A real lesson in monogamy requires understanding more about non-marriage and polygamy especially if it is to authentically and justly to win an argument against the options and choices of a variety of marriages. To argue for traditional marriage, one should be educated on the historical facts and present what traditional marriage really is or meant by the term, no?
WHERE IS THE EXACT LINE BETWEEN MONOGAMY AND POLYGAMY?
You think you know? CONSIDER OUR LANGUAGE ABOUT MARRIAGE.
When divorce and remarriage occurs (which is now so common but once forbidden), would this be considered ‘serial polygamy’ since it is multiple marriages (just one at a time instead of simultaneously)…. or would this be considered ‘serial monogamy’ since it is a series of monogamous relationships although more than one life partner just not at the same time? The defining of polygamy as commonly known precedes present factors of the marriages we have today. If you thought you were monogamous but had more than one partner over the course of your lifetime, you might want to question what you’ve been taught. Are you a monogamous polygamist? Or a polygamous monogamist? Why is serial monogamy not considered a form of polygamy – if polygamy is marrying more than one partner? Why is the difference in ‘timing’ – one at a time rather than all at once – so important? For what logical reason? What are the logical reasons for any preference?
That is what is called ‘gray’ area – the terms overlap and merge and our thinking incomplete. Fractionated perceptions exist missing complete understanding.
Monogamists easily dismiss polygamists in Utah as valid for holding onto more traditional marriage practices while claiming traditional marriage their way as the valid and right way. Only a person with no basis of knowledge in historical development about marriage can make such errors.
If we are going to argue for something we might want to be absolutely certain our thinking is correct. Life anymore isn’t exactly the historical words and practices we inherited about marriage – even for those who are claiming they have it and want it. And sometimes our terms completely contradict the actual reality, practices and meanings we have evolved to with those terms from the past. This happens because different people use words at different times with different meanings and circumstances. We all use the words but each person has different understandings. Life has changed.
The history of marriage hasn’t exactly been a highly, visible topic of serious academic inquiry and generated public knowledge or thought to be important for all members of society to know. It’s not on the school agenda as priority for children but war and politics is. This is A tremendous oversight for an educated society. It’s assumed we learn about marriage from our parents, from some leaders telling us what is right and wrong about marriage but we get little information about what really happened before we were born – or while we were growing up. We get little information and a broader view about What really happened in our parents lives. Information about our present lives is cut off knowledge unless we seek to find it and learn. So the term traditional marriage actually often ends up with a definition of what one has lived in the course of their own lives including their own parents’ example from childhood. That’s hardly the same as believing traditional marriage is something that existed since ancient times extending those personal life facts in a delusional way across vast times and places as if one’s own experience is the same as all others across the world and throughout history. Yet this is often done because of lack of marital histories.
Children do this often about their lives when perceiving their experience as normal or what is in the world, but most times we recognize it as a child’s lack of experience or education in the world about the world. There are too many adults talking that haven’t recognized, experienced or been taught about other parts of the world in a more objective way. Our practices do not encourage to know more in the same way abstinence as a form of sex education doesn’t encourage information about sex.
In fact, I’d guess the problem with having accurate knowledge about the history of marriage is more than that. Information is lost in an unsettled, unresolved, changing society within larger conflicts and other agendas between government, churches and academic institutions that go back awhile. Churches have fought with educational systems in several key areas for information control and information deletion. And there are times when the secular, educational system wins with facts over religious beliefs, and times when the churches win with beliefs over facts. Sometimes the battle is facts versus facts. But sometimes conflicting and contradictory facts are given simultaneously. I think we are still in the midst of such activity.
Despite this, Marriage has already changed from the inside out because the majority of people in the United States, at least in the last 50 years, have always sought to improve marriages and their relationships personally in their own homes despite what was going on outside the home. Psychologists, writers, preachers and other social factors were impacting the home with proposed beliefs. Supposedly there was a sexual revolution. A domestic violence movement. Psychology as a way to understand individual behaviors was born and mass produced in ways non existent in the past. Pornography and media exploded with perceptions of relationships that became part of the cultural landscape. Legalities changed about divorce, cohabitation, property transfers. Women’s work, men’s responsibilities, economic arrangements, parenting rules, etc; all these have changed. There is no one that hasn’t been impacted by these changes so I have my doubts that anyone has a ‘traditional’ marriage in the sense that no one has the same type of marriages our parents did.
A whole generation of people, if not more, already insisted marriages’ needs to be about freeing and improving love and sex – not keeping marriages as strictly religious, political or economic alliances in any permanent fashion for social power and wealth. Regardless, we still are straddled with this structure that enables the wealth and inheritances to be an important social process. Being american, the value that drives marital change had to do with freedom but also with an idea of a more loving marriage that is possible when you free love from government control and social restrictions. But then some say, not too much. Just this much. Put a stop to freedom. Freedom is the problem not the solution. But often with that view, there is failure to recall what history actually was about marriage and lack of freedom historically in ways now certainly marked both inappropriate and…. unknown history – so we end up having to revisit an unpleasant past of limited freedom to realize what it is.
Rulings about marriage legalities incorporated larger social arrangements. The laws and rules weren’t so much about controlling individual people’s behaviors although the result was that, but the laws and rules served as a social structure that facilitated the larger society’s arrangements and purposes. For example, whose responsibility it is to care for the elderly. When families responsibilities give way to those responsibilities taken on by business or government, families and marriages change.
Marriage had to do with who one could live with as an adult and there were strict laws about that until as recent as 40 years ago, but those laws weren’t ‘ancient’. Think about this. I can see regulating, to a degree, who a child can live with for their well being and designating ownership rights, but seriously, do we need a government telling us who we can live with as adults – now? If so, why? Give the reason.
And I’m not just talking about standards for opposite sex relations. Any Adults, unrelated based on some pure ‘blood’, father only, idea (no science here), could not just ‘live together’. Why would it be necessary to only live with ‘blood’ relatives when we know our blood isn’t royal or different than others? Living together was controlled for economic flow and largely illegal, set up for very real purposes. Single women couldn’t rent or buy a home or live alone. Blacks, whites, rich, poor, you name it. Controlled in specific ways. Elders moved out of the home in name of ‘family values’ – one man, one woman, and children in one independent home – occurred in the 1960’s – another move that disconnected understandings of marital history. How is removing gramma from the home ‘family values’ – yet both were being pushed by political and social controls. An extension of sons being freed from the fathers and their control in government was also a force. So, Government controlled who you could live with? Yes. A free democracy? Well, no, only to a point. Democracy hampered? Yes. Still, Government control was only one thing.
Church control in politics in general was another thing, not just over marriage, and, well, that was a much older conflict – actually, resolved in many ways. The actual creation of United States was built upon the end of catholic political control in Europe. Many people thought, at some point for some time, that church in politics was actually history. A resolved conflict. This was America, you know? Separate church and state because Protestants didn’t want to follow the Catholic fathers’ rituals. Protestants fought and successfully removed the dominance of Catholic churches in political power. It was called the Reformation. The wars stopped. The government confiscations by religious alliances stopped. The killings stopped. No one killed over baptism rituals as a result. The wars ended. Catholics and Protestants lived in America without religious wars. It was actually a Quaker, William Penn, that believed in religious freedom and didn’t believe in war and set up that community for Pennsylvania.
The Church, once the sole and dominant power of TRUTH, had already lost its absolute total control politically over marriage and over it’s social power to be the dominant leaders that had been leaders in claiming truth over many centuries in particular parts of Europe. Scientists could claim truth too now. Academics could claim truths too. So church consistently lost it’s battles and its total control especially over marriage, when it became acceptable for jews and christians, lutherans and catholics to marry each other…. and it lost control as society had time and again resolved the issue of freedom that church should stay out of that part of government involved with politics of controlling people…. but that itself seems to be history too for now. Church is making its way back into government, as defining authority,claiming this to be American, even catholic power and beliefs, and pushing for specific religious beliefs for all people is not history anymore, it’s now the present – again. There is, indeed, a complicated mixture in history between government and church, people’s beliefs in god and segregations. It is useless to debate this in an either/or fashion. Historically, it was both, complicated and changing constantly. Not much different than now.
Few people recognize that abortion and birth control rights are issues not just for women’s rights, but related directly to forced marriages; historical marriage and church control mixed with other social groups like medical science, surgery advances and chemical companies. Lack of Abortion and birth control are part of the history of forced marriages for women which among other religions was and still is a preference of the dominant, political Catholic church. But lacking women’s history, it goes unrecognized that this particular type of forced marriage by way of controlled birth control was not ‘ancient’ since the social conditions that existed, say, between 1850 – 1920 weren’t debated in the past. The debates are one thing and then emerge in another generation in a totally different context. The debates are no longer understood in terms of the sources of the Catholic religion. These issues about women’s bodies are not part of many other religious beliefs and the practices of childbearing have much different meanings and beliefs both historically and today.
PURE MONOGAMY IS ONE PARTNER FOR A LIFETIME.
This means no dating. In the 1820s, the phrase date was more understood in terms of prostitution in America. Some freedoms of dating ritual are tied to the freedom that came with the car in the 50’s. History of Dating is also mostly unlearned and yet evolves with our ideas of proper preparation for marriage and current technologies and economics – even when we hear the words ‘traditional’ as the umbrella with elements that never existed before in all of history.
This form of monogamy, purely monogamous, existed largely – along with slavery – in the specific times and places with the days of total control over women, and children, and young men which included betrothing at a young age, no choice of one’s marital partners, strict segregation of the sexes in all social places, control of women’s body and demonizing of her sexuality and making a divinity out of her non-sexual status, bride markets, bride slaves and bride abduction. All this and more for the purpose of aligning marriages for religious, political and economic reasons. Not as a tradition of God ordained ‘love’ anymore than black slavery was even with biblical references to slavery common.
Yeah, you know the mocking ritual of ‘stealing the bride’ and collecting cash for the stolen bride to be returned to her partner of choice on the wedding day? We no longer want violence as a basis of forced or arranged marriages tied with economics. Well, at least, some of us. It’s a joke and a playful ritual on a wedding day. We don’t allow kidnapping brides either. It’s illegal but still considered part of sexual trafficking and sexual abuse of girls. So some ‘traditional’ marriage isn’t on anyone’s agenda. I hope so, that is. And if it is, you better find out what exactly their idea really is.
Pure traditional monogamy meant No getting to KNOW the opposite sex but adhering to a degree of non-intimacy because men and women can’t be together in any social spaces – including work and education. And their relationship highly controlled and reduced to very specific rules of obedience, not intimacy and love. It meant no playing together from young ages. You can begin to understand why dancing was an issue of religion related to traditional marriage and freedom from oppression. While opposite sexes lived in two separate worlds for the upholding of traditional, monogamous marriages, it also involved the strict rules of sexually divided behaviors, keeping same sex relationships and behaviors in specific check points throughout entire lives and segregated in a variety of ways – not just in the ways being advanced today, but ways that have been advancing for a long time.
The love and sex between same sexed people wasn’t about the ‘same sex’ relationship at all as we know it today. The difference between men loving men and women loving women was specific to how it impacted economics, work lives and other factors. Women loving women was actually okay between women as long as women’s bodies were still owned by men and sex defined as only something between men and women involving penetration. Men loving men was clearly marked by clothes and manners so that forced marriages of men to women was defined clearly as well as men’s manhood as tied to sexual attraction to specifically described women for marriage and sex. So gender WAS the social rules for organizing people into specific pure, monogamous marriages. Pure monogamy gave way when men and women became less socially segregated and could socialize in casual ways prior to dating – which meant that men and women could actually emerge from childhood with some relationship to the opposite sex prior to being forced into one relationship for life.
Mixing gender clothes and manners disrupted authority and obedience demands that went along with pure monogamy. Mixing the roles of sexuality and mothering and sexuality within marriage had specific purpose. Actually, I believe no one really cared about same sex activities as they do today.
Suppressed and rejected, of course, but not an important concern as long as not a serious threat to social order. Nothing in that realm is the really the same as the past. It’s just that the past across the board is a big secret because it threatens to expose our present dishonesty, the fiction and the lies we are living with and hearing today, that is, if truth was fully allowed to be exposed from other than biases toward heterosexual marriages.
In opposite sex theory, there were no acknowledgment of 3 kinds of sexual persons. The church, historically, wasn’t against Homosexuals because they didn’t exist as PEOPLE. Twisting a behavior deemed inappropriate to making that behavior an entire identity is actually progress and regression at the same time. In the same way, at one point, writers and photographers didn’t exist along with books and cameras. Airplanes didn’t exist so neither did pilots. Home videos didn’t exist, you know so you can’t project current conditions of one’s life into a past that didn’t include those things.
Likewise, Homosexuality was a behavior, yes, but not an identified type of person, until the late 1800’s. This makes a difference. One can golf and one can be a golfer, but the two uses of language exist for reasons. While behaviors may be suppressed or inconsequential, they aren’t recognized as important or a threat until they become a way of living or a total occupation which is when we begin to use the term that identifies the entire person, not just a behavior.
In so making such a change, we transform the type of person we see with that behavior to less than a total human. The identity strips them of full humanity and separates them off into groups by partial characteristics – stereotypes, nonetheless. We begin attaching descriptions that didn’t exist before.
Can a golfer be a mechanic or are all golfers corporate executive types of men? Identifying a third sexual person openly involves changing thinking about sexuality itself for the rest of us that are held within the theory of the opposite sex or 2 person model of sexuality that is laid upon the original one sex model as male in even earlier history for specific parts of the world.
Here’s the important part. The restrictions on same sex behaviors, not against persons, were part of forced heterosexual relationships for marriages. When you remove those restrictions, heterosexual marriages become an option, not a forced condition. There is no monogamy or polygamy options without heterosexual relations as the defining base.
But as heterosexual marriages gained incremental freedoms over the past 150 years, the need and ways to control it changed also. The restriction was for the larger purpose of opposite sex people – not for many sexed people. Opposite sex people for heterosexual relationships were trained and conditioned for the controlled and forced monogamous marriages – or various stages of attempts at retaining control in resistance in fighting for more freedom in life overall.
As it still is today.
This Control extends even into childhood. Imagine relationships so confined and government controlled that they are defined from the day you are born – and not free while being told we are free from governmental control politically. This confinement becomes normal with distortions about human freedom even when such control actually isn’t normal at all for the larger potential of human existences, freedoms and in loving each other.
I don’t think anyone wants to go back to that kind of traditional monogamous marriage or the society strictly controlled for it; being forced to marry someone they don’t want to marry and live a life confined exclusively for that forced arrangement. Sexual slavery. Institutionalized slavery of a life for marriage for economic benefits of a few specific various people throughout history. When blacks were freed from slavery, there were discussions about how the law would apply to marriages, children and wives. It was decided that the law didn’t apply, yet it was the roots of freeing black men that supported more changes since against the previous conditions of marital slavery and caused the changes that mark the last 150 years of women’s lives and progressions for their freedom. Still, their freedom has not been won legally.
No doubt this type of pure monogamous marriage in a few areas of the world was done for larger social and economic reasons, without personal choice involved, for many particular reasons lost over and over in times past. So much information is lost for the knowledge to inform the general public to make debates based on facts rather than conflicting beliefs. Apparently throughout history, records weren’t seen as important to develop as a history onto itself, so what does that mean? Whose to say? Like the belief that the world was flat and not round once held out as belief based on church’s authority with no recorded facts and not fact of the world, ships and those who took voyages in oceans eventually knew the world as round as fact while churches took another 300 years to come around to those facts and give up religious beliefs based that the heavens, and the heavenly father of the skies, were above us and the hell below us tied to the model of a flat layer world. Today there is no debate about the world being flat but still debate about where heaven and hell are located and what they exactly are and under whose authority and how one might get there.
There is no coincidence that relationships are so problematic for love today. Love was never part of the design for marriage because it wasn’t the goal of love. It also wasn’t a important pathway tied to eternal life as we are hear today or for being saved and living righteously, among other religious beliefs supporting rules of marriage. Mixed with it today and we are still living with the residue and a mixture of beliefs and teachings with attempts to have a freely loving marriage simultaneously while holding beliefs and practices that contradict that with a desire to control love among people for various purposes such as social cohesion of beliefs and social economic practices. Often the control is being backed by violence and punishment, not by discussions that would bring people to facts, truth and empowered and undebatable choice. Punishments and violence stop the process of learning and cause harm, not facilitate love to love. Still, The battle is nearly lost because love seems to keep winning over violence and punishment as a basis for love. Love as a basis for love, what a concept – a clear 1 is 1 statement.
Marriage simply wasn’t built on romance and love between two people – monogamous or not. I know only a few people who would argue to go back to less loveless marital arrangements. After all, love doesn’t come about by force or government control. One has to ‘learn’ to love another under those conditions of force in a way that love doesn’t under ideas of finding one’s own heart and love in a freer setting. That’s quite a different type of love than the love we even have or aspire to now. Free love, that is what is romanticized, at least partially understood and attempted.
The story is broader and more complex. Most all of what is valued in even proponents of Traditional marriage is actually built on a number of ‘free’ love advancements and a whole movement for free love. But that is unknown. Both in the 1800’s and the 1960’s, for example, there were movements in the United States for more love. Free love. The term meant some things specific in each time period. And changes did occur.
You know, the classic Romeo and Juliet story? Romance between two people forbidden because of family name and historical ties? Yeah. Free love has a long history as against rules about marriage. Traditional marriage and it’s history included a ‘rebellion’ against one’s families in order to love who one wanted that goes back centuries – and has taken that long to get what we got today. It still is a classic story of our times.
Still despite the improvements in marital arrangements and relationships, free love movements aren’t celebrated and honored. VALENTINE’S DAY, our holiday to celebrate love, never recalls key leaders of free love as heroes for the love we celebrate in recent times. The tradition of valentine’s day, like the tradition of marriage, is inconsistent and full of variations. Still one legend is that a saint was executed for performing weddings for soldiers who were, by King’s order for his army, not allowed to marry. So we hardly think that soldiers marrying is something to be honored as a freedom won even when it is.
Freeing love as a movement goes back a long way and hasn’t been handed down to us unbiased. We are living the results of some of the successes, residue and failure in attempts for free love….. and still the free love movements in the United States have been trivialized, ridiculed, denied, and feared for the changes it can bring. Love itself in relationship to the histories of war and heroes seems to be less honored, less publicized, and less appreciated in some ways, especially for men as warriors and soldiers. Attaining love was more the preoccupation of women and probably part of the reason it is not seen as a subject of serious academia. It’s murky alongside of the history of women in general. One not considered important for men’s lives.
Free love isn’t just about marrying someone of the same sex. It never was. But the narrow view of today thinks this is so.
A ‘same sex’ marriage request isn’t a new type of rebellion against traditional love. It’s actually an old type rebellion, a result of many rebellions won incrementally, against imposed force and control – just different people asking for American freedom. The same as so many others have already gained and so many of us now enjoy and take for granted – the freedom of love we have. Like all other advancements for freeing love there is a huge resistance and opposition from certain groups. It should be recognized that, in the United States, freedom usually ends up winning in the long run, eventually. It’s tradition, too.
So whether it’s freedom for same sex or freedom for opposite sex, freedom for soldiers or protestants and pagans, or the disabled and mentally ill to be free to marry and have children, the larger movement is freedom. And we are not resolved in any way.
People today have to imagine a heterosexual marriage not free for dating, romance and love because it largely no longer exists. Some research has found that romance for marriage grew out of the ‘courtly love’ of lower nobility in France about six centuries ago; the lesser and youngest sons of royal families of Kingdoms who had little of the inheritances in a time when only the eldest son inherited the kingdom. These sons didn’t have the same reason to marry and ‘courting’ began as a result of their actions. It was secret and not part of husband-wife relations. In fact, it was seen as a way to get love not found in marriages. Sound familiar? They were free from the restrictions tied with inheritances and owning kingdoms of people. In fact, romance and ‘courting’ was actually a ritual with specific steps of gazing, bowing and approaching a female of a married woman of royalty that didn’t necessary become physical. Some of it mimics are current practices of relationships that are criticized so often. To know what was traditional marriage six centuries ago, you have to really zone in on specific places and times to get some basis of facts.
So traditional Marriages were part of a design for inheritance and for kingdoms and still are. However, making a lifetime decision of partnering for other reasons, like a foundation on the instability of fleeting feelings, such as what we call ‘falling in love’, and loving a person, not necessarily clearly logical and rational reasons, might also not be the smartest development for marriage either. But there doesn’t seem to be an argument against that at the present time because it is widely accepted – traditional marriage or not.
The ideas and divisions we have of marriage are human made, artificial and arbitrary and not consistent over time or throughout geographic locations. If we keep specific divisions, humans fall out beyond them. Somehow humans have a tendency almost always to go beyond neatly ordered definitions and easy explanations, especially simplified for purposing of controlling groups of people. It’s an issue of the limitation of language and the infinite expression of human existence. Still, we continue to get explanations given to us or we give them to ourselves for our life understanding and use as our justification of our behaviors.
Which one of us has been prepared enough, educated enough and lived a marriage as our dreams and intentions aspired to? And given our own experiences, which one of us can actually proclaim their preference and their way as the right one for others to follow – if our experience alone is so limited? We don’t live in a time of highly successful marriages built on concrete foundations of knowledge that lead to success over extended periods of experience. Like NASA getting to Mars, there can be no debate. Failure must be used for ultimate success.
Behaviors must be rooted in clarity and descriptions of goals. The length of a relationship has been commonly defined as a successful relationship regardless of whether that relationship was forced with no option to end it nor how much love or violence existed in it. One must decide what the goals of marriage and definitions of successful relationships are before it can be decided if one style of marriage is to be enforced as the right one and only one.
Still It’s great to be human with souls that can’t be totally controlled because we are alive and life unpredictably large with infinite potential for our soulful expressions! Joy and love originate from our ability to express our soulful selves as well as for a structure for the origination of joy and love. In fact, current understandings insist that intimacy – the expression of each other and knowing of each other in partnerships – are a definite sign of successful relationships. This is also new marital ideals. Estrangement, emotional distance and separate lives within a marriage is questioned today as an inferior marital relations even if it consists of one man, one woman and their children for a lifetime.
Words and ways of behaving can be deadening and misplaced simply because life evolves and people are alive. Soulful relations diminished or vibrancy prohibited. Growing apart is a term often used with dissatisfaction in marriages.
I’m a writer so someone else’s written ideas are questioned and changed, or built upon as I write my own words and my own ideas and conclusions. Non-writers tend to live through other’s descriptions because it’s not their job to investigate like mine the words of others ….so the source of information and terms matters. It’s a choice who you follow but also may not be your job so you may be limited to who you perceive as an honored and trusted informant for writing and knowing about marriage and relationships.
We aren’t beings that can fit into words on a page no matter who writes them and what words we use – legal or not. I can’t speak for billions of people and I can’t imagine making a law or writing anything that uniformly works for all. Other people believe it is possible and have tried to do that – no matter the failure rate. I do not believe it is sustainable or conducive for productive relationships as a permanent framework, but written materials on marriage may have a place in the cyclical patterns for some structure in relationships at times.
I understand the limitations of writer’s words – even if the words are legal. Interpretations and meanings change with circumstances the same way they do with scientific experiments. You change a factor, the conclusions are different. However, We create words and pages to attempt to describe, communicate and understand our living – not just legislate, influence and control people. Writers do that job. And we need to keep our words aligned with ongoing life as people are living it as best we can.
When publishing was limited to those few who could afford to be a publisher, stories were more monolithic. Agreements across the board we understood closely connected with what was taboo and controlled. Now we all have keyboards and write – even if we aren’t writers and even if we aren’t exactly specifically educated in what we write about. We live in a time where we are really mixed up among these things; stories about living. We still have dominant media that tends to frame conversations in polarized ways for short air time that get mass produced for discussions of millions of people, but we more readily see the diversity that exists on www as we try to draw lines in differing beliefs and what media is talking about and our own lives. Therefore, Our stories about our lives and actually what are happening can be entirely different things. I call it the information age; a maturation of a literate society with information and media technology and its pollution. Too many technologies and living based on writings and severely lack of quality time with actual people that are written about producing fiction.
And unlike all other academic disciplines that have been subjects of writing, marriage history has no real long list of Fathers who we can give credit to for their ideas, actions and influence on marriage results throughout history. But they do exist even today. We have little historical facts about marriage in the general public to go on. You have to imagine having a history of leaders of marriage like we have a history of leaders of war because that information isn’t organized and made available to the public easily. A history of historical facts about marriage. Times and places. But we don’t get that as general public knowledge either so that accurate, agreed upon information can become a part of a discussion of traditional marriage. Debates rarely even specify what is meant by the term. Thus, there is some lack of accountability and credibility to be had when it comes to whose claiming what about ‘traditional’ marriage as a monogamous nuclear family. It simply is a narrow view of both history and marriage that isn’t realistic.
The frame of the discussion around marriage tends to claim that it can’t be questioned or known in facts as I’m proposing it can be. We hit huge conflicting ideas about what the facts are. There is an assumption that marriage is known already, too. Part of the argument is that marriage just is as it is and shouldn’t be questioned or changed…and can’t or shouldn’t be. This stance completely falls flat when all one is actually debating about the changes, acknowledges and recognizes the recent changes that have already taken place and how little is really discussed or known about the history of marriage.
Margaret Meade said of her research that most families throughout history consisted of groups of 12 – 36 people. Not nuclear families of only husband, wife and children. Only in war time, do families become small units as nuclear families which is promoted as those with family values and ‘traditions’.
When one considers the large populations we have today and the communication technologies that form new communities today, including globalization, how can one speak as if our advancing civilization itself doesn’t impact and cause marital change beyond our control… because it does.
What we know about different marriages is part of our technological communications in contrast to small town newspapers in the past in which people had little thought or knowledge of what other groups were doing nationwide.
You can google to polygamy in Wikipedia and click on links from there to find out
what I’m about to say here….and more. That’s my easy source right now, although I’ve been studying the history and practices of marriage, as a writer, since 1987. I think the history of marriage is important to knowing how we got here and in defining and describing the reality of the present time.
HISTORICALLY, POLYGAMY or MONOGAMY ARE DIRECTLY RELATED TO CHOICES OF LABOR, FARMING PRACTICES AND LAND ACQUISITION.
It makes sense.
So It turns out upon research that there is a strong connection of polygamy directly related to division of labor in farming and different farming practices. There were many variations and reasons for polygamy and monogamy historically so one model wouldn’t suffice as an easy explanation either way. Utah is just an relatively, recent, abnormality (born from the dissolution of Catholicism of Europeans rebels) in the United States, not throughout history or in the larger world. Hollywood, of course, is, IMO, the real abnormality in the course of human history for giving people ideas of what relationships and marriages are because television and fictional movies didn’t exist in all of human history in relationship to marriage.
For some, the arrangement for men to have more children for farm workers was conducive with polygamy or monogamy…or to have wives as more workers for horticultural type farms or to become more profitable by replacing wives with machinery and needing only one wife for domestic duties and farm help with reduced costs. On the other hand, a man could acquire much more property and land through extended families with more wives and wives’ labor, so at times acquiring land and ‘nations’ influenced marriage practices. Evidence of these ideas are actually biblically descriptions of God’s will in the old testament, too. Still, perhaps limiting men’s acquisition of land ownership may be cyclical and unevenly applied such as was done in the elimination of kings and their acquired territories with armies with the rise of individual countries armies with other political rivals and leaders. All this might play a role in the value of monogamy.
Again, there are endless variations for marriage and endless differing reasons of family arrangements and why they existed throughout history and still do exist in the world. A marriage contract couldn’t exist without a literate culture as we have today. We often consider two adults being together a marriage in other cultures even when there is no rigid, formal, laws or contracts by a court institution in indigenous cultures. Being together as partners had very different meanings. These marriages were largely different than our own so we can’t easily apply our style of marriage to a long history without distorting that history. It’s important to know that our present marriage in america is not ‘normal’ marriage throughout history – even when claimed by those as a way to institute their own preferences. But some people will sidestep the accuracy of history to promote a strain of marriage they want to see dominant in their society.
There is no doubt that economic resources that often determined actual living arrangements and determined reasons for family arrangements were – and often still are – the reason for marriage practices and family arrangements. Did I just say that? Yes. That is like saying 1 is 1 and not 2. Clearly, economic resources determine actual living arrangements which provide reasons for family arrangements and ARE the reason for changing marital practices and family arrangements.
Our beliefs about love and romance confuse, complicate and deny that reality. Because even if we choose love in marriage or want divorce, our economic resources end up creeping into our lives and influence what we do and we have to be terribly committed to maintain love as the force for marriage against natural and manmade forces of circumstances. In divorce we have to bear out the economic devastation and/or transfers of property and wealth that may influence our arrangements of love. Often we aren’t living the ideals we have that go along with our beliefs. I’d say that is a bulk of what we have today.
The church, too, aligned with royal families or as a political institution, had vested interest in accumulation of material wealth, economic resources and land – for its survival and at times, for its greed throughout history. Not only directly with royal families did churches exist but also through their congregations, like today, who give economic resources to the church for its existence. So churches’ beliefs of marriages and family laws were also determined by economic interests for themselves and their close partnerships with other aligned social groups and families. A constant negotiation of survival can’t be denied as churches do change policies to meet their own needs of survival. Often, without those alliances, churches, like business institutions, not only struggle to survive but lose a following. It’s hard to be honest and look at economics when we want to believe that our choices are strictly morally based and not about economics.
The belief that marriage is done, ordained by God and for Love, is actually a progressive new idea and claimed today as a conservative idea. Another division in language that is tied to time and place and evolving. A progressive idea can quickly be leaned as a conservative idea within a single generation. Churches we have today didn’t exist, actually, for a very long time – even the extraordinary power and wealth of the Pope has historic time periods. The marital value of love ordained by God or by leaders of God was somewhat born with and expanded greatly with democracy and developed as a social belief when competition for land ownership among men decreased as a priority. What isn’t quite clear to many is that democracy eliminated some of the power of the Fathers in society, including marriage as their decision, with the term ‘all men are created equal’. Men created equal meant men didn’t have to follow a pope or a priest as one with unequal power. It became a choice. Prior to this declaration of independence, certain Fathers ruled in a number of hierarchies of unequal power which ruled over other men, especially young adult males and their choices. Even with the independence, young men are still trained and highly influenced by older men’s established beliefs. And until recently, men were seen as the only legitimate heirs or voices of God’s ‘word’ and knowledge. Books weren’t available to masses of people. Women weren’t allowed equal education. And when it comes to marriage, the belief that one should teach a child to decide for themselves out of a choice of different marriage styles didn’t exist… and still as a freedom of choice in a variety of options of marriage is barely undertaken. Rarely do uprising of empowered people with new beliefs make it by the accusations of cults unless incorporated into the mainstream social acceptance. That is partially why it is argued that one style of marriage is the only valid one even when history shows that was never the case.
The next logical steps in freeing marriage for love would be to allow children a choice and most people can’t even conceive of freeing and opening love for children THAT much. I can’t go far enough here to debate that or even conceive of the possibilities in this writing. I simply bring to point that one can not honestly believe marriage is a choice of people for anyone under the confusion we have about our choices in marriage and freedoms we have right now based on how we teach and inform children about marriage. We believe we have choice because we are told we have a choice to ‘belief’. But let’s consider that idea for a minute.
Most people I know believe that somehow marriage is religiously sacred ‘by belief’ and custom and monogamy is the practice of their ‘sometimes loosely based’ and sometimes highly committed religious life. Sometimes by their devotion to a particular religious institution, or spiritual belief. And sometimes not. At the very least a wedding ceremony through a church makes marriage official, which makes their practices of ‘love’ aligned with ‘sacred’ and deemed moral by God or respected socially. Those who chose to not marry in churches still understand the ritual as an honored and sacred ceremony. It should be noted that churches significantly lost their congregations over the last few decades, even for the wedding ceremony for marriage, as society valued more love independent of government-church tied control. Marriage ceremonies became acceptable as performed in all types of places. Another step toward freedom from religious control of marriage.
My views about marriage were broadened when I studied African culture and the differences I barely recognized without such study. Before that, I didn’t realize differences as they applied to my own life. I thought my life was ‘normal’ and everyone else’s was the same or differences really weren’t significant – to me, anyway.
And to have and to hold was the term used when men acquired land ownership, and brides, in English law. Not in other histories of marriage. It was a legal, economic phrase in the ceremony that gave ownership to a man -both a wife and land – through English language. To have and to hold was still a popular phrase in my lifetime.
Despite all historical evidence, there is a strong belief about this divinity of God and that God ordained how people and who people should live with, use their bodies a long time ago and that (it is mistakenly believed based on lack of historical knowledge) that has always been the basis of marriage. It is error. To believe God believes in monogamy only is a misinformed view and denies reality of our own government’s position. However, this acknowledgement either means I’m wrong or it means many people have trusted and believed in people that gave them inaccurate information and that they themselves were misinformed.
Ironically, if marriage is God ordained and his will, than why do people have to fight to implement God’s will? You’d think if God wanted it, as God’s will, then so be it. Instead, an explanation is given that people are not following God’s will and each person is free to give their own idea of what God’s will is for everyone else – if they choose. But that’s to step into a debate about religious thinking rather learning about the world we live in and marriage that isn’t so tied to particular religious beliefs. To consider marriage, one must confront which religious beliefs one has accurately inherited and believe in. Too often people are vocal about their beliefs and are totally disconnected from the actual sources and are no longer in alliances – even remotely – with the sources. Some haven’t even thought about where and how they learned what they believe.
Being disconnected from the land – farming families gone – also disconnects the understandings of marriages as tied to land and facilitates our beliefs today that marriages not based on economics and the land because they aren’t in the same way anymore – even when they still are in another type of relationship. Change in farming has changed marriages. In other words, with farming families gone – the basis of how that family functions is gone.
This belief of love being the foundation of marriage, and that it should be, contradicts all study of marriage history, including even many theologians and biblical scholars’ understandings.
So I question why and how do the marital myths that are so common exist – even while evidence of changes and conditions exist to the contrary in front of their own eyes?
Is it that those tied with churches, despite academic study, have vested interest in
pushing their own beliefs?
We see our world colored by the stories and beliefs we’ve learned – often not as it is.
We might believe the earth is moving but we still see the sun move across the sky. We don’t feel the earth move unless an earthquake occurs. Our beliefs are not always based on our own senses, but on information. And sometimes what we believe, the information we have and what we are told determines what we are actually seeing with our eyes. We can’t trust our own senses entirely and we can’t just trust other’s opinions either. We lose basis of what and who to trust.
For some people, based on believing what they’ve been told without question, it’s seems to me that they somehow get married and expect the ritual of the ceremony itself to make what they are doing ‘divine’ – even when it’s clear, before and after the ceremony, they are propelled by their own will and feel self determined to make ‘marriage’ work on their own terms and beliefs with no clear experience or ritualized lessons. Those who do claim to live a marriage that is God inspired don’t really want just anyone intruding on their practices, either. They choose to believe what they want and whose instructions and beliefs they will follow.
So few newlyweds think much about where their lessons of marriage come from and what’s the source of the information they plan on using? Often unaware of them, ritualized patterns move from parents to children with some rebellion for improvement and some honor for the basic structure. Few understand that the demands for love today as the foundation of marriage do not originate from church history but are only new in very recent history. Media, especially since 2000 has mixed religion and hollywood in ways that never existed before pushing churches agenda into mass populations.
For decades, the church saw the television and movies as a secular place and practiced separatism with their own movie companies, publishing companies and religious channels. They refused production outside their own channels and religiously controlled institutions. That changed when they decided they wanted to use media to promote their beliefs and felt they had been excluded and discriminated against ‘liberal’ media. A complete change in their own institutional practices with some denial, again, of their own church policies historically.
For Each generation of newlyweds, the actual social environment and the social demands about marriage change. They expect more. More love. More Freedom. More of a house or household belongs. More. But it looks like some are getting less.
I think, the strong focus of love as foundation of marriage rather than the actual reality of economic beliefs is coming largely from Hollywood movies of romance in ways that simply couldn’t exist before television and movies were our cultural landscapes.
But the intertwining of religion and secular media productions has existed since the beginning. That’s why we have ‘books’ that are sacred. Maybe in the future, some video today will be deemed ‘sacred’. For those who don’t realize, ‘sacred’ simply means ‘highly respected’ in society. What’s highly respected, as many pastors preach on, isn’t always what is ‘divine’….and thus what is considered ‘sacred’ isn’t always about some heavenly divinity or hell, either. Instead, humans have great powers in deciding such things as what is sacred and what is not.
Once you learn about cultural practices and family behaviors across cultures and religions, not to mention the real marital history in the united states itself and relations of gender, it becomes apparent, almost without argument, that marriages are actually highly based on economic changes, land ownership issues, work arrangements, women’s work and the reasons for children or not having children which was often economic, too. Like the debate whether the earth is round, our debates and conflicts on marriage will eventually resolve as did the debates and killings over baptisms.
So what is new?
Well, The arrangements of marriages vary so widely and are so intricate they often defy the categories we inherited that explain them – often inappropriately explained. Or instead we fail to differentiate, or even know what traditional marriage is, because the change is so huge and even when we know the massive changes have occurred in our own lives. Thus the diversity and changes do make it appear there is no one ‘traditional marriage’. When one says traditional marriage, one must clarify in specific terms what one means by that.
Many people believe about marriage intimately, like children growing up, that their way of living is ‘normal’ until they move out in the world and actually learn how others live.
In a society that tends to teach it’s members that their way of living is the one and only and in contradiction that it is also the best, few opportunities are available
to learn about marriage more broadly. You have to seek it out. Study of marriage is not a requirement for young children. One must wonder why that exists when it is so vitally important.
It may very well be that the recent changes in our marital arrangements has something more to do with the removal of most families from family farming than it does to morality.
When land ownership is not part of the premise or concern or the way families live – material wealth building included, polyandry, women having multiple marriage male partners is more acceptable. This is basic in research.
But not always, and it’s not that simple. Any one statement about marriage can not convey the complexities involved. It takes time to see the broad picture so I urge
you to not jump to easy conclusions but study way more… and realize there are lots of gray areas.
Monogamy for Catholic congregations, and, of course, no marriage for it’s employee was embraced by the Catholic church. This is why monogamy is ONE reason why monogamy is our inheritance. Catholicism, as base, along with Protestants maintaining various traditional catholic practices, valued monogamy.
Polygamy versus monogamy isn’t just a Utah abnormality. In fact, from another perspective, monogamy and nuclear families (one man, one woman and children) is the abnormality but highly valued in some locations.
Like each member of the family in the United States having their own car after the 60’s, the push for the elderly to be institutionalized – that is, gramma and grandpa leaving the family home which reduces family to one man, one woman, and their children ONLY was pushed heavily in the 50’s. Not able to elaborate here, but I would argue this, too, was based on economic changes.
Women’s work always is reason for how families are arranged and practiced because the family can not help but be impacted by it.
It is clear that is present today and the women’s movement isn’t the entire ‘fault’ of such basis realities of life today. We need to understand more about how family arrangements and economic resources are a part of our lives and spend less time digging our heels into polarized arguments about our beliefs.
Also practices of inheritances, the accumulation of large plots handed down to the eldest son following traditions of the kings and princes made a difference in marriage. If inheritance was distributed among siblings, smaller plots were the outcome. So one might ask ourselves, what is happening to marriage and inheritances today and how is this impacting differing family arrangements and ideas about marriage? And how are these issues connected to our beliefs about same sex marriage or polygamy?
Through the Eurocentric culture (with exceptions) monogamy comes through and from the dominance of the Catholic church. Lutherans in the Protestant reformation protested baptism practices but not marital practices. Lutheran and many protestants continued to practice Catholic based rituals under their own newly formed churches. So if you are not Catholic and even if you are Lutheran, you might investigate whether your preferences for marriage are more one of following the crowd or are they really based in religious alliances and to what purpose. Catholic influence and tendency to dominance, although nothing what it was in Europe, is still present today yet discussions rarely bring to point the source of our beliefs.
While many Lutherans may not practice and may oppose polygamy, Martin Luther, the creator of Lutherans and leader in Reformation said that he could not “forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture”. Martin Luther also believed that women should not be social leaders nor spiritual leaders in society. Protestants devalued Mary as mother to be honored and nunneries, and were more hostile to women’s participation. So I think we can all step back and take an inventory and do an examination of what we believe and why.
The pre-Abrahamic Celtic pagans were known to practice polygamy, although the Celtic peoples wavered between monogamy and polyandry which is one woman having many husbands. So being non-christian and pagan also isn’t the dividing lines of clearly cut marital practices.
“In Buddhism, marriage is not a sacrament. It is purely a secular affair and the monks do not participate in it, though in some sects priests and monks do marry. Hence it receives no religious sanction. Forms of marriage consequently vary from country to country.”
THE VARIATION OF MARITAL PRACTICES SIMPLY CAN’T BE DENIED.
Fraternal polyandry in which two or more brothers are married to the same wife was traditionally practiced among nomadic Tibetans.
Non-fraternal polyandry occurs when a wife’s husbands are not related by patriarchal blood lines. This is practiced among the Nayar of India. Women remain in their maternal home living with their brothers instead of fathers of children or husbands…. and the land is inherited through the females.
The institution of ‘walking marriage’ is practiced by Mosuo of China. It is also based on the females of the family and inheritance of property is through the female line. There is no ceremony of marriage. There is a custom of the secret nocturnal ‘visit’ for sexual relations. Men and women are free to have multiple partners and to initiate or break off relationships as they please. This practice makes it impossible to determine who the father is.
For more examples of variation of family arrangements and practices, simply do your own research – BEFORE you start proclaiming what traditional marriage IS and how long its been that way. And when you do proclaim what it is, make sure you give the specifics and the origins of your own beliefs. In this way, we can all live in a world that isn’t so conflicted over important issues.
One last comment – When you listen to people’s opinions about marriage, you might want to consider their own investments in what they are saying as well as what the level and type of their educational background is so you can make a better decision for yourself about your own beliefs.