Marriage Is Not An Effective Option

Decent Essays
Between 1400 and 1800, marriages based on romantic interest and physical attraction rose as a method to secure property and strengthen familial relations; by 1800, affection and desire were considered prerequisite for marriage (Crawford 18-9). Despite the rise of companionate marriage, attraction and companionship were not necessarily the primary functions of marriage in early modern Europe. During this period, marriage allowed both men and women to participate in sex acts without immediately being labeled deviants or sinners. Marriage also further encouraged the patriarchal control and dominance over women. Equally important, marriage was a legal transaction between husband and wife that provided both economic and domestic benefits. Marriage was a necessary institution in which both men and women could engage in sex acts without being socially persecuted as deviants or sinners. Despite Christianity’s wary views about sex, sex remained an unavoidable aspect of society. Celibacy was not an effective option because it conflicted with societal views on masculinity; society believed that men who vowed celibacy, and who were not graced with the gift of chastity, were denying their masculinity. According to Hendrix, “men could only be men if they fulfilled their natural sexual desires in the divinely blessed estate of marriage” (184). Marriage offered protection from sin. Without marriage, it was feared that men, and to a lesser extent women, would succumb to their sexual
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