Saturday, June 27, 2015

Overheard at the Counter: A Brief History of Marriage

Verble, recapping the events of the week, goes off on a history lesson:

"Marriage has always been a social contract.  Always.  It's always been about who gets your stuff.
When Og and Grog were fighting for who was gonna lead the tribe down the river to the next cave, whoever won would need to ensure that if they got eaten by a mountain lion, that their kid would be the next in line to keep the tribe moving.  Marriage solves that problem.

"So, in a way, marriage has always been about social status and economic distribution.  We see this throughout history.  Do you really have this false notion that monogamy was ever really practiced?  We've got loads of evidence, even Biblically, about concubines and prostitutes and little boys and all sorts of fornication that is the hallmark of humanity.  But of all the pre-Legal Trust societies, marriage made sure that your cash and your credit got passed down.

"This is because a society could always tell what baby came out of what woman.  That kid popped out of her womb.  But the daddy?  You can never really tell.  Does this kid have a claim to Locutus's sword?  Or to Zoltar's 100 head of oxen?   Without marriage, it would have been one bloody mess trying to figure that out.

"The only historical blip on marriage was Jesus Christ, who came along and introduced strict monogamy.  You were supposed to have only your wife.  'What the hell?!' the people said.  'I can't have my wife and have my fun with that loose Samaritan chick that sometimes goes to the well?' 'No,' Jesus said, 'because if you do, you've broken your vow not just on this social compact, but also before God, and therefore you lose your right to your stuff, because God gave you the stuff.'

"That was one of the reasons why they so wanted Him dead.  'We gotta get rid of this guy!  It's OK if he heals the sick but now he's talking about our STUFF!'

"Am I starting to sound like a George Carlin routine?  That's OK.  Carlin was a spot-on guy.  Although it is funny to mention Jesus and George in the same breath.

"But I digress:  this is really why St Valentine was marrying people in secret around 300AD.  The Emperor didn't like people marrying because then someone would have secret claim to whatever stuff the people would have after they died in far-off countries trying to expand the empire.

"The idea of monogamy (which is God's marriage, which is different that this social idea of marriage, but that's a different rant) is what became solemnized with social marriage with the rise of European countries as a world influence.  Still, though, throughout the Dark Ages and even the Renaissance, the idea of marriage was basically that this is the woman who you say to the world this is who I'm doing it with, and your other lovers you just keep in the dark.  Any kids from the lovers never got a cent - imagine that!  No child support - nothing! - they had to go out and make it on their own.  Why do you think William the Bastard was able to change his name to William the Conqueror in 1066?

"Christian pastors today think that the beginning of the end of Traditional Marriage (which, by the way, is this confusion between God's marriage and Human Marriage) began with the Enlightenment.  Man, do pastors HATE the Enlightenment.  Still, though, that's yet ANOTHER rant.

"Me, I think the true end for Trad Marriage is the Romantic Poets.  Why?  You may ask, How can these proto-hippies be so bad for marriage.   Well, it's because they introduced the idea that you were actually supposed to LOVE the person you're married to.

"The whole idea behind marriage up until right before the 20th Century is that you marry someone, have kids, the kids get your stuff, and maybe you will find love with that person, or at the very least find a way to tolerate them for the rest of your life.  Either way, the women get economic security, the man gets regular meals and social status and the kids aren't sent away to live in the woods with the mountain lions.  Period.

"Then all this ROMANCE comes along, and marriage is infused with this 'you MUST fall in love'  Now, that's OK by me.  Took me three tries but I finally did it.  What I'm saying is that this breaks down the SOCIAL contract of marriage and makes it a romantic contract.  While this was probably intended to be closer to God's Marriage (which again, is separate and distinct), it actually paved the way for divorce.   Because a contract can not change hearts or help you through the bad times.

"Fast forward to the 20th century, where the incidence of family abandonment got too great for societies to bear, so divorce became easier.  The social stigma of kids coming from broken homes was removed, and suddenly the Social Marriage is left as nothing but a hollow symbol of this-is-the- person-who-makes-me-happy-at-the-present-moment.

"And that, my friends, is a Brief History of the Social Contract of Marriage.

"God's idea of marriage is so different that the two are unrecognizable.  The only reason why we think they are the same is that we have the same word for them.  But that's because our words confuse us."

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