Locke on marriage.

Whenever I read the Godfather of liberalism’s Second Treatise, I’m struck by just how well he packages together all the premises that our value system is built upon to this day. Despite, of course, his failing to see just how radical the implications of those premises were. Human equality, the rule of law, limited government and the preservation of freedom – all of these concepts pervade Locke’s thought. There’s even a precursor to political correctness insofar as he shows a remarkable awareness of the sexual biases phrases like ‘paternal power’ socially embed.

And then today, after the leader of the free world has flagged and fuelled the civil rights movement of our time and marked a real moment on the path to progress, I couldn’t help but notice his fleeting comments on the function of marriage, which unknowingly sow the seed for the arguments employed today:

For all the ends of marriage being to be obtained under politic government, as well as in the state of nature, the civil magistrate doth not abridge the right or power of either naturally necessary to those ends, viz. procreation and mutual support and assistance whilst they are together.

Now the man would no doubt be horrified to witness such an act of anachronism by me, being the devout Christian that he was. But in seeing that marriage is about much more than raising children, a 17th century Englishman that carried all the prejudices of his time period seems to grasp the reality of relationships better than 2012’s potential POTUS in waiting. Because Romney does think marriage is just about procreation, right? Because if he understood that equally and arguably more important is the conferral of stability on a bond of love, he’d embrace reform. And he’d definitely understand that when my children study history in 20, 30 years from now, politicians like himself will be looked upon as Strom Thurmond is today.


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