When did we surrender so many rights to the state?
In the case of civil marriage by a Justice of the Peace or by a clerk in city hall, this is secular territory, whereby the civil authority by default, goes into the marriage business.
The ancient Egyptians had a house warming party for a couple moving in together – no ceremony- just house useful gifts – pots, pans, linens – and a party.
The Church married royalty. The peasants lived together. Marriage as a written contract has always had to deal with property.
In modern times, marriage has become the property contract and not the vow document of two joining together in love.
Indeed, in Pennsylvania, the family court system is still called Orphan’s Court. Family court is more like divorce court or a referee place to break up a contested marriage with children involved.
The idea of legitimate or illegitimate children is really referring to first right, legitimate property rights to parents under property contract or “marriage”.
With the religious right trying to impose religious standards in a civil secular setting such as civil recognition of unions is rather bizarre.
Marriage is what you make of it. No wonder so many people live together these days and children are born out of wedlock – no official marriage property documents.
If you don’t have property or children there is no need for marriage or property contracts.
Property Contracts are essentially what civil union or the like is about and has been suggested as the realistic path for same-sex unions. A civil union is a civil (property) contract. All the hoopla in the “gay marriage” thing is about the word Marriage.
Marriage is definable many ways. The religious meaning is lost to me. Since Jesus never bothered to marry or bother to mention it, I guess it was not on a top ten list of priorities in his ministry for social justice. The RC church says that marriage is a sacrament in that Jesus went to a wedding feast, got real thirsty for the drink, and made more – a miracle perhaps but I still do not see the connection to marriage. The only time or reason people in the stone age got together was for weddings or funerals.
Getting back to simplicity in days of yore, if you married in a church, you took vows in front of your common community. Your common community were your relatives and a few unrelated relatives in a farming community. Everybody knew you were married to one person and everybody knew that you were the parents of your children. No need for marriage certificates and registration through city hall.
I was very impressed seeing something in a museum at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. It was a Quaker marriage certificate framed and hanging on the wall of what I believe was once a Quaker farmhouse. The tour guide explained that since there is no traditional minister in the Quaker faith, the couple being married took their vows to each other and all adults present, male and female, signed as witnesses of this marriage. The document pictured above is one such document.
Would it not be nice if married people today could have a similar document with their vows written out, witnessed and have the document in print version be recorded at the local town hall not unlike a property deed or a will. It would be on public record. It would be a historic document for your descendants.
It is impractical these days with credit ratings, property, spousal health benefits, life insurance to go back to this old fashioned way of recording marriage without any civil authority involved.
Just a thought and sentiment I thought I would share with you.