An Analysis of Bertrand Russell’s View on Sex Before Marriage
I was looking to see what Bertrand Russell’s detailed philosophy was with respect to sex and marriage and this caught my eye:
Quote: I should not hold it desirable that either a man or a woman should enter upon the serious business of a marriage intended to lead to children without having had previous sexual experience.
These are hardly the words of an enlightened human being in my estimation. One does not need to have engaged in sex before marriage to have a fulfilled marriage. Indians have such marriages all the time and have been doing it for centuries. The idea is to keep oneself pure and as a virgin before giving oneself to someone in marriage. Did Russell not think about all the joys of finding out about sex during a honeymoon and learning about each other as being part of the charm of marriage? Was he saying that they (Indians) have failed marriages or did not produce enough children? Seems to me to be the words of a very stupid man.
Notwithstanding, it seems to me that he was promoting at least some degree of promisquity among the younger generation and so was not really fit for the position of Professor of Philosophy (at the Department at the College of the City of New York) in a conservative society that was the USA. They could not tolerate an outsider with liberal ideas at an esteemed position. The judge presiding over the legal challenge was reflecting the general mood of society at the time in revoking his appointment.
It is said of Christian marriages that marriages are a sacred matrimonial institution ordained by God, and in Hindu marriages people also believe that marriages are made in Heaven for which some will go to the process of consulting horoscopes to detemine if a couple are matched in terms of their astrological attributes. Howsoever unsound this may be scientifically, the implicit understanding is that the institution of marriage takes place historically under a religious rituals and blessed by God.
Those who have abandoned faith in the existence of God or do not care for the moralities of the religions that they are brought up in live under a different concept of marriage, an irreligious marriage. Which one has a higher rate of success? Let us examine that:
What counts is how many times have people who have had lots of pre-marital relationships have been found to have been unfaithful to each other in marriage, become divorced, or considered divorce, or even considered extra-marital relationships. That determines how happy a marriage is, not how many children are born in a marriage.
Further, those who marry as virgins and commit themselves to ’till death us do part’ are entering into the real marriage of minds based on a commitment of love that will overcome all obstacles, not the marriages of convenience and partnership relationships that are adopted for the State to be able to deal with issues of taxation, family justice and property division, pre-nuptial arrangements.
There are different degrees of marriage in terms of the commitment of the two parties. Some are under religous oversight – these may last the longest because people are fearful of offending God by not tolerating each other.
If they do not believe in God they may still prefer virgin marriages because some men and women do not like the thought of the other partner having had any other prior relationships. They are right because if you have a history of too many previous partners you are prone to do the same while being married and adultery is wrong since it breaks a marriage contract and even a vow. These people must save themselves as virgins and look for other virgins to marry and they way additionally want a till death parts us commitment. A third category might be marriages that is equally strong in terms of commitment from both partners but one that can have premarital relationships, does not believe in God’s blessing, but also does not believe in divorce and extramarital relationships.
Those who do not want these restrictions are not really entering into any sort of marriage only the facade of marriage that is convenient coming together of two people for other reasons. These freer marriages believe in divorces, and even extra-marital relationships. Marriages do not mean the same to them as they do to the earlier two groups.
From the figures for divorces among people belonging to the different churches in the USA it is wrong to say that religion strenthens marriage. However, in the religious groups, the person has to actually believe that he is offending God by not tolerating the other partner. Perhaps American Christian churches do not teach this, that is why you have a higher proportion of Christians divorcing than atheists and agnostics. After all, it is not one of the ten commandments that ‘thou shalt not divorce your partner’. The person has to actually believe that God wants the couple to stay together.
Hindus have a different religion based on ‘dharma’, that is duties and righteous actions. Most Hindus are theists and have a compulsion to stay together in the true spirit of God’s blessings at marriage. Perhaps you will find a lower level of divorce in this group.
Some people have open marriages in which adultery is not considered wrong as there is agreement from both parties that this be allowed. These open marriages do not have the same meaning in terms of commitment to each other and are therefore third rate marriages.
The reason why Hindu society encourages virginity is that neither the man nor the woman has some one to compare their spouses with so start with a clean slate and no sources of aggravation. That is why my wife and I encourage my daughter to keep her virginity until she finds the right person to marry, and we will try and introduce her to a boy who is likewise without previous sexual partners. She will not be used by boys before marriage as a sex toy and be subsequently dumped in their game of conquering women and then so hurt her feelings and made to have been felt dirty and cheap. She should value her purity in her virginity. I also think her marriage will be better as a result that she is unused sexually and free of any prospect of sexually transmitted diseases.
On assessing sexual compatibility before marriage as some would like to in relation to the statement of Bertrand Russell it must be assumed that he was referring to sexual compatibility to be where premarital sex can be shown to have produced offspring. From this interpretation it is clear that Bertrand Russell was clueless on the value of marriage as an institution (not a serious business as he described it) where a man and a woman wish to live together, share their joys and sorrows regardless of whether they can produce children or not, and overcome all obstacles until death of either partner. This is my idea of the ideal marriage based on love and commitment and it works even better when both parties are virgins. After death the parties can marry again in the same way but no longer as virgins. What society does in terms of making laws of rights and inheritence does not come into this consideration. In my view all the other forms of marriages are not of the same philosophical depth so that they may be termed as marriages of convenience of various degrees with the one where adultery is allowed simply being a facade of a marriage being of no moral substance.
I am not for or against anything for anyone else because I know that human beings are all different and have different priorities. Choosing one option as your priority means inevitably you lose on another aspect of life. Some people and especially women wish to have motherhood as their priority and wish to have this early in life. I encourage that. Some young women remain virgins and like to get married early or they are not happy. For others they want careers before marriage. They marry late. They will only find partners who have slept around. Second hand goods or used goods are not so valuable. This is the reality they cope with. I am therefore totally against a promiscuos society that puts peer pressure on young people into early life sex. That is why I call Bertrand Russell a stupid man.
As regards second marriages, if the spouse has died in the first marriage, the person will marry again and if they commit to each other till death in a loving relationship because they know the circumstances of the previous marriage they can have as good a marriage even when not starting off as virgins. My Dad had to marry again so that we could have a mother to look after us when our real mother died. And I know that she was an ideal step mother so we had an excellent family relationship with her. When she too died, my father did not marry a third time because we the children were all old so no longer needed a mother. My step mother knew the reason for my father’s need to marry again. So he had two very good marriages but the first one alone bore him children. And the important thing is that he always told me his first love never left his mind till his dying days. He loved his first wife more presumably because he experienced his youth with my first wife. Better sex. More fun. Thus, second marriages are not as good as first marriages as far as I know unless one of the partners in the first marriage was mentally unstable to be able to cope with living with another person of the opposite sex.
Sex is a vital ingredient in marriage. Even at the age of 55 and 50, I know that if my wife and I go through 10 days without sex, we think something is missing from our marriage. Of course I am aware that there will come a time when I might not be able to do it any more. The marriage will go through tricky times. Her love for me will be put to the test. Will she think her need for sex is greater than the undying commitment she has for me? That will be for her to ask herself. Every person is different and will react differently. For some women especially sex may not be important at all and others might abhor sex after a certain age or even from early life. But these people’s marriage are to use the word, non-consummated and so third rate marriages in my view. They are better off remaining single if they do not wish to have regular sex.
Incidentally, I approve of same sex marriages that are based on love and commtment to the other partner till death parts them. Implicitly, Bertand Russell was against same sex marriages if we judge him from the cited words of this blog.
People should know what kind of marriage they are entering into. Bertrand Russell on the focus on children in marriage and the prerequisite need for premarital relationships to meet this objective makes him a laughing stock as an apparent philosopher qualified to speak on the issue of marriage who can be treated seriously.
There are other’s those who argue for premarital sex: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf…efore-marriage
The issue has nothing to do with morality: if you are young, sexually charged and so actively looking for sex, you will not have difficulty finding a partner for the act. It does not make you a better person just because you have lost your virginity. On the contrary, a person will quickly get himself and herself a bad reputation for being a slut and of having lost their virginity thus becoming ‘used property’ so some potential future eligible partners will shun them as being too animalistic rather than being someone who has self-control and discipline to be interested in the human relationships of friendship and care rather than just sex and of having something more worthwhile to try and achieve from life than living for sex. Also, frequently once you have had sex with your partner all the magic of the relationship quickly disappears and people find that there is nothing more to learn about the other person so that they are no longer interested in the person let along marriage to the person. They start looking for someone better sexually. So they end up spending most of their time chasing men or women instead of doing something worthwhile with their lives. So I think remaining a virgin is better for marriage with a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Such relationships of companionship will give people time to learn about each other’s important nature and character instead of constantly thinking about sex. Just because one is aroused sexually does not mean that one has to take it to sex. One can masturbate for relief and concentrate on developing a good relationship with one’s partner. Again this has nothing to do with sexual morality, but is just practical common sense.