The institution of marriage has evolved through many definitions over the years.
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The first definition was built around survival. Marriages of survival were aimed at extending the human species in relatively safer surroundings as compared to lone women vulnerable to harm from man or beast.
The second definition involved marriages built around children. It involved creating a protective cocoon for a man, his wife, and their children to protect against interference by others.
The third definition involved arranged marriages. Marriages of convenience were arranged in all levels of society. To a poor individual, it permitted not only a merger of frugal possessions but also the ability to forge a link with whoever was geographically nearest. To highly bred individuals, it provided an opportunity to merge wealth and/or real estate.
The fourth definition, which began around the mid-1800s, involved love marriages. The concept of love began to be insinuated more and more into the mind of society.
The fifth definition involved marriages killed by divorce. This trend commenced after the end of World War II that propelled the U.S into a superpower. Marriages began to increasingly end in divorce. Since its advent in 1945, divorce has developed into an ever-increasing malady. In our contemporary times, divorce can be adjudged a pandemic. Current statistics reveal that 6 out of 10 marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.
The concept of divorce gave rise not to different definitions of marriages but different deviations from marriages. One of them is cohabitation. The Sexual Revolution that took place in the 1960s caused sex to brazenly slip out of the boundaries of marriage. Premarital and extramarital sex became more and more widely accepted in the U.S. This attitude spawned cohabitation, a situation where a man and woman live openly together with or without the consent of society. Cohabitation without marriage recorded a huge rise of 1200% between 1960 and 2004. Cohabiting couples hope that such a ‘test run to marriage’ will help them evade the pitfalls of bad marriages and possible divorce, will make them understand each other better, and thus pave the way for eventual marriage. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. It is estimated that 50% of cohabiting couples break up their relationship within 5 years of living together.
The wide acceptance of cohabitation emboldened many cohabiting couples to have children. The break up of their relationship gave rise to the second deviation from marriage – single parenthood. At present, it is estimated that 35% of children in the U.S are conceived through out-of-marriage relationships. Of these, 63% remain with their mothers who have become ‘single parents’.
The third deviation is marriage for nationality. This trend developed in the U.S. during the latter half of the 20th century in the wake of huge waves of immigrants drawn to its sophisticated development, high standard of living, a guarantee of personal rights and liberty, and lenient immigration regulations. The lure of the ‘green card’ that legitimizes the stay of a foreigner in the U.S. spawned an unscrupulous network that arranged fake marriages between U.S. citizens and foreigners so that the latter automatically gain nationality. In spite of heavy persecution, this deviation still persists.
The fourth deviation from marriage is a relatively new development: same-sex marriage, which seeks to legitimize relationships between two homosexual men or a lesbian couple. This development came to fruition after many years of struggle against religious groups and societal norms. Currently, it is an accepted form of marriage in a few countries (South Africa, Canada, Belgium, and Spain). In the U.S., same-sex marriage is legal only in the states of Iowa and Massachusetts.
While these deviations from marriage are largely contributing to the demise of civilization, particularly in the U.S., which has the unenviable record of the lowest percentage of children being raised by their married parents, the sixth definition of marriage still very much exists in the marriage of spirit. Married couples that have successfully parried the intrusive destruction of divorce from their partners have recognized that they have reached a stage where marriage has shifted from the physical domain to the domain of a spiritual relationship sustained by commitment. The romance continues to remain a vital ingredient in their partnership in that it represents the spiritual part of marriage and gives rise to intense spiritual delight. Spiritual delight, in turn, increases their belief and faith in God, thereby causing their personal actions to be morally good.
In the interest of morality, and with the aim of sustaining civilization, it is hoped that more and more people engaged in the four deviations from marriage give up their wandering ways and return to the safest, most secure, and moral legitimate relationship that a man and woman could ever have – marriage.
- Roth. “The Meaning of Marriage.” Inner World Perceptions. (N.d). 2007.
- “Same-Sex Marriage” Wikipedia.org. 2007. Web.
- “Same-Sex Matrimony: The Evolution of Marriage.” National Coalition. (N.d). 2007.