Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peter Hitchens on Marriage

Peter Hitchens, blogging at the Mail Online looks at how our default assumptions about marriage have changed.

There used to be things we never had to think about. It never crossed anyone's mind that marriage could be either wanted or accomplished by anyone except a man and a woman, and it isn't very long since divorce was very rare indeed, and everyone assumed that marriage was for life. The phrase 'till death us do part', at the heart of the Church of England marriage service, was the title of a long-running situation comedy, and nobody thought it odd or unfamiliar, as I think they would now. It was what most people had said at their own weddings.

I am always advising people to read the Church of England's 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which the Church's liberal establishment longs to be rid of but cannot quite stamp out. ... But 'The form of solemnization of Matrimony', the Anglican marriage service, is also a carefully-constructed contract, an explanation of the purpose of marriage and a guide to how it is to be done. The Church is of course trying its best to stop people using this service now, offering instead various bland and denatured rituals and hoping that couples won't be aware of the tougher, more serious and much more beautiful version in the Prayer Book.

And it has simultaneously retreated, shamefully, from its own insistence that marriage is for life by becoming increasingly sloppy about the remarriage of divorced persons in church, and even about the marital status of its own clergy. De facto, if not de jure, the C of E now believes that marriage isn't for life. Even so, the 1662 service remains the lawful standard against which all other wedding ceremonies can (and in my view should) be measured.

...Which brings me to the question of how it can be all right for a man and woman to marry when they have no intention of having children, and are possibly incapable of it, while it is wrong for a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman.

Well, here you run up against a number of problems. The answer seems to me to be blindingly obvious, and not to need any explanation to the conscious, intelligent person. Marriage, for most of us, is defined as a union between two people of opposite sex. A lifelong union of two people of the same sex, whether you approve of such a thing or not, is by definition not marriage. Children would of course be a likely result of a marriage, and are one of its main purposes. But they are not a necessary condition of it, as many childless married couples can testify. So that does not mean that the union of two opposites is the same as the union of two who are not opposite.

For those of us who grew up before the cultural revolution, it just is so that marriage is between a man and a woman. How could two men, or two women, be married? Until very recently, you might as well have asked 'Why can't bumble-bees do algebra?' Or 'Why can't buses jump over rivers?' Answers such as 'Because they just can't' or 'That's not what buses are for' or indeed 'Why would they want to?' occur, along with a feeling that the questioner is perhaps having a laugh at our expense....

Only in this unhinged age is it necessary to go, almost all the time, not just to first principles, but beneath even them, which demonstrates just how deeply revolutionary the cultural and sexual revolution is. It questions, and intends to loosen, the foundations of the pillars of civilisation. Let us hope it has a good replacement handy, for when those pillars finally fall.

But if I am compelled to put the blindingly obvious into mere words, this is how I would do it. A man and a woman marrying when they are past childbearing are honouring marriage and (perhaps in the case of two widowed people seeking companionship in later life) are hoping to emulate as much as possible of this complex relationship between the two very different sexes, in which each surrenders an important part of life in return for gaining something much greater. In the days when such things mattered, I imagine that many such couples did so also as their tribute to 'respectability'. They didn't want anyone to misunderstand the nature of their household, or to believe that they were defying a convention which they in fact respected. For the same reason many such people no longer get married at all.

The church's view that man and wife are 'one flesh' is not merely a metaphor for the children that they may produce. It is a statement that a man and a woman united in this way are greater than the sum of their parts, partly because they are so different from each other and have so much to learn from each other. The differences between the two sexes - the fact that each necessarily possesses characteristics the other necessarily lacks - are crucial to this formula. A man living with another man for their whole lives may learn all kinds of things. But he will not, I think, learn what a man married to a woman learns. Mind you, homosexual civil partnerships are not contracted for life, any more than heterosexual civil marriages are, since both can be lawfully dissolved, and I think this makes them very different things from lifelong religious marriages. There's an argument for saying that heterosexual civil marriage has more in common with homosexual civil partnership than it does with lifelong Christian marriage.

A man who seeks to marry a man (or a woman who seeks to marry a woman) is also in my view making a conscious or unconscious (and in most cases conscious) propaganda gesture against the existing idea of marriage. Such a relationship cannot produce a child of both parents at any age. It has to be primarily sexual in purpose. ...

 don't myself doubt that this is a major reason for the liberationist campaign for single-sex marriage - propaganda of the deed. I've often pointed out that the supposed benefits of civil partnerships, in terms of the treatment of 'next of kin' could easily have been achieved by other, less revolutionary legislation. The real point of the change was to emphasise that this is now a post-Christian society, a fact that is becoming more evident almost every day. The numbers of Civil Partnerships are actually quite small, after an initial rush, and several such partnerships have already been dissolved. I suspect that such partnerships will become less and less common as time goes by, and their propaganda effect weakens....

It's interesting, and it goes very deep. But ultimately we must recognise that a revolution is under way and that this is part of it, and that we must decide whether we support or oppose this. Revolutions will not allow you to be neutral about them for long, as they reach so deep into your private life.

And also here:

Should I be supporting homosexual marriage? No, because I believe that marriage is primarily for the procreation of children, and homosexuals, by definition, cannot do that. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Extend it to any other combination, and it isn't marriage. Also, marriage needs to be privileged to survive. A privilege which is not reserved to the people who have been given it is not a privilege, any more than a story which appears in all the newspapers at once is an 'exclusive'. If you can give the legal and moral privileges of marriage to a homosexual relationship, then you've really no argument for withholding them from a heterosexual couple who prefer not to be married. It is for precisely that reason that many heterosexual libertines (with no personal sympathy for homosexuals) are now fully signed up supporters of the Homosexual Liberation Movement.

2 comments:

Expressjodi said...

Great expectations

Life is full of surprises, particularly if you are a newly - wed . Expressjodi you a glimpse into the future and tells how to be prepared to face married life

Love is all about romance whereas marriage is a lot about responsibility. When two different individuals from different backgrounds live together, differences of opinion on things like spending habits, career, having and raising a baby, sharing household responsibilities etc, are bound to crop up, the key is to broaden your outlook and accept all the changes that marriage brings, and to remember that marriage is a momentous change for you and your spouse. And, fear not, over a period of time, you will find a way to make it work.

Responsibility

With marriage comes a whole lot of responsibility. "From the time you ger married, the decisions you make will not be yours alone, but your partner's as well. This is because your choices will impact both of you. But this doesn't mean that you're tied to a ball and chain. "It only means you have a companion with you for life. In fact, in your capacity as a spouse, you become your partner's caretaker, friend, confidante and even punching bag etc.

Finances

Arguments over money are bound to happen, so be prepared for it. And unless you establish some ground rules for dealing with financial issues, you will continue to have these arguments. Bear in mind that you are now a part of a unit, and no longer flying solo.

In - laws or outlaws?

if you thought that marriage is all about sharing your life with your significant other, think again, and this time, factor in your in - laws into the equation. When you're used to a particular lifestyle, moving in with your in - laws can be a rude shock. You will be required to make changes in your daily routine. Like waking up a little earlier to help around the house or rescheduling your plans on weekends or even modifying some of your eating habits. these might seem like an additional burden, particularly if you are a working woman. Remember to keep an open mind when it comes to handling your in - laws. They may be rigid in their ways, but there is always a way to work out a compromise.

Sharing space

Marriage involves sharing everything - whether it is sadness or glad tidings, chores or finance, which can be a difficult task. This is why marriage necessitates an equal contribution from both side. " Sharing is absolutely essential for a happy marriage,. Besides making it easier to run the show, it also brings you closer to your partner, and cement a bond in a way that only experience can.
Differnces of opinion

Shaadi brings two different individuals together, as well as two sets of arguments for everything. Remember that your husband is as new to the marriage and the relationship as you, and he is facing the same issue for the first time as well.Irrespective of the nature of the relationship, any two people are bound to have differences of opinion at some point of time, It is how you handle these differences that mtters. The best antidote for deviant interest lies in adapting to the situation. "Be carteful not to retaliate for the sake of it,"

Planning for the future

As a single independent working woman, you may be used to your lifestyle, going on holidays or splurging on the latest pair of Jimmy Choos. But married life is a journey and you need to plan carefully to get to your destination. "Planning is the key. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page as far as long - term goal are concerned," "Whether or not you plan to have a baby or deciding on investments for the future and are thing that you should discuss in advbance, if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises in you married life,"

Expressjodi said...

Brahmin Shaadi
Historically, the Brahmins in india were divided into two major groups based on geographical origin of the people. The Brahmin groups that lived to the north of the vindhyas were referred to as Dravida Brahmins. Each group was further divided into five sections according to the regions of their settlement.

Sagaai
The Sagaai or the engagement ceremony symbolises commitment However, the South Indian Brahmin do not lay stress on the presence of bride and the groom in their Sagaai, rather it focuses on commitment between the parents of the groom and the bride. 'Latto' i.e., 'engagement plate' Which consist of coconut, flowers, turmeric, betel leaves and betel nuts hold more importance, in their engagement ceremony. The Maithil Brahmin bride of bihar makes her wedding affair stand apart by receiving the blessing from the Dhobi's (washerman's) wife - a compulsory tradition in the Bihari Brahmin wedding.

Haldi
In Haldi ceremony turmeric powder is mixed with milk, almond oil and sandalwood and applied to the bride and the groom. In Kashmiri Pandit this ceremony has a twist becuase cold, white yoghurt is poured on the bride as an alternative to haldi. ritual is followed by a special custom called Shankha (shell) Paula (coral) in bengali Brahmins, where seven married women embellish the bride's hand with red and white bangles, the shell is supposed to calm the bride and the coral is believed to
be beneficial for health. Mehndi is also applied on every bride's hands during the Mehndi ceremony. However, a Bengali Brahmin bride applies alta (red dye).

Jaimala
After the ceremonious arrival of the groom, the garlands are exchanged between the groom and the bride, while the priests chant mantras. Jaimala is the symbol of unifying two souls into one. But in tamil nadu, "Oonjal", a unique jaimala ceremony is performed and could be best decribed as a tug of war. In this ceremony, the women sing songs to encourage the bride and groom to exchange the garlands while the uncles persuade the soon to be couple not to Exchange the garlands.Before the ceremony of jaimala, the bride makes a majestic entry in Bengali weddings.

Mangal Phere
Fire is considered the most pious element in the Brahmin weddings and seven circles around that fire holds the seven promises that the nuptial couple make to each other amidst the Vedic mantras. The Brahmin wedding is deemed incomplete without the seven rounds around the sacred fire. Unlike other Brahmin weddings, in Gujarati weddings only four pheras are taken which are called the mangalpheras where the pheras represent four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Miksha (religious, moral, prosperity and salvation). Likewise in Malayalee Brahmin weddings, pheras are taken only thrice.

Post wedding ceremony vidaai
After pheras, the bride's family and friend bid her teary vidaai (farewell). The Kashmiri pundits make their vidaai even more special. their charming ritual, "roth khabar" is performed on a saturday or tuesday after the wedding. In Roth
khabar, the bride's parents send a roth (bread decorated with nuts) to their son - in - law's family. But the bride accompanies She stay with her parents and returns only when someone from in laws comes to fetch her back.

Griha pravesh
The new bride is greeted by her mother - in - law with Arti and tilak. The bride, who is regarded as the Goddess laxmi, enters the groom's house after the groom's house after kicking rice - filled pot. In Kannada Brahmin marriages, the groom changes the name of his wife in the name change ceremony where he decides a name for his wife and inscribes it on a plate containing rice with a ring. In Bihar, a very strange ritual is performs at the groom's place.