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!