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Throughout history, marriages in royal courts existed only between other members of royal dynasties and the choice of spouse was an issue of honor and thus required the choice of a respected spouse with the proper lineage. These strong traditions remain in many cultures, social arenas, and religions today. The concept of intermarriage, defined as a marriage between two different groups, whether religious, cultural, ethnic, or social, is seldom seen in cultures where marriage is arranged. In Western culture, marriage is often preceded by a period of courtship where the parties can become acquainted with one another and decide whether marriage is appropriate.

Most religions consider marriage to be a prerequisite for sexual intercourse between husband and wife, and extra-marital sexual relations by one of the parties in a marriage can be used as the grounds for divorce. The widely accepted custom of exchanging wedding rings between the spouses finds its origins in biblical mandates requiring the exchange of items of value to consecrate a marriage. Even while alternative coupling arrangements in modern society have evolved, marriage remains the most popular form of social contract between two people for the purposes of building a life together within a new family.

WHAT are the legitimate objects of marriage? We know that many people seek to marry for ends that can scarcely be called legitimate, that men may marry to obtain a cheap domestic drudge or nurse, and that women may marry to be kept when they are tired of keeping themselves. These objects in marriage may or may not be moral, but in any case they are scarcely its legitimate ends. We are here concerned to ascertain those ends of marriage which are legitimate when we take the highest ground as moral and civilized men and women living in an advanced state of society and seeking, if we can, to advance that state of society still further.

The primary end of marriage is to beget and bear off-spring, and to rear them until they are able to take care of themselves.

On that basis Man is at one with all the mammals and most of the birds. If, indeed, we disregard the originally less essential part of this end—that is to say, the care and tending of the young—this end of marriage is not only the primary but usually the sole end of sexual intercourse in the whole mammal world.

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As a natural instinct, its achievement involves gratification and well-being, but this bait of gratification is merely a device of Nature's and not in itself an end having any useful function at the periods when conception is not possible. This is clearly indicated by the fact that among animals, the female only experiences sexual desire at the season of impregnation, and that desire ceases as soon as impregnation takes place, though this is only in a few species true of the male, obviously because, if his sexual desire and aptitude were confined to so brief a period, the chances of the female meeting the right male at the right moment would be too seriously diminished; so that the attentive and inquisitive attitude towards the female by the male animal—which we may often think we see still traceable in the human species—is not the outcome of lustfulness for personal gratification "wantonly to satisfy carnal lusts and appetites like brute beasts," as the Anglican Prayer Book incorrectly puts it but implanted by Nature for the benefit of the female and the attainment of the primary object of procreation.

This primary object we may term the animal end of marriage. This object remains not only the primary but even the sole end of marriage among the lower races of mankind generally. The erotic idea, in its deeper sense, that is to say the element of love, arose very slowly in mankind. It is found, it is true, among some lower races, and it appears that some tribes possess a word for the joy of love in a purely psychic sense.

But even among European races the evolution was late. The Greek poets, except the latest, showed little recognition of love as an element of marriage. Theognis compared marriage with cattle-breeding. The Romans of the Republic took much the same view. Greeks and Romans alike regarded breeding as the one recognizable object of marriage; any other object was mere wantonness and had better, they thought, be carried on outside marriage.

Religion, which preserves so many ancient and primitive conceptions of life, has consecrated this conception also, and Christianity—though, as I will point out later, it has tended to enlarge the conception—at the outset only offered the choice between celibacy on the one hand and on the other marriage for the production of offspring.


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Yet, from an early period in human history, a secondary function of sexual intercourse had been slowly growing up to become one of the great objects of marriage. Among animals, it may be said, and even sometimes in man, the sexual impulse, when once aroused, makes but a short and swift circuit through the brain to reach its consummation. But as the brain and its faculties develop, powerfully aided indeed by the very difficulties of the sexual life, the impulse for sexual union has to traverse ever longer, slower, more painful paths, before it reaches, and sometimes it never reaches, its ultimate object.

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This means that sex gradually becomes intertwined with all the highest and subtlest human emotions and activities, with the refinements of social intercourse, with high adventure in every sphere, with art, with religion. The primitive animal instinct, having the sole end of procreation, becomes on its way to that end the inspiring stimulus to all those psychic energies which in civilization we count most precious. This function is thus, we see, a by-product. But, as we know, even in our human factories, the by-product is sometimes more valuable than the product.

That is so as regards the functional products of human evolution. The hand was produced out of the animal forelimb with the primary end of grasping the things we materially need, but as a by-product the hand has developed the function of making and playing the piano and the violin, and that secondary functional by-product of the hand we account, even as measured by the rough test of money, more precious, however less materially necessary, than its primary function. It is, however, only in rare and gifted natures that transformed sexual energy becomes of supreme value for its own sake without ever attaining the normal physical outlet.

For the most part the by-product accompanies the product, throughout, thus adding a secondary, yet peculiarly sacred and specially human, object of marriage to its primary animal object. This may be termed the spiritual object of marriage. By the term "spiritual" we are not to understand any mysterious and supernatural qualities.

It is simply a convenient name, in distinction from animal, to cover all those higher mental and emotional processes which in human evolution are ever gaining greater power. It is needless to enumerate the constituents of this spiritual end of sexual intercourse, for everyone is entitled to enumerate them differently and in different order. They include not only all that makes love a gracious and beautiful erotic art, but the whole element of pleasure in so far as pleasure is more than a mere animal gratification.

Object: Matrimony

Our ancient ascetic traditions often make us blind to the meaning of pleasure. We see only its possibilities of evil and not its mightiness for good. We forget that, as Romain Rolland says, "Joy is as holy as Pain. Feldman, I used hours and hours of the best salesmanship on that feller," Margolius answered, "and all he says is that he wouldn't have to pay no interest, insurance and taxes on a deficiency judgment, while a house what stands vacant you got to all the time be paying out money.

Feldman continued, "that property around Two Hundred and Sixty-fourth Street and Heidenfeld Avenue will go up tremendously. Them tenants couldn't ride on futures, Mr. Feldman; and so, with the nearest trolley car ten blocks away, I am up against a dead proposition. He wants his pound of meat every time, Mr. So I guess you got to think up some scheme for me that I should beat him out. Them mortgages falls due in ten days, Mr. Feldman, and we got to act quick. Feldman frowned judicially. In New York, if an attorney for a realty owner knows his business and neglects his professional ethics he can so obstruct an action to foreclose a mortgage as to make Jarndyce vs.

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Jarndyce look like a summary proceeding. But Henry D. Feldman was a conscientious practitioner, and never did anything that might bring him before the grievance committee of the Bar Association. Moreover, he was a power in the Democratic organization and right in line for a Supreme Court judgeship, and so it behooved him to be careful if not ethical. Feldman," Margolius protested, "I told it you it ain't no use.

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Goldblatt hates me worser as poison. Feldman leaned back in his low chair with one arm thrown over the back, after the fashion of Judge Blatchford's portrait in the United States District Courtroom. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus , you know. Feldman," Margolius replied. The trouble was about his daughter Fannie. You could bring a horse a pail of water, Mr. Feldman, but no one could make the horse drink it if he don't want to, and that's the way it was with me.