The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Oh, We’re Halfway There’

Posted on | December 23, 2023 | Comments Off on ‘Oh, We’re Halfway There’

Because I don’t watch much TV except news and sports, I know almost nothing about Millie Bobby Brown, one of the stars of a popular Netflix science-fiction series, Stranger Things. As for her fiancĂ©, well, his dad used to be kinda popular in the 1980s, and maybe still is, if you count karaoke singalongs. When their engagement made headlines in April, there was a good deal of journalistic chatter: “Oh, they’re so young!”

Really? During the 1950s, the median age at first marriage for women in the United States was 20.3 years, which is to say that nearly half of weddings involved teenage brides. Such was life in the Golden Age of middle-class America, when Dwight Eisenhower was president. You would probably risk a United Nations human rights investigation if you advocated a return to the 1950s status quo ante, what with all the propaganda directed toward denouncing “child brides” (by which they mean any girl marrying before age 18). This is why Millie Bobby Brown’s engagement at 19 was “controversial,” as if she were a helpless child in a Third World village being bartered off by a tribal leader in some kind of primitive exchange where the father of the bride gets a herd of goats.

Question: Do any of these people who get themselves in a huff over youthful marriage actually remember what it was like being a teenager?

Boredom and restlessness, an impatient yearning to break free from the stifling prison of high school — that’s what I remember, mainly. Also, smoking weed and listening to Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. But there were also years of unrequited love, hopeless crushes that never got anywhere, and, yes, the hormone-induced Bible Belt affliction of sinful lust.

People seemed to grow up faster back in the Seventies. A ninth-grader could walk into the store and buy a pack of Marlboros, no questions asked. The legal drinking age was 18, although many of us started much earlier than that, and high-school girls were partying in downtown discos where nobody much cared whether their IDs were fake.

The main obstacle to adolescent hedonism back then, at least in the Deep South, was the prevalence of what we would now call fundamentalist Christianity, which defined the moral code that adults sought to inculcate in youth. We were all wretched sinners in need of salvation — this was the theme of every Sunday sermon at Lithia Springs First Baptist Church, and every sermon ended in an altar call, usually with the choir leading the congregation in “Softly and Tenderly.” Growing up with the consciousness of one’s inherently sinful nature — being lost, with only one hope of redemption — did not necessarily lead to good behavior, and I was rebellious by nature. Bad boys were (and probably still are) more numerous than bad girls, so there was a supply-and-demand imbalance in the sins-of-the-flesh market once adolescence arrived.

All this I recall by way of rebuking those soi-disant “reformers” who think that adolescence should be extended by effectively prohibiting teenagers from becoming adults. They don’t want kids to grow up and get jobs; instead, they want to send them off to college to accumulate a mountain of debt and get a worthless diploma, thus to make them even less capable of independent living than they would have been if they’d dropped out of school in 10th grade. Most of all, they don’t want young people to fall in love, marry their high-school sweethearts and have babies. Our 21st-century “reformers” are anti-marriage, anti-motherhood and, in the final analysis, anti-love. So when a Hollywood starlet like Millie Bobby Brown announces her engagement at age 19 — oh, how dare she do such a thing?

If Millie Bobby Brown had declared herself to be transgender, gotten injected with testosterone and underwent a double mastectomy, she would have been applauded for her (or “his”) courageous choices. But getting engaged? To marry a man? Well, this is not just unfashionable, it’s practically unthinkable, at least in the minds of the “reformers.”

What was once considered the right thing to do — “better to marry than to burn” (I Corinthians 7:9) — is now considered quite wrong in a culture that has abandoned biblical morality in favor of “progressive” beliefs.

In choosing the old-fashioned way, Millie and Jake are rebels against the prevailing cultural norms, and it’s weird that, even though Jake’s dad seems to be a Democrat in politics, he’s an old-fashioned conservative in his personal life, having spent more than 30 years married to his high-school sweetheart. Now, everybody sing along:

We got to hold on to what we got.
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.
We got each other, and that’s a lot.

Just make sure Millie’s dad gets that herd of goats, OK?



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