Episode:Marriage and Family—The Institutions (Part 3)
In the early history of marriage, various forms of communal associations evolved as men and women took the first steps toward living pairwise. From the herd, to one-man-at-a-time, to group marriage, to polygamy, marriage progressed toward monogamy. True monogamy is the yardstick which measures the advance of social civilization and forever will be the idealistic goal of human sex evolution.
Summary by Kermit
Post Review Commentary
In contrast to the negative aspects of the church and state assuming jurisdiction and now presuming to make pronouncements of marriage, which we touched on the previous week, we acknowledged the positive aspects of religion in marriage. Entering into marriage with God as a central focus suggests that the two are looking above the immediate significant differences between men and women for a unifying influence. The consecration of each individual to a life together under God is helpful in establishing a salutary context in which the marriage can flourish.
83:5. Plural Marriages
Evolution from the promiscuity of herd mating to pair mating passed through many stages over a long period of time. The first step away from living herdwise was the practice of one-man-at-a-time, followed by group marriage. The intervening group marriage phase was necessary because the marriage mores were not strong enough to make the pair associations permanent. Brother-sister marriages (e.g., where five brothers communally marry five sisters) were a specific flavor of the group marriage phase. The totem mores governed these group associations. This rudimentary sex and marriage regulation allowed family life to develop, favoring the survival of the tribe by insuring the survival of larger numbers of children.
The evolutionary value of these early stages of the mating practices must be recognized by the student of the revelation. We are called to utilize our spiritual consciousness to ascend from merely judging facts, to the cosmic level of seeing truth. Our immature spiritual consciousness must be exercised and applied with restraint. Spirit substance, as we have learned is self-animating and, if allowed to run free without the management and direction of personality, can lead to real trouble. We noted how, with respect to our seraphic planetary government, the religious guardians (Angels of the Churches) act as checkmates to the progress angels. Even among the ranks of the exalted master seraphim of planetary supervision, the Angels of Progress, whose task it is to make things as they ought to be, are prevented from overrunning the slow unfolding of the evolutionary process by the Angels of the Churches.
In our discussion, we commented on the apparent bias today against the Father’s Way, against the patient consecration to evolution. This general tendency, coupled with the transcendent vision of mankind’s planetary destiny found in the revelation, makes it most difficult for us to restrain our enthusiasm for immediately imposing this view upon our contemporary circumstances, especially in the domains of social justice and politics and religion!
Though pair mating or marriage is not biologically innate in us, it is innate in the overcontrolling influence inherent in the evolutionary process (the Supreme). Many current day evolutionists make the mistake of characterizing evolution as being entirely random. In the face of many observations implying purpose in evolution, these same modern evolutionists are forced into their second blunder, that of declaring these observations illusory. To the intellectually honest observer, it is trivially obvious that there is an upward dimension to the evolutionary process. This was recognized by early paleontologists and was called anagenesis, only to have the neo-darwinist philosophic materialists of the twentieth century expunge the term from use in scientific circles.
Careful reflection on the olden mating practices preceding pair mating reveals a material pragmatism that can be recognized when the true objectives of marriage and family are clearly understood, e.g., the Jewish custom of “raising up seed for his brother.” Material pragmatism is always a core feature of evolution. Spiritual idealism is not allowed to overrun material pragmatism. Material pragmatism is the checkmate of spiritual idealism, but it is the spiritual idealism which provides the forward direction and animates the movement of evolution. Let us use our spiritual idealism to motivate us to synchronize our intentions and action with the forward movement of the Supreme no matter how fast or slow we perceive that to be.
On our world, the range between the most primitive and most civilized peoples with respect to marriage practices and other yardsticks of social maturity presents a formidable challenge to those peoples on the leading edge of civilization. Can we relate to the less civilized as we should, or will we attempt to inject our spiritually idealistic solutions to their circumstances and short circuit their evolution. We mentioned Adam’s and Eve’s method of bringing suitable members of primitive neighbors into the garden, uplifting them and sending them back to uplift their own.
The four sorts of wives recognized in the history of polygyny might appear as an affront to our spiritual idealism. Concubines? Slave wives? Remember that slavery is indispensable to the progress of early civilization and every inhabited world passes through such phases, not just benighted spheres like ours.
The narrative of the certain chief who exercised his idealism for monogamy by dismissing his harem provides a stark lesson in the wisdom of restraining spiritual idealism. The offended relatives of the harem swept down on the chief in wrath and did away with him then and there.
83:6. True Monogamy—Pair Marriage
Monogamy was wholly natural to the purer Nodites and Adamites, but not so to evolutionary man. Our author describes monogamy as being, cultural and societal, artificial and unnatural. From the threefold cosmic perspective, “cultural” embodies the quality of unity and “society” suggests associativity. This indicates an elevation above the individuality issues regarding the relations between men and women.
The sexual monopoly inherent in monogamy while decidedly best for the children presents major challenges to individuals who are unable to find a mate. The earliest monogamy was due to the circumstances of poverty. Ancestor worship, the Christian error of regarding marriage as a sacrament, and even the elevation of the standard of living all led man away from plural marriage in favor of monogamy. By the time of Michael’s advent on Urantia practically all of the civilized world had attained the level of theoretical monogamy, albeit the practice of real pair marriage still awaits its fuller realization. Man’s spiritual consciousness had attained the level where the ideal of monogamy had begun to ignite man’s vision. But as we’ve noted the full realization of the ideal is always conditioned by the vicissitudes of the evolutionary process. In attempting the realization of the ideal of monogamy, or any other ideal, we are directed to the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it. We noted how Jesus, upon reaching manhood, spent years acquiring a holistic (cosmic) wisdom before applying his spiritual wisdom. Notwithstanding the many formidable obstacles and retarding influences to the realization of true monogamy, it is the idealistic goal of human sex evolution. It is the yardstick which measures the advance of social civilization, and is indispensable to the immediate maintenance and further development of social civilization.
As the revelation says about monogamy, "…It contributes to a delicacy of sentiment, a refinement of moral character, and a spiritual growth which are utterly impossible in polygamy.” Further, “Pair marriage favors and fosters that intimate understanding and effective co-operation which is best for parental happiness, child welfare, and social efficiency. Marriage, which began in crude coercion, is gradually evolving into a magnificent institution of self-culture, self-control, self-expression, and self-perpetuation.”
A challenge is how to manage wisely the increased spiritual consciousness of today. As is so often the case, this summary cannot capture all of the worthy discussion threads surrounding our text, which is why I’m always directing the serious student to consult our archives.