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Archiver > GENIRE > 2002-03 > 1016479169

From: Don Moody <>
Subject: Re: Illegitimate
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 19:19:29 +0000
References: <002101c1cd5b$6adef840$a80c32d2@cracker>

In article <>, Charles
Sullivan <> writes
>In some social classes it was almost the rule for the bride to be
>pregnant at marriage - it was proof that the couple were capable of
>having children to continue the family line. No pregnancy - no marriage.
>This would especially be important for the eldest son under the laws
>of primogeniture.
Its less to do with class, or race, or religion, than with being part of
a small and isolated community which is on the population limits of
viability. The requirement of such a community is that the maximum
number of pairings are fertile and the minimum number infertile.

Infertility can happen because the male is infertile, because the female
is infertile, or because they are both fertile but are immunological
incompatible. Small communities may not know all about the
technicalities of fertilisation rates and factors but they sure do have
an accumulated wisdom of empirical observation.

This leads to socially acceptable practices like two young folk living
together for a year and a day. If the girl gets pregnant in that time
they have to marry. In the expectation the pairing will produce more
young. If the girl does not get pregnant, the pair have a choice on the
last day. The least favoured (by the community) choice is to marry and
stay together. Except when both parties have had previous infertile
'betrothals'. The most favoured choice is to split and try again, each
with a different partner.

Where marriage is regarded as indissoluble, there is a very positive
religious influence as well as the community influence in favour of non-
marital 'trial' pairings.

There is no point in nitpicking about the precise format, time periods
and nomenclature in different places. Around the world any exisiting
population on the brink of sub-viability will have found some way of
maximising breeding capacity. For the very simple reason that any
community which did not find such a way is no longer around to be

That it doesn't fit a code of 'morals' or religious precepts does not
indicate the young folk are 'sinful'. It only indicates that they don't
live in the kind of populous, intertrading, metropolitan communities as
did those who wrote suitable rules for their own communities.

There is a country where I did anthropology where Catholic priests are
deemed to be celibate providing they have no more than two children by
the same woman, who is their permanent live-in 'housekeeper'. There is
no hiding and no shame. The situation is overtly accepted by the local
bishops. That it contravenes procedures laid down in Rome is held to be
immaterial. It doesn't contravene local conditions of living in the
country concerned. Since overt marriage is a step too far for the
hierarchy, all the children born to priest's housekeepers are
'illegitimate' acording to the civil records of the country.

In other words, there are no absolutes in the threesome copulation,
birth, and marriage. Circumstances most definitely do alter cases.
Anything that can happen does happen as the norm somewhere. What is
unconscionable everywhere is to attach blame or shame to the infant. By
definition, not one of us was present at the cavortings which produced
us; and we certainly couldn't have had any influence - let alone a
decisive influence - on the choices which led up to those cavortings. If
there is blame or shame according to some particular set of cultural
values then it belongs wholly to one or both of our parents, and not at
all to ourselves.


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