It’s an institution that’s been set in stone for the past 1,000 years, but is it still valid in today’s world?
Marriage is a rite of passage, a sacrament, a legal contract, a romantic endeavour and the thing that creates the very basis of our society: the family. But when it first took place, marriage was wholly different and the reasons why it was created may not be applicable today.
John Lennon’s line from his song Imagine: ‘Imagine no possessions … I wonder if you can,’ is very telling of the history of marriage. It’s hard to fathom it now, but there was a time when there were no landowners, when houses hadn’t been invented yet and when the word ‘possession’ had barely any meaning.
Then, one man claimed a piece of land and the rest of the community conceded defeat, and he owned it. And then labourers built him a castle and it became his too and he adorned it with beautiful things and used the animals on ‘his’ land for food, fur and other things. And when the hour of his death approached, he had to name an heir. But who? How would it be decided?
You’ve guessed it! The first-born child in wedlock, approved by the law and sealed by God. And that is what marriage, in its essence is; a contract between a man and a woman that they will be faithful (especially on the woman’s part) so that the man will know who his true heir is.
This is also one of the reasons why priests can’t get married. Who would they have left their property to? Their children or the Church? Tricky situation, solved by denying them this sacrament.
But what is it to us today? We’ve come a long way since those dark times. Both men and women can inherit property, children borne in and out of wedlock are equal and DNA tests can determine the true paternity of the child.
Yes, marriage can offer a safety net and holds the other person accountable, but do we still need it? Is tying yourself to someone else and risking years of legal battles, financial ruin and heartache just to say you’ve been married worth it?
I’m not so sure, but I’d love to know what you think!
Do you agree with James? Is it worth getting married in this day and age?