LESSON 56.

THE ORIGIN OF EXOGAMY.

433.      McLennan says, “Perhaps there is no question leading deeper into the foundations of civil society than that which regards the origin of exogamy.” Prof. Robertson Smith declares that “the origin of exogamy has not yet been explained.” Lord Avebury (Sir John Lubbock) in his book, Marriage Totemism and Religion, tabulates the various views regarding the origin of exogamy and marriage by capture, real or symbolic. These we will condense:

434.     (1) Plutarch’s adopted by Tylor:  Exogamy was a political expedient meant to strengthen the tribe by foreign alliances. But, since the symbol of capture implies a former real capture by force at its beginning, exogamy must rather have strengthened animosities, not alliances; but the practice may have been adapted to this purpose later. The case of Shechem and Dinah would illustrate this--Genesis 34.

(2). McLennan’s and Morgan’s view: exogamy arose in the scarcity of women, due to the prevalence of infanticide. Mr. Andrew Lang rightly answers, “The prevalence of infanticide at the supposed very early stage of society is not demonstrated . . . even if it existed it could not create a prejudice against marrying the few women within the group.”

(3) Müller: The symbol of capture was due to coyness,¾i.e., the bride “could not surrender her freedom unless compelled by violence.” But what about the mock resistance offered by the male relatives, instead of the bride?

(4) Bachofen: A social reform, due to the moral sense of women. It is not likely that a sex war has ever prevailed, in which the women have subordinated all the men.

(5) Westermarck: Exogamy arose out of “an instinct” against marriage of near kin. But this marriage of near kin existed before exogamy. In primitive times, among many peoples, notably the Persians and Egyptians, even brothers and sisters married. Abraham married his half-sister. Rather, the instinct against the marriage of near kin has been a development out of the law against incest. Exogamy forbade much more than marriage with mere kin. It interdicted marriage between members of the same group or tribe.

435.     (6) Exogamy was arranged by chiefs to prevent the marriage of near relations. This view is supported by Herbert Spencer, Dr. Frazer and others. But the same objection as above can be brought against it. The law against exogamy is too sweeping for the mere evils of incest.

(7) M. Fustel de Coulanges: Force, or pretended force, in the capture of a bride, arose from the supposed necessity of the bride’s resistance to transference from one’s family gods to the gods of another family or tribe. This view is not considered tenable.

(8) Lang and Reinach: It arose from totemism,¾something difficult to explain in a few words; but its main feature is that tribes name themselves after certain animals and thereon base a sort of family tree. But totemism does not always prevail where exogamy is found; and besides the totemism is often a later development than the exogamy.

(9) Lord Avebury: At first, communal marriage (promiscuity) alone prevailed; then, secondly when a warrior captured a woman he owned her exclusively; thirdly, two classes were thus created (a) the women of the tribe held in common by the men of the tribe, and (b) captive wives, who enjoyed the protection of one man, and thus rose to dignity; fourthly, women within the tribe would long for dignity, and men for exclusive property; fifthly, this would increase the practice of capturing wives. It has been strongly declared by other writers that the capture of a woman, at this stage of affairs, would not give the capturer exclusive right over her. What reason is there for believing that the men within a tribe would not fight as much over a captive woman as over a woman born in the tribe? Again, while a woman might long to belong to one man only, there is no ground for believing that a woman captured from an enemy’s tribe, and owned exclusively by her captor, would be so well treated, being his absolute property and slave, that the women within their own tribe would long for her status.

436.     At any rate, the practice of exogamy must, in some manner, be related to the fact of scarcity of women. And now please note one thing: It is the rule for these writers to conceive that first of all promiscuity prevailed; and secondly, that polyandry followed,¾that is, the state in which women have more than one husband. But, with characteristic blindness (as it seems to us), to the faults of the masculine sex, not one of them suggests that polygyny¾the possession of more than one wife by a husband¾has anything whatever to do with the scarcity of women within a tribe.

437.     These writers seem to assume that by inclination these men are monogamous, or, at least, that after a man has made good his need of a wife he rests satisfied. But what is farther from the actual facts? The scarcity of women within a tribe may be brought about in two ways; the actual number of women may be wanting which would supply one woman to each man, or there might exist an unequal distribution, caused by the women of the tribe being monopolized by its more powerful members. What would happen then? The men who lacked wives would go forth to capture them from the enemy’s tribe, and presently there would exist a law, promulgated by the chief men of tribes, that the women of the tribe belonged to them, the other men must capture women for themselves.

438.     The unbalance, then, which leads to the law of exogamy, may be not in an actual scarcity of women, or due to a hypothetic infanticide, or anything of the sort, but to an artificial scarcity due to a monopoly. These writers are evolutionists who often repudiate the light to be found in the early chapters of Genesis. We will not be so foolish, for we have most important information given us in those chapters. The unbalance goes even further back than one produced by a monopoly, for that monopoly is due to an unbalance in sensual desire, which we can probably trace back to Adam. Lamech, by violence, seized upon two women of his tribe, and that because he had inherited from Adam, through Cain, sensual desires which he did not choose to control. When he took two wives, instead of one out of the tribe, that would have left one man wifeless, excepting that, in this case, Lamech killed a man of the tribe. But in the case of the other men, emboldened by Lamech’s example, the widowed men would not be killed.

439.     Now we have the steps of social development plainly before us, on the authority of God’s Word: First, monogamy, with female kinship, the Creator’s own ordinance. Marriage should disjoint man from his kin, and not woman from her kin. But Cain’s progeny spread sensuality and violence over the earth, for Cain’s sons invented “cutting instruments,” that is, weapons of warfare (R. V.), and introduced polygamy into the tribe. This monopoly of women within Cain’s tribe, by its more powerful members, would force those who lacked wives, if sensual, to capture women from other tribes, and thus the law of exogamy would be established. The sixth chapter of Genesis, then, describes the beginning of exogamy. The descendants of Cain, or “sons of God” (read carefully, Lesson 21), deprived of wives from within their own tribe, “took them wives of all that they chose” from the daughters of Seth, and soon “the earth was filled with violence.”

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