The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute (CBLPI) is challenging young college women to get as many of their college friends as they can to sign up to receive a free copy of the “Luce Ladies” 2008 calendar. “The Lady with the most names wins an authentic, cedar-lined hope chest filled with $1000 worth of fantabulous stuff for her future marriage – and a $500 contribution toward the big day.”
What a brilliant idea!
During a month when The Vagina Monologues insult women (and men) across the nation, and New York City health officials tell city-dwellers to “get some” through a mass condom distribution campaign, CBLPI is encouraging women to set their sights (and hearts) on marriage instead of sex.
Common misconceptions about medieval marriage law and customs associate hope chests and dowries with women being devalued as property. In reality, these traditions carried with them no such degradation. Hope chests were simply used to store the hand-made goods and other items that a woman wished to bring to her future marriage. Essentially, a hope chest was part of her preparation for those first couple years of marriage, and, as the name suggests, symbolized her hope in marriage.
I actually think it a shame this tradition has died out. Many of the happiest couples I know, be they newlywed or not, admit that much of their marital happiness is due to being dedicated to their spouse, even before knowing who their spouse would be. In other words, before marriage (and sometimes even before meeting their future spouse) they would pray for him/her, and certainly they would save themselves sexually for him/her.
Their love for and fidelity to each other did not start upon saying “I do,” but was rather developed and strengthened long before then. A hope chest could very easily assist such spousal commitment by orienting a young woman’s thoughts and heart in that direction. The more she thinks about her future husband and prepares for life with him, the less likely she will be to get distracted from this goal through casual relationships. Her hope chest would serve as a reminder of her future husband and their life together, thereby strengthening her love and commitment to him.
Whether you can participate in this competition or not, I propose we follow CBLPI’s lead. Let’s help young women hope for happy and stable marriages in the future by preparing well for marriage today.