Deconstructing Right Wing Myths About Marriages
Deconstructing Right Wing Marriage Myths
This is the second of three postings on social issues. The first looked at Fetal funerals, this looks at the opposition to same sex and plural marriage and the third will look at the transgendered bathroom controversy. I apologize in advance if any one is offended, it is not my intent, rather I wanted to lay out my views on these issues, and perhaps we could come to an understanding.
What is a Marriage anyway?
The opposition to same-sex marriage and for that matter group marriages are based on Christian right wing theology which states that marriage is defined as a union of one man and one woman who intend to have children and that is the only biblically correct form of marriage and that it dates back thousands of years.
Let’s deconstruct this for a bit. First the concept of marriage is not something that we have followed for thousands of years.
The modern concept of marriage where a man and a woman met, fell in love and decided to have child together originated in the 19th century and from that point forward the nuclear family was held as the key foundational family type.
Prior to that date they were two types of marriages arranged marriages for the wealthy that brought together a couple who would be expected to produce male heirs that would inherit the family’s business, love was not something that was necessarily expected of these types of marriages and many wealthy people had had lovers on the side and often had second families on the side. This type of arranged marriage for the wealthy is still very common in Asia and India.
The second type of marriage was the casual hook up common-law relationship common among the lower classes and sometimes they would say together for a long time and sometimes they did not but these marriages were often not formal and not recognized.
Love marriages were very rare until modern times are still a bit rare in Asia. In modern Asian societies a hybrid marriage type is most common.
A couple is matched by families members or professional matchmakers matching social status and astrological predictions.
The couple meets and go out for a couple of dates. If they click they get married, if not they continue to date “arranged marriages”. Love marriages where people meet more spontaneously are also common these days.
Another argument against same sex marriage is that since marriages exist to facilitate reproduction same sex marriages should be illegal since gays can’t have children That of course assumes that Gays should not be allowed to adopt.
Critics also sometime say that gay marriages harm the institution of marriage and society as a whole. How is never explained.
Critics also say gay marriages will lead to group marriages and that would be bad. How is not explained and I don’t see the problem. if two couples wished to live together or one man and two woman or two woman and one man why should the government prohibit such an arrangement. Perhaps a reasonable limit could be set – six adults can form a domestic partnership along with dependent children.
Finally if the only recognized marriage is that of one man and one woman who intend to have children, then what do you do about couples that either can’t have children or don’t want children.? This type of marriage does not fit the traditional concept of marriage. To be logically consistent such people should not be allowed to get married or have their marriage annulled if they don’t produce children or adopt after a reasonable period.
Eight types of Biblical Marriages
A close reading of the Bible shows that there are at least eight different marriage/family styles mentioned in the Bible without criticism:
God is recorded as promoting the concept of marriage in Genesis 2:18: Referring to Adam, “…the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (King James Version – KJV) “Help meet” also appears in the Jerusalem Bible. It is translated “helper” in many other translations (e.g. Amplified Bible, An American Translation, James Moffatt Translation, New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, New International Version, New World Translation, Revised Standard Bible, Young’s Literal Translation. The Living Bible, New Living Translation, and Today’s English Version use a phrase like “a suitable companion to help him.” The original Hebrew word, when used to refer to humans, implies a partnership of two equals, rather than a relationship between persons of unequal status. “Co-worker” or “partner” might be a better translation. The Contemporary English Version, New American Bible, and Revised English Bible use the term “partner” indicating an equal status between Adam and Eve.
“We have found eight types of marriages mentioned in the Bible:
The standard nuclear family: Genesis 2:24 describes how a man leaves his family of origin, joins with a woman, consummates the marriage and lives as a couple. There were quite a few differences between the customs and laws of contemporary North Americans and of ancient Israelites. In ancient Israel:
Inter-faith marriages were theoretically forbidden. However, they were sometimes formed.
Children of inter-faith marriages were considered illegitimate.
Marriages were generally arranged by family or friends; they did not result from a gradually evolving, loving relationship that developed during a period of courtship.
A bride who had been presented as a virgin and who could not be proven to be one was stoned to death by the men of her village. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) There appears to have been no similar penalty for men who engaged in consensual pre-marital sexual activity.
Polygamous marriage: A man would leave his family of origin and join with his first wife. Then, as finances allowed, he would marry as many additional women as he desired. The new wives would join the man and his other wives in an already established household. This practice was practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. It is still practiced by some fundamentalist Mormon groups which have been excommunicated or separated from the main church.
There are many references to polygamous marriages in the Bible:
Lamech, in Genesis 4:19, became the first known polygamist. He had two wives.
Subsequent men in polygamous relationships included:
bullet Esau with 3 wives;
Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth;
Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives.
From the historical record, it is known that Herod the Great (73 to 4 BCE) had nine wives.
Levirate Marriage: The name of this type of marriage is derived from the Latin word “levir,” which means “brother-in-law.” This involved a woman who was widowed without having borne a son. She would be required to leave her home, marry her brother-in-law, live with him, and engage in sexual relations. If there were feelings of attraction and love between the woman and her new husband, this arrangement could be quite agreeable to both. Otherwise, the woman would have to endure what was essentially serial rapes with her former brother-in-law as perpetrator. Their first-born son was considered to be sired by the deceased husband.
In Genesis 38:6-10, Tamar’s husband Er was killed by God for unspecified sinful behavior. Er’s brother, Onan, was then required by custom to marry Tamar. Not wanting to have a child who would not be consider his, he engaged in an elementary (and quite unreliable) method of birth control: coitis interruptus. God appears to have given a very high priority to the levirate marriage obligation. Being very displeased with Onan’s behavior, God killed him as well. Ruth 4 reveals that a man would be required to enter into a levirate marriage not only with his late brother’s widow, but with a widow to whom he was the closest living relative.
A man, a woman and her female slave: In Genesis 16, Sarah and Abram were infertile. Sarah gave permission for her husband to engage in sexual intercourse with a female slave that she owned, Hagar. The slave was apparently purchased earlier and brought into the family. Presumably, the arrangement to engage in sexual activity was done without the consent of Hagar, who had such a low status in the society of the day that she was required to submit to what she probably felt were serial rapes by Abram. Hagar conceived and bore a son, Ishmael.
A man, one or more wives, and some concubines: A man could keep numerous concubines, in addition to one or more wives. These women held an even lower status than a wife. As implied in Genesis 21:10, a concubine could be dismissed when no longer wanted. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “A concubine would generally be either (1) a Hebrew girl bought…[from] her father; (2) a Gentile captive taken in war; (3) a foreign slave bought; or (4) a Canaanitish woman, bond or free.” 1 They would probably be brought into an already-established household. Abraham had two concubines; Gideon: at least 1; Nahor: 1; Jacob: 1; Eliphaz: 1; Gideon: 1; Caleb: 2; Manassah: 1; Saul: 1; David: at least 10; Rehoboam: 60; Solomon: 300; an unidentified Levite: 1; Belshazzar: more than 1.
A male soldier and a female prisoner of war: Numbers 31:1-18 describes how army of the ancient Israelites killed every adult Midianite male in battle. Moses then ordered the slaughter in cold blood of most of the captives, including all of the male children who numbered about 32,000. Only the lives of 32,000 women – all virgins — were spared. Some of the latter were given to the priests as slaves. Most were taken by the Israeli soldiers as captives of war. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 describes how each captive woman would shave her head, pare her nails, be left alone to mourn the loss of her families, friends, and freedom. After a full month has passed, they would be required to submit to their owners sexually, as a wife.
A male rapist and his victim: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 requires that a female virgin who has been raped must marry her attacker, no matter what her feelings were towards the rapist. A man could become married by simply sexually attacking a woman that appealed to him, and paying his father-in-law 50 shekels of silver. There is one disadvantage of this approach: he was not allowed to subsequently divorce her.
A male and female slave: Exodus 21:4 indicates that a slave owner could assign one of his female slaves to one of his male slaves as a wife. There is no indication that women were consulted during this type of transaction. The arrangement would probably involve rape in most cases. In the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, Israelite men were limited to serving as slaves for seven years; women were permanently enslaved. When a male slave left his owner, the marriage would normally be terminated; his wife would stay behind, with any children that she had. He could elect to remain as a slave if he wished.”
there are lots of other references in the bible but the basic point is that the bible did not solely recognize a marriage as the union of one man and one woman who desire to have a child. The bible recognized polygamy, but did not recognize the rights of woman to have more than one husband.
To sum up the modern concept of marriage dates back to the 19th century and is not rooted in the bible which recognized eight different types of marriages including group marriages – remember Soloman had hundreds of wives.
Lets Move towards Domestic Partnerships as the new normal
Simply put a marriage is a legal contract between parties that provide legal benefits to facilitate the couple sharing their life together. That is all that it is.
A more enlightened policy would simply recognized domestic partnerships including more than one adult. they would be “married”. Churches could then solemnized the relationship if the people involved wished to do so but the government issued license would be all that is required. those people living together for more than one year would gain the status of common law marriages which would also have legal rights and responsibilities spelled out.
Having children would not be an requirement but if children are produced then the domestic partners would have to agree to raise the children.
To sum up it is time to quit the ridiculous argument about same sex marriage and simply move towards domestic partnership.