[internetworkers] Marriage and religion
machett at ibiblio.org
Thu Feb 5 23:44:38 EST 2004
I apologize if this is a repeat; I received a strange error message when I
tried to mail this the first time...
In response to Diana Duncan's message(s):
> I truly am curious about serious answers to these questions. I don't
> know that any of you know the answer, but it's worth a try in this
> diverse forum.
I don't know the answers, but I can offer a few educated attempts. The
topic and your questions touch upon several subject areas: religion,
political science, anthropology, sociology, law, history,... It's a
> It was certainly not sanctified by any church. In fact, the state
> is in the business of providing secular marriages at court houses
> and judge's offices. How does calling the union of two people a
> civil union differ from these secular marriages? Will the current
> proposed changes to state and federal constitutions inadvertently
> reclassify all such marriages as civil unions?
A: "Civil union" and "marriage" are legal terms to define differing levels
of marriage. It's the same concept at play with learner's permits vs.
driver's licence or 1st vs. 2nd degree [insert crime here]. A civil
union might well be called "lesser marriage" or "2nd degree marriage".
Not being a full marriage, then, means not gaining the full benefits or
full protection under the law.
As such, I don't forsee the government reclassifying justice-of-the-peace
marriages as civil unions, were this measure to pass. The two have
different legal standings, and, as I understand it, this issue is about
the definition of marriage (the full version).
(Come to think of it, I don't expect this proposal to receive any serious
consideration, much less become an actual Amendment. If it does, however,
I'm going to stop accepting out-of-state licenses as proof of
identification -- such an amendment would only open the door to further
bludgeoning of Article IV of the Constitution...)
> I know, I know, very sensitive topic. But I am truly at a loss with
> the current arguments that marriage is the province of the churches,
> therefore shouldn't be recognized by states unless churches approve.
> As Craig and I are both atheists and our ceremony explicitly did not
> include the word "God", why is our marriage recognized by the
> governments? It was certainly not sanctified by any church.
A: I disagree with KJ; I believe that religious reasons/explanations for
marriage precede economic/state/secular reasons, though not by much. One
aspect of the complexity of this issue is the age of the issue. A brief
Many, many thousands of years ago, in Humankind's attempt to explain where
rain comes from, why the Sun rises and sets, how plants grow, and so
forth, we dreamed up the notion of religion -- of gods. There was Mother
Earth and Father Sky, and between the two of them (or pick your pantheon)
they made the bounty of the earth. Human procreation nicely paralleled
that concept. Additionally, humans got in the habit (found religion) of
mimicking aspects of divinity. Do what the gods do and be assured your
place in the afterlife. Hence the Christians still have the phrase "on
Earth as it is in Heaven". Roughly, marriage evolved from all that. Now,
fast forward many thousands of years and...
...and pause to consider that this issue wrestles with a concept ingrained
by many thousands of years of Human culture.
Now let's jump back in time again to examine the state aspect of marriage.
At some point a little sooner than 10,000 years ago (not long after the
end of the last ice age, and even less time after the domestication of
flora and fauna - the first agricultural revolution (much despised by most
anthropologists)), Humans invented civilization -- that is to say
permanent dwelling places and the accumulation of wealth and the
subsequently necessary laws to deal with it all. In this frenzy of
lawmaking, marriage became codified. (I'm skipping a few points here
about the economics because I don't want to further confuse an already
complicated issue; but I'll address them if anyone cares.) One of the
many considerations taken by the state in "protecting" the "sanctity" of
marriage was children -- back then a decidedly economic aspect, but also
one of outright survival.
Now, fast forward through history again, all the while combining and
considering the religious and secular aspects of the issue. Consider
this: something like 80% of the US citizenry claims to be Christian. In
that religion, in fact in most religions, marriage = children ... which
requires a man and a woman (let's not bring modern science into the
argument just yet). God says so. Nothing else matters.
Secondly, our Republic is based on majority rule, so the rest of us can
just forget about it. To them, the government only gives an earthly
rubberstamp to a heavenly-ordained truth. There can be no separation of
church and state because God makes the rules. Just look at those bills in
your wallet: "In God you must trust."
You're baffled because you don't have religion as a factor in your
reasoning. But most of the people making the rules do (that and money --
those are the two determinants in politics: money (by far) and religion).
And they don't want you or your kind to have the same rights they do. God
forbid! next you'll be asking for plural marriages! jes' lak them Mermans
in Utah. An' then the real peeverts will be wantin' ta marry their
livestock 'n' such. Why! I heerd wunce thar wuz this guy what wanted ta
marry his horse...
-$0.02 and then some,
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