Episode:Marriage and Family—The Origins (Part 3)

From Symmetry of Soul

Primitive marriage was an investment, an economic speculation; it was more a matter of business than an affair of flirtation. Woman started out as the property of her father, who transferred his title to her husband. The chastity taboo had its origin as a phase of the property mores, and virgins later became valuable commercial assets to their fathers.

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Keywords: Urantia, Marriage, Mores, Fertility, Chastity

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

Summary by Kermit

82:3.11 Early Marriage Mores (cont.)

Marriage practices among some tribes involved the marriage of young men to widows and older women. Upon becoming widowers, these men would be allowed to marry younger women in an attempt to ensure that at least one member of a married couple would have some degree of maturity. Conversely, some tribes limited marriage to similar age groups. Age group restrictions in marriage led to ideas of incest. Most interesting here is the revelators’ use of the word “incest.” Incest, originally and fundamentally means unchaste. Further, chaste originally meant conformity to marriage mores. Thus, violating the marriage mores regarding age restrictions gave rise to ideas of being unchaste or out of conformity with the marriage mores.

The lesson here is to encourage us to distinguish between mores and morals. As it is, what many consider morals, are in fact mores. The evolutionary path from folkways to mores marks the beginning of the transition from purely subjective consciousness towards objective consciousness. As illustrated by the tribal examples presented being virtual opposites, mores evince considerable subjective thought, while morals are purely objective. Genuine moral consciousness requires objective consciousness. As is oft repeated here, it is sad to record that reflective thinking and objective consciousness are in relatively short supply today. Even the mindal domain wherein mores take origin, by itself, is insufficient to lead to objective consciousness. Encircuitment in the Holy Spirit enables us to develop genuine objective consciousness. A major purpose for having this information is to encourage us to reflect and attempt objective awareness of our mores, past and present. Such is illustrated in the following example.

A primitive practice of trial marriage until pregnancy is achieved, or the first child is born, whereupon the regular wedding is performed is contrasted with a modern marriage practice of de facto trial marriage with the idea of a convenient divorce in case the couple is not wholly pleased with their married life. The so-called primitive trial marriage represents an honest effort to advance self-propagation, while the modern practice represents the less noble pursuit of self-gratification.

Today the mores pertaining to sex and marriage are viewed either as commandments from God, or the natural consequences of our biology. In fact, they are products of the adjutant mind and stem from man’s urge for socialization.

Genuine morals concern matters of right and wrong. Mores are the agreed upon behaviors and practices adopted by a particular society. Mores are irrelevant with respect to sin and righteousness. But in terms of civilization mores are most relevant. We are challenged to attempt the discrimination between mores and morals though the lens of the revelation, and in so doing, reform our worldview. It is only upon the foundation of a right worldview that we can advance civilization. Sex and marriage issues are particularly suited to attracting and holding our attention in the clarification of mores and morals.

A point repeatedly made in this material is that the term marriage is to be considered in the context of its role in producing offspring and establishing family and the home, the nucleus of civilization. Considering today’s controversy with gay marriage, it was suggested that in keeping with this idea, that the term marriage might be reserved for couples (gay or straight) who raise or have raised children (biologic or adopted), And the term domestic partners be used for couples without children.

Among the ancients, self-gratification was not the primary motivation or expectation in marriage, which led to somewhat greater stability of the home and family. In [81:6, p. 906] the revelators cite fifteen points essential to the maintenance of civilization, the last point entitled “prevention of transitional breakdown.” They earnestly encourage us to go forward when letting go of current usages and not regress to previous failed practices.

4. Marriage Under the Property Mores

Property and religion have always served to stabilize and moralize marriage. Marriage was more of a business opportunity than a source of emotional and physical satisfaction. The effectiveness of the property mores in the stabilization of marriage is borne out by the fact that marriage was more permanent among the early tribes than it is among many modern peoples.

Because of the property mores association with marriage, adultery was not recognized as such, apart from an infringement of a husband’s property rights, a form of stealing. This explains why did not find specific mention in the earlier codes and mores. Interestingly, it was noted that in the Dalamatian, Edenic, and Salem commandments, adultery was specified as a taboo. A girl was recognized as the property of her father who transferred his title to her husband. All legalized sex relations grew out of these pre-existent property rights. The Old Testament and Koran both refer to women in such a subordinate role.

What may come as a surprise to many, sex jealousy is not innate, but a product of evolving mores. Any doubts as to the power of mores to influence emotions and behavior should be quashed with the recognition of the extremes to which men and women will go when fueled by jealousy.

In our discussion it was suggested that folkways and mores operate primarily on the first two levels of meaning, the flesh and the feelings, where we seem to have stalled out. This is testified to by the glorification of feelings in so many areas of our lives. Recalling in [101:1.3] where we are told, “It is your thoughts not your feelings that lead you Godward.” Feelings are operational on the 2nd LoM. As such they can only move you horizontally on that level. Thoughts have a hierarchy of meaning and as such a vertical directionality, from the level of the flesh up to the level of love, hence Godward.

Even the chastity taboo arose in the context of property mores. Virgins were commercial assets to their fathers and extreme measures were employed to safe guard these “assets.” That the idea of female chastity took such hold on the races caused us to question its universality and power. We speculated that with increasing spiritual consciousness came a quest for purity and caused man to put a high premium on it. Thus, came about the professional prostitute class, the would-be brides rejected on the basis of their not being virgins.

Annotations by Brad

  • [1]Transition is are acceptable, breakdown is not. As we let go of the past, we must ensure we are looking forward for the next thing to hold onto in civilization. If we look backward instead, civilization cannot advance.

  • [2]Commonly, mores are thought of as either spirit origin or matter origin. If spirit origin, they are handed down by God, are synonymous with morals, and thus a sin to transgress. If matter origin, they are merely a natural part of biology and jungle law. The Urantia Book reveals mores originate in the mindal system. The mind is a fluid energy system and so the mores are quite volatile and flexible over time. This section ruthlessly challenges the reader to notice that much of what they have called morals are, in truth, mores. There's nothing more poignant to most humans that mores and feelings about sex, so this section challenges one's false concept frame like few others in The Urantia Book can. Aim higher by accepting nothing less than genuine morality, not the poor man's substitute of mores. That said, don't overplay this. Just because the sex mores have no moral valence (i.e., sin versus righteousness), they may be extremely relevant to civilization, even all-important.

  • [3]If mind did not stand above matter and have the potential to dominate it, this sentence would be impossible. Philosophic materialists who claim there is nothing but brain, and there is no transcendent mind, should consider this. We discovered centuries ago it is illogical for it to be only brain. The brain activity is something like the shadow cast by the mind.

  • [4]Sex mores like this that clash with our modern notions, helping the serious student to get above the subjective immmediacy of the words in the paragraph. Sentences like this are a reflective thinking tool; pause to consider what was totally acceptable just a few generations before you. Remember: what most call morals are in fact mere mores. Genuine moral consciousness is well above mere conformance to a society's mores. Genuine morality (recognition of duty to the cosmos) is purely objective; even if mores are more objective than folkways, mores are still highly subjective. See also folkways, mores, and morals, and take delight in cultivating... an objective consciousness and a truth-first approach to reading The Urantia Book.
  • [5] in- + -cest literally means "not chaste." In turn, chastity refers literally to how well one is conforming to the laws and mores around sex. So, mores concerning marrying only within certain age groups gave rise to the first issues of chastity. These days, our mores about biologic closeness vividly dominate the meaning of the word incest in society's mind.

  • [6]Early marriage was not an especially emotional affair. The widow's mourning was probably more a product of her terror at the community wanting her dead owing to tradition—the mores!
  • [7]The mores restricting a widow's remarriage persist in some subcultures in Western society even in the 21st century. The Urantia Book is written in such a way as to illuminate (to the serious student) larger truths about how slowly mores and traditions change.

  • [8] Regarded is the operative qualifier. The mores originate in the adjutant-mind system; they are not spirit origin—handed down from on high—and thus they are not innately concerned with issues of morality.
  • [9] This is challenging material to read if you are in any way attached to so much of what is regarded as moral issues in the 21st century concerning sex. Paragraphs like this are here precisely to disquiet the reader so they seek a higher, more objective concept frame. A frame from where they can recognize that regarding sex mores as moral issues was a false worldview. The revelators want the serious student to discover a wholly new worldview through this revelation.

  • [10]As in the literal sense: return for a monetary refund. These were the times of wife purchase.
  • [11]The marriage mores, not the sex mores, family mores, etc.
  • [12]In the early 21st century we wrested with the definition of marriage as it relates to homosexuality. A sentence like this could be a reflective aid (i.e., truths can flow through it, the facts in the sentence matter less). Clearly the marriage mores have varied considerably over time. Could we define marriage, as here, strictly with respect to children? As in: a marriage is the connection between two individuals who are raising adopted or biologic children, and subsequent thereto. Any other connection without children might be called something different (even for heterosexual pairings). This isn't a prescription from this author or much less the revelators, but just an example of how to look at sections like this reflectively as they relate to today's conditions.

  • [13]That is, fertility in abundance. Not just one child but many children, as mentioned in the last sentence of the preceding paragraph.
  • [14]That is, pleasant feelings resulting in self-gratification. This paper makes it clear that marriage must not be wholly about self-gratification. If it is, marriage ends, and civilization—resting as it does on the foundation of marriage as discussed earlier in this paper—also ends. It is irrational a married man and a woman—so different from each other—to remain in some permanent blissful state. At least in primitive times marriage was stable and their society was stable, regardless of how we today recoil at the notion of unemotional and matter-of-fact marriages and sexual relations.
  • [15]Not just beneath, but far beneath. Not unlike earlier in this paper when free love is not just savagery, but rank savagery. The universe will gladly take "limited consciousness but stable" over "fancy consciousness but unstable." In some very key respects, the primitives you may be chuckling about as you read this paper had more connection to the cosmos that your society today does.

  • [16]Keep in mind that we wouldn't be sitting here in a civilized society, today, unless marriage had been a part of the property mores. Subjectively our present-day mores recoil at the sale of a daughter, but objectively this had to be part of the evolutionary process.

  • [17]Stop and think about this: foundationally marriage was about the group and done for the group, not for self-gratification. As we advance and add civilizational complexity, depth, emotion, and beauty to marriage, we must not lose sight of the foundations of marriage. You can hardly build a lofty skyscraper on a flimsy (or forgotten) foundation.
  • [18]Resist the temptatin to think in false dichotomy about the future of marriage. We can keep both eyes open and foster a definition of marriage that modern and that allows the indispensable of true monogamy to grow.

  • [19]Yet, adulterly has been specifically mentioned in the commandments that have been codified in previous epochal revelations. One wonders how actively and assertively these past teachings attempted to supplant the property mores with the concept of adultery, or did they just let evolution take its course?
  • [20]The Koran is mentioned by name only twice in The Urantia Book, and neither time is in a positive light.
  • [21]In sub-saharan Africa there are still mores that allow traveling political dignitaries to be lent the wife in the house they stay in while visiting a town. In the last 20th century this was a factor in the dreadful and rapid spread of the HIV virus in this area.

  • [22]Not innate, as in not bubbling up naturally from the underlying biology. Those who have experienced sex jealousy find this difficult to believe; it feels so deep-rooted, visceral, and biological! Culture even tries to teach us it is biological. Sentences like this challenge the serious student to get out of their flawed concept frame and see things more objectively, more truthfully.
  • [23]The earliest mores were founded on the level of the flesh in the levels of meaning and there is no sex jealousy in this biological level. It's all very prosaic biological matter-of-fact on this level. As the mores evolve, they begin to reflect the next higher level of meaning, the level of the feelings. As emotion gets involved, there is room for emotional reactions of jealousy. Recall that the supreme goal is to get the meanings associate with marriage all the way up to the highest sixth level of meaning. Ancient philosophers recognized the danger of dramatic literature's supreme exaltation of the level of the feelings ("when life is passion and drama, we are fully human"), how this could short circuit any exploration of higher levels of meaning. Remember, [thoughts versus feelings|thoughts lead us Godward], not feelings.
  • [24]Notice the mores evolving across this span of paragraphs as civilization "marches" forward through transitions. First, female sex was a fine thing. Next, adultery was against the mores. In the next paragraph observe female virginity becoming an obsession of the mores.

  • [25]Again, chastity in its literal meaning of "conformance to the sex mores." That's the only way "the chastity of married women" in this sentence can make any sense. Only "in later years" did chastity become synonymous with virginity.
  • [26]Perhaps evolving mankind's nascent spiritual consciousness at last reached a point where it desired "purity," a spiritual ideal. It is no surprise the first outworkings of this ideal were in an exceedingly materially idealistic sense: the matter of virginity. All too often (and seemingly more and more these days) we try to satiate our burning desire for purity (true spiritual idealism) with material means (false material idealism).
  • [27]Not only can these tests be faulty, but this allowed deceit to be practiced by the women who performed these tests. These unfortunate women had no option in society but to try to eek out a living as prostitutes.
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