The topic of gay marriage is hot on the press again and being discussed on a few blogs around the ridges. After listening to quite a few arguments concerning the subject of marriage, it seems to me that there is a great deal of discussion about the definition of marriage itself. What it is, what it is not and why. Talk to a variety of people and each seems to have a view of what a marriage is and what it is not. Many people seem to have a view of marriage which derives from their religious beliefs, but to assume that marriage is only that which confirms our complies with our religious beliefs, is to only acknowledge part of the larger picture.
To assume that marriage throughout history is derived from a specific religious belief, flies in the face of history. My understanding of human relationships and history suggests strongly that marriage is not specifically aligned with the advent of either judaism, christianity, hinduism, buddhism or islam. That various religions have formulated their version of what a marriage is and goes on to claim that ALL marriages must fit their religious precepts, is an indication of religions trying to redefine what marriage is and the history of it.
In other words, marriage predates judaism and as such it predates christianity. If one wants to pretend that the only kind of marriage is one formalized through a specific religious construct, then all I can say is that the revising of history has been successful in this case.
"Although the institution of marriage pre-dates reliable recorded history, many cultures have legends or religious beliefs concerning the origins of marriage." - Westermarck, Edward Alexander (1903). The History of Human Marriage. Macmillan and Co., Ltd., London. ISBN 1402185480 (reprint).
Marriage as a concept, existed prior to judaism and consequently christianity and islam. One only needs to look at Ancient Egypt to see this. And certainly pagan marriages, (those who were not one of the big 3), existed prior to these religions and during the expansion of these religions.)
In other words, neither jews nor christian, nor muslims created marriage. They created a concept of marriage which fitted their religious precepts and then went on to claim that marriage under all circumstances must comply with their religious precepts. If you want a "christian marriage" - go right ahead. If you want a "jewish marriage" - go right ahead. If you want a "hindu marriage" - go right ahead - but don't try and pretend that you invented the concept of marriage and that all marriages must fit your religious precepts.
Marriage existed prior to the jewish version, the christian version or the islamic version. Religions do not OWN the concept of marriage. They have just formalized a natural process of pair bonding into their respective religions and tried to convince us that no other type of marriage except the ones they espouse, are allowed to exist.
The marriage contract, as we in the west know it, involves consent which is why it is restricted to those who are able to give consent on their own cognisance. This rules out marrying your goldfish if you believe that it looks at you in that "special way", as it is not capable of responding in kind to your declaration of love and marriage. The issue of consent or consensual sex is also what makes paedophilia wrong whether you have a religious belief that it is wrong or not. Paedophilia is illegal because a contract for sex cannot be made without consent. Children are unable to give consent on their own cognisance, so paedophilia is sex without the legal consent of one of the parties. Sex without consent is rape. Easy to see why it is illegal and a crime. The same goes for bestiality or people in love with their goldfish. The issue of a contract requiring mutual consent is what keeps paedophilia and bestiality illegal.
Surely one would agree that the important issue in a contract of any kind is that of mutual consent. The ability to give consent on one's own cognisance is the underlying feature. Unless, of course, you support the marrying of children as child brides at the age of 9 or 10 - regardless of their ability or willingness to consent? Now, where did I read about instances like that? Oh yes - in so-called holy books.
So, Christianity gets to say what a christian marriage is. Judaism gets to say what a jewish marriage is and islam gets to say what an islamic marriage is. However, they don't get to dictate to those OUTSIDE of their specific religion what a marriage is. If, however, the only reason you can give for not marrying your goldfish or your cat, or perhaps your favourite teddy bear, is a scriptural one, or one associated with your religious beliefs; where in passage and verse does it say that you are not allowed to marry your underpants?
I think that if a referendum was held in Australia today concerning gay marriage that it would pass. However, the conservative government and conservative "christian prime minister" that we have now decided to rewrite the definition of a "marriage" so that the door to marriage for gay people is shut. I believe that this is a case of him inflicting his personal religious beliefs on the rest of the population. He has the right to his own religious beliefs, he does not have the right to impose them on others.
As I have mentioned previously, you also have the right to believe according to your religious position, that homosexuality is wrong, but it is an insufficient and irrelevant reason for those who do not share your religious beliefs and by demanding through law that it be banned, you are in effect demanding that I object to gay marriage because of religious beliefs I do not hold. It is tantamount to saying - "My religious beliefs will decide for you even if you don't share them."
This isn't good enough.
"I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewellery." - Rita Rudner