Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Marriage Is Not A Religious Institution

One of the most prolific arguments concerning marriage is that marriage is a religious institution. There are three reasons I would like to lay out why this is not so.

The Anthropology of Marriage 

Despite the rhetoric of those whose worldviews begin and end with one book, or four, marriage has been around for at least 20,000 years, if not up to 4 million years, but we merely need 20,000 years for this lesson. 20,000 years is well before recorded history, China having the longest recorded history going back 5,000 years, with additional archaeological evidence going back even further to possibly 1.7 Million years. In this history we find that marriage had come about in many forms from concubines to feudal lords. Matchmaking was a common practice in ancient China and some of it still goes on today with men and women sometimes not getting married until they are into their 30's. Chinese weddings involve much ceremony and traditions which are passed down from generation to generation.

The ancient Greek also practiced marriage, often without any ceremony but a mutual agreement. The ancient Romans had ceremony to both begin and dissolve marriage even before Christianity came. Even venturing into the Christian Era there was no special ceremony for it but was later added suggested by Bishop Ignatius of Antioch writing around 110 CE suggesting that they should first seek the Bishop's approval. Martin Luther thought of marriage as a "worldly matter" and should not involve the church.

From these few examples we can see that marriage came from society and was later adopted by religion and not the other way around. It has been a means to accept responsibility for the other spouse or spouses, along with whatever children may be added. In later centuries it also became a matter of legal course in deciding the inheritance rights of women.

Separation of Church and State 

Were we to concede that marriage is a religious institution then the consequences of that should be that the state and federal government should have no part in it in any way. Inheritance laws, tax benefits, and more recently health benefits and other state and federal services should not take into consideration at all the fact that someone is or is not married. A completely religious institution that has no basis in secular society should in no way be recognized by the government in accordance to the doctrine of Separation of Church and State and should in no way be given special privileges under the law.

But we see that the government does take part in it; beginning with laws governing at what age one can marry, how many one can marry at the same time, even to the license needed for a marriage to be lawfully recognized or to be annulled, this is an institution which has been completely controlled by the government, it is in its very essence a secular institution and waving your arms about yelling, “But it’s in the bible!” does not change the facts.

Basis for Denying Marriage

Throughout the debate over whether same sex couples should be allowed to marry indubitably it has been an argument from the religious point of view. On every corner of the internet there has been people thumping their bibles, making arguments that it is not natural and not the way god intended. If you look at nature you see anywhere from 500 to 1500 or more examples of different species which participate in homosexuality.

The bible is hardly the place to go looking for morals of any kind in the first place. There is no mention of homosexuals in the New Testament, and the Old Testament is riddled with things much crazier and worse than homosexuality and to cherry pick this single command from all other abhorrent vacuous crap is a gross offense against ones intellect. You may choose to hate on homosexuals for a commandment given to a bunch of desert dwelling gents who were willing to give their daughters and their concubines to be raped, and in at least one case killed, by ravenous men instead of themselves, but this kind of philosophy has no place in modern society.

If there are non-religious reasons for denying marriage to same sex couples I have not heard one peep from them; were they to actually exist they have been most silent on this matter. It may be the case of the vocal minority shouting louder and thumping harder than their counterparts, but as we have seen in recent polls, public opinion has swayed towards upholding the Constitution with equal protection and treatment under the law. It is not the same sex couples who want to redefine marriage, but those who hold the bigoted position that special privilege should be afforded to only their poisoned view which would have marriage redefined.


I am not arguing for same sex marriage, but for equal treatment under the law. There is not two kinds of marriage, it is not traditional marriage versus same sex marriage, to argue this would be to concede that there is a difference, that somehow two homo sapiens willing to enter into a commitment of lifelong proportions should be differentiated from two other homo sapiens willing to enter into the same commitment merely due to their sexual diversity, or lack thereof, and given that as the sole reason they should not be allowed to derive any benefits or protections from their union. This is more than just a fight against discrimination in all its forms; this is a fight for freedom from religion and religious oppression which is guaranteed us in the first amendment. Marriage is not a religious institution and it should be free from the tyrannical hands of religious entities dictating our rights while preaching hatred. As Americans our forefathers would not stand for a king to rule over them, neither should we stand for a king in heaven or on Earth to subjugate us. The historically inaccurate line uttered by John Ashcroft in a speech given at Bob Jones University in 1999 where he said, “We have no king but Jesus.” was exactly two words too long.

In another tribute to the late Christopher Hitchens while speaking about Thomas Jefferson’s famous line in this excerpt of a letter written to the Danbury Baptist Association:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
Mr. Hitchens exclaimed, “Mr. Jefferson, build up that wall!”