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I just found myself saying the following with regards to gun control and abortion.

“The only way we are going to be more civil with each other is when we stop using the coercion of the law and the government on one another. When you have no option to call the cops on the man next door, it follows that you have to engage him yourself.”

I am thinking about the limits of justice to be systematized and the consequences of libertarianism. Practically speaking, what do cops get called most about? Domestic violence.

I’m no sociologist but both my parents were. And it stands to reason that in a nation that has done away with notions like the permanence of marriage and the complicated sanctity of sex, that divorce rates are sky high and that divorcing couples are expecting something from each other that they are fundamentally wrong to expect. It seems rather obvious at this late date in my marriage that I value the marriage above myself – that I am submitted to it. But if the marriage is something I have, as opposed to something that has me, then I can discard it at my pleasure. Of course that means discarding the other person and the reasons why I bothered to cherish them in the first place. It seems to my amateur sociologist’s mind that domestic violence is precisely the symptom of this mistake about what living together means.

The question becomes, is that any of our business? Which is to say can we enforce the principle of a proper relationship on people who have, at some point, decided what they wanted to be to each other?  If you decided to get married according to tradition in the presence of God and society, then there is a commitment not only to each other but to God and society. If you decide to ‘hook up’ or follow one of those so-called love songs that put ‘you and me against the world’, then there is not that commitment. So if Rent-a-Cow Bob decides to bitchslap You-Aint-My-Daddy Sally, ain’t nobody’s business if he does, right?

Well, we can make it our business, because we are The People. And We The People can fund the Bureau of Domestic Affairs and have our certified counselors and sworn officers perform Intervention Services until the taxes run out. And yeah, that’s rather exactly where we are. And guess what, it’s a growth business, especially if the Gay Marriage advocates have their way. Well, marginal growth anyway.

But the fact of the matter is that Domestic Violence is its own category and it brings with it incremental services above and beyond what is required for simple assault and battery. Woman beatings and child abuse and all that stuff takes up more of our effort, time and money, not only because they are significantly more offensive than bar brawls but because we have committed as a society to certify all sorts of living arrangements as legitimate and deserving of society’s blessing.

There was a time when I was alive when the idea of a woman living with a man without being married was considered not only untoward but stupid and dangerous. But something about ‘womens lib’ changed all that, and of course cads like Bob were all too happy to oblige. And some generations of girlfriends have suddenly been convinced that they could reshape a man after a few years of living together in a ‘committed relationship’ and that through this process of softening him up, he could be transformed into ‘marriage material’. You will find such women often singing Alanis Morrisette, wounded and transfixed by Sex and The City. Isn’t that the state of too much of American womanhood?

At some point we as a society will need to not care, which is to say that we may come to understand that such relationships need to be outside our circle of care. It’s a simple truth that children who live under the odd parental regime recognize the failure for what it is. They haven’t been conditioned to expect that sexual liberation justifies dysfunctional and impermanent relationships. That’s because they’re children and they don’t understand the hungers of sex, the sway of political correctness and the self-indulgent indiscipline of grownups. But we sure have developed ways to train them haven’t we? Instead of normalizing a permanent and sanctified marriage, we have normalized the oddment and tolerated the dysfunctional and made our expectations of romance and sex to be the so-called balance.

So we care. Society cares too much about too many sorts of romantic relationships and we believe that we can manage it all. How’s that working out for us, eh?  But maybe, just maybe, it’s really none of our business.

My rule? There is Marriage and there is Everything Else. Everything Else doesn’t count.


About Author

MIchael Bowen

Michael David Cobb Bowen is the award winning blogger 'Cobb'. His is an online veteran essayist going back to 1993 at The Well and Usenet's SCAA, Salon and a host at Cafe Utne. A former national officer of the National Society of Black Engineers, he has long been involved in the black cultural production & cyberspace worlds. He the founder of Vision Circle and The Conservative Brotherhood. He was a regular participant in Michel Martin's NPR show 'The Barbershop’ speaking for the black Right. Bowen's day job is as a cloud developer and he lives in Redondo Beach CA with his wife of 20 years. Oh yeah, three kids.

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