In honor of my last blog, “is SEX immoral”, I’ve been led to take on the related subject of marriage. Just as sex has lost its value in our society, more so has the concept of marriage, to the point that many see it more as a restrictive burden, and have chosen the road of singlehood. Let us explore the who, what, why and how of the institution of marriage.
First, a brief history:
It’s difficult to pinpoint the very first marriages, but it’s widely acknowledged that some of the first recorded marriages were from the Old Testament Hebrews. It was a much different event at the time, involving the trading of animals and labor, while the mother and beautiful daughter had little or no say in the arrangement. Nevertheless, it was always between a young man and a young girl, and they would become partners and raise children. It wasn’t until after Christ that many of his followers in Rome began using vows to one another to hold their marriages together. Soon, many of the wealthy Romans began legally documenting their unions so that their property rights would be protected (man, those Romans were really into law and political philosophy). As Christianity grew in the Roman Empire, so would it remain the dominant religion in the land we now call Europe and the United Kingdom, where it became increasingly popular to have a ceremony, whereby people would publicly share their commitment to one another in the presence of a priest and two witnesses. Following the colonization of North America and it’s policy of religious freedom, many people requested civil ceremonies as an alternative to religious ones, but it would still be called a “marriage”. So it remains to this day in our country and many others.
So, in this day and age is there any real point in getting hitched? Is it an out-of-date practice? Well let’s see,… people get married for a number of reasons. Looking at the religious aspect, some of God’s purposes for marriage as stated in the Bible are: companionship (Genesis 2:18), procreation (Genesis 1:28), mutual and undefiled pleasure (1 Corinthians 7:4-5; Proverbs 5:18-19; Song of Solomon; Hebrews 13:4), prevention of immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2,5), the serving of Christ as a whole and properly representing the spiritual relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33), and the raising of godly descendants (Malachi 2:13-16). [http://www.gotquestions.org/common-law-marriage.html]
On the civil side, there are many benefits to being legally married that have nothing to do with religion. One reason that marriage is supported and encouraged by our government and by the people by-in-large, is because the bond of marriage leads to the good of not only the couple and their children, but also to the good of the society as a whole, for the family unit is the building block of any society.
There’s no question that we are built to procreate. I wrote all about this in my last blog. It is in our nature to desire sex and we are equipped with the necessary tools. The way it works is that men have certain parts that fit with womens certain parts, both externally and internally, and there’s no other way to naturally produce a child. Whether by design or evolutionary coincidence, this is how it is.
Considering the many reasons for two people to unite in a committed relationship, I believe there is none more valid than to support the raising of healthy human beings. I don’t just mean physically, but emotionally, psychologically, and often spiritually healthy. All studies show the dramatic difference it makes on children’s lives when there is an active mother and father in the home. They are MUCH less likely to get into trouble as adults, and generally do much better in school. It is within the family structure that children learn how to be a part of society, and removing a key figure in that structure leaves the child at a disadvantage.
So we’ve answered some of the what, how and why of marriage. So what about the who?
Ideally, anyone considering having children should marry to show their commitment to each other and their children. Also, any couple who desire to commit to one another for the sake of legally combining their assets, being recognized as partners by the state, and for emotional stability should be allowed to marry. Without these reasons there is really no need for marriage, and without any intent to marry it is unwise and selfish to indulge in sexual encounters.
As the U.S. Constitution states, I believe all people have the right to choose to partner with someone else. The Constitution calls it by it’s popular name, “marriage”, but I feel that civil unions of a non-religious nature should be referred to by a different name. If church and state are to be separate, which I believe, then the terms and traditions of marriage should be governed by religious institutions, and secular unions governed by the state. Both, however, should be legally recognized by the state.
I say this because many of us who consider ourselves Christians regard the practice and traditions of marriage as sacred. It is something we feel a strong conviction about and hold a deep rooted commitment to, although you might not think so since divorce statistics are the same on both sides. Nevertheless, we do not see a wedding as simply a piece of paper or an agreement, but as a spiritual bonding.
At present time our beliefs are that nature intended man and woman to unite, and not man and man, or woman and woman, or woman and child, or man and horse, or man and five women. Yet, because the state can respect no religion over another, the traditions and stipulations of marriage are being challenged to include gays, and soon others will follow. The concept of marriage is being removed from religious principles, and therefore should no longer remain under the same name.
Let me take a moment to respond to the minor, but very well funded, movement to legalize gay marriage. I do not see marriage as simply an act of love, nor do I see it as a right, as some claim. It is a privilege that we are allowed a legal recognition for a social status. Therefore if the state is to begin recognizing gay marriage it must be done so by vote, not judicial order. This is NOT a civil rights issue.
I often think about an America with no distinction between homo and heterosexual marriages. One could not be favored over the other in child custody cases. Public Education would issue teaching materials featuring children with gay parents. Law suits will be filed against any day-care that straight over gay. I would suppose the greeting card industry would boom as surely they would need to make homosexual valentine’s day and anniversary cards. Legalizing gay marriage isn’t just about providing “rights”, it is essentially bringing homosexuality into the fold of accepted social behavior. That is the only world your children will understand. Perhaps that’s what you want, but in a nation that is over 80% Christian, I don’t see it going over too well. Civil Unions (a state-recognized partnership with most of the same legal benefits of marriage) are already on the table, and have a far better chance of getting legalized. I’m all for that.
In spite of that, this is not a anti-gay marriage blog, but a pro-family and pro-tradition blog. I want to keep families strong, and I want our traditions to hold their value. Already, the marriage commitment is seen as something that can be instituted in a 5-minute ceremony by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas, and broken off a year later, or just two days later in the case of Brittany Spears. What was once so meaningful to the Christian world has been secularized and devalued. I think it needs to be protected, and those of us who desire to make those vows need to think it over and be sure that we are prepared to live up to them, or at least step away before we bring children into the world, only to leave them with the challenge of making it through a tough world without the necessary preparations.