Sunday, February 19, 2006

Marriage in Jeopardy

DOMA. Gay-marriage bans, civil unions, the 'war on marriage'. The news in the last year or so has been hyping the often-repeated fact that marriage is in jeopardy and we have to act immediately to make sure that this most celebrated concept remains true and pure and...well, whatever the hell it is they think it ought to be.

I've been married almost 17 years. My marriage is certainly not changed or threatened by the evolving concept of what marriage is in the world. I find the squawking and hysteria by the anti-gay-marriage crowd pretty pathetic. A current article in the New York Times has a bakers dozen of true/false questions showing just how our current views are usually false. Marriage is in better shape than we all think -- and some of our basic beliefs are wrong.

What do we really know about marriage? Most of what we believe to be true is patently false, which makes all the hoopla about marriage just so much background noise. All the much-publicized screeching about how marriage is 'being threatened" is crap. One of the primary arguments to "protect" marriage comes from religious dogma, or some nostalgic view of the 'perfect couple' of the 1950s, which had a divorce rate of nearly 33% and certainly doesn't represent some model of perfection we should strive for. Marriage hasn't always been seen as positive:
"Early Christians thought marriage was inescapably tainted by the presence of sex. According to the medieval church, virgins ranked highest in godliness, widows were second, and wives a distant third."
Marriage has not been historically a foundation of a stable society (in fact, it was seen as detrimental to a man's social responsbilities), and for thousands of years, marriage has been a political or economic contract.

The whole "marriage is between a man and a woman" idea is just wishful thinking, and is hypocritical from those who want to quote the bible as a reason to ban gay marriage. For nearly all of of human history, polygamy has been the norm -- usually one man with many wives (indeed, this is the actual biblical model), occassionally one woman with many husbands. And those born-again bible-thumpers? They're just a likely (in some cases more likely) to divorce than non-religiou couples. Indeed, divorce rates are higher in the bible belt than anywhere else in the US. I always thought that was amusing.

Marriage is not in jeopardy -- true, fewer people are getting married nowadays in the traditional fashion, but those marriages are less likely to end in divorce and often last longer than they used to. Good news.

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