By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Profoundly Irrational and Exploitative

A young woman--very wholesome looking, very responsible, very hardworking, apparently from a stable family background--does the supremely irrational which is very possible even for someone of her quality because the stigma or taboo has utterly disappeared: buying a home with a live-in boyfriend (read: shacking up). She yearns that he would marry her; he refuses. It is a story that is likely quite common in America and certainly not unique.

Oh, yes, buying a house in today's low-price market with a tax credit is very "rational."  Getting someone else to help you buy it is also very "rational"-- pooling resources and all that. Gaining home equity as opposed to paying rent is very "rational." How beautifully rational and cooperative!

But, is being tied to a sexual opportunist, with his name on the house title, "rational"? Is giving it all, 24/7, to someone who does not deem you worth a life-long commitment "rational"? If you end up free of this entanglement somehow in some unforeseen way and at some unpredictable future time, what have you done to your capacity to bond in unique fashion with someone who does consider you worthy of marriage? Something has been definitively lost forever that can never be fully replaced. Yes, there can be recovery, as the Gospel proclaims; but you can't undo past acts and simply erase their inherent emotional and physical consequences. The wounds remain, not to mention the loss of honor and reputation.

Now, I ask is that choice to create an unmarried household granting full, continuous sexual access really rational for her? Is this now common and very American "Benjamin Franklin type" of narrow, stunted, fallacious economic calculation really reflecting all of the true explicit costs of this arrangement, not to say the tremendous, ongoing opportunity cost of foregoing the chance to meet someone much better who will indeed consider you marriage-worthy?

"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"

Mark 8:36 (NLT).
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