Marriage Part 2: Marriage is described not defined

When I hear some people speak of marriage, it is as if some committee sat down many years ago and decided to set up an institution that discriminated against certain people or as a legal entity for the benefit of men. This is not the case, of course, it has evolved or developed over time. (Or as I believe, was created by God.)

Some other people like to see marriage as a “cultural construct.” This implies that people (within their culture) have created marriage. If marriage is indeed a “cultural construct” then it would follow that we can indeed reconstruct it in some way that is acceptable to the dominant culture. The problem of course for such marriage “constructivists” is that marriage (at least until recent reconstructions) has miraculously constructed itself the such similar ways* across every single culture**.

Marriage exists as a result of a biological and psychological reality. We can use words to describe it, we can construct rules and traditions around it, but to think that we change its basic nature is to show that we don’t actually have a grasp of the reality of what marriage is.

* Many cultures of course accept polygamy as a form of marriage. It should be noted a man with two wives (as an example) typically is involved in two separate but concurrent marriages. This in no way detracts from my argument that marriage exists as a result of a biological and psychological reality.
** I note that in discussion threads on various forums that some people note that some cultures in older times other forms of relationships have been established and even recognised in a way that is similar to marriage. We need to be careful when including these in current debates around marriage as some of them are miniscule exceptions to the overwhelming norm, while others are simply not acceptable forms of relationship by any current standard.

Marriage Part 1: Yes I am informed by God on marriage

It would be a bit misleading if I didn’t come straight out and state that I am informed by God on marriage. Apologies straight up … I am no great theologian … what is below is just my simple understanding.

Marriage is the first human to human relationship described in the bible. Now I do not personally believe in a literal Adam and Eve, but I do read truth from Genesis in that God created us to be in a relationship with him and each other and that a man will leave his mother and father and become joined to his wife and the two will become “one flesh.”  This implies a sexual relationship and it implies reproduction. It also implies that the man completes the woman just as the woman completes the man. The relationship is complimentary not symmetrical. It is not implied that sex in marriage must only be for the purposes on procreation.

This theme continues throughout the bible and I think that being a Christian, there are some extras that I need to include in my marriage which those of you who are not Christian need not worry too much about. Needless to say the extras are probably not politically correct in this day and age, being that imply different roles for men and women.

Of course all this will lead to some to ask “why should my opinion be forced on others?” especially considering my opinion is based so heavily in religion. I will make two contentions:

  1. My contentions on marriage in particular could be arrived at through “secular thinking”. My religion describes marriage it does not define it. I would argue that God defines marriage, an atheist could argue a similar concept of marriage and say that it has evolved the way it has.
  2. The other question I will ask is, if a religious persons opinion should be discarded, under what rational basis does one do so? What logical argument has ever been posited that proves that an irreligiously informed opinion by default supersedes a religiously formed opinion?