The Institute of Marriage - Origins and Secular vs Governmental

United States
January 3, 2007 5:12pm CST
People are often claiming marriage us a religious institute. While religions have certain marriage customs, rules and guidelines, marriage was around long before any modern religion. In ancient times, there were no paternity tests. There was no way for a man to tell what was his child and what was another man's born to a woman he was sleeping with. So ancient societies needed a system of rules to handle the granting of property rights and the protection of bloodlines. This is how marriage was born. It was a practicality. Half the time, men from one tribe would go and kidnap a woman from another tribe and she would be his wife, and he would know that no other men of his tribe could have fathered any children she bore. Clearly this was not foolproof, but it was the best they had. Marriage was not born out of religious roots, but out of political and social roots. Now that that's out of the way - there is a difference between a secular and a governmental marriage. A secular marriage is a marriage that is performed in compliance with religious guidelines and is recognized by a church or religious council/leader. It's holy. It encompasses religious laws and follows whatever marriage guidelines have been set down by whatever dogma the couple follows. It deals with spiritual aspects. A governmental marriage is a marriage recognized by the government. No ceremony is needed. A governmental marriage is a legal marriage, affording certain rights to the married couple. It does not involve religion at all. It deals with only legal conditions. See the difference there? Plenty of marriages are both secular and governmental, but there are plenty that are only one or the other.
3 people like this
11 responses
• United States
4 Jan 07
What would your views be on a commonm law marriage? It's neither secular nor governmental, however, it is recognized. What if you had a roommate for oh let's say 5 years. The 2 of you go your seperate ways, one of you "claims" you had a common law marriage and wants alimony, things you have accumulated during the time you both lived together, what then? Could this happen?
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
4 Jan 07
It isn't always recognized. Here in Florida they do not recognize Common Law Marriages. It all depends on the state and the laws there. Same with other countries.
• United States
4 Jan 07
Well, since in the states where common law marriage is recognized, it's recognized under the government and affords certain governmental rights, so that classifies it as a governmental marriage. There are just no public records of the marriage. You can't have a common law marriage just by living together. And since there's no such thing as a common law divorce, that situation could never come up.
• United States
5 Jan 07
I do believe that a common law marriage is based mostly in part on living together. I live in California and it's a big thing. There's paperwork almost anywhere you go that asks if your married, single, widowed and then you have the option of checking the common law marriage box. Of course a common law divorce does not exist, but with this day and age and people being so sue crazy, I would almost put money on it becoming a reality.
@djbtol (5501)
• United States
4 Jan 07
You have it totally backwards. Marriage is God's institution and God's idea. Read Genesis 1 and 2. Man did not initiate the marriage relationship, the Creator did.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
4 Jan 07
Does that mean if I don't believe in the bible that I can't get married? What about those that are Ahtiest, Hindu or any other religion there is? The bible is not the end all authority on everything. You may believe that it was written by God but it wasn't. It was written by men, although influenced by God. It has since been translated, copied by hand over centuries, all of which makes it fallible to be incorrectly presented. It may be your sole information for the beginnings of the world but other religions have their information as well. The concept of marriage is not soley a Christian or Jewish belief.
@cyntrow (8527)
• United States
4 Jan 07
Adam and Eve were not married. They were companions. If you believe the biblical story, Eve was brought to Adam to be his friend, sister even. It wasn't until they ate from the tree that their relationship changed. In fact, if you think on it a bit, Eve would have to have had other children, and those children would have to have copulated in order to make more children. If you are saying that Adam and Eve are the basis for marraige then you are saying that God himself condoned pologamy and marital incest.
1 person likes this
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
4 Jan 07
Oh very good comment. That is very true. Marriage was not mentioned between Adam and Eve although some interpet the word "Companion" to be wife, still that is just an interpetation. Also if we all did come from just two people then one who did their children be with and also in the bible it states Cain went off to the others, where did they come from? The bible leaves a lot unsaid and some need to realize that.
@chaptermm (734)
• Malta
4 Jan 07
very long wards i think i don't have understand what you say
• United States
4 Jan 07
Then don't reply if you don't understand what you're replying to.
@emeraldisle (13158)
• United States
4 Jan 07
Thank you so much for this post. I'm glad someone has posted this. I've pointed out similar in discussions about gay marriage, when people say that marriage is a religious institute and gays shouldn't have that. Marriage goes back before religion it's just many when they think of a wedding think of the typical religious ceremonies. However religion does not have to be any part of the marriage ceremony. It is dependent on what the parties in the marriage want and can have. We need to remember that.
• United States
4 Jan 07
You're more than welcome. It's just something that really frustrates me, this assumption that one single god and religion dictates everything for everyone. It strikes me as egoism, and it really rubs me the wrong way. Who are we (Christians) to assume our beliefs govern everyone? Or *should* govern everyone? Christianity teaches us to respect and accept everyone, and teaches us not to preach or push our views on others. And yet... Ah well.
5 Jan 07
The way i see it is that it doesnt really matter if you have a secular marriage. The governmental side is important for the benefits and law. But what i see as the most important thing about marriage is that the bond is treated with the upmost respect and care, it is as sacred as any god from any religion.
@mrioca (137)
• Romania
4 Jan 07
I`ve read an article about history of marraige, i`ll spee about this here : Medieval women faced dual responsibilities to religion and marriage. Throughout history, and even today, families arranged marriages for couples. The people involved didn't and don't have much to say about the decision. Most couples didn't marry because they were in love but for economic liasons. Some marriages were by proxy, some involved a dowry (bride's family giving money or presents to the groom or his family), some required a bride price (the groom or his family giving money or a present to the bride's family), few had any sort of courtship or dating, but most had traditions. One nearly universal tradition is that of the engagement ring. This custom can be dated back to the ancient Romans. It is believed that the roundness of the ring represents eternity. Therefore, the wearing of wedding rings symbolizes a union that is to last forever. It was once thought that a vein or nerve ran directly from the "ring" finger of the left hand to the heart. The notion of marriage as a sacrament and not just a contract can be traced St. Paul who compared the relationship of a husband and wife to that of Christ and his church (Eph. v, 23-32). Joseph Campbell, in the Power of Myth, mentions that the Twelfth century troubadours were the first ones who thought of courtly love in the same way we do now. The whole notion of romance apparently didn't exist until medieval times, and the troubadours. The statement of Pope Nicholas I in which he declared in 866, "If the consent be lacking in a marriage, all other celebrations, even should the union be consummated, are rendered void", shows the importance of a couple's consent to marriage. It has remained an important part of church teaching through the years. There appeared to be many marriages taking place without witness or ceremony in the 1500's. The Council of Trent was so disturbed by this, that they decreed in 1563 that marriages should be celebrated in the presence of a priest and at least two witnesses. Marriage took on a new role of saving men and women from being sinful, and of procreation. Love wasn't a necessary ingredient for marriage during this era. Years later, the Puritans viewed marriage as a very blessed relationship that gave marital partners an opportunity to not only love, but also to forgive. Many people hold the view that regardless of how people enter into matrimony, marriage is a bond between two people that involves responsibility and legalities, as well as commitment and challenge. That concept of marriage hasn't changed through the ages.
@kou7hik (243)
• India
4 Jan 07
Marriage is the most important relationship a person is going to be involved in. Just as a religion sees a person as "devotee" while the government sees him as a "civilian"- his relationship marriage is also viewed by different people in different ways-- so this relationship is as complex as the person itself. That is the origin of the confusion. According to me, marriages are a necessary evil.
@cyntrow (8527)
• United States
4 Jan 07
I agree. I also think that there are marraiges that are neither secular nor govermental. My own parents are an example of that. Although they did eventually end up marrying legally, the first 15 years of their life together they had were not married, although they referred to one another as "spouse." My father says that a union doesn't have to be sanctioned by the state in order to be blessed by God. I tend to agree. My brother and his partner have been together for 8 years. They are raising three kids and are as married as any married couple. They just cannot attain the paperwork to prove it.
@Perry2007 (2229)
• Philippines
4 Jan 07
In marriage both govermental and secular works together in my country, You had a very clear differentiation between the kinds of marriages that I never realized because attention was not really given regarding this,thanks for discussing
@telulas (459)
• Indonesia
4 Jan 07
i think its the great contra secular with gov't coz its the dual system
• India
4 Jan 07
i think it depends only on the way the two partners take it...I may also consider God as my life partner and devote m whole life to him......