws may be the same ones who indulge with Russian prostitutes who have invaded parts of Turkey. And although one may simply write this off as hypocrisy, an at least equally compelling alternative explanation may be that "[w]e are stuck with mixed natures, with some parts of our brains warring with other more distinctively human parts. We may want the law to help us do the right thing. In any case the predictable effects of adultery on children give governments reason enough to concern themselves with adultery."

The question naturally arises: Which is really more civilized, Europe or Turkey? What passes for progress in Europe may be just decadence expressed as an unwillingness to think about physical and psychological health and decency.

Rhoads concludes by hoping that the time is coming when we (at least the U.S., Ireland, and Northern Ireland, where marriage is held in higher esteem) can tell Turkey that we'd never want to exclude a country from the group of civilized nations based on the fact that they take marriage vows seriously.


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