Courting Disaster

I finished reading last night an first-rate article by Leon Kass, a professor at the University of Chicago and the chairman of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics. The article is featured in The Public Interest and is available here.

The article is entitled “The End of Courtship,” and is a very in-depth look at what has gone wrong in our culture’s conception of marriage. He explores the damage done to marriage by feminism and contraceptive technologies, and explores other sources that stand against traditional courtship. Kass writes:

It is surely the fear of making a mistake in marriage, and the desire to avoid a later divorce, that leads some people to undertake cohabitation, sometimes understood by the couple to be a “trial marriage”—although they are often one or both of them self-deceived (or other-deceiving). It is far easier, so the argument goes, to get to know one another by cohabiting than by the artificial systems of courting or dating of yesteryear. But such arrangements, even when they eventuate in matrimony, are, precisely because they are a trial, not a trial of marriage. Marriage is not something one tries on for size, and then decides whether to keep; it is rather something one decides with a promise, and then bends every effort to keep.

I believe Kass is right on target, especially with the last sentence. He goes on to point out “the deepest and most intractable obstacle to courtship and marriage: a set of cultural attitudes and sensibilities that obscure and even deny the fundamental difference between youth and adulthood.” This lack of difference, argues Kass, causes men to shirk responsibility, while a newfound “equality” has made women to do the same. It’s pretty long, but the article is well worth the time it takes to read and very helpful in the understanding of out culture.