The following is an excerpt on the debasement of marriage from “Fiat Ruins Everything” by Jimmy Song. Visit the Bitcoin Magazine Store to order a print, digital or audio copy of the book.

LOVE HAS BEEN debased.

In the past, love referred to the virtues present in enduring, intimate relationships. It demanded sacrifice, discipline, and patience. Classical writers saw love as a virtue because of its inherent difficulty. To paraphrase Apostle Paul, love is patient, kind, unenvious, and humble.59 Cultivating these qualities requires tremendous internal work and self-improvement.

Today, however, love is often used to describe any strong feeling or desire, like “I love ice cream” or “I love my job.” What was once the pinnacle of virtues has been reduced to expressing the intensity of fleeting emotions. The word love has been devalued more than trophies at a children’s competition.

While the concept of love has been cheapened, this essay is not merely a diatribe on language. I certainly lament the loss of meaning in words, but there are more pressing issues at hand. Instead, this chapter will focus on the practical consequences of love’s debasement on civilization—the institution of marriage.

The devaluation of love is not merely a linguistic issue; it has had profound implications for society. In particular, it has contributed to the breakdown of the family unit and the rise of high time-preference behavior. High time-preference refers to the tendency to prioritize short-term gratification over long-term benefits, and it has infiltrated every aspect of modern life, including relationships.

No-Fault Divorce

In 1969, Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, passed the No-Fault Divorce law—the first of its kind in the United States.60 The law aimed to reduce the bitterness surrounding divorce. Before its enactment, there had to be valid grounds for ending a marital union. For instance, if a wife wanted to leave her marriage before 1969, she needed to provide a reason, such as physical abuse or infidelity by her husband.

However, many people sought to leave a marriage without having valid grounds, leading to fabricated reasons and character defamation. Ronald Reagan’s first wife, for example, cited mental cruelty as her reason for divorce.61 The No-Fault Divorce law was intended to eliminate the need for such false accusations, akin to a parent’s policy of “I don’t care who started it” and punishing both children in a fight, regardless of the actual cause.

The law quickly gained popularity, and every state in the U.S. adopted it, many within just a few years of California’s 1969 law.62 Unfortunately, like many government regulations, the results were unintended and damaging.

With the hindsight of over half a century, we can confidently conclude that the No-Fault Divorce law has not reduced bitterness in divorce…

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