I couldn't find where in the Bible it says anything about selling daughters into marriage. It does mention selling daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), and I suppose buyers could marry them, but how is barring the practice a redefinition of marriage?
I'm curious. Marriage in the Old Testament used to be between one man and many women (e.g., Exodus 21:10). Where in the Bible was it redefined to be between one man and one woman? Poking around on the Internet, this seems to be a complicated subject, but it does feel like there is at least some basis for arguing that modern religions in western-style countries, and probably in much of the world, have redefined marriage by ruling out the multiple wives option, and probably most countries have laws against bigamy.
In any case, there's a long tradition of marriage between one man and one women. Allowing marriage between two men or two women does seem a redefinition, and when Kim Davis signed up for her job marriage was between one man and one woman, so redefining marriage seems to have also redefined her job.
The Supreme Court cannot create law, only interpret it, so the only way they could allow gay marriage was to redefine marriage, and they did. But I believe it would have been better if a new category of union had been created by Congress that had all the rights of marriage but was only civil in nature and not called marriage. This union could later be blessed as marriage by any religion willing to do so. Kim Davis could in good conscience sign these licenses for civil unions that are not marriage.
If you mean all future couples, straight and gay, would involve the state only in obtaining licenses for legally identical civil unions,...
I personally would be fine with that approach, but I understand there would be objections. I was proposing two different types, one called a "union" (or any agreed upon label) and the other called a "marriage."
I gave your message a cheer, here's my thank you for that excellent reply.
What do you think of the argument that where we are today is the result of past failures to fully separate church and state? If we trace marriage back to medieval times, originally all marriage was religious marriage. Once the idea of separation of church and state began to take hold it no longer made any sense for marriage status to matter to the civil mechanisms of the state, but that's not what happened. Anachronistically, as the west began to form governments less and less intertwined with religion, it continued to care about marriage status in ways that affect tax bills and the right to information about someone in the hospital, among many other things.
But we can't fix this accident of history, and so we're left to somehow deal with a contradictory and inconsistent composite of religious and civil. Any solutions will themselves inescapably contain contradictions and inconsistencies.
As NoNukes pointed out, you have it backwards: Marriage was a civil institution that religion attached itself to...
I think many religions would disagree, but I don't want to get into what would probably become a very long debate. I'm sure there are many good arguments on both sides. But I do wonder how marriage could have originally been a civil institution distinct from religion if from man's earliest days there was no separation at all between government and religion. If you're tracing marriage's origins back to a time when church and state were one, don't you have to instead argue that it was a personal affair between a man and woman a having nothing to do at all with either church or state?
But there will always be a need for a governmental institution of "marriage":
The problem is not that the government is "intruding" on the actions of the church. It's that the church thinks it is control of the state. There's a reason that the people who are complaining are the ones who insist that "America was founded on the Bible."
I think the problem is the one I already mentioned, that church and state aren't as separate as we sometimes claim. While I wouldn't agree with the fundamentalists who claim that America was founded as a Christian and Bible-fearing nation, it is certainly true that government and religion were much more intertwined then than they are today. We have gradually over time increased the degree of separation between them, but some entanglements yet remain, and marriage is one of them. One side can claim marriage is an inherently civil bond that religion co-opted, and the other side can counter-claim that marriage is a holy bond blessed by God that government co-opted, and depending upon when and where you're talking about both would be right.
The references I've posted suggest a history of marriage with little to no state involvement followed by the Church getting involved.
I think you're missing that I was responding in the broader context that Rrhain described (see Message 729 where he describes some rights conveyed by marriage regarding illness, death, families, etc.), while you seem at this point mainly focused on the marriage event itself and are assuming I disagree with you. I don't.
I didn't originally respond to this older message, but your most recent message to me indicates some confusion about what I've said, so maybe it will clarify things if I respond to this message now.
Marriage was originally a civil institution that was co-opted by the Catholic Church during the later part of the medieval period.
Agreed. At some point we may get into the history of marriage in non-western contexts, but the context has been western style marriage, so sure, I agree. In this case you're using "civil" to mean private and not involving church or state.
I don't think any of that counters your general point that marriage is intertwined with religion, but I do not agree that absent that intertwining, that it does not make sense for the state to consider or care about marriage status because that status is an indicator of the relationship between two people, and that relationship reasonably matters in many instances. Maybe not tax bills (although I think I could make a case it does make sense to tax marital partners as a unit), but certainly in matters such as inheritance and making medical decisions.
This makes it sound like you think I believe government should not concern itself with marriage status. I don't.
And I suggest that even the questions you raise above is a matter of history rather than guessing. Matters of inheritance and family arise with or without state involvement. Tax law does not, but I suspect you won't argue that tax law is not primary non-religious. If your argument is that these laws evolved first with the church heavily involved with the state, then the best way to show that would be to cite some history.
You must be thinking I'm saying something more than I am. I don't need to cite history for something everyone already knows: separation of church and state is a historically recent development. When church and state were inextricably intertwined, matters or disputes involving marriage were handled by a church/state authority.
Today that authority is much less entangled with the church, but the conflicting religious and non-religious roots of marriage will continue to confound and vex for a long, long time. I agree with PaulK in Message 731 that marriage should be "the province of a secular government," but the key word here is *should*. The fact of the matter is that it is not.
The secular side has won the legal battle for now, but this isn't the end of the story.
Even if you could somehow show that marriage originated as a religious rite (an undoubtedly pagan rite, at that) it would really have very little relevance to the current situation nor would it give Christianity any claim to control marriage.
I agree. If I were to debate the issue, that is the position I would take.
But I'm making a different point. The other side has evidence and arguments, too, and they're not going away. Marriage's long history as a religious institution is an undeniable fact, and that the origin traces back only to the Middle Ages instead of back into the mists time makes little difference to supporters of religious marriage, just as the recent origin of Mormonism makes little difference to Mormons. We can pat ourselves on the back that we've won this round, but there are an infinite number of rounds.
History supports this view. We won on abortion, so the other side found another way, and that's why, for example, there are 23 fewer abortion clinics in Texas now than three years ago, and why Planned Parenthood's funding is being challenged. Going further back, we won on slavery, so the other side found another way, and there were segregation and Jim Crow laws and all that followed with blacks still struggling for equal rights in this country.
So what happens next for marriage? Who knows. Speculating generally, I think the current controversy will quickly fade from the limelight. Gay marriage is already the new normal. Conservatives in Congress are already planning legislation granting additional religious rights in secular contexts (there are already some religious rights in secular contexts, e.g., the federal law that employers have to "reasonably accommodate" an employees religion), and these efforts will continue.
...and I am suggesting that it is wrong. Marriage predates anything remotely recognizable as the church, and certainly anything remotely recognizable as the Christian church. As PaulK suggests, if any religious entity did exist at the time it was nothing like Christianity.
The reason I don't think you you know what I'm saying is because first you say I'm wrong, and then you make what you apparently intend as corrective statements, but I agree with them.
It is certainly possible that I missed your meaning. What did you mean by the following?
If we trace marriage back to medieval times, originally all marriage was religious marriage.
Hmmm. Not phrased that well, it does seem confusing, maybe it read better in context. Clarifying, I wasn't arguing that medieval times are when we should judge marriage to have begun. I was suggesting that the origin of the modern entanglement of marriage and state was medieval times. That was when church/states in Europe began insisting on sanctifying marriages. I think your Wikipedia excerpt mentioned this.