Married couple (Albany, NY) – March 2009

Park bench couple 2

I don’t really know what to write about this (after all, this is a web blog about photography, and I should probably keep it that way). If marriage is drastically different now than the purpose that it has entailed in Western societies until recent history – that is for procreation, without any particular romantic component attached to it – it seems hard for people to honestly argue against polygamous or even polyamorous arrangements – yes, I understand there is a difference between the former and the latter – should not have legal recognition. I think in all the hoopla and chastisement of Justice Scalia’s dissent – which a lot of people put forward as evidence of his cruelty or lack of sanity – what was ignored was a point that Justice Roberts made, which is that to justify marriage based on love and shared interest could apply to multiple scenarios involving consenting adults. The Op-Ed writer quotes Roberts:

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”

Although I’m sure that a lot of people think that this is a conservative red herring, thrown out to drum up associations between gay marriage and other distasteful arrangements, but there is some logic behind Roberts’ position. It does seem like it would be hard to draw the line at anything entered into between consenting adults.

I’m not joking when I say I always assumed that marriage was a romantic thing in the West. This is probably due to popular culture and upbringing, but it’s probably ahistorical. The Christian conception of marriage has never really required love or romance at all, more just the procreation of the species and rearing of children. After all, the New Testament teaches that there is no marriage in Heaven. Marriage is an earth bound arrangement. Obviously, having parents who love each other is a benefit, but I would imagine that marriages in the 19th Century West were quite different than they are today. With life expectancy as long as it is and an now nearly fully secular culture, it seems that love is now the common core of what people expect in marriage. We hear about so-called loveless marriages sometimes, but I suppose back in the day, that was pretty normal. Throughout Western history, the procreation of children was what marriage was ordered for, with the complimentary roles of husband and wife. It might not even be a stretch to say marriage as it exists now is not the same as marriage from even the first half of the last century. I’m interested now in finding out more about the role of marriage in Western society. It’s interesting stuff. What will marriage look like 50 years from now?


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