Episode:Marriage and Family—The Origins (Part 2)

From Symmetry of Soul

In primitive times marriage was the price of social standing; the possession of a wife was a badge of distinction. Marriage has always been closely linked with both property and religion. Property has been the stabilizer of marriage; religion, the moralizer. Those races which exalted and practiced marriage naturally evolved to higher levels and survived in increased numbers.

Listen to the broadcast

Keywords: Urantia, Marriage, Mores, Fertility, Chastity

Note: Brad Garner was also a co-host on this episode.

Note: This is a top episode because content laid out in this episode was foundational, in many ways, to past and future Symmetry of Soul themes.

Summary by Kermit

82:3. Early Marriage Mores

Marriage is described here as an institutional response of the social organism to the universal and powerful urge to reproduction—self propagation. Note, the emphasis is not on self-gratification, but self-perpetuation. Thus the word marriage as, previously mentioned, is to be considered in the context of its role in evolving civilization, i.e., above and beyond the personal concerns of the individual.

Mores are mass conventions. Folkways are shaped and conditioned by the natural genetic constitution of the group. In early man, they represent adjustments to the circumstances of group living that help establish order and stability. As society evolved from the simple to the complex, so did mating mores, giving rise to the institution of marriage. In man’s progression from the clan, tribe, nation to territorial state, mores became codified into laws. Yet even in a nation of laws, mores continue to be found, the so-called unwritten laws.

The laws regulating the external aspects of mating and the personal and private relations of men and women will always occasion difficulties and be a source of conflict where marriage is concerned. The individual rebels against the constraints on sex imposed by society. The use of the word “rebellious” by our author should serve to emphasize the seriousness of this issue. In efforts to advance civilization, individual rights are frequently subordinated to the individual’s obligations to society. Such advancement is always secured by the freewill cooperation of the individual. There is nothing natural or automatic about civilization. Herein is a major component of the planetary emergency spoken of so often on this broadcast. The individual’s choice of self over the general welfare in the regulation of sex behaviors is contributory to the erosion of the strength of the marriage institution, hence the weakening of civilization.

We discussed some of the general trends in our society today that lead to this decline. The reluctance or ineffectiveness in imposing restrictions on our young is a critical feature of our emergency. It was mentioned that inter-generational friction has been with us for millennia, and a question was asked if this situation today is more serious than in earlier times. The jeopardy in today’s circumstances lies in the increased spiritual consciousness and spirit energy that can be brought to bear in the pursuit selfish of ends. The revelators are encouraging us to conserve our hard won advantages of civilization—a rich social and cultural heritage—and pass them on to succeeding generations.

Mores, when respected, have been shown to be powerful enough to restrain and control the sex urge. Marriage standards have always been a true indicator of the power of the mores and functional integrity of the civil government. In spite of less than ideal marriage regulations, those races who exalted marriage evolved to higher levels of civilization and survived in greater numbers. Evolution, whether biological or social represents a divine and creative conspiracy to achieve divine ends. True, the existential end point of social evolution on Urantia is light and life. But, the path to such a destiny depends on our choosing and the choosing of subsequent generations as to whether the process leads through an interregnum of darkness or a more direct and shorter path of progress.

We had a rather far-reaching discussion about some of the troublesome trends that are indicative of the planetary emergency, notably the legacy of philosophical materialism which threatens the widespread recognition of the reality of mind. We are admonished to cultivate the awareness of the reliability of the evolutionary process, especially in light of the Divine Minister’s mandate for full disclosure and unlimited opportunity for sin-expression as the quickest technique of achieving a final cure of Lucifer’s legacy of evil and sin. Meanwhile, any individual who succumbs to depression when gazing upon the state of the world today is urged to trust our planetary supervisors and allow evolution to be the winnowing process to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Meanwhile, back to our series topic. In various earlier ages marriage was viewed as a social duty, religious obligation, and even a requirement to provide citizens for the state. Note that these functions are not aimed at fostering self-gratification, but sustaining civilization.

Our author goes on to provide glimpses into our past, reminding us of earlier marriage customs and traditions, many of which we found humorous and in some cases shocking. We commented on some of those characteristics valued in prospective mates and the methods of mate selection. In many cases these qualities and practices can be seen to favor increased survival of those with genetic advantages. Among males, attributes such as strength, skills in hunting and fighting, and even cognitive abilities were fostered. Among females capacity for hard physical labor and fertility were favored. Here again we see the subtle hand of purpose in the evolutionary process underlying every level of our existence.

The great importance of marriage to ancient peoples is illustrated by their aversion to the unmarried state to the degree that marriage was extended to children on one hand and the dead on another.

Our final paragraph of the evening, describing tribal practices of that gave origin the practice of giving wedding presents, leading to the earning of the dowry, was one of the more challenging disclosures. An additional reference to the earning of the dowry was read [89:7.5]. Applying today’s mores to some of these olden customs should cause us to scrutinize our current practices in light of future conditions which may prevail with the advent of light and life.

Annotations by Brad

  • [1]The marriage institution is fundamentally about regulating self-propagation; it fundamentally is tied to family. It may be peripherally related to regulation of self gratification (i.e., sex urge) but it is not fundamentally about that. It is well and good to discuss various way individuals may pair together in non-self-propagating pairs, to satisfy their individual interests and desires, but the 5th ER intimates this ought not be called marriage. Marriage implies a duty to civilization through proper self-propagation. If this is forgotten, civilization will be in danger, after all civilization is a choice, a conscious choice made in each generation in the objective consciousness of humans.
  • [2]Folkways arise naturally from animal origin genetics with no artful human effort or reflection. Mores are those folkways, upon conscious primitive human reflection, chosen to be conducive to the general welfare of society and therefore deserving elevation to a status worthy of perpetuation down the generations. See also Folkways, mores, and morals. As society evolves, mores are codified as laws... although many "unwritten laws" remain (an unwritten law is ones of the mores).
  • [3]Institutionalization is the technique of preserving mores across generations. It is not surprising the marriage institution—the embodiment of mores surrounding the universal mating instinct—is one of the first if not the very first institution in a primitive society.

  • [4]Rebellious, as in "inclined toward rebellion," is not a word to be read lightly in The Urantia Book given its unmistakable and non-flippant connotation: the Lucifer rebellion, whose battle-cry was self assertion. Society has a right to impose restrictions on sex activity—the hard-earned wisdom of the ages it deems necessary and proper. "You're not the boss of me and my sex urge" is a problematic thought insofar as it is inclined toward rebellious thinking. The young, who are by definition unwise, therefore need restrictions imposed on them lest they wander into rebellion, even out of some misplaced sense of idealism. See also true liberty versus false liberty.
  • [5]Imposing restrictions on children has become unfashionable in the Western cultural mainstream in many quarters and in many respects. But maintaining order in a home, in a classroom, or among hormonal teenagers requires imposing restrictions on those unwise young humans. To the degree civilization chooses to forget or abandon this hard-earned wisdom of the ages, the home, family, and civilization itself are in danger. See also emergency and parenting advice

  • [6]Mind dominates matter. Mores are in the mind, while the sex urge is in the matter. We are not just a collection of molecules; we are minded selves. Humans can mindally consecrate themselves to an idea and "restrain and control" the flesh. To the extent someone does not control their sex urge, they are effectively only mechanically minded; they are a fancy machine on the order of a potted plant. But this is not a popular position to hold; the so-called smartest people on the planet these days don't even believe in the existence of mind. Truthful reading of this statement, like all others in The Urantia Book, all but demands courageous and independent cosmic thinking from the student.
  • [7]And so if marriage standards are measurably declining nowadays, what must that imply about the power of the mores and civil government's integrity? See also emergency
  • [8]It's a vast divine conspiracy: this planet will evolve to the stages of light and life. But that's far off in the future. Closer to home, consider your grandchildren. Will the society you do your small part to pass on to them "exalt and practice marriage?" Or will they have to experience a retrogressive, dark slide back to "discarded formulas" of the past? [69:9.18]
  • [9]Indeed, social evolution functions comparably to biological evolution: survival of the fittest. See also one evolutionary system.
  • [10]That is, looking beyond one's own self individual self-gratification desires. Or to put it in terms of life philosophy, transcending that natural hedonism every baby and child is born into by animal-origin nature.
  • [11]Note that, in all three cases in this sentence, marriage carries a sense of duty to something larger than yourself, be it social, religious, or political. And it doesn't matter how primitive this sense of duty might be; it is fundamentally non-self-focused.

  • [12]Or grooms, if the TV show The Bachelorette is more your speed than TV's The Bachelor. That is, don't be so sure we are wholly beyond these practices. At least in primitive times, contests like this unwittingly were an utterly unconscious form of eugenics. Are our entertaining reinventions so practical, or are they frivolity? Have eyes to recognize when sentences like this speak directly to our times and possibly even signs of cultural decadence.
  • [13]That is, greed and rigging the system via money is nothing new under the sun. The 20th century did not invent that.
  • [14]Before you dismiss this as a some ghastly primitive practice, pause to consider: a riddle contest would favor the keener intellect—yet another form of unconscious eugenics. At least in primitive times, there is no doubt the cosmos is rigged to work this way, letting humans progress in spite of themselves. But as society advances, more and more such matters require conscious, objective recognition and conscious action. Magisterial Sons come to world to offer teaching in these improved modes of thinking; for now at least, instead of a Magisterial Son, we have The Urantia Book.

  • [15]Notice how the criteria for a successful male change once the women get to define what success looks like. Stealing, raiding, and athletic contests are no longer the last word in male prowess.
  • [16]Jacob, in Genesis 29, had to work for a family for 7 years to earn a wife. And echoes of this persist even today in some subcultures of the United States. Again, the mores are powerful unwritten laws that society has reflectively and preferentially selected from the folkways to help improve the general welfare. And a young man proving his worthiness seems to promote society's general welfare.
  • [17]This persists in the United States today where subsistence agriculture still persists. It is rarer to find since the mid 20th century, however.
  • [18]For most of human history, the male's potential role in infertility issues was not recognized. Even today, the idea of an infertile or impotent man is an uncomfortable thought for traditional mores to bear.
  • [19]Even today there is the 18th century nursery rhyme "One Two Buckle My Shoe," though its closing lines are recited less of as Western mores changed over the 20th century: "Fifteen sixteen, maid’s a-kissing / Seventeen, eighteen, she’s in waiting / Nineteen, twenty, my stomach’s empty".
  • [20]Though much of ancient society was predicated on what we might today consider to be foolishness, it was all part of the necessary evolutionary process. Ghost fear was an important start. Mentually conceiving of anything immaterial, even if a primitive notion, was an essential step forward. And remember that fear is the start of the sequence fear, dread, awe, and reverence.

  • [21]This sentence is relatively straightforward, but it begs the question, "What about people who never manifest sex urge in puberty or onward?" The following sentence addresses that case.
  • [22]Peculiar, as in not ordinary. This is not decreeing of a moral abomination; quite the opposite the authors are calling on us to recognize that this is a biological fact and to accommodate it. But do not call it ordinary, for if all people adopted this, they would be the last generation of humans.
  • [23]The word homosexual or the connotation of same-sex sexual attraction does not occur in The Urantia Book, including here. This is specifically about people lacking sex urge of any kind toward anyone. It is wholly fitting for society to accommodate them with their own order of living whose mores do not demand procreation, because sufficient parental instinct is essential to improving the family. Over the long term, these genetics tending toward celibacy should be selected out of the genetic stream.
  • [24]More subtle, unconscious eugenics at play. In all likelihood the ruling males of the tribe have better genetics than the rank and file males.
  • [25]In other parts of The Urantia Book, the dowry concept is described evolving far beyond this primitive condition. In [89:7.5], we see a dowry given by the woman to signal she has some modicum of independence or has performed some sacredly held service for society. Strange to record but a fact: dowry, over evolutionary time spans, played a role in women's liberation.
  • [26]Did our authors in one swift blow wreck this entire cherished tradition? The next time you walk in and set a wedding present on the entrance table, will this sentence haunt your thoughts?
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