Pride and Prejudice vs. the Sexual Revolution

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Many of us have watched the 1995 A&E/BBC made-for-TV movie Pride and Prejudice, taken from the great Jane Austen novel written in 1812.  It is a marvelous film with superb acting, telling the timeless story of the love affair between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Georgian England. One cannot help but be struck by the level of civility and grace with which people treated each other two hundred years ago compared with the toxic and vitriolic age in which we live currently.

(Spoiler Alert:  Happy ending coming.)

At the conclusion of the movie, there is a double wedding when Elizabeth marries Mr. Darcy, and her older sister, Jane Bennet, marries Mr. Bingley.  The Anglican clergyman performs the ceremony using the words (slightly altered) from the 1559 Book of Common Prayer.  Listening to the words of the marriage ceremony, one could believe that there could never be a better description of the institution of marriage and the purposes for which it exists.  These are the words which end the movie:

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is an honorable estate, instituted by God in the time of man’s innocence, signifying unto us the mystical union that is between Christ and His church;

and therefore is not by any to be enterprised lightly or wantonly to satisfy man’s carnal lusts and appetites but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God, duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained.

First, it was ordained for the procreation of children.

Secondly, as a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication.

Thirdly, for the mutual society, help and comfort that the one to have of the other; both in prosperity and adversity, into which holy estate these persons present come to be joined.


Let’s think about these words and phrases for a moment…

A permanent union of one man and one woman that values children before self-interest; commitment over convenience; love over lust; and God before mankind.

For two thousand years, these words have described the common understanding of marriage in Western civilization. What great insight or profound wisdom can have caused the revolution in our   understanding of the meaning of marriage?

It can only have come from a culture which no longer believes in the God of the Old and New Testament nor the Judeo-Christian morality upon Western civilization has been built. The Sexual Revolution of the past 60 years has swept everything before it in the realm of marriage, family, and sexuality.

Do we think that this actually is progress?  Do we believe that life will be better and more fulfilling with what this revolution has spawned? Will this new culture provide more nourishment and meaning to individuals, families, and communities? Will children grow up confident and secure in the knowledge of what their future marriage means and will bring?

The culture has changed so much in the 25 years since the movie was made that these beautiful words about marriage would be on the cutting room floor today – if they even made it into the script.  It is hard to believe that we are forging ahead into a better world. Revolutions break things and often offer no lasting improvement. Is it time to rethink the Sexual Revolution?