Marriage as God Intended

When my parents married it was a minor scandal. The Church frowned on it. There were promises extracted before they were allowed a ceremony at all.

You Rhode Islanders probably know what I’m talking about. She was Catholic, he was Episcopal. It took some persuading to get a priest to do the wedding, but the marriage was for real. My parents celebrated their fiftieth a couple of years ago. It’s clear that Someone blessed their union.

My sister once said that she thought the State should get out of the marriage business entirely and just do civil unions for everyone. It sounded radical to me, but as time goes by it makes more and more sense. Here’s a story from a God-fearing nation that hews to Biblical principles…

One day last fall, a young Israeli woman named Sharon went with her fiancé to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to register to marry. They are not religious, but there is no civil marriage in Israel. The rabbinate, a government bureaucracy, has a monopoly on tying the knot between Jews. The last thing Sharon expected to be told that morning was that she would have to prove — before a rabbinic court, no less — that she was Jewish…

The rabbinic courts are an arm of the Israeli justice system. Formally, the judges — rabbis with special training — are appointed on professional grounds. In practice, positions in the courts and in the state rabbinate are parceled out as patronage by religious political parties. The main function of the rabbinic courts is divorce, also a purely religious process in Israel.

Reading this makes me thank my higher power that I live in a secular democracy. If we really were a Christian nation we’d be arguing in the Supreme Court whether the Catholic or Protestant Bible is the real word of God. And whether we should ban meat on Fridays.

If we allow homosexual couples the same right to legal marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy, (or endure, depending on how the relationship is going), there will still be religions that forbid gay marriage. Same-sex couples will not be able to have weddings in those churches. They’ll have to call up the Unitarians or the United Church of Christ. Tough, but fair. And I have to resign myself to the fact that people will embark on marriages that I could have told them would never last. What can I say? It’s a free country.

2 thoughts on “Marriage as God Intended

  1. On the other hand, I believe that marriage should be a purely civil function. I say take it out of the hands of religions. They can provide their blessing after the fact, but there’s no reason for them to stick their nose into what is a property agreement.

    Don’t believe me? What happens in a divorce? Erstwhile couples can spend years wrangling over who gets what. In the meantime, one or the other or both are shacked up with someone else.

    Marriage predates Christianity, and probably Judaism. Pagans got married in ways that were recognized by law. A church is not necessary.

    As it is, divorced Catholics cannot remarry in the chuch, but they can have a civil marriage that bestows all of the rights of marriage. Yes, there’s the whole annulment thing, but that’s really an outlier.

    This way, there are no tests to see if someone is “Jewish enough;” and no one’s religious sensibilities are stepped on by allowing same-sex marriage.

  2. yeah. if people want to consider civil marriage to be second-rate and unblessed that’s their opinion. at least loving partners won’t have to worry that they won’t have any legal status.
    and for that matter, if you are living with someone and don’t believe in marriage, consider what might happen if one of you gets sick. that’s a big worry for same-sex couples whose union is not legally recognized.
    i love being married, i recommend it.

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