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woohooligan Sep 1, 2015
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To be honest, even when I die, I'm not sure I'd want Dr Phil there... Somethin' about him... those beady eyes. :P

Speaking of death... marriage is kind of weird... I mean, having a commitment ceremony and a symbol of your bond with another person, that part's good. What's weird is all the odd notions we project onto it.

I still hear people claim that marriage is a purely civil institution... umm... riiiight... because I always bring a priest along when I want to file articles of incorporation. No, the institution of marriage is derived from earlier pre-Magna-Carta commitment ceremonies of various cultures, like the beena of early middle-eastern nomads. Remember, this was prior to the separation of church and state. To even say "church and state" at the time, people would raise their eyebrows at you, because they just wouldn't understand it. The concept flat didn't exist. The law was the church. And in the intervening years, as the idea of that separation has evolved, the ceremony has clung to the church. I know of no other "purely civil" institution that EVER involves input from religious authorities. (The last rites given prior to an execution aren't actually part of the execution, they're just afforded to the executed as a respect.)

Therefore, the right to marry is inherently the right to freedom of religion. Is it any wonder that certain people invoke their own religion as an excuse to abridge the religious freedom of others with regard to marriage?

(A little off-topic)

When I was in my 20s, there was a case of a police officer in Texas wearing a cross on his uniform while on duty, claiming that it helped people feel more comfortable around him and helped him do his job when people saw that he was a christian. The obvious problem being that anyone who wasn't christian (jewish, muslim, atheist, wiccan, etc) would then have to worry about him being biased *against* them -- so his argument said basically, "I only care about the feelings of christians, but since I have religious freedom, then I have a right to constantly remind everyone that I only care about the feelings of christians."

The supreme court ruled that his options were 1) wear the unadulterated police uniform or 2) quit and take a job in the private sector. He chose the latter in protest.

The reason for this (and I'm not sure why this is such a hard concept for some people to accept) is that the job of a public servant is to uphold the religious freedom of *other* private citizens, not your own. When you are a private citizen, doing your own things for your own reasons, then you have the 1st amendment right to religious freedom (even if your day-job happens to be as a public servant). When you take on the mantle of a public servant, you become the state, and are required to forfeit your own religious freedom (in context of the job) in service of the religious freedom of the public you serve and their greater good.

Back on topic...

But even if we accept that marriage is a religious institution, that makes some of the ideas of marriage even weirder... You may not be aware that for many decades the Constitution of Ireland prohibited divorce all-together until 1995. Why? Well, because marriage is supposed to be an unbreakable bond -- or so went the religious belief of politicians and much of the Irish public... Granted, that wasn't such a new concept either, as even in the traditional wedding vows, you agree to "'till death do us part".

That's the part that's especially weird for me though... 'till death? Wait, wait... didn't this come from a religion that told us there's an afterlife in which we're all going to be reunited with our family and loved-ones? So why wouldn't that marriage continue into heaven? (Although oddly enough even the King James bible does include mention of divorce -- if for no other reason to prohibit men from remarrying a woman who's been with another man because she's then "unclean". Admittedly, that's just a super-chauvinist way of excusing men from caring for the potential children of another man.)

I can only imagine the primary reason why those traditional wedding vows say "till death do us part" is because we don't all die at the same time. Women tend to outlive their husbands, and although first century Jews condoned stoning unruly children to death (on paper at least), taking your wife with you when you die is crossing the line! (They left that to the Egyptian nobles who enslaved them and supposedly took their servants with them.)

But the definition of marriage has been constantly evolving pretty much since the idea of a commitment ceremony was first introduced. I knew that at one time interracial marriage was illegal in the US -- what I didn't realize until recently is that it was only overturned as late as 1967! (Though I do think it's funny and cool that the Supreme court case that made that decision is Loving v. Virginia, the state that advertises itself with "Virginia is for lovers", yet has the state motto "sic semper tyrranis." :P) In modern society we see marriage as a commitment between two people who love each other very deeply, or in some cases very greencardedly. (Doubly ironic that Trump was also opposed to gay marriage, although I think we can all agree that was for political reasons.) Although that's rather different from even just a hundred years ago when marriage was, as John Stewart said, between one man and his new "piece of vagina property."

All this raises the question, what do you do when a spouse is dying? I think in modern society we've all pretty much agreed that if serial marriage is fine while your former spouses are still alive, then it must be fine after they've died, right? But what if they enter hospice? That's like a hall pass, right?

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Unka John Sep 2, 2015
Unka John My brain now hurts. Plus, words are hard n stuff.
"Do I LOOK like Dr. Phil?" I find myself thinking that at work a lot
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