I was recently listening to a radio program in which they were reporting that many modern "couples" were opting out of marriage. They noted that many couples still lived together, had children together, shared finances and essentially all that marriage requires, without the "outmoded" and "unnecessary" contract and vows of marriage. One couple even went as far as to state that they hoped to avoid the unnecessary financial burden and legal wrangling that would come with their inevitable divorce...so they just skipped the contractual marriage altogether. On the flip-side, due to the economy, many divorced couples are remaining together under one roof, simply for financial convenience. Another couple, when interviewed felt that they could give their children a more stable home by avoiding the trap of marriage and all its difficulties.
With this in mind, I thought Chesterton, though writing for another generation, would be a voice of contradiction and of course, common sense (in this time when common sense is anything but common!).
"Some of the same sort of social thinkers, who enlighten us in the daily Press, have more than once observed that the Marriage Service contradicts everything in the Moder Spirit. It contradicts everything in the world now around us and the way the world is going. So it does; and it contradicts them in two words, "I will."
For it is precisely on that point of the power to say "I will," about Marriage or about anything else, that the real war of the world is being waged today. For the typical modern man, or rather the typical man who calls himself modern, always prefers to say, "I must," whether he says it as an anarchist or as a man of the Servile State. He says "I must," whether he means that he must obey a passion or that he must obey a policeman. He always represents himself as driven by some sort of irresistible compulsion, whether it is that of lawless love or an emphatically loveless law. Whether he is obeying the State, or the Boss, or the brute force of Nature, he equally excuses himself on the plea that the power is stronger than his own will. Sometimes he says that his anarchical behavior is due to heredity. In other words, he will not have his love-affairs arranged by his father and mother, but he will have them arranged by his great-great-grandfather, and his great-great-grandmother. Sometimes he says that everything is due to environment and education; which is a sort of lawless parody of the Indian infant marriage. But in all cases he talks as if he himself had really nothing to do with it; and he very naturally finds something annoying in an antiquated and superstitious formula that requires him to pronounce the words "I will."'