Marriage and such
I have a wedding to officiate in about two weeks. Weddings are always a challenge. Personally the simpler the better. I have officiated at more gay weddings than straight ones and in general the drama associated with this public ritual is about the same for both. I have to constantly remind people that neither I or any other clergy chap “marries” anyone because whether it is a religious ceremony or not it is the two people who are entering into a formal covenant that marry each other. Clergy in this country can be and are agents of the state when we witness and or bless a wedding. In Europe it does not matter if the Pope himself presides at your wedding you are still not considered married until it is “registered” with the state.
The American Hollywood version of marriage has never existed anywhere in the US let alone the world but it does make good copy as they used to say in the news business. The history of marriage is culturally and often politically as well as religiously diverse. Everything from sealing alliances to acquiring concubines and everything in between has been the purpose of marriage. The “legitimatisation” of children and the procreative activity to produce them has been one of the main reasons at least in most cultures. The romantic notion that “I did it for love” is a very recent innovation.
All the hooha over marriage equality by the so called evangelics and their godless Republican allies is plain silly. The absurdly named “Biblical standard of marriage” is inaccurate and irrelevant. In the first place if these literalist otherwise known as fundamentalist actually followed the Old Testament practice that they love to embrace they would have to have betrothals long before they reached puberty. The one that would really get to them is the instruction that a widow who has no children sleep with her dead husband’s brother. iIf he refuses to have sex with her she is to publicly denounce him and throw her shoe at him! Oh and also once betrothed a couple could have conjugal relations. In addition if you had the money you could be as did King David the owner of thousands of concubines. A concubine is just another word for a non paid prostitute.
Lastly these same “defenders of the family” who embrace/defend a “biblical” standard of marriage have as their religious Alamo the New Testament statements about Christ and His Church…..so they say and think! Actually Jesus is trying to teach us how intimate is the nature of his relationship to us and for his audience at the time in particular marriage was a very teachable metaphor!
If you have ever wondered where the language and form of most wedding rites come from at least in Protestant America the answer is the Church of England! They DO NOT come from the Bible as one dear lady insisted was the case. Even after I challenged her to show me in the Bible where “dearly beloved” and so forth could be found and even after she could not indeed find it she nonetheless refused to change her belief that her preacher used “God’s Word” for the ceremony!!!!
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