Saturday, April 18, 2009
It's one of the biggest industries in the country. Entering into it is the most important day of a young girl's life. Parents and young couples will throw away their life savings on that day.
We have jokes about it. It ends a man's freedom and enters him into a lifetime of debt and servitude. Ask the average American about their spouse or being married and you'll rarely hear about love or commitment. Instead you'll hear about "the old ball and chain" or stories of nagging, leaving the seat up, lack of sex, too much sex or how fat they've gotten.
Dig a little deeper and ask them why they got married and responses vary from "What else were we going to do?" to "She/He wanted to have children." or "You can't stay alone for ever."
Now before you get all offended, I started this rant with the disclaimer of "average American". Go ahead, look back and read it again. I then said "rarely". So if this doesn't apply to your situation and you were about to email me about your personal wedded bliss. Don't bother. I wasn't talking about you.
The rest of this country has a pretty messed up idea about marriage. From the ignorant star-struck young bride who stops considering her husband to be minutes after he proposes as she begins plotting the garish atrocity that will be her wedding day to the neighbor of ours who, when asked about his new wife commented "I don't know what the hell is the matter with her, I married her and got her pregnant... what more does she want?!", we have really screwed up this fine institution.
And that's exactly what it is, an institution. It is generally accepted that the earliest marriages were in ancient Egypt. Of course then it was a contract between a man and his father-in-law to be. The Bride was merely what was being traded. It wasn't until much later that the contract was between the husband and wife. They did include provisions for divorce, alimony and rules on concubines. If the husband took a concubine, the wife would adopt the resulting children.
As we all know, it was later hijacked by Christianity like most everything else and gradually became a sacrament. By gradually, I mean it took around 1500 years. St.Paul first commented on it, comparing marriage between a man and a woman to the relationship between Christ and his Church. Not really an official sort of thing, more of an off-hand comment. "Hey! This marriage thing is like a boat with no oars, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich! No wait, it's like that Christ guy and this Church we're starting!" This went on without much notice until the Council of Trent, upon noticing that people were going off and just deciding that they were just married, thus depriving the Catholic church of potential revenue decreed that all marriages must be presided over b a priest and two witnesses. Love still had nothing to do with it, this was about saving men from sinfulness and guaranteeing that church sanctioned procreation would continue to provide future soldiers of Christ.
(pause... I always cry at weddings...)
While I'm not a major expert, Jewish marriage history follows a similar path in case you were wondering.
Jump forward 400 years (or so) and look at the advances we've made. (that would be about the 1950's for those that haven't been paying attention.) DeBeers has already added a new expense to the cost of marriage. It was in the early 1900's that they decreed "an engagement ring should cost about two months salary." I could go off, but that's another story. More importantly, women are just about equals. They can vote and everything! Marriage is widely accepted as a romantic thing between a man and a woman, entered into willingly for the purpose of building a family and creating housewives.
I would have made a great 1950's housewife! If only I liked men. Oh well, details...
More importantly, we've worked out all the details of divorce. Now that both parties have a say in the arangement, what do we do if one of them changes their mind? Thank God for divorce! It was all the rage in the '80's. For what God has joined together, let only two lawyers tear assunder! (I'm tearing up again.)
But there are still places where marriges are arranged and wives are even bought. Strange places with odd values and weird customs. Like... America! While polygamy and arranged marriages are common; check out the Amish or the Morons or even the Hasidics if you need examples, it's the wives for sale that I love. Go ahead and click the link in the title. Or better yet, check out this ad or this one. "But those are Russians." you'll say. Yeah, but who do you think they are marketing towards? There are other examples, but they were my favorite. I can see the next series - "Got Bride?"
Clearly this is a wholesome, and spiritual institution that must be preserved in the spirit of the tradition in which it was created. Marriage is a gift from God that gives a man ownership of a woman so that he can make children that will grow into soldiers of Christ, thus giving said man a "full quiver".
You do see where this is going don't you?
Marriage is intended to be between two young healthy people for the purpose of curbing sinfulness and making babies. It is not for the old, the infirm, the sterlie, the impotent and most certainly not for gays. Isn't that right? It's not about love or a stable economy of the good of society. It's about making babies and if you can't make babies for Jesus then we don't want you getting married. Unless we think it's cute, then a really old guy in a nursing home can marry the lady down the hall even though there is no way they can consumate, and thus make it legally binding in the eys of the church and this great nation of ours, then we'll make an exception because that's just a beautiful Hallmark moment. Yes, that's right, even today failure to do the deed is grounds for divorce and even an annulment.
Oh, and honestly, even if we don't think it's cute it's OK as long as it's... well... OK, I can;t explain this one, but they got married and it was legal. Yeah, it was in Argentina but it's just an example and we have lots of famous ones like it in this country. No one ever tried to suggest that this marriage should have been illegal, and do I even have to give you a link for Anna Nicole? I didn't think so.
OK, so we've strayed from "traditional marriage". We'll let the old and even the just f*@cked up get married but certainly we have to draw the line somewhere. The church is losing it's grip and our nation is in moral decline. I think the answer is obvious. We can't let gays and lesbians marry. Surely that will protect marriage! OK, maybe it's too late to protect marriage but we can pretend we're saving it and it'll make us feel better if we have something to hold over them gays. I mean if we let gays marry then how can Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public feel superior to them? Think about it. If your marriage is on the rocks and your husband won't even put on a clean t-shirt and is about as apealing a three day old tuna sandwhich or your wife won't make a decent dinner or shut up long enough for you to tell her that you need to be "serviced", then how are you supossed to feel better than them gays if you allow them to marry and enter this blissful state you share with your spouse? Are they to believe that gay love is equal to the feelings they have for thier spouse? I don't think so.
And don't even look at the divorce rates in the states that are most strongly oppossed to gay marriage. That has nothing to do with it.