Previous Page/Table Of ContentsNext Page



G . The Strong Need For Social Change

Not every value we hold must necessarily change in order to properly restructure our civilization for progress into the next millennium. For example, there is nothing inherently wrong with the traditional concept of mankind having free will to choose between being a force for good or evil, with "good" people being expected to choose to follow the path of "good." There is also nothing wrong with establishing a system of rewards and punishments for choosing either "good" or "evil" behavior. This is a value system which serves us as well today as it did the earliest civilizations of recorded history, so far as we now know.
The values which are clearly "broken," to one degree or another, and which are thus the subject of this book, are the so-called "family values." The Christian "Right" is pressing strongly for a return to the so-called "traditional family values" which they have identified. However, the technological, social, and economic developments of the last century have made the "traditional family values" obsolete, rendering it an impossible dream to return to a value system that served an essentially rural-agrarian nation of a century or two in the past, or of a pre-industrial society. You simply cannot stuff the genie of modern technology back into its bottle without destroying what our civilization has become.90 Likewise, our economic system is unique throughout all of history, being now based on primarily a service economy as opposed to a production economy.91 Finally, the social equality we have granted to all "minority" persons, including women as a "minority," marks a fundamental change from the insular policies which predominated in virtually all other eras of recorded history.92
So, when the Christian "Right" screams about "family values," they have clearly hit the nail on the head so far as identifying the problem area. However, they have just as clearly NOT proposed a workable solution.

Our civilization has undergone a fundamental change in work and family patterns, and those changes have been motivated by our unique economic situation. For literally the first time in history, a majority of women have workplace jobs away from the home. There has always been a small minority of women with that sort of life, and there has always been plenty of work for women in the management of the homestead, but this modern trend eliminates the ability of most women to raise their children as a natural part of their daily activities. In the classic American family, children were an economic asset, so having a lot of kids was very desirable.93 Food was cheap, and the extra hands to help around the house, beginning from a very early age, were virtually always beneficial to the family at large. The country and the world at large were viewed as virtually empty, and thus there was no perceived detriment at all to having lots of kids.
In the era of limits,94 however, that freedom to bear large multitudes of kids no longer exists. Most nations see overpopulation as an environmental problem of truly staggering proportions, and thus most nations are actively trying to lower the birth rate to something approximating a replacement level.95 No solution which fails to allow for this alteration in the needs of our environment will be workable.
Another problem is caused by a high differential between the age of physical maturity, when young people are biologically capable of reproduction, and the ages of emotional and intellectual maturity, when those same young people are ready to take full responsibility as parents. Classically, the traditional Jewish manhood ceremony, which took place on the young man's thirteenth birthday, marked the completion of that young man's childhood in virtually every way. It occurred at about the time of, if not before, the young man was physically mature enough to father children. It occurred at about the time, if not after, the young man had completed all formal education which that young man would be expected to obtain during his lifetime. It occurred at about the time, if not after, the young man in question would begin to be self-supporting, at least to some degree. Thus, in the classic Jewish ceremony at age thirteen, the young man arises and declares: "Today I am a man," and really MEANS it. While young Jewish males still go through the ceremony on their thirteenth birthday, in today's world, they do NOT mean it. It is now a sort of a sick joke, and everyone is in on the joke, even the young man who is declaring his manhood. So, what kind of message does this send to this young man?
Advances in public health and education have dramatically lowered the age at which young girls are ready to be considered as both sexually96 and emotionally mature.97 On the other hand, the need for young women in the work force has dramatically lengthened the time that most of them spend in school. Traditionally, a girls education would be complete after the local equivalent of grammar school, because that is all the education she would need to be a wife and a mother. By the time she completed grammar school, or shortly thereafter, she was expected to learn homemaking from her mother and find herself a husband. Now, equal treatment of women throughout our society means that women are expected to get the same education as men, with the only difference being the specialized training needed for their chosen field of endeavor, which is expected to be an economically productive occupation. For virtually all women, that means completing at least high school. For many, it also means completing at least enough college to obtain a bachelor's degree. For some, graduate school is now expected, to virtually the same degree as equivalently talented young men. For example, most medical schools actively recruit girls to take a pre-med. undergraduate education and then enter medical school with the intent of becoming medical doctors. Since women are roughly half of the population, the reasoning goes, they ought to be roughly half the number of doctors turned out by our medical schools. At least that is the theory.....
So, with young women now beginning their physical sexual maturation at ages nine, ten, eleven, or twelve, while they are not expected to be mature enough for marriage, at least from an emotional and educational standpoint, until they are at least eighteen, if not older, what are these youngsters expected to do with the intervening six to ten years? It is obvious that, at the present, many young girls are simply having sex anyway. It is virtually guilt-free for the participants. While under-age sex is a violation of the statutory rape laws, by tradition, the authorities do not prosecute under-age sex so long as both participants are kids who are close in age to one another. If they did so prosecute, you might as well turn our high schools into penal colonies, because the frequency of intercourse by under-age females is well documented by current surveys.
Up until comparatively recently, women were considered to be subservient to men, if not owned by men outright. In such an environment, complaints by women that they were not enjoying their relationships with men were not tolerated.98 This has tended to suppress warning signs of troubles in the way we raise kids to relate to individuals of the opposite sex. Now that we have liberated women to be equal partners in relationships, we must address the relationship training, or lack thereof, which we provide to our kids as they grow up.
Most marriage counselors would agree: the best marriages happen when the parties can be each other's best friend. However, we do absolutely nothing to train our kids to have a best friend of the opposite sex. In fact, Christians have been so frightened of even the possibility of pre-marital sex that they have elected to train our kids to abhor children of the opposite sex and find a best friend from one's own sex. Is it any wonder that we have so few really good marriages? In a vein similar to what I say elsewhere: the wonder is not that we have so few good marriages; the wonder is that we have any good marriages at all. Our kids are totally unprepared for marriage on the day it occurs. There is literally nothing in our current patterns of child rearing which prepares our children for living with a person of the opposite sex in the context of a marital relationship. Is it any wonder, then, that most marriages are strained from day one? This is clearly one of those cultural values which must change.


90 This sentence is an important underlying thought to the whole effort I have mounted herein. You should also study Book VII, Section C, Sub-Section 5.

91 The percentage of farming and manufacturing jobs in our economy is vastly lower than it has ever been at any time in recorded history.

92 For example, slavery was a recognizable institution in virtually all known civilizations. While there is still a bit of the slave trade remaining in modern times, primarily for young women as either whores, servants, or brides, as a civilization we condemn, not condone, such activities. The concept of refusing to enslave, or at least subjugate, the people on the losing end of a war is probably unique to our century. The modern rationale for war is to free the subject people from recalcitrant, tyrannical, and/or oppressive leaders, which they should then be allowed to freely replace, as opposed to conquering those same people for the purpose of benefiting the victors.

93 I do not have readily available the actual numbers of children born to my four great grandmothers, but I believe that the smallest number of children born to one of them was about six, while the largest was ten or more. Thus, each of my four grandparents came from very large families, and those large families were not at all unusual for the time frames in question, roughly 1865 through 1890 as their childbearing years.

94 Historians will point out that the so-called "era of limits" appears in one form or another in each higher civilization in its late stages, when at least the upper class birth rate declines.

95 In the United States, a replacement level is considered to be an average of about 2.2 live births per female during her lifetime. In nations with a higher mortality rate, such as where deaths due to disease or disaster are more prevalent, a higher rate of live births would be required for a replacement rate.

96 It is now not uncommon to see budding breasts on fifth and sixth grade girls. I can swear from personal experience that this was quite uncommon when I was growing up only a few decades ago, when even a single sixth grade girl who displayed breasts would be so highly unusual that she would likely be investigated by the teacher for padding her assets.

97 As I noted in the introduction, the classic comedy routine goes: "If Booth Tarkington were to write his novel, Seventeen, today, he would have to call it Twelve." The novel is about a young girls' first stirrings of love, and the trials and tribulations of first love for this young girl of seventeen. Today, only about fifteen to twenty percent of seventeen year old girls are even virgins, let alone grappling with the stirrings of first love.

98 The Christian "Right" has much in common with the Islamic fundamentalist movements in the Arab lands. The Christian "Right" is still pushing the idea that women are subservient to men. If you participate in a marriage ceremony in one of these fundamentalist Christian churches, and particularly if you get into marriage counseling with the minister of such a church, this attitude of the subservience of women will be unmistakable. Likewise, the Islamic fundamentalists still believe in even worse treatment of women. In many of those cultures, it is still considered as proper to remove a woman's clitoris prior to her first intercourse so that she will never enjoy the sex act. This idea that women are supposed to willingly submit to the every whim of their husbands, while not actually enjoying sex on their own, is a depravity shared by both Islamic and Christian fundamentalists.

Copyright 1994-1999 by the Agnostic Church

Please send us your feedback!

Previous Page/Table Of ContentsNext Page