Thursday, June 26, 2008

Traditional Marriage is Dead (and it's a good thing too)

I have taken the following from a blog that I love called Feminist Mormon Housewives, it's where many liberal LDS women get together and talk about ideas. And while I am currently not practicing any religion but kindness...these words echo thoughts on marriage I have had for a long time. I've never thought the government should have a right to say who can and who cannot marry...I know that in my Christian circle of comrades that makes me a little too far out in left field, but, it's how I feel.

Over and over I read comments about how ‘traditional marriage’ is under attack. How gays and lesbians marrying will ‘destroy marriage.’ How we have to fight to defend ‘traditional marriage’ and the family from variously, the homosexual agenda, the evils of the world, the forces of Satan, etc. etc. etc. But the sad (glad) news is that Traditional marriage is dying or dead in much of the world and has been for a long time. And its demise has nothing to do with gays or lesbians. It was us women who killed it, forced its reinvention and started us down this ’slippery slope’ to where we are today.

What we call marriage in this country is a very recent invention. Throughout the millennia marriage has been, not about two people who love each other and want to share a life together, but rather about power, property and paternity. About male control of women’s work, women’s lives and women’s fertility. The importance of virginity, the stigma of bastardy, the ‘head of the household’ status, coverture, and in some cultures arranged marriages, bride price, dowries, honor killings, and the right of husbands but not wives to divorce at will — all of this was (or shamefully still is) part of the effects of traditional marriage.

These basic underpinnings of traditional marriage cross cultural boundaries. Yes, the monogamous found the polygamous found the polyandrous to be barbaric and uncivilized and just plain wrong. Not too much tolerance there. Nevertheless, things like monogamy vs. polygamy were differences of degree, not type. Traditional marriage began it’s decline the day women became autonomous people. The day our status became human, not property.

So we (our culture and our religion) had to redefine marriage to be relevant to 21st century life. We now talk about love and sharing our lives and being equal partners and mutual respect. Because of this, the world and the church have had to reinvent marriage. Society has reinvented it through laws. Many decry no-fault divorce, but once marriage became a joining of two loving, devoted and equal partners, it’s hard to force one to stay when he or she no longer wants to. Others decry same-sex marriage, but once society redefined marriage from a chattel arrangement to one between equals you need more reasons than unshared religious values or the ‘ick’ factor to prevent them from marrying the one they love.

People today are constantly working to redefine marriage to fit their religions and their lives. The battle now isn’t over whether ‘traditional marriage’ will survive but rather over who gets to have their redefinition accepted by the rest society.

And as a side note, Jim, I love you and I think your 14 year marriage to Christopher is beautiful and breathtaking. The evident love you have for each other has taught me so much, as well as your sense of humor about everything! Thank you!


Chelle said...

Thanks so much for re-posting this. It's probably the most brilliant explanation and statement about marriage and gay marriage that I have seen. This whole issue just makes me so upset, especially when I think of all my gay friends who are such wonderful people and have been together much longer than any relationship I have had.

Sugar said...

I always wonder why married people have to live together... I'm serious. I love being in love, but the daily chores and underwear on the floor and snoring and all that... talk about "ick" factor. I much prefer my space. That doesn't mean I want to have an "open" marriage. I still want a committed relationship, but with room to be me. Sometimes, that means physical room.

Alisa said...

I thought this was very well written and reflects some of the thoughts I've had about separation of government and religion.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
It was not until Tara and I left behind the conception of a traditional marriage and instead started to become actual partners that we salvaged a really close connection instead of giving up on it. I also agree with Sugar, that having a bit of room to move
and being individuals are of utmost importance, and what I mean by that has nothing to do with sex.
Too many people are afraid to embrace change that can actually make their lives better, more interesting, and far more full filling. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Well said! I love the idea of couples making marriage whatever they deem to be real and true for themselves, rather than what society is preaching to them. I think these people fare much better at it.

Also, I'm thinking of borrowing your phrase of practicing no religion but kindness. I believe that's my religion, too. :)

D'Arcy said...

Chelle--I agree, I know we have talked about this a lot and have similar views. Everyone deserves to be happy.

Sugar--What an awesome thought!! I never have even thought that before, but it makes me laugh. Maybe living apart makes it easy to grow apart (though plenty of people do that living together, don't they.) I know for me, being single for so long, I wonder how I would ever adjust to having someone there all the time....and then, on rainy, cool evenings, it's all I want!

Robb--your relationship with Tara is such a moving example to me. I love your journey with her. And I love how you have decided to define your own that works for you, not against you.

Thanks Opheilia Rising--I actually stole it from Gandhi (he doesn't mind)...he said once:

"My religion is simple. My religion is kindness."

That really stuck with me and I think about it a lot and try to govern my life by it.

Sugar said...

Ghandi also said:

"Where there is love there is life."

Funny... he didn't mention a ring or mortgage...

KingdomWriter said...

Wow, that was a slighly disturbing post. I think just saying 'gay marriage' is a contradiction! There is no such thing. Two men cannot join as one, no matter how 'liberal' and PC one tries to be. Marriage is between a man and a woman full stop.
Also talking about 'open marriage' is a completaly contradiction in itself. That is not what marriage stands for. If you are married and have an open relationship i.e. you sleep with other people, you better get a divorce quick or you are just kidding yourself to happiness. But that is just my opinion of course.

D'Arcy said...

Kingdom Writer--thanks for visiting. And thanks for expressing your views. I truly respect them.

I think the main point I wanted people to think about was that regardless of whether or not we believe homosexual marriage is sinful, I do believe it is certainly worth considering just what traditional marriage means as a theory and in our lives.

I'm not one to advocate adultery in any form at all. Marriage is hard enough as it is (so I have heard!). However, perhaps those cookie cutter ideals that have been propagated throughout time aren't meant to be the way we judge a successful relationship because each person is different, and no couple fits a single mold.

I think it is important for each individual to consider what marriage really does means to them, and come away more devoted to having truly beautiful relationships in their homes.

Anonymous said...

I think, when it comes right down to it, marriage (and, by extention, a family) is about love. Whether you're a man and a woman, two men, two women, a grandmother and a child, a mother and two children, a man and three children - (well, you get the point) - ANYONE can be a family. ANYONE can fall in love and want to get married. And what makes up a marriage, or a family, is their love for one another. It doesn't matter who you are.

We are all human beings, after all, striving, reaching, wanting to love, and to be loved. And everything else just blossoms from there.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Sugar, you make a good point. If I ever became single again (courtesy of a well placed potato gun shot??.... just KIDDING folks), I think I would remain single. I'm a very independent person and really treasure that.

On another note, I am SO happy it's Friday afternoon.... what a crazy week this has been!

Looking forward to our Friday night ritual of really good Mexican food and a nice strong Texas margarita! :-)

(PS - Sugar, no - it's not nurses that I recruit - but that was a good guess!) :-)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

For a split second, I saw that photo at the top of this post and thought that was YOU (the tall pretty blonde).
I thought to myself "D'Arcy has RUN OFF and gotten married and is telling us via this post!"

D'Arcy said...

HWHL: That's awesome. I promise to give everyone more notice before I elope to a sandy beach with a beautiful man in this EXACT same dress and I will look almost EXACTLY like this on my wedding day (hopefully my groom won't be making such a beeline for it though, eh?) This a photo of my friend, she has my exact taste, she had this dress and veil made by a friend. I have this friend's name, number, and I will be having her make me one just like it!

jomama said...

i guess it depends on what you mean by "traditional marriage." if you mean the kind of business arrangement, "selling" a woman and her only purpose is to clean up after and bare children for the man, then yes, i am all for the death of that.
but i can't be for the death of an equal partnership between a man and a woman that was meant to be an ultimate union between two souls and a strong and stable environment in which to raise children.
i realize all marriages fall short of this ideal but i personally feel that if we try to live up to it, imperfect as we are, that can be a beautiful thing too.
i don't feel that marriage should be able to be defined in anyway we see fit. i'm not trying to deny anyone their right to love whomever they want or to be happy, but i honestly feel that marriage was meant to be a sacred union between a man and a woman. this isn't a point of view that i've come to lightly, or only because it's the way i've been taught in my church. i really believe it to be true.
i do think it's important, as you said, to really think about what marriage means and how we want to define it, and i thank you for helping me to realize how important marriage is to my way of thinking. it makes me want to work harder on mine, to make it stronger, a better union, and a more wonderful environment in which to raise our children.

D'Arcy said...

Well said, Jo. Very well said. Thanks for posting your thoughts. You marriage is another one I greatly admire.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

This post made me sad.

You know I love you like a sister, D'Arcy, don't ya?

Stina said...

I just wanted to say that I hope as a new member of your "Christian circle of comrades" you will come to find that there are those of us who DO share your perspective on things like gay marriage and who ARE active, practicing Christians... whose churches also allow those of us who share these views to be vocal. I can't wait for July 6!

D'Arcy said...

Stina, I am so excited to come to your church with you next Sunday. Thank you for the invitation.

I am sorry if I am grouping any of you under one belief. I just know that from the religion I came from, members have a strict view on marriage, and I respect this view, and held this view for a large part of my life.

It's also human nature to believe that once you have found the answer that is right for you, you believe that it must be right for everyone....I am trying so hard to move away from this kind of thinking.

When I talk about my ideas, I don't mean to make anyone sad or upset or feeling like they are being attacked. On the contrary, one of the biggest blessing of life is when you can have people from all different backgrounds and from all different cultures and from all different religions come together. No one has to would be so boring if we all one has to put anyone else down, but I LOVE hearing peoples ideas and expressing my own. I think it's part of the human connection.

So, keep connecting friends!! I really do respect each of you and enjoy your comments.

Sugar said...

D'Arcy: This is obviously a tough topic. No matter what side, good job for having the courage to voice your thoughts. It's like the words in my last post on The Invitation: "I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for you dream, for the adventure of being alive..."

Risks are better when actually taken.

Gustav said...

Dear D'Arcy

What an interesting mix of comments on a post that is quite brave of you to make.

Your honest and respectful post sits well with me.

My view is that each couple needs to create and recreate their relationship on a daily basis. Things change, does your relationship have a foundation that can sway in the wind and not break?

KingdomWriter said...

Great to see so many views shared. However, I will push my thoughts along a bit further on the marriage /gay / christian theme here. Stina, bless your soul, I do not know you, but I do know however that as a christian we follow the Bible, as the Word of God, and in that we follow all of it. Here is what Romans 1:24 - 28

"24.Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
25.They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26.Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
27.In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28.Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done."

Not gay bashing here, that is not the purpose, so I hope people are bigger than that in their thinking. It is just that to me the Bible is the Word of God, and the truth is in Jesus and Gods love for all of us. Once again, just my 5 cents worth! Enjoying the discussion though.

D'Arcy said...

It is an interesting discussion. One that we all have an opinion on.

It doesn't sit well with me, however, that one person's religious beliefs should dictate the laws of a society. I personally don't believe everything taught in the Bible. I think it has been mistranslated and misunderstood for years, and while there are many good things to learn from and improve our lives with, I just don't think it can be the foundation of a country. Who would interpret it? Who would decide what each scripture means? Your pastor? Your bishop? What if your ideas differ? I think it puts too much power in the hands of one person to tell me how I should interpret my scriptures.

Throughout history many people have used their religions to justify intolerance. That's why witches in Salem were burned, that's why men could marry more than one woman, that's why heretics were tortured and murdered, and so many other hate crimes...we see them all over the news. Religions against religions.

It seems like every week there are new demonstrations with placards that say things like “God hates gay people.” I saw that, and I just don't think that's ok with God (at least not the God I believe in) and it seems so contradictory to any message God would send to his children, even his gay children.

It is, of course, anyone's right to oppose things such as gay marriage. After all, this country is founded on the right to free speech and debate. However, I tend to embrace the doctrine of peace and equality taught in the Bible, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Instead of the ideas of stoning people.

Religion can be a great thing that brings people together and brings a purpose to life. But history has shown that it also serves as justification for many, many ungodlike actions.

Anonymous said...

D'arcy, you're awesome.

Alisa said...

Exellent moderation of discussion, D'Arcy! I too see a lot of good points that I respect, and a lot of statements that I have agreed with or at the very least entertained at some point in my life.

I really see the desire a lot of people have demonstrated here in their own way to "love God" and "love neighbors" as stated in two commandments I find important in my personal belief. I also like to add, although this is broader to me than taxes, "Give unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's," and let God handle what God has ordained.

I don't want to legally be forced to live out someone else's religious belief. As a married woman without children, some public people in recent years have said they consider my type of marriage (one for love and companionship, without procreation) void. I certainly don't. They can have their opinion, but I am so thankful they can't enforce their opinion legally on me.

fromthestecherbush said...

MMMmmmm, I was thinking of traditional as in Adam and Eve and the Lord setting forth the example.

I was thinking if the government should have control of anything, it should be over something that left unleashed could have the power to damage society all the way to Soddom and Gomorah. Where do you draw the line-children, animals . . . ?

Whenever I question something like this, I think about what would happen if everyone participated. I take it to large proportions. It makes it easier for me to see why this is the Lord's plan.

Jenn said...

Practicing kindness is being a true disciple of Jesus Christ, so bravo!(I guess I'm out of your loop you have beef with church?)

I believe "traditional marriage" is a name society has come up with. Marriage between a man and a woman was ordained of God, though. Humans may have messed it all up at various times through the ages, but God has always had it right.

D'Arcy said...

Hi Jenn! Good to see you here. I have no "beef" with anyone, I am a vegetarian. I'm going to send you an email!

Rowena said...

Brava D'arcy.

Wonderful post. Wonderful discussion.

I myself was raised Buddhist. I have never understood why the bible should dictate who I could or could not marry. I am not a Christian. Why must I follow Christian beliefs?

To me, two consenting adults is a very fine rule.

Perhaps if the church disagrees with someone's love, the church does not have to marry them. That does not mean they should not have the same rights as other citizens.

Anonymous said...

so then you must go further to define that. Two consenting adults who aren't related? two consenting adults who aren't married to other people? Then, who gets to decide who is an adult and who isn't an adult? What if that changes?

Rowena said...

No, anonymous, I do not need to define what "two consenting adults" is. There are already plenty of non religious laws that define that. If you want to go state by state, you can do that.

I have spent a lot of thought and time on this comment, and I could go on, but I do not want to turn d'arcy's very interesting conversation into a battlefield.

I will simply state that this country was based on freedom of religion. So religious beliefs should not dictate law.

D'Arcy said...

I think, again, that there are a lot of opinions on this. And as adults, I appreciate when people can state their opinions and realize that they are just that, OPINIONS, not facts, and not the way everyone should feel. I also appreciate when people feel confident enough in their beliefs and opinions to name themselves, but that's just how I roll.

I think that using scare tactics is again, yet another way to justify unfair treatment. Saying that if we allow two loving adults to marry will then lead to the demise of society or people marrying animals is a scare tactic....and that's not how I roll.

Also, it's really important to remember that not everyone defines God in the same terms. So, while this battle over marriage is going to rage on in the world, at least we can try and be somewhat wise in seeing that this is just a tough topic overall, and one that we shouldn't shy away from discussing just because we have different beliefs and opinions.

Those differing beliefs and cultures are what make me excited to see the world and take an active part in it every day.

Thanks everyone, I've really enjoyed this post and appreciate all who have commented.