Sunday, October 12, 2008

Susan Squire

Katharine Mieszkowski of Salon interviewed Susan Squire about her new book, I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage.

One exchange from the interview:

You write that early Christians came to see marriage as a "lust containment facility." What do you mean by that?

Up until that time, marriage had been viewed as essential for social stability. It was the reproductive factory, essential to protect paternal identity. Women were held to a standard of fidelity that was absolute. But nobody equated sex in marriage, or any pleasure that you would get from sex, as being innately evil.

For early Christians, celibacy was superior to marriage. Virginity was the highest value. Never being polluted by the sexual act was far superior to marrying and reproducing for men and women.

This was a new idea -- that sex itself was sinful, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of whether the social rules were observed. Part of this is because the early Christians expected the apocalypse, and figured that the world was going to end anyway. What was the point of populating it any further?

They grudgingly allowed sex only within marriage as a compromise, not for the sake of reproduction but for satiating lust. And if you were truly a superior being, if you truly wanted to please God, you would eradicate your own lust, or temper it.

Read the complete interview.

Read an excerpt from I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage, and learn more about the author and her work at Susan Squire's website.

Susan Squire is the author of three books. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, New York, and The Washington Post, and in the best-selling essay collection, The Bitch in the House.

The Page 99 Test: I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage.

--Marshal Zeringue