Sunday, January 15, 2012

A wrong view of Marriage

I am responding to an article written by James Peron.
One of the more prevalent arguments waged against marriage equality is historically equivalent to creationism. Creationists ignore science and argue, based entirely on their reading of Bible mythology, that the world is 7,000 years old and that species don't evolve. For them, reality has to fit their theology, not the other way around.
Here, of course, James is demonstrating his ignorance of creationism. Not all of those who believe in that the earth has God as it's author believe that the earth is 7000 years old (actually none of them believe that! since Moses was likely writing in the 12th century BC!) and certainly many who actually look at the sciences of cosmology seen likely evidence in things like the cosmological constant and various other scientific evidences that point to the possibility of a creator. For the Christian truth (be it scientific or theological) is absolute and will always be consistent within itself.
One of our projects at the Moorfield Storey Institutehas been the fight for marriage equality. To do that, I've had to do something that opponents of equality fail to do: research. I've read a dozen or so decent histories of marriage, countless papers on the situation regarding the laws, and contemporary looks at what really does happen when marriage equality is realized.
OMG he can read! Seriously, is he honestly saying that people of faith are ignorant of the history of marriage?
In that study I realized that marriage and the origins of life are similar. There are two basic views. One assumes that marriage was created pretty much as it supposedly existed in 1950s America. There was a husband, who was a wage-earner, with a stay-at-home wife and 2.1 children. For good measure, there was a dog, a cat, and grandparents who provided babysitting when Mom and Dad had to attend a business dinner.
Of course, actual marriage in the 1950s wasn't even like that, but then marriage has never been like that. Faith-based history is different. Focus on the Family claims that "God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman." The Protestant Reformed Churches of America, a Calvinist outfit, claims that "God created the family in paradise as the first institution He made." They are also quick to tell you that "woman is not man's equal (except in terms of their salvation)."
Here James pseudojournalism is clearly mistaken. Jesus  and Paul was an advocate of equality between the sexes. many of his followers were women, they advocated the empowerment of women into spiritual leadership, and assured their followers that "in Christ there is neither male nor female". Evangelicals today clearly recognize that there is equality, but we also recognize a distinction between the sexes. This is something that the liberal left has difficulty recognizing (except between the sheets).
The creationist view of marriage is that a divine being magically made marriage appear one day by creating a man and a woman and having them make a family (which always raises the question as to the sexual partners of the children of that first couple, especially as the Biblical account has Eve giving birth only to sons).
And the view of Peron and his ilk is that men and women magically appeared from some prebiotic soup mixture (that also magically appeared) and through millions of years of accidental mutations a man and a woman popped out of the soup and mysteriously knew what their penis and vagina were for! And thus the species was able to propogate!(though the thousands of ooppsies and tragically misformed left not a single fossil as evidence of their existence)
However, not even the Old Testament verifies what the creationists argue. It showed marriages to be anything but the Focus on the Family version of a loving couple and their loving children. The men of the Old Testament, including patriarchs of the Bible, often had multiple wives. Abraham supposedly had relationships with Sarah and Hagar. If the Book of 1st Kings is to be believed, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines -- which really does sound like male bravado more than anything else.
OT is describing the fall from God's ideal as it records these things. In it's recording of these things it is not endorsing the actions. Jesus came to restore the ideal of marriage as a man and a wife for life in Matthew 5.32; 19.9 etc. If one can read the texts for themselves they can  see that Jesus is restoring a standard that is higher that the one being lived out. Surely even James Peron can read that... if he dares!
When you look at the real-world history of marriage, you don't see any evidence for this creationist view. What you see is that marriage evolved and has kept evolving. At different times, in different places, marriage filled different functions. The functions marriage filled determined the nature of the marriage at the time. Form follows function.
When land was the major means of production, marriage was intimately tied to the acquisition of land. Under Old Testament law, a man was obligated to marry his brother's widow, as it helped keep land in the family. Where land was a prime consideration, marriages were often arranged, and marrying close kin was common.
Clearly - James must have misread this. The purpose of the levirite law was to propogate the lineage of the deceased brother. In fact, Israel was not a land owning society. The Israelites were nomadic peoples at the time of that law being written. Sorry James!
In Imperial Rome, families that ruled the city were very concerned with the politics of marriage. Alliances were formed or dissolved through marriages and divorces. Meanwhile, the husband wasn't expected to necessarily love his wife, or desire her. No one was horrified if he stepped out on her with a mistress, or even a male lover, provided that rules meant to preserve the social hierarchy were followed -- at least in public.
While this is true, there were many that were horrified (even in Rome) at the dissolution of the family and wrote to warn that the fall of the family unit and marriage in particular would end in the collapse of the Roman empire.
Marriage, at other times, was primarily about household production. The natives of North America had male functions and female functions. Various tribes allowed same-sex relationships, provided that one of the partners took on the role assigned to females. In addition, they often ascribed mystical powers to this individual as a "two-spirit" being, encompassing the spirits of both genders.
The further one gets away from the divine understanding of marriage as a God inspired institution the more utilitarian and empty it becomes. Respect for others and honoring within the family unit and marriage itself is the cornerstone of the family.
For most of human history, marriage was not about love at all. The idea of marriage being about loving couples is very much a modern idea. Of course, once love and mutual nurturing became a prime function of marriage, it opened the door to same-sex marriages, as well.
Rome's ruling families saw marriage as politics, not love. Marriage was to insure that a political elite held power. Romance was found outside marriage. Sexual satisfaction could be found there, as well, with partners of either sex, with little disapproval. A homosexual Roman gentleman could still have his romantic interest, because that was not the function of marriage.
What was on display was rampant hedonism not a display of marital commitment as it should be. Even those who acted out homosexually were smart enough to know that 2 people of the same sex cannot create children. Therefore, the marriage was entered into to create a family.
The moment someone tells me "marriage has always been" something or another, I know they are ignorant of the actual history of marriage. It has never "always" been anything. It has taken different forms, with different social rules attached. Those forms and rules changed as the function of marriage changed.
Not true- Marriage has always been about the propogation of a legitimate family. Hence the creation of terms like "bastard child" and "illegitimate child".
In our world, the function of marriage is not about land, politics, or even procreation. It is about love and mutual support between the spouses. Given the modern function of marriage, it is hardly surprising that gay couples want to be included. They have the same needs and wants as other couples, and marriage provides them the same benefits and serve the same functions as it does for straight couples.
Marriage is not a stagnant institution. It is a vital, evolutionary institution constantly changing forms as the functions it fills adapt to new circumstances.
In fact, the idea that loving homosexuals should marry is undone my Mr. Peron's argument. Marriage isn't about love but about legitimizing family. Since homosexuals are incapable of having children themselves there isn't any need for them to be married. Well, except the real one behind the homosexual agenda... that is the social legitimizing of homosexual relationships. The reason the gay agenda has so soundly embraced this marriage idea is that they want to be legitimized in society. They want to be seen as the biological equivalent of the heterosexual couple- but alas, they cannot be what they are not. I do not endorse violence or hatred of homosexuals, nor do I endorse prejudice or somehow keeping homosexuals from their civil rights. But marriage is not a civil right of the homosexual as it is biologically driven- hardwired into the species.
My suggestion is that James Peron... do a little more research!

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