Thursday, October 07, 2004
No, not the political kind, the personal kind.
There is a discussion going on in one of the communities about whether or not marriage has outlived its usefulness. (wouldn't you just know I'd get caught up in this one?)
At any rate, the idea is that marriage doesn't work any more and poses more problems than answers. I find it rather funny that homosexuals are pushing for marriage while heterosexuals are questioning the validity and need for marriage. Don't you?
The conservative political factions in this country are determined to define marriage in terms of male and female when what marriage has become is a tool for bureaucracy. Easy to get into and really hard to get out of, except where fancy, over priced, and over done weddings are considered.
In the good old days (really old, mostly ancient days), marriage was about political and financial liaisons and legitimizing children. That's why it was imperative the bride be a virgin so the husband could be sure the offspring were his, which turned out to be the case in very few instances. The only parent a child can be sure of is the mother, which is why in really ancient days (before the advent of society, civilization, and marriage laws) knowing a child's father wasn't all that important and most communities were matrilineal. But with civilization came laws and bureaucracies and legal marriages.
I see marriage as a commitment between two people to live and work together for the good of all involved. The kinds of open, multi-partner marriages that Robert Heinlein posited in his later books are more feasible than what marriage has currently turned into. It has become a pleasure trap at best and an emotional and societal trap at worst. Although polygamy is outlawed in this country, there are literally thousands of polygamist marriages. The people involved are happy with their situations, although they are a bit unfair about how such marriages are run, especially since they consist of one male and lots of females. In the Middle East and Asia they are called harems. Personally, I believe in quid pro quo where polygamy is concerned and those women who want to marry more than one man (and the men who agree to that kind of arrangement) should have their share of the polygamist pie.
Has marriage outlived its usefulness? Should a different type of marriage be instituted whereby you contract for a certain number of years? Such a contract could be renewed at the end of each period of the original contract, but if things aren't working out or either of you want to be free to sign a contract with another party, then there would be no onus attached to letting the contract expire and moving on. Children would still be taken care of by their parents, something that could be built into the contract, but there would be no loss suffered on either side. The contract would expire and the parties would remain amicable. Of course, if the contract term is not yet up and both parties feel the need to end said contract, why not end it early without rancor or penalty (mental, physical, emotional, or financial)?
Modern pagans hold handfastings and the term of commitment is usually a year and a day, but can be for longer. However, bureaucracies and lawyers tend not to take handfastings as legal marriage and that poses its own problems.
Personally, I favor the contract method for those who need such things (and to satisfy bureaucracy and lawyers) or polygamy for those men and women who prefer that route. I do not believe government should have any say in the manner or style in which a marriage is conducted or that religions should be allowed to define marriage for people outside of their faith. Marriage is a personal choice and should be more malleable and move with the changing needs of society and religion and the style and mode of marriage dictated only by the people involved.
What do you think?