So says our friend Ivan the K.
Consider how certain root institutions native to the long development of Europe and to her individuality are the subject of attack and note the nature of the attack.
A fool will maintain that change, which is the law of life, can be presented merely as a matter of degree, and that, because our institutions have always been subject to change, therefore their very disappearance can proceed without the loss of all that has in the past been ourselves.
But an argument of this sort has no weight with the serious observer. It is certain that if the fundamental institutions of a polity are no longer regarded as fundamental by its citizens, that polity is about to pass through the total change which in a living organism we call death.
Now the modern attack upon property and upon marriage (to take but two fundamental institutions of the European) is precisely of this nature. Our peril is not that certain men attack the one or the other and deny their moral right to exist. Our peril rather is that, quite as much as those who attack, those who defend seem to take for granted the relativeness, the artificiality, the non-fundamental character of the institution which they are apparently concerned to support.
See how marriage is defended. To those who would destroy it under the plea of its inconveniences and tragedies, the answer is no longer made that, good or ill, it is an absolute and it intangible. The answer made is that it is convenient, or useful, or necessary, or merely traditional.
Most significant of all, the terminology of the attack is on the lips of the defence, but the contrary is never the case. Those opponents of marriage who abound in modern England will never use the term “a sacrament,” yet how many for whom marriage is still a sacrament will forego the pseudo-scientific jargon of their opponents?
Hillaire Belloc, “The Barbarians”, from This And That And The Other, 1912
The terminology point in that last paragraph is problematic. Protestants have never said that marriage is a sacrament (only baptism and the Eucharist are)
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