In response to Kathy Gyngell: A New Year resolution for Dave. Sam to lead a campaign to make marriage cool, Phil R wrote:
I am not sure that “cool” will work. Practically we need to make divorce more difficult and provide clear reasons for doing this and (especially) answer the the first criticism that will be sent our way, that we will be “compelling people to live in unhappy marriages”
How powerful is a simple adjective like ‘unhappy.’ Obligations and responsibilities and commitments and promises may all be swept aside by the invocation of that one little word. Truly, there is not a more self-centered and selfish way to determine a course of action than to determine it according to’happiness.’ But that is the modern dogma. “I will carry no obligation that I have not chosen to carry, and I will carry it only until I choose to lay it down.”
Have I made a promise to a wife? What is a promise against my unhappiness? Have
I responsibilities and obligations to my children? What responsibility supersedes my own need to be happy? The Self screams to be heard above the cacophony of competing claims, and the modern world has given it priority of place. We have declared that the essence of man is his autonomy and the only sin to tread upon it. Happiness is the metric by which the Self measures all things, and autonomy is the sacrament by which happiness may be achieved. If others suffer as a result, that is nothing but the sacrifice demanded in the temple of the god of Self. A sacrifice that so many are so willing to offer.
It is the vulnerability of secularism to worship the self. When you believe in nothing, you are possessed of nothing else. It becomes the de facto norm that norms all norms. The Christian can look upon unhappiness and say “God will restore the years the locust has consumed.” The secularist will respond fool! There is no god to restore anything. What then will your years of misery have purchased you beyond a wasted life. Live for yourself because there is no memory of what you have done where you are going.”
And so they cast obligation and responsibility to the wind. They tear their children asunder. They offer virtue as a sacrifice to happiness. And when, having done all this, they achieve the goal which they pursued in service to happiness, they soon discover that they are yet unhappy. And so they do it all over again.
You see, the god Self demands many sacrifices.