I have seen a growing trend among the people around me, and throughout the world, to question whether or not marriage is worth it anymore, since most of the benefits of being legally and lawfully joined in matrimony can be made available to any couple. Isn’t it just a piece of paper?
Others fight for that piece of paper and legal designation, and by so doing seek to change the fundamental precepts that marriage was founded on — aka “redefining marriage”.
With my “old fashioned” view on marriage, I find it hard to understand, or condone either of these.
This is what marriage used to mean … and what it still means to me:
First we will look at government’s stake in, and society’s purpose for marriage through most of human history.
As Thomas Sowell, one of America’s brilliant minds put it: “In the absence of the institution of marriage, the individuals could arrange their relationship whatever way they wanted to, making it temporary or permanent, and sharing their worldly belongings in whatever way they chose. Marriage means that the government steps in, limiting or even prescribing various aspects of their relations with each other — and still more, their relationship with whatever children may result from their union. In other words, marriage imposes legal restrictions, taking away rights that individuals might otherwise have.”
With this understanding it makes sense why some couples like the “just a piece of paper” argument. I mean, who wants the Government to have any say in their personal relationships? Though, on the other side of the coin, Sowell continues: ” ‘gay marriage’ advocates depict marriage as an expansion of rights to which they are entitled.” Which isn’t the case. (Read more here!)
The main focus of society’s past interest in marriage was because of the children that usually result from the union of a man and a woman. It happens. Deal with it. But society needed to make sure that those children were taken care of. Ryan Anderson, in an address to the Indiana House Judiciary Committee stated this: “Marriage is the institution that different cultures and societies across time and place developed to maximize the likelihood that that man would commit to that woman and then the two of them would take responsibility to raise that child.”
He stated further: “The state’s interest in marriage is not that it cares about my love life, or your love life, or anyone’s love life just for the sake of romance. The state’s interest in marriage is ensuring that those kids have fathers who are involved in their lives.”
Completely logical and good, but for most people, especially Christians, marriage means much more.
- Abstinence before. Old fashioned, right? I don’t think so. And with all the STDs and emotional pain going around, I’m surprised more people don’t agree that waiting until the wedding night is the best policy. How nice would it be to share yourself with the love of your life and not wonder if they are comparing you to someone else? To not worry about extra procedures for your newborn baby because of common STDs you might carry. This is a shout out to teens. No, you don’t have to go there. Yes, the wait is worth it!
- Complete fidelity after: In the “good old days” infidelity was sometimes the only excuse for divorce. Taking it a step further, Christ said, ” That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (KJV Matt. 5:28). In marriage we owe our spouse fidelity not only in the physical sense, but mentally and emotionally as well. No pornography, which encompasses anything that turns you on besides your spouse–so watch those steamy romance novels and movies.
- Your spouse’s help meet: Marriage is about supporting your spouse no matter what life sends your way. Remember the traditional wedding vows? “To love and honor, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part.” The more I hear modern “vows”, the more I think they are a cop-out. A couple decides they want to write their own vows and more often then not, they end up being a declaration of love … not devotion. That sort of declaration belongs at the proposal. A marriage is about standing at that person’s side and helping them, supporting them, encouraging them, pushing them in a wheelchair, spoon-feeding them after a horrific car accident, and so much more!
- Becoming one: With your spouse you should be able to share something physically (goes without saying), mentally and emotionally at a deeper level than with anyone else. For the most part this isn’t something you are going to experience in the first year of marriage, but when you look at a happy couple interact who has been together for over 60 years through good times and bad, you start to get a glimpse of what is possible when you work toward that mutual goal. When you have faced the worst and best of life at each-others side. When you can read their emotions, understand their fears, strive for the same dreams … fulfill each-other.
I am so grateful to the ones who taught me and my husband by word and deed what a real marriage was and should be!
2 thoughts on “What Marriage Used to Mean”
Always good to have a reminder on the importance of family. Thank you!
Another great post Angela and so very true!
Who is in the gorgeous picture at the beginning of the blog! I have my grandparents wedding photo from 1919 and my great-grandmotherâs wedding photo from 1890s. Of course mom and dadâs too from 1949. Love, love, love the wedding pic!
Kelly J. Goshorn
2014 First Impressions Finalist, Historical Romance