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The Future of Marriage Hardcover – March 14, 2007
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Even in societies that tolerate pre-marital sex, permit polygamy, or take a relaxed approach to divorce, the basic idea of marriage across time and cultures does not change: for every child, a mother and a father. Human societies strive to have children affiliated with both their biological parents. The mother and child unit has universally been considered incomplete, and the sociological position of the father considered indispensable. Universally, that is, up until the last generation in modern western societies.
The public opinion-making elites of this country have pretty much decided that same sex marriage is a moral imperative.That is why you have heard so little about David Blankenhorn's new book, The Future of Marriage. Even the human interest story in USA Today was about David, and not his ideas. Blankenhorn makes a reasoned case, independent of any religious belief, for marriage as intrinsically a union between opposite sex couples.Read more ›
He first seeks to get a handle on what marriage is, and then show how it has been experienced over the centuries. The first half of the book is about what marriage is, and how it has developed. The second half deals with the challenge of same-sex marriage.
Blankenhorn recognises that a definition of marriage is a slippery affair, but after a close examination of the issue and how others have thought about it, he comes up with this helpful conceptualisation:
"In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from the union are - and are understood by society to be - emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents."
In his overview of the history of marriage, he demonstrates what has been the universal belief about marriage: It reflects the fundamental belief that "for every child, a mother and a father". Thus marriage is primarily about two things: the socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, and the protection and nurturing of the fruit of that relationship. Both are vital components of marriage, and must not be separated from it or from each other.Read more ›
Now is a timely moment for this book to appear, given that--as Blankenhorn notes-- the level of marriage breakdown among whites now roughly parallels the level of marriage disintegration among African-Americans forty years ago: "a level that was viewed at the time by the federal government as a national emergency and the main reason for a significant antipoverty mobilization!" Marriage may have deep historic foundations, but ultimately, the author reminds us, it is a fragile, precarious social construction.
Blankenhorn's book is sprinkled with generous helpings of the common sense that, as Voltaire noted so many years ago, is all too uncommon. The author includes fascinating glimpses of several obscure cultures and their matrimonial customs, and connects the dots to show the universality of a few basic principles: 1. "For every child, a mother and a father." Illegitimate children are disfavored. Almost always, a child derives some elements of status from or through Dad, and other elements of status from or through Mom. 2. Marriage is associated with sex. (It's amazing, the author notes, how often this element is omitted, making marriage sound similar to a business partnership.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Marriage has become such a polarized subject. Blankenhorn lays out very well the case for the traditional viewpoint from the point of view of a professional proponent of marriage... Read morePublished on December 4, 2012 by Amazon Customer
This is an attempt by David Blankenhorn to answer the question of the future of marriage. However, while he tries to state that only marriage between one man and one woman is the... Read morePublished on November 28, 2011 by Amazon Customer
This book is priceless. It is chock-full of the history and purpose of marriage. I particularly like how Blankenhorn draws parallels between two, totally different societies (one... Read morePublished on August 11, 2011 by AJust
There is only two good things in this book: the preface written by JOnathan Rauch, and the material I gained to highlight some of the dumbest arguments regarding what marriage is... Read morePublished on November 9, 2010 by Michelle
While the book didn't feel quite as solid or scholarly in some parts as other authors on the subject, Blankenhorn does a good job of discussing the anthropological evolution... Read morePublished on July 17, 2009 by C. Hicks
This is the first book I have read from Blankenhorn, but it will not be the last. Some people have a real talent for writing clearly and translating their expertise into simple,... Read morePublished on May 31, 2007 by Veronica Singh
Blankenhorn, the famous author of "Fatherless America" returns to the subject of marriage again in this book. Read morePublished on May 15, 2007 by Jeri