it’s more than fascinating to me to consider the topic of marriage and divorce. our tendancy is to search for very simplistic, black and white explanations for something that has an amazingly complex side to it.
for instance, like i said yesterday, the traditional “christian” view of marriage (which is the one i personally hold to and practice) has some pretty sketchy beginnings…and is built a whole lot more on tradition and scriptural extrapolation than it is on a plain-as-day divine instruction manual.
throughout history, the forms of marriage have trascended cultures, religions, governments, and timelines. the traditional monogomous marriage (one man, one woman for a lifetime)…the one of apparently timeless judeo-christian values…is far from the only recognized form of marriage, both in ancient history, as well as modern day.
here a few other “forms” of marriage:
polygyny – the most well-known form of polygamy…one man who has many wives. found in the nation of israel in the old testament, the greek culture of the new testament, and all throughout history…including numerous modern cultures.
polyandry – the opposite of polygyny…one woman who has many husbands. especially suited to cultures throughout history that have significantly more men than women. this form is currently practiced in various asian cultures today.
same-sex marriage – i know you don’t want to hear it, but this form of marriage is already recognized and moving towards widespread legalization in our country. it already is in many other countries.
open marriage – legally married couples who each can have multiple sexual partners with the approval and support of their spouses.
common law marriage – the relationship of couples who live together for a specified amount of time can be legally recognized as married…without the formality of a ceremony or legal documents…and even have some of the legal benefits of being married in some states right here in the good ol’ usa. this kind of marriage relationship is…and has been…recognized in many other cultures.
levirate marriage -the marriage where a woman marries one of her husband’s brothers after her husband’s death. this form of marriage is found in the old testament and throughout history. it is practiced in many different cultures today.
“mixed” (or exogamous) marriages – marriage between people belonging to different religions, tribes, races, nationalities, or ethnic backgrounds. some cultures and religions (including the nation of israel) have strict rules against mixed marriages…including appropriate punishments.
endogamy – marriages that are limited to certain social, ethnic, religious, or class groups. the amish would be a modern example.
arranged marriages – once very common and still practiced in some cultures, this is marriage where the spouses are chosen by someone other than the couple getting married. most often, these marriages are entered into for practical reasons, not love.
after death marriage – this is no joke. in france, you can legally marry a dead person as long as preliminary civic formalities have been completed, which show that you and your fiancee had planned to marry before your fiancee died. it requires special clearance from the french president.
these are just a few of the sociologically accepted forms of marriage. some of the more culturally accepted forms of marriage right here in our backyard would be:
- serial marriage – getting married a bunch of times, but staying monogamous while you are married.
- group marriage – multiple men and women in an open, “committed” relationship to each other
- bi-coastal marriage – couples who live a huge distance from each other, see each other infrequently, yet stay married for a variety of reasons.
- convenience marriage – couples who no longer “love” each other, but stay married because the complications of divorce could prove too difficult to deal with.
- hollywood marriage – marriages of celebrities that usually end in a quick divorce. sells a lot of magazines.
- trial marriage – similar to living together…acting married to see if it “works”.
- shotgun marriage – a quick marriage after an unplanned pregnancy.
so why this discussion?
if we live in a world with so many faces of marriage, it only stands to reason that the idea of divorce would/could be rather slippery. apparently, people are free to believe anything they want about marriage…from the bizarre to the marginally unhealthy.
likewise, people are equally free to make up their own beliefs about divorce…and even their own interpretations of what god will or won’t do as a result of their divorce. and they most certainly do.
like i said. pretty slippery.