On Marriage… and a rant.

17 Mar

Part of me wishes I had never gotten married.

But not for the reasons you might think.  No, choosing to spend the rest of my life with Bayani was the second best decision I ever made.  Having kids was the first(in order of import, not chronologically).  But I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me I’m devoted to my wife.  Some people might disagree with me, claiming that the way I live my life proves I am not devoted to her.  And it is this very close-minded, short-sited and limited view of marriage and commitment that causes me to wish I had not gotten married, that I did not play their game.  Playing by their rules endorses their control.

Polyamory is consensual, ethical, non-monogamy.  Consensual.  This is something we both do, not just me.  Ethical.  I have rules, and I will do nothing that hurts any of my partners.  Nobody can argue with either of those, right?  Non-monogamy.  Ah, there it is.  Most of us have been taught that monogamy is normal and desirable.  More than that, we are taught that it is the only option.  And the argument behind that teaching is flawed, outdated, and religiously motivated.

This is not an argument for polyamory, or for how humans are not naturally monogamous, this is a discussion on how one outdated set of morals have twisted and warped the institution of marriage into a tool of control.

Marriage in one form or another has existed pretty much as long as we humans have.  Humans raise young in groups and we choose mates(though evidence suggests both males and females are programed to cheat).  In many cultures, property was considered communal or was controlled by the women.  A couple would marry simply by the man moving in with the woman, and she could ‘divorce’ him simply by removing his things from her home.  In other cultures, simply agreeing to cherish each other was enough.

Marriage as an institution is a relatively new invention, one used to control property, and until recently, was limited to the upper classes.  Love had little to do with it, most of the marriages of the upper classes emphasized the economic union more than a social, sexual or emotional union.  The common folk would simply move in together if they chose.  It wasn’t until the 12th century that women began to take their husbands name and it wasn’t until the 18th century that there were legal requirements for marriage, including witnesses.

Like every other institution in our society, marriage has been shaped by the christian church.  I have opinions on christianity.  Strong ones.  I do not believe that one single thing they have ever touched has been improved by the meddling, marriage included.  During most marriage’s evolution in europe, christianity was there, insisting they be a part of it, telling us who we can marry, and when, and how.

And they are still doing it.

Marriage is between one man and one woman.  Why?  Because this is how your grandparents did it?  They also had a well and an outhouse, should we keep those around as well?  Women had to fight to earn the right to vote.  Should we go back to that time as well?  Why not say marriage is between one man and one woman of the same race?  The same people who oppose same-sex marriage today used the exact same arguments, fairly recently too, to try to prevent interracial marriage.  Society has not collapsed.  People are not marrying their pets.

This is why I wish I had not gotten married.  So I may join in the protest.  So I might declare: ‘I will not marry, until everybody can marry whomever they want!’

To deny one group the same rights you enjoy is tyranny.  It is just plain wrong.  When your relition, belief, ideology or personal opinion justifies violating the rights of others, you have no place in our society.  You are a right evil bastard.  Gays make you uncomfortable, and your religion justifies your intolerance.  Same as blacks and women only a few generations ago.

If marriage is a purely legal institution, then anybody should be allowed to marry, be it one man and one woman; two men; two women; two men and a woman; two women and a man; or an entire commune of hippies.  Any combination of consenting adults should be allowed to enter into the legal contract of marriage.  Consent, that is the key.  Children cannot legally give consent.  Neither can animals or blow up dolls.

If marriage is a purely religious institution, then I want no part of it, and there should not be a single legal consequence of getting marriage.  I get tax breaks for being married.  I have certain rights I can exercise in regards to my wife’s person and property.  A Justice of the Peace can legally marry a couple, without any religious involvement at all yet even a Bishop or Pastor needs to sign a legal document.  So marriage is clearly a legal institution.  So then why is the bible so frequently trotted out to defend marriage as it stands?  The only answer I have is hate.  Or a tenacious clinging to outdated yet comfortingly familiar paradigms(which can be just as damaging as hatred).

Even the non-religious can be intolerant.  There is a reason Bayani and I have not come out of the Poly-closet to our families. Bayani’s is a mix of fundie mormon and softly religious, and not even the most tolerant of them would accept what we do.  My family is primarily atheist and agnostic, and still I cannot talk about my lifestyle with many of them.  My parents in particular.  Oh, being gay or bisexual is fine.  For other people.  Not for their kids.  And we are married with kids, we can’t experiment with sex and relationships, that would be different and deviant!  What if people knew!  What will the relatives say?

I know I have little to complain about.  I’m white.  I’m male.  And I’m straight.  If I were christian too(or rich), I would have just about every advantage there is in our society.  This does not mean I cannot see injustice and be motivated to stop it.  As an Atheist, I see religiously motivated injustice every single day.  It is easier to see when you are outside of it.  I see injustice of every type, and each and every time, religion either causes or aggravates it, marriage is just a symptom.  So is hating immigrants.  Or teaching Intelligent Design.  The disease is religion.  It tells gays they cannot marry, that they are second-class citizens, that they are worth less then ‘normal people’.  And normal people don’t have threesomes or group marriages.

And that is intolerable.

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10 Responses to “On Marriage… and a rant.”

  1. Kasini March 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    well, you know, it’s not all religion that espouses those ideas… but the kind of religion that operates on control and hate and repression and the guilt and insecurity that makes people buy into the NEED for control and repression and hate, that’s the kind of religion that people can build power bases off on, the kind of religion that starts wars of conquest and territory/resources grabs and sets us up for restrictive, repressive, suspicious, us-vs-them modes of living.

    There are religions and religious people (of all religions) who place their faith in something expansive, beneficent, loving, evolving — whether that “something” is a sentient “being” (of either or no gender), a part of our own brains, or a current of energy, really becomes a subject of interesting debate (and no more than that, because these types of people aren’t invested in being a “right” to someone else’s “wrong”). And these religious people can, and do, use their grasp of religious language, and their position in the land of religious “entitlement” to work for expansive change within other religions and religious people. Does it work with everyone? No. Is it quick? No. But it does work.

    I saw this during the prop 8 fallout. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it, but there was a blog post on a large Mormon wives group blog. A big blog. And the woman writing this post was talking about her discomfort with the role the LDS church had taken in getting prop 8 passed, with the role her own Ward had taken. She was talking about what she did to work AGAINST prop 8. She was expressing her grief that it had passed, and wondering how to make amends and work towards healing. She explained clearly and passionately about how her faith did NOT condone legal and social discrimination towards gays and lesbians, and that even if she wasn’t sure they should be able to get temple marriages (and she wasn’t against it, just wasn’t sure what she thought there, yet) she also strongly believed that they should be able to get legally married, either secularly and/or in any faith whose theology allowed it.

    And yes, she was skewered by quite a few of the commentors. But nearly as many either flat out agreed with her, or originally disagreed and came to reconsider their opinons, OR admitted that they’d never really given the issue any thought but were swayed by her opinion. She had a strong influence on these people precisely because she was one of them, a participant in their rituals, a speaker of their code, talking to them in their own language. An outsider couldn’t have moved those people that she did.

    You, as a participant in the institution of marriage are in a unique position to speak about it’s limitations. I can have an outsider’s voice, but I’ll never (at this point) be able to speak with an insider’s authority. Both of our positions are valid and necessary to the overthrow of the system, comrade!

    • scotrik1 March 18, 2011 at 5:51 am #

      kasini, you have a unique view on higher power that I’ve felt for a long time. Many different religions, christian or pagan, have a view of a single being as a higher power, and i feel that it is all the same thing. I consider myself mostly christian, though not practicing, but I have also taken many different concepts into my personal belief system. I have dated pagans such as wiccans and druids, and have found that some of their concepts are not so different, and that energies are there for us to feel….and I have merged that with my christian background. I take all of this into my belief system, I truly believe the “brainwashing” part of christianity,although i believe the people have the best interest at heart, even though the higher-ups know what they are doing. All of this doesn’t matter to the fight for gay marriage, not does it matter to much of anything else. I guess the point is that I agree with you, and you have a point of view that I can come to terms with and possibly talk to you about. I’ve been distracted while trying to do this, but if you’d like to discuss this further, you are welcome to email me at scotrik1@gmail.com .And the writer of this blog is welcome to as well…i can’t seem to find the name right now….

      • Myrddwn March 18, 2011 at 8:11 am #

        That would be me, Myrddwn. And Kasini. We both own this little project together, though this particular rant belongs to me.
        Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. Myrddwn March 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Of course when I speak of religion, I generalize. I speak mostly of the Judeo-Christian religions. And yes, there are members of all religions that are not bigoted zealots. However, religion not only teaches a fallacious world view, but it, as a meme, spreads intolerance and willful ignorance.
    Clearly, there are those religions that do not promote hatred and violence. Like those Universal Unitarians you blogged about last month who peacefully subdued that shooter. But they are in the minority. And if all religious zealots in this country were like those fine people, I would have little to complain about.
    And you are correct. I do walk in those circles from time to time, and I can influence them. If I can keep my rabid opinions to myself…

    • Bayani March 18, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      You also have to remember that Myrddwn is talking about what is described as “the loud little handful.” That group of jerks that ruins it for everyone with their constant “It’s not moral” crap. What I do in my bedroom has no bearing on someone else’s marriage. I believe that my marriage would be just as strong if a loving gay couple were allowed to marry. Their marriage has no power over mine, just like Brittney Spears’ 55 hour marriage has no power over mine. “Destroy the institution of marriage” I think not.

      • Myrddwn March 18, 2011 at 10:31 am #

        Excellent points Bayani!

      • Kasini March 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

        yes, you’re right Bayani. But a good rant is made even better by a slightly argumentative rant arguing a different point. It’s the American Way!

        I can see a way gay marriage could be harmful to a straight marriage: if the couple gets into fights because one of them is against it and the other thinks that opinion is stupid. Totally gay marriage’s fault then, really.

      • Myrddwn March 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

        And if a repressed closet-gay spends too much time thinking about that cute gay couple next door, that might effect his marriage. *cough-Buttars-cough*

  3. scotrik1 March 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    I commend you on your choice to live your life as you see fit, and that your polyamorous lifestyle is approved of by your wife, and even revels in herself. I think that if both agree, it doesn’t matter what you do. I don’t condone “cheating”, but to me that term is meant as sneaking behind the other’s back, not as a consensual lifestyle. Personally, I’m a one-guy guy, but that’s my preference and I don’t hold it against anyone who thinks otherwise, consensually. The gay community needs the support of the straight community as well as the gay, if we are ever going to get out rights, and I’m glad that you agree with it.

  4. noLBD March 18, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    “Any combination of consenting adults should be allowed to enter into the legal contract of marriage. Consent, that is the key.”

    Absolutely agree with you.

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