09 November 2006

The tragedy of divorce and the protection of marriage

Just a quick note regarding the sad passing of the anti-marriage amendment to the VA constitution this week.

"Marriage," in my opinion, has become an unfortunate casualty of our society's state of denial regarding the death of Christendom in North America. Church and state (or church and civil society) have gone through a divorce. There were irreconcilable differences. Like any divorce, it's had tragic consequences, but it's probably for the best. But we don't want to admit it.

We need to decide who gets custody of the term "marriage" - religion, or secular government - and stop pretending that the faith community's blessing of a union and the government's legal recognition of a union have anything to do with each other any more. In my opinion, faith communities should be able to bless any union they choose (and refrain from blessing any union they choose), and we should call that "marriage" (because in truth, God had the concept first). Government should cease and desist having anything to do with anything called "marriage", and should sanction civil unions, with the full benefits currently conveyed by the legal concept of "marriage", between any two consenting adults. Continuing to conflate the two concepts, which were only really related before the death of Christendom, just confuses these issues and leads to tragedies like the anti-marriage amendment we just passed in the Old Dominion.

Except that many of us *want* to confuse the issues. Because we're in denial. We hope and pray that Mom and Dad - church and civil society - will get back together - that it's really only a trial seperation.

Sorry, but I don't think so. Some relationships don't last forever. And we can't "protect marriage" by pretending that the Christendom divorce didn't happen - or by amending our constitutions to try to *prevent* loving, committed unions, instead of working on ways to encourage, strengthen, and preserve them.


Anonymous said...

Most excellent post.

Ryan said...

Great way to look at this issue. Thanks for the fresh insight.

Jayce from Rochester said...

In my opinion, government should simply permit people to set up partnerships: "I would like the following X people to have access to me in a hospital and I would like to be able to file my taxes jointly with those X people." Even "two" is irrelevant as far as the government is concerned, much less the gender of anyone involved.

The most disgusting phrase is "marriage contract" -- that you are obligated to love someone. Yuck. It smacks of the exact reason why [religious] marriage and [government] partnerships should be kept separate.

Anonymous said...

I know in Holland marriage is seen as a totally legal, court room thing - you get married in court. But after that you can choose to have a ceremony at a church, which is completely separate.

It makes sense to me that certain legal requirements need to be covered for a country to operate effectively. In South Africa a law was passed that anyone who had lived together for five years was seen as having a 'common law marriage' and had the same legal rights as someone who was 'officially' married. The legal implications around marriage are far reaching in terms of finances, wills, buying a house, sharing a bank account or credit card etc etc. In a country where one in four people is dying of Aids and a vast majority of people live together and never get 'officially/legally' married, one can imagine the necesity of a legal structure around all of this.

As Jayce from Rochester says, perhaps we need a separate legal system (not called 'marriage') that allows us to clarify these legal issues, and I like her idea that it doesn't need to be between two people... Perhaps that would resolve the whole gay marriage issue as well?!