Sunday, June 04, 2006

History of marriage-- complications of "I do"

This summer I have a wedding almost every weekend. Many of my close girlfriends are planning their ceremonies. It’s an exciting and happy time. But this makes me really take a closer look at the institution of marriage…

For instance, I know a gal (we’ll call her Katie) with extremely evangelical, traditional Christian values. Katie felt the need to quiz her sister on whether or not she and her fiancée had ever engaged in pre-marital sex. First of all, it isn’t uncommon in this day in age for people to engage in sexual relations while in serious, monogamous relationships. And contrary to the “NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE” message, people don’t regret having sex before marriage. It doesn’t ruin you or ruin what you will have with the person you are going to marry. On the other hand, I completely respect people who choose to wait. If that’s what makes them happy and comfortable, I say “mazaltoff!” But let adults decide what God wants for them and when they’re going to be sexually active. Even if you think it’s a better choice to remain celibate until marriage, it’s still none of your business, so back off.

Marriage is such a hot-button issue these days that even the U.S. Senate is getting involved. The Federal Marriage Amendment (the “one man, one woman” law) is once again being deliberated. On May 18th of this year, 10 Republicans said "aye" to writing marriage discrimination into the U.S. Constitution—and all 8 committee Democrats said "no." The amendment will now be sent to the Senate floor for a full vote.

You might be thinking, “I haven’t heard about this!” That’s because sneaky republicans are hiding this from you. Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (Republican-Pa.) moved the vote from the committee's normal room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building to the obscure President's Room in the Capitol, where there are no cameras or press allowed. Hence, no public scrutiny.

According to President Bush in a 2004 radio address, "The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and the law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution."

For once I agree. Marriage is wonderful and important. I hope people approach it with respect. When you say “I will take this person in sickness and health,” I hope you mean it. I hope when you start a family, you commit to them fully. I want people to commit to their family’s safety, both emotionally and financially. BUT… I don’t believe for one second that same-sex couples don’t understand this and can’t be part of the institution of marriage.

People that don’t want gay people to get married are bigots disguised as religious crusaders. There’s no reason, other than ignorance that you could argue for the Federal Marriage Amendment. Maybe you've heard people say:

“We need to get back to the way marriage used to be”

And what “way” would that be exactly?

According to the Old Testament, the ancient Hebrews were polygamous. Ancient Egyptian royalty practiced brother-sister marriage in homage to the Egyptian gods Osiris and Isis. And in some Native American cultures, transgendered women born as biological males were among the most prized of wives.

The history of marriage is surprisingly not dominated by love. The institution was created to help the elite consolidate power, wealth, and property.

“For the lower classes, common-law and other informal arrangements were more customary,” says Stephanie Coontz, a family historian working on a new book about the history of marriage. “They had little property to protect, and there simply weren't enough priests or judges to officiate their nuptials or organized records to track them. And slaves, a substantial percentage of the population, were forbidden to marry.”

As marriage became more accessible across class lines, it still remained a relatively business-centered deal. For example the wife of a hunter might process his furs — and a legal marriage helped the husband lay claim to the benefits of his wife's labor.

Romance didn’t enter the picture until the 20th century! "According to the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, as late as 1967, one poll of American college students showed that 75 percent of the young women said that they would marry a man they didn't love if he met their other criteria — if he was a good provider, and he was decent and sober."

Marriage has changed as our society has changed. This change has a great deal to do with the women’s movement. Women are no longer business deals, sold by their fathers to husbands to work in a husband’s fur trade. Women work outside the home and may even be the primary breadwinner. Women also control their reproductive destiny with birth control. All this has contributed to shaping the modern marriage. It has allowed Americans to be pickier about whom and when we get married, how our careers progress and the number and spacing of our children.

This is the first time in the history of humanity that marriage has become strictly about love—a rather unpredictable emotion.

Even with all the changes and divorce at high rates, people still believe in marriage. They find a person with whom they think “forever” is possible. It’s the sweetest, most hopeful sight in the world. I look forward to bearing witness as so many friends take their walk down the aisle to the person they love.

But marriage still feels bittersweet to me. Even with all our social advances:
*Women and children are no longer property of the husband,*
*interracial couples can now legally be married*
*people are allowed divorce if the marriage is unhealthy*

Yet we still find same-sex marriage such a threat that we’re willing to write discrimination into our constitution!!!

People want to tell you that marriage has always been between one man and one woman (but that’s not true) and people want to tell you that sex is only for marriage (well that’s also not true because marriage used to be something only reserved for the elite class, and not even associated with religion or ethics, rather business).

The people who want to “educate” you on proper sexual behavior pre-marriage have a giant stick up their ass. Tell them to mind their own business and move on. People that want to deny homosexuals the right to marry are uneducated at best, and bigots at worst. Never trust people who pick and choose parts of history and the bible that suit their agenda.

Read this article for more

Go here to oppose the marriage amendment

1 comment:

Amy said...

This is excellent...do you mind if I link to it?

(PS - thanks for the kind comments on my site!)