Sunday, January 19, 2014

What is marriage?

Marriage has been in the news so much lately. Many people have been blogging about it. I have my personal views on it as well. I was married for 20 years. When I got married, it was what was expected of me, it was what everybody did. I didn't particularly want to; I had very few examples of happy marriages. My Mom wasn't happy. I did a lot of babysitting when I was a teen and I didn't see any examples of marriages that I wanted to emulate. Disney didn't help matters; they showed princesses that were helpless and needed rescuing from horrid family lives and the prince came along and rescued her and that is where the story ended. There was no example of what came next....

This is what disney showed:  Disney Princess

This is the reality:  Disney Reality

What about the Mormon church? What do they teach about marriage? One has to only look to the proclamation to the family to know what is expected of a wife and husband. I want to take a look at marriage and break it down, look at the historical aspect and societal expectations.

1. Gender roles and expectations in marriage.
What is gender and how does it play out in marriage? Are the expectations different today than in times past? Are they changing for the future?  This is known for sure, science and the Mormon church disagree fundamentally on how gender is assigned and how gender determines what roles each sex will play in a marriage:

LDS Proclaims Marriage Roles, Gender Roles
 Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
*By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.      

  No distinct differences between sexes
*This is what science has to say about Gender
*There aren't real psychological differences between men and women
* there are linear gradations of variables associated with sex, such as masculinity or intimacy, all of which are continuous
*There are no real physical strength, personality traits, or other character trait differences between the sexes.
* individuals' differences often have little to do with gender

Are men more capable of working and bringing in income than women? Are women more nurturing and capable of cleaning a house than men? Not according to science.

I have yet to find a household chore that requires a vagina to do.

I am perplexed by the belief that women want to marry a man, have children by him, yet do not believe he is as nurturing and caring as she is. Do women really believe men are not as capable to love and nurture as she is? I find the idea to be demeaning to men.

It doesn't take a vagina to learn compassion and love. It doesn't take a penis to learn to manage people or earn money.

2. History of Marriage

Many people are claiming that marriage is historically between one man and one woman. I'm perplexed by this idea.  Today, in many African cultures, polygamy is currently practiced, as well as in the Muslim religion. Polygamy was practiced in the Mormon culture only 100 years ago; History of polygamy   Polygamy

So what about the Bible? Many people who are Christian claim to follow the tenets of the Bible and say the Bible purports the idea of one man to one wife. Let's look at some scriptural references:

  1. Nothing prevents a man from taking on concubines in addition to the wife or wives he may already have (Gen 25:6, Judges 8:31, 2 Sam 5:13, 1 Kings 11:3, 1 Chron 3:9, 2 Chron 11:21, Dan 5:2-3).Biblical marriage references Here are all the references that allow a man to have concubines; now a concubine is not a legal wife; they are: 


    a woman who cohabits with a man to whom she is not legally married, especially one regarded as socially or sexually subservient; mistress.
  2. man might chose any woman he wants for his wife (Gen 6:2, Deut 21:11), provided only that she is not already another man’s wife (Lev 18:14-16, Deut. 22:30) or his [half-]sister (Lev 18:11, 20:17), nor the mother (Lev 20:14) or the sister (Lev 18:18) of a woman who is already his wife. The concept of a woman giving her consent to being married is foreign to the Biblical mindset
  3. If a woman cannot be proven to be a virgin at the time of marriage, she shall be stoned (Deut 22:13-21).
  4. A rapist must marry his victim (Ex. 22:16, Deut. 22:28-29) - unless she was already a fiancĂ©, in which case he should be put to death if he raped her in the country, but both of them killed if he raped her in town(Deut. 22:23-27).
  5. Women marry the man of their father’s choosing (Gen. 24:4, Josh.15:16-17, Judges 1:12-13, 12:9, 21:1, 1 Sam 17:25, 18:19, 1 Kings 2:21, 1 Chron 2:35, Jer 29:6, Dan 11:17)
  6. Women are the property of their father until married and their husband after that (Ex. 20:17, 22:17, Deut. 22:24, Mat 22:25).
  7. Better to not get married at all - although marriage is not a sin (Matt 19:10, I Cor 7:1, 7:27-28, 7:32-34, 7:38).
There are more, but they don't get better. I don't want my marriage to look like that and I doubt many women today would want theirs to look like that, either. When people look to the Bible as the ideal, then they usually haven't read the Bible. The Bible is 2,000 years old, it represents the Bronze age, written by men who enslaved women, children and other people they conquered in war. Is that really what we want to represent us today?

3. Differing Cultures

The book, The Feminine Mystique was written in 1963 and it details the history of housewives. Women have worked always. Married women have worked along side their husbands as they owned shops, worked on the farms. Women have taught school children, they have done everything, there has never been a time when women haven't worked, until after World War II. It was a peculiar time. I donate money to an organization called It gives money to women across the world who run their own businesses. Women all over the world work to support their families. When the Mormon church says that women should stay home to raise their families, this is a foreign idea to women in other countries, as they must work to support their children.

The idea that women should stay home and not work is idealistic, foolish and imposing American ideals and values onto other cultures. It assumes there is only one way to live. Even in America, it assumes that all families can live on one income, that all families have two parents, that there is no such thing as domestic violence or abuse of any kind or that all men and women are equally responsible, or that there is no such thing as abandonment. It assumes there is only one way to raise children. There are so many different ways to raise children and they all work with varying degrees of success and have value.

4. Purposes of marriage and outcomes of marriage

What are the purposes of marriage? This to me is the most interesting. When I got married, I had no idea what the purpose of marriage was, other than controlling sexual relations. Since my divorce, I have learned many things that I never learned before that I wished I had.
*Marriage is controlled by the state, not the church
*People must get permission from the state to marry, it's called a marriage license, its obtained from the gov't not from a religious organization
*A marriage can only be undone by the state through a divorce
*The state decides who can have authority to marry; they may give that authority to religious organizations, judges, etc.
*In many foreign countries, only the state has authority to authorize marriages; religious organizations do not; therefore the Mormon church can only seal couples and not marry them. Therefore, a couple gets married by the state and gets sealed the next day in the temple, there is not year waiting period.
*Many people get married with no intent of having children
*There are over 1,000 benefits afforded people who marry not given to single people rights/privileges given to married
*There is a level of commitment that comes with marriage
*Marriage provides companionship and love
*Many people believe it is a sin to have sex outside of marriage
*Many people have children within marriage
*Even after having children, those children grow up, move out, yet many marriages remain in what is the purpose of the marriage after that?
*What is one of the best predictors of divorce? Being conservative Christian...yep. Getting married young and being uneducated leads to divorce Being Christian leads to divorce
*Marriage is hard; relationships are hard, but meeting someone who is raised in a different family system than you, a different social system than you, with different beliefs, different values, different ideas, a different view of how a family should be run, how holidays should go, how money should be handled. Then you are supposed to mesh these two systems together. If you have two people who are flexible, this can go smoothly, if you have two people who are arrogant, narcissistic, inflexible, then this is not going to go well. Oh, and nobody tells you about this. All people say is love is enough. Bull shit.
*Situations change over time, environments change over time, people change over time. Some people are better able to handle this, some people are not. Some people say, 'You are not the same person I married' (well, duh!) Some people say, 'I've changed, what did you expect?' And others change, but in opposite directions and become complete strangers to each other. Nobody tells you this is a possibility as the outset.
*The frontal lobe that controls personality, higher reasoning, and executive reasoning skills do not finish developing until the early twenties, sometimes not until around 25 years or so. Even the taste buds haven't fully formed yet. Yet, the mormon church and other religions encourage marriage before this age. The risks are the couple will likely realize the decision they made in a marriage partner is not the one they would have made later in life.
*When a couple gets married before they are done with their education, before they have some savings and are financially established; when they begin to have children before they have paid off student loans, they are only adding stress to an already stressful life. Stress leads people to emotionally distance themselves from each other, to yell more, to not be as calm and pleasant to those we love as we usually would. Add children on top of this, and research has shown that there is a higher divorce rate for these families.

Is it possible to have some of these things without the contract of marriage?
*If a person does not enter into a contract with the state to get married, a person never has to get a divorce
*A person cannot obtain the benefits of marriage, such as insurance, inheritance, etc, without marriage
*People can be just as committed to each other without entering into a legal contract. Every day, I choose to stay with the person that I love. Each day is a day of commitment. I choose to stay with him, rather than stay out of obligation or because it is easier to stay rather than get a divorce.
*Sin is religion imposing their values onto people. I'm okay with religious people believing what they want, but I also know that people have had sex without having been married since the beginning of time. People are biologically driven to it. Religion is a means to control people. I have no desire to be controlled by anyone.
*It is possible to find one or more people who you can live with to find companionship and love.
*It is possible to be committed to someone with the contract of marriage
*It is possible to have sex outside marriage
*It is possible to raise children outside marriage

 I do not need a contract with the government to tell me I am in a committed relationship. I do not need religion to define my relationship for me.

If marriage could change so much over the years, then it can continue to change and evolve.
There is nothing religious about it.

What is marriage? Marriage is love, commitment, conventional, practical and traditional, but
 History also tells us that marriage is patriarchy: How patriarchy harms families

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