A BRIEF HISTORY OF MARRIAGE AND RELIGiON
Marriage is not a story, myth, or miracle originating from the bible. Just as America adopted Christianity as a form of corporate influence, marriage as a concept was claimed by the church, and reinterpreted numerous times over. The miseducation of Christians begins with the church's claim that marriage originates in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. When in fact it does not mention the term marriage at all, nor reference it in a way that any person today understands marriage.
Genesis 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
This statement as it reads clearly and directly narrates a man and women uniting as a couple. As we all know, men and women do not become one flesh in the literal sense, but rather figuratively, sexually, or through their off-spring. This verse does not specify why they should join, nor does it say they join for love, joy, companionship, children or any other reason we currently marry someone.
THE EARLY DAYS
Marriage as a custom or ritual has been around long before the church or organized religion. Marriage is an ancient institution that predates recorded history or law. Early marriages were used as strategic alliances between families. They were territorial unions, or what we would call these days, corporate mergers. They lacked all the things that most of society today understand as marriage. Those things being love, sexual attraction, companionship, and desire for children. In ancient times marriages were practical, business dealings that rarely involved the children’s consent or approval. The majority of all marriages were also between first and second cousins, further demonstration of convenience and human geographical necessity. In the Bible, the forefathers of Christian, Jewish and Islamic faith, Isaac and Jacob married cousins and Abraham married his own half-sister. Today this is illegal in many US states.
Just as American history avoids discussing its founding fathers as slave owners, the Catholic church avoids its founding fathers polygamists views. Monogamy is clearly central to modern marriage, but polygamy was quite common throughout prerecorded and religious history. From Jacob, to Kings David and Solomon, to Muhammad, religious men often had anywhere from two, to thousands of wives. This is also illegal in most US states.
It wasn’t until 1215 when the Catholic Church, declared that partners had to publicly post notices of an upcoming marriage in a local parish, simply to cut down on illegitimate marriages. Until the 1500s, the Church accepted a couple's word that they had exchanged marriage vows, with no witnesses, or corroborating evidence needed. As time passed so did economic and social changes allowing for individuals to have more control over their destinies thus resulting in less arranged marriages. Slowly but surely marriage started to become optional, and socially acceptable as a way to express love rather than convenience. This is another clear change that has occurred in the church's relationship with marriage.
In the 1950’s the idea that men and women were more equal in regard to their roles within marriage, popularized. Divorce which at this time was 20%, slowly but dramatically increased to 50% by 1970’s. This demonstrates the incredible shift in societies definition of marriage, making way for gay marriage. Because we now see marriage as the result of mutual sexual attraction, love, companionship, and shared effort in the home, we are no longer concerned with who makes that commitment, but rather, that those qualities are present for a marriage. We also recognize when those qualities are not present, that we have just cause to dissolve this agreement without public ridicule.
Marriage has simply changed and continues to change with us. We do not have the same lifestyles, science, social structures, global awareness or cultural diversity of our ancestors. The founders of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, never claimed ownership, or universal creative authorship of marriage until now - when they feel their grip and influence on humanity slipping away.
It seems the church is just fine with it's numerous and dramatic changes to their definition of marriage, as long as they don't include gay marriage. This could be for the fact that each of these religions holy books site homosexuality as "abhorred, and detested"... or simply because the church bases its understanding of the universe on myths, stories, and implausible theory. What ever the case, to believe that humanity is doing anything, in a purist manor, from two thousand years ago, is equally as foolish as doing something simply because it was done that way two thousand years ago. It is time to start using facts, evidence, and education as a means to guide society, rather than beliefs, and superstition.
Photo by: Ines Männl Fotografie