Defining Marriage

What exactly is marriage? Is it a religious institution, or is it a civil institution? What is the purpose of marriage?

Points to ponder:

#1 In the USA, it is possible for two adults to live together without being married.

#2 In the USA, one adult can grant another adult Durable Power of Attorney.

#3 In the USA, one adult can grant another adult Power of Attorney for Health Care.

#4 In the USA, an adult can make out a will which designates another person as executor. The will can also designate a beneficiary.

#5 There are nations in which polygamy is legal.

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  • Commander_Chico

    With regard to the state, it is a form of contract which carries state-approved incentives with it, e.g. tax benefits. The items you mention – power of attorney – do not begin to cover the realm of the state’s reward of the marriage contract.

    Religions have varying definitions of marriage.

    • GarandFan

      And just why did ‘the state’ grant these incentives? Because they are just a swell bunch of guys who like to ‘give’?

      • Commander_Chico

        The broadest answer is to promote household stability and pooling of wealth for economic reasons, and sexual fidelity to lessen the spread of disease.

        You can add providing contractually-bound legally accountable parents for children to this.

        The fact is that providing the opportunity for marriage contracts to homosexuals imposes almost all of the legal obligations on them as it does on heterosexuals (the husband’s presumed parentage of a child born to his wife not one of them), but does not lessen either the obligations or the benefits of marriage to heterosexuals and to society one bit.

        • Uh, unless a same-sex couple plans on adopting someone, the issue with children is moot, because two people of the same gender can’t sexually reproduce.

          • herddog505

            I gather that, for many gay couples, that’s a big reason for wanting the right to “marry”: so they CAN adopt children.

    • 1) Have you ever heard of a marriage penalty in federal taxation?

      2) Are state rewards of marriage contracts universal? Were such state rewards in existence back when the USA became a nation?

  • Rance Frayger

    In the USA, being married means having filed a form that has been signed by 4 or 5 people (depending on the number of witnesses required).

    In the USA, having that piece of paper allows two people to file a joint income tax return.

    In the USA, having that piece of paper allows one of those people to collect Social Security survivors benefits.

    • jim_m

      It also means that you can get personal healthcare information that would otherwise be protected under HIPAA.

  • herddog505

    A strange thing, is it not, that we are discussing the meaning of “marriage” in the year 2012…

    Is this truly the sticking point? If we continue to officially reserve the use of the word “marriage” for “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law”* and use some other term for the functionally identical relationship between people of the same sex or more than two people, will that suit everybody?

    ===

    (*) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marriage

    • LiberalNightmare

      >>will that suit everybody?

      No.
      The issue at the heart of it all is not equality or fairness. The issue is approval.

      Its not about the right to choose your own sexual partner or lifestyle, what they really want is to force acceptance of the lifestyle on everyone else.

      • MunDane68

        No, what they want is to abolish anything that dare say that what they do is wrong. Thus, the Church has to go. The issue isn’t marriage, but weddings. Once the marriage becomes legal, then the lawsuits to force the ceremony to be carried out in a church will commence. Churches will have to choose between following doctrine or staying open.

        The church will be driven underground again, as the modern day Romans persecute it.

    • Are you suggesting that civil unions be a substitute for marriage, with a civil union granting people the same legal rights that marriage grants?

      • herddog505

        Seems a reasonable solution to me.

  • For what it is worth, although I mentioned a few facts pertaining to the USA, I did not ask that a discussion about marriage pertain only to the USA. Nor did I ask that discussions pertain only to the present time.

    What about global and historical perspectives?

  • Jerzey George

    I try to keep most things simple in my life. Societies recognizing the importance of continued existence bestow the title of Marriage on the basic building block of 1 male and 1 female producing and nurturing offspring. Both the Religious and State issue aside. The fact that a small minority portion of the populace finds it offensive as it stands by their refusal to accept who they are is troubling to Society as a whole.

  • What, if any, is the microbiological basis for outlawing sex/marriage between father and son? If there is no known microbiological reason to outlaw such an act, then does this mean there is no possible microbiological reason to outlaw it? Unethical acts are the function of injuring the hapless and weak by way of a too-convenient means of seeking one’s own distorted version of happiness. Sex is a very powerful force in the human psyche. I would even say it is the most powerful. In any case, it has the power to overcome its own rightful bounds, if not in all individuals at the same time, then in a population over time and generations. Anyone with a libido will admit that.