Do as I say, not as I have done; Divorce and Illegitimacy in the South

…then let him note how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first gave way, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to the present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure.

Livy, writing some 2000 years ago about the Roman culture of his day. Doubtless he would recognise our times.

Let’s say that you are sitting at a table upon which are two magic buttons, one of which you have to press. If you press the button on the left, you will live in prosperity and health into old age and be survived by every one of your numerous descendants who, surrounding your death bed, will be the picture of health, and not a one the source of grief or shame. If you could hear your eulogy above the sobbing, you would rest in peace knowing that you were thought to be about the finest lady or gentleman that ever walked the earth. The problem is that if you push this button, all of your great-great-great grandchildren, who will not remember your name, and a dozen generations thereafter, will suffer an age of famine, pestilence, and war.

To find out what happens to you if you press the button on the right, just read Job chapters 1-2 and wherever it reads Job, insert your name, and at the end add the following sentence… ‘And thus he lived thirty more years and it never got one whit better until he was found dead in a ditch having been killed by buzzards in a fight over a dead raccoon.’ However, your great-great-great grandchildren, who will not know your name, and a dozen generations thereafter, will enjoy an age of peace and plenty.

Now let’s say that all of us that consider ourselves culturally Southern are sitting at a new table with two buttons, one of which we have to push. If we push the left button, the divorce and illegitimacy rates will remain as they are or get worse for the next ten generations and the circumstances that, since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s, have allowed for those statistics will remain the same. The upside is that every shred of embarrassment or shame traditionally associated with divorce and illegitimacy will at last completely vanish and we shall live out our days guilt free.

But if we push the button on the right, the divorce and illegitimacy rate will plummet to less than 5% for the next ten generations. The downside is that the guilt, embarrassment, and shame attendant with divorce and illegitimacy one hundred years ago will return twofold upon generations living and the next ten generations to come.

Before we, the cultural South, choose, let us ask ourselves some questions. Do those children, who are raised by their biological mother and father, who remain married for life, stand a better chance overall of maturing into emotionally well-balanced adults and producing well-balanced children in turn? Setting aside the common difficulties of life, and married life in particular, is this not the kind of raising that we would choose for our great-great-great grandchildren if we could?

Has the divorce and illegitimacy culture of the last 50 years been less than ideal? Has the break down in marriage and the proliferation of illegitimate children been a leading contributor to many of today’s social dysfunctions? Have several generations of children been injured or not fulfilled in some way because they did not grow up in the home of both of their parents who chose for this or that reason not to live with each other as man and wife? The answer must be yes, if we can say it, but that may prove difficult, for to sit in the same room as the possibility that we may have injured or not done right by our children is almost too much to bear, and the temptation to justify our actions or non-actions or to shift the blame can be overwhelming.

That’s why the second button pushing scenario is also a hard choice. We know what is best for future generations, but if we actually have to implement the changes necessary in order to reduce the rate of divorce and illegitimacy, all of us that have in one way or another contributed to it must then admit a degree of guilt and suffer the pain of that guilt.

Southern culture has proven remarkably resilient in the face of a godless modern world. But the divorce and sexual liberation revolution has ground us down badly, and if we do not collectively make the hard decisions necessary in order to reverse them, and bequeath to our descendants the natural and rational familial order as revealed to us by our Designer (or evolution if you prefer), then the post-60’s divorce and illegitimacy paradigm will eventually do to us what Lincoln’s bayonets were unable. 

Fear not the one that can destroy the body.

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