Monday, July 13, 2015

Marriage and The Bible

As of last month, EVERYBODY can get legally married to the person they love, regardless of age, gender, race, and religious beliefs.  "We, the people," have "formed a more perfect union" by securing "the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity".  This country, which was originally sought out by oppressed people, took another step towards ensuring that its inhabitants were all seen as equals under the eyes of the law of the land.  A country that was founded on religious freedom, i.e. the right to practice or not practice the worship of God as you see fit, echoed our Founding Fathers' beliefs that government and religion can co-exist but not combine.  The principle of Separation of Church and State (on which our democracy was founded) was upheld.

We should now know that marriage is not a religious institution and certainly didn't start out that way.  Marriage is, actually, a covenant between two people.  Christians like to think God is involved.  So do Jews.  So do Muslims.  So do Buddhists.  So, even, do Scientologists.  The definitions of God might be different for all these groups, but to have your life based in a religion - any religion - is to believe that your God must bless your marriage.  But the fact is, we all don't truly believe that, not really.

How many couples married in a church eventually ended the marriage through divorce?  Religions don't divorce couples, the county government does.  How many weddings have been held in places that are not houses of worship?  Is a wedding in a church, synagogue, or temple somehow more sacred than a wedding at a country club, cruise ship, or castle?  One could argue that the eyes of God are everywhere, so it doesn't matter where a marriage ceremony is held.  But the truth is, God (in whatever form you view God) does not preside over a marriage, a legal representative does - a representative who is far from being ordained by God.  I happen to be one of those representatives and God has not mentioned anything to me about it.

But the Evangelical Christians in America are demanding that marriage be as their God ordained it - between one man and one woman.  They want traditional marriage as God intended, as dictated in The Bible.  So let's look at that for just a minute:
"First of all, marriage in The Bible is not defined as being between one man and one woman, but rather one man and several women.  It's basically polygamist.  Abraham had 3 wives (or at least 2 wives and a slave he had sex with), Caleb had 5 wives, David had 18 wives, Moses only had 2, but King Solomon had 1,000 wives (300 of which were concubines). 
"The Bibles rules about marriage are very clear: rape victims must marry their rapists; if a woman's husband dies, she has to marry his brother (even if he is already married to someone else); interracial marriage is strictly forbidden; and if you marry a woman who turns out not to be a virgin, you have to stone her to death.
The Church didn't even get involved in marriage until sometime around the 13th century when the Catholics got into the wedding business and made marriage a sacrament.  Pope Alexander changed marriage to be an agreement between spouses instead of an arrangement between their parents.

Up until the 1700's, marriage was never about doing something with someone you love.  The advice in the 18th century was to marry someone you could learn to "tolerate".  In colonial America, if you wanted to get married, all you had to do was simply say you were married.  Black people were finally allowed to get married after the Civil War, and in the late 1800's, South Carolina became the first state to declare that men were no longer permitted to beat their wives.  Wife-beating was finally outlawed nationwide in 1920."  NINETEEN TWENTY.  A big year for married women - they could vote and not get beaten for it.  Ah, tradition.

Also during the 1920's, the concept of "Love Marriage" fascinated America.  People were engaging in a new practice of marrying someone they actually loved (and couldn't beat up).  Conservatives at the time said that this new look at marriage would completely destroy the institution by the end of the 20th Century.

In 1967, bans on interracial marriage were lifted.  It wasn't until 1979 that the States eliminated the Master Laws, which stated that a man could do whatever he wanted with his wife's property.  And up until 1993, it was legal for a man to rape his wife in some states."

Here's a handy visual to help understand marriage as defined in The Bible which the Christians believe is the word of God:



A little scary for the ladies, isn't it?

So if you are married today to just one spouse whom you love and treat as your equal, then you have already accepted experimental changes to the traditional marriage, as written and defined in The Bible.  It wasn't that long ago that women were treated as property and people of color weren't even considered human.  As society learned from those mistakes, PEOPLE updated the rules of marriage.  And not because they HAD to, but because the times and society's views about marriage (what's fair, what's right and wrong) had changed over time.

So at its core, marriage is just an agreement between people.  That's it.  So please don't preach to me that your marriage is sacred and that my marriage somehow ruins your marriage(s)...

How many have you had again?