Rob and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary last week. It was wonderful. As we spent our evening together, I pondered how this whole marriage thing got started at all. Why do humans want to pick one person to spend the rest of their life with? For this week’s post, I decided I’d look into marriage and why we’re drawn to it. I also discuss same-sex marriage and why it’s time we allow it. That’s not all; nope, I also slid into my wedding dress and, with my daughter Jude’s assistance, took some photos of me in it. The darn thing still fits!
Marriage is just one of our many survival instincts – not very romantic, I know. Consider the primitive Homo-Sapiens’ marriage: a monogamous couple who raised one or more children together. This instinct evolved as a beneficial trait that ensured the survival of offspring. As humans, we’re banking on intelligence for survival, which means having a big fat brain. The problem with that is it makes for a big fat head which doesn’t fit so well out of a little bitty birth canal, so in order to counteract this problem we’re born before our brains or bodies are fully developed for survival. Human babies are helpless, underdeveloped runts. Since only one baby is born per pregnancy (though there are exceptions), it was extremely important for that child to survive. Humans are needy, helpless babies for a very long time, so if the parents didn’t want to serve all their offspring up to the local predators, they had to stick together and take care of their babies.
Okay, so if marriage is an instinct designed to keep a man and a woman together in order to raise children, then are the “protection of marriage” religious folks right? Why would same-sex couples want to get married if they’re not combining their genetic material to create offspring? What about husbands and wives that can’t have kids? Why get married? I believe that our monogamy instinct is not anchored to our sexual orientation or to our capacity or intention to have children. Many same-sex couples and spouses who cannot have children still have a desire to raise children, which they often satisfy through other means such as adoption or artificial insemination.
Marriage began in ancient societies and when we look through history, same-sex marriage is really nothing new. According to Elizabeth Abbott in A History of Marriage, “In ancient Rome, for example, Emperor Elagabalus married Zoticus, a male athlete from Smyrna; he also referred to Hierocles, his blond slave, as his husband.” According to Wikipedia, Emperor Nero is said to have married at least two of his male slaves. It wasn’t until 342 AD that Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans outlawed same-sex marriage in Rome, with execution as the punishment for law-breakers. Back to Abbott, she also states in her book, “The Crow people [North American Natives] recognized a third gender, or berdache, understood by Natives as ‘two spirit’ people possessed of both maleness and femaleness.” This understanding led some of the tribes to allow same sex marriages.
Marriages have been around far longer than any religion that is practiced today. Not one religion can claim to have “created” marriage, and any religion that claims to have created it is telling a falsehood. Religions co-opted evolved societal traditions and created their own individual versions to suit their purposes.
I am not accusing all believers of being against same-sex marriage; when I was a Catholic I supported it becoming legal. It just seems the most outspoken of the bunch on the “pro-marriage” side are basing their arguments on what they call “biblical teachings”.
The funny thing is you don’t even need a religion to get married. You can just go to the courthouse, get a marriage license, and make a quick visit to the Justice of the Peace; that is, if you and your beloved are members of the opposite sex. It’s crazy how two straight people, let’s say they’ve known each other for two hours, can get married in Vegas with no problem, while at the same time a gay couple who have been together 10 years is not allowed to get married.
Our government is the authority over marriage in the United States and it must loosen the shackles that have been placed on marriage. Same-sex marriage should be allowed in this country.