To simply define marriage is like giving away the punchline before telling the joke. It’s just not funny.
There are certain concepts, terms and ideas that the reader must first fully comprehend before reaching an understanding of the institution of marriage.
History: the recording of events in sequence writ down. The history of history is the history of the written word.
Prehistory: all those natural and man-made events that happened before history. The bulk of human existence is in fact, prehistoric.
Psychology: the understanding of human (and animal) behavior.
Psychology is, of necessity, prehistoric. Although there is no written historical record of human behavior from the beginning, one may safely extrapolate based on the necessary existence of the ego/libido without which the individual could neither survive nor procreate.
The ego/libido is a constant; both necessary and unchanging, recorded or not. We may thus assume that when your ancestors ran around naked and ate their meat raw there were certain predictable behaviors already present.
With hunger a constant your ancestors were opportunistic omnivores, hunting when they could and scavenging when necessary. Hunger made them inveterate thieves. Like lions or vultures they fought over scraps. If a hunter were successful he developed a following that shadowed his every step. This coterie evolved into a more or less cooperative hunting pack disciplined through dominance and violence.
This leader, this hunter, this Alpha Male, was more productive of kills and therefore scraps. As hunting is, at best, a hit-or-miss affair to begin with, and an empty gut the prime motivation, the successful hunter would gorge himself quickly and even though sated, would violently and jealously continue to guard the scraps.
Simultaneous to this on-going social dynamic of hunting and forming a pack regulated by the ego was the contradictory expression of the procreative urge or libido. The ego is nominally hostile to all others including members of the opposite sex while the libido is trucial as it brings a respite or temporary peace so that copulation can take place.
In the natural world males of all higher species that propagate sexually are more or less constantly on the lookout for receptive females.
Receptivity on the part of females is biologically cyclical however.
Among males and females alike hunger and thirst takes precedence over sex but once satisfied there is a shift in motivation. Among males the libido becomes the constant while among females it remains cyclical.
Human language often attempts to describe internal biological or physical states. Hunger, for example, cannot be removed and placed upon a rock to scrutinize. In modern times there is a common expression heard, usually coming from women: ” I can’t stand him.”
The term “stand” has a peculiar biological connotation. Successful procreative copulation requires the fullest cooperation of the female. The female must take or make a stand. While true of practically all species it is most readily observable among birds. Birds have no external sex organs and thus the full cooperation of the female is essential. When receptive the female will “stand” or hold still, squat down and allow the male to mount her. She not only bears his full weight upon her back but makes adjustments to help balance him. As he shifts about and finds his balance she lifts her tail and tilts it out of his way. Among other species if the female is not receptive it is a simple matter for her to lower her hindquarters and just scooch away.
Since the ego is presumed to be prehistorically present so too is the hierarchy of needs (after Abraham Maslow) of thirst, hunger, safety and sex as motivations within the individual.
Deep in the mists of prehistory a conjunction occurred between two individuals. These are your ancestors. A male temporarily sated of thirst and hunger and not in any immediate danger experienced a shift in motivations – from hunger and thirst to safety and finally to sex.
Your ancestral female, although a hunter herself, shadowed this more successful male for scraps and was doing so out of hunger despite the potential danger the male represented. This basic scenario plays itself out repeatedly whether she is in oestrus or not. At some point in this tenuous relationship the female, approached by the male, takes a stand – not because her libido was active and she was in oestrus but simply because she was hungry. She thus became a prostitute.
Some author unknown once described prostitution as the world’s oldest profession, and so it is. But prostitution is not without consequence. Prostitution as a profession (as opposed to doing her own hunting and scavenging) involved promiscuity; and promiscuity involves venereal disease. This is not the type of history one reads about in high school text books then. Throughout human history venereal diseases spread by prostitutes have played a major role in the shaping of social relationships and cultures. From the often agonizing death caused by such diseases without a cure two schools of thought sprang up. A moral tenet was spun off and formed. On the one hand you have the condemnation of prostitutes (Stone them!) and on the other was the veneration of the virgin.
The Catholic Church is often criticized for the elevation and veneration of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, etc.; but the value runs deeper and further back into history then that. The virtue of virginity is twofold: on one level virginity is purity; not purity of mind or purity of spirit tending to constancy or loyalty; but physical, biological purity. The promiscuous prostitute carried and spread horrible and sometimes fatal diseases for the which there was no cure. The virgin was therefore prized far above the prostitute covered in fetid scabs and running sores.
Secondly, although scientifically invalid many cultures held virginity as proof of legitimacy for inheritance’ sake, even requiring the keeping of a bloodstained cloth token from the wedding night when the breaking of the hymen often brought forth a small amount of blood. This was proof against any accusations of previous intercourse and thus bastardy.
Marriage is etymologically defined as the union of a man and a virgin. While patrimony is etymologically defined as “Father’s Money” matrimony is etymologically defined as Mother’s Money / support.
Being “holy” means a thing is held separate or set aside for a specific purpose.
The term “wedding” is etymologically defined as the joining of two items / people.
The terms mary, marri, and mari are variations in the spelling of the word meaning virgin (the virgin Mary is thus somewhat redundant).
As Benjamin Franklin would put it, experience keeps a dear school; but humanity learns only by bitter experience over eons of time.
If one speaks of “the sacred bonds of holy matrimony” one might rephrase it as the moral (sacred) and legal (bond or surety) obligations of a man who proposes to take a virgin wholly into medical quarantine (holy) for the perpetual maintenance of both her and subsequent offspring with mother money (matrimony). In other words, a man takes exclusive responsibility for a virgin – Mari-age.
In the natural world sex is competitive, at least among the males. They jealously guard the females who are nominally hypergamous and willing to stand for the victorious male in the often ferocious and sometimes deadly contest to determine the current Alpha Male.
Marriage as a cultural institution resolves several on-going or oft repeated issues: The violence associated with mate selection. The diseases of promiscuous prostitution. The vulnerabilities of pregnant women and their juvenile offspring. The ravages of old age, and the determination of legitimate inheritance.
Culture brings order out of chaos. Culture spares the next generation from dealing with the redundant issues confronting the previous one.
Is marriage natural? No. In the natural world hypergamy rules. Even in modern times there are women who have several children – each sired by a different man. This is, in part, hypergamy at work.
In the natural world the ego is antagonistic and the libido is trucial. In other words, in the on-going and endless “Battle of the Sexes” men and women somehow manage to make peace with each other just long enough to procreate.
In marriage a woman can have many offspring, which, in the natural world is desirable, but all by the same man, even though he may be well past his prime Alpha Male state.
Females of all species strive to produce as many offspring as they are able. Humans (Homo sapiens) is the most motile of species and also has the most protracted childhood dependency. A tree for example, is immobile throughout its life and thus propagates by casting forth hundreds of thousands of seeds year by year – all potential offspring yes, but with an extremely high mortality rate. Homo sapiens on the other hand produces but a few offspring, and these few children must be guarded for years and taught complex behaviors.
Marriage is indeed unnatural. It is, however, a cultural institution intended to resolve a number of chronic (recurring) problems.
As a cultural institution, is marriage pro-woman? Is virginity (and fidelity in marriage) pro-woman? Another way of putting it: is personal hygiene pro-woman? Is mother-money support (matrimony) pro-woman? Is mother-money support pro-child?
Fatherhood, like marriage, is an unnatural cultural institution brought about in every far-flung culture by the likes of the biblical (mythical) Abraham. Prior to the conception of fatherhood men had no love for their offspring.
Superficially one might say that fatherhood (the role of father) is a man-made cultural institution; but deeper than that is the idea that fatherhood was discovered to be mutually beneficial to both father and son, father and daughter, and this benefice is a natural and built-in part of mankind’s evolution – and thus, also a God-made institution.
Humanity is a dichotomy. We are, at bottom, animals – but culture is a part of human evolution. It makes us more than just animals.
By all appearances marriage is more pro-woman than pro-man. Of what benefit is marriage to a man to shoulder the full weight of responsibility for the care and maintenance of a woman and her children? Sex? Perhaps. Housekeeping maybe. And perhaps prolong his days with strapping sons to till his fields and bring in the harvest and defend his granary; or daughters to be a comfort in his dotage?
But civilization (government) has overtaken culture and Uncle Sam is now both husband and cuckold.
Marriage, a man taking a virgin to wife, is rooted in prostitution and a rational response to it. But it is, in part, still prostitution. Is there no wisdom in a young woman married for wealth?
In modern times, when a man introduces a woman as his wife – no one looks askance, not an eyebrow is raised; there is no disapproval or condemnation, because, over time, this fundamentally sexual relationship, this barter, has been positively sanctioned – even blessed.
Marriage as a cultural institution is like a cut diamond; it is multi-faceted and, when looked into deeply, it reflects much.
There is a great deal of difference between the ideal and the real – and marriage is obviously an ideal. Ideally both husband and wife are chaste – virgins when first wed. Ideally they remain faithful for life.
Reality is chaotic and upholding and adhering to this ideal is an up-hill and on-going battle.
Marriage encompasses both the carnal and the spiritual aspects of human life.
Marriage is sometimes defined as “a faith-based cultural institution”. In other words, if either the husband or the wife is unfaithful it simply falls apart. But what exactly is faith?
Religion is habit. If you eat eggs and bacon for breakfast every morning, run 5 kilometers every afternoon, go to church every Sunday or pray five times a day you do these things and many, many others religiously, sometimes merely out of habit and sometimes consciously.
Belief is internal. When you believe something you think it to be true. We conduct ourselves according to our internal beliefs. In action, when we think a thing to be good, true, right and just and our actions (or restraints) are in harmonious accord with our beliefs we are then being faithful to them.
One can thus be religiously faithful to one’s beliefs.
The marriage ritual seeks to ascertain the approbation, approval and consent of all parties involved for the conveyance of a virgin to become a wife. These parties include the first, second and third estates – the church, the government and the community at large.
What is conveyance and what is conveyed?
“To have and to hold” is an expression found in the (traditional Christian) marriage ceremony. In legal terms it is called a conveyance.The simplest way to explain the meaning would be to say:
“I have a ball. I hold it in my hand. I toss you the ball, now you have it and hold it.”
It formally and publicly acknowledges the transference, without objections, attachments or any conditions under which the conveyance might or would be reversed.
What is conveyed?
At bottom, marriage entails the carnal – the physical person. Although unproven and unprovable it’s sometimes said that Mary, mother of Jesus was 15 years of age and a virgin when the Christ-child was conceived. The fictional Juliet was also said to be 15. In the ideal the prospective wife is a healthy virgin in the full bloom of youth. After all, marriage ultimately entails sex and motherhood.
A great deal of thought has gone into the institution of marriage. This elaborate thought process is evinced plainly in The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (as translated from the French) found here:
While not going over it with a fine-toothed comb, it might be described as a public examination or query of the will. The officiating priest polls both the principals involved and community at large as to their collective will regarding the proposed marriage.
He asks direct questions, first to the community at large:
“If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.”
Marriage is a cultural institution now in tatters. Some (very few) still hold to vague, piecemeal traditions. From time to time one might still see the occasional Wedding Announcement published in the local paper. But publishing a wedding announcement in the aftermath of the wedding is pointless. Properly done, a couple proposes marriage and become engaged. They publish an engagement announcement. Engagement Announcements are based on the traditional church marriage banns. The banns query the public as to their consent to the proposed marriage. The banns are announced months in advance of the actual wedding.
He then queries the couple:
“Wilt thou have this woman . . .?”
“wilt thou have this man . . .?”.
He then asks the woman’s protectors
“Who giveth this woman . . .?”;
nominally or traditionally her father.
In the solemnities of the marriage ritual the father makes a public concession and acknowledgement, giving consent to the conveyance of his daughter to wife.
The prospective wife does not receive the husband in conveyance but acknowledges her willing acceptance of her conveyance to him.
Does this mean the husband now owns the wife? A husband can no more own his wife than he can own anything else.
One is a numerical singularity. When you do something “on your own” you do it alone. Ownership is defined as a singularity of will regarding the disposition of something. All things that are were first created by God and are free for our taking. But ownership is a claim and a claim is a boast.
For example: Your grandfather’s pocket watch. Your grandfather dies and leaves you his pocket watch in his Last Will and Testament. This Will is but a written, tangible, legal document expressing his now inexpressible and intangible will.
Your family concedes that it is now your pocket watch and you are free to dispose of it according to your own will. As to its disposition you can do several things with it. You can just keep it in storage; use it, have it cleaned and repaired, display it on the wall; you can lend it, sell it, barter it; you can pawn it or just throw it away. You can have it melted down for the gold that’s in it. You are free to do with it whatever it pleases you so to do. You are now the owner with a singularity of will regarding its disposition.
For absolute ownership there must be a concession of ownership on the part of friends, neighbors, the community at large and the government as well, which may come into play in enforcing your right of ownership.
As stated earlier, ownership is a claim and a claim is a boast, and an itinerant burglar just might make a counter-claim upon the watch.
Ownership is a concession on the part of society at large. It is a matter of their will that you own the pocket watch or anything else for that matter: a house, an automobile; even a wife – to have and to hold.
Ownership is a singularity of will regarding the disposition of something.
Marriage involves sex. A young husband and wife can and often will euphemistically “form the beast with two backs” (engage in sexual intercourse) and become, as stated in the bible, one flesh. But they are not truly married; they are not truly one flesh – if the “beast with two backs” also has two heads. In order to be one flesh they must have a singularity of will.
In order for a wife to truly be a wife she must keep faith with her vow of obedience. She thus becomes subject to her husband’s will and is now owned by him. Marriage is voluntary. Where would the generals be without their foot soldiers? Where would Jesus be without his disciples? Marriage brings order out of chaos.
Programmed to do so, feminists retch at the very idea of obeying their husbands. They will obey traffic lights, stop signs, speed limits, police, judges, tax collectors and many others with authority over them. They follow recipes to the letter. They will always obey their boss – their employer. They will obey the hand that feeds them because they must.
They can refuse and suffer the consequences of doing so. A wife’s obedience to her husband is key to a successful marriage and domestic tranquility but her husband it seems, is the ONLY person a feminist actually refuses to obey.
Marriage as Virtual Suicide
There are essentially two kinds of suicide: the first is the physical kind; you terminate your own mortal life. The second is love. In love you die to self. In the marriage ceremony a man and a woman commit virtual suicide. When a man marries, spiritually he is no longer the center of his own universe. And when a woman marries she is no longer the center of hers. The ego must die. Small wonder that, aside from fasting or locking ones knees, the soon to be married often get woozy and sometimes even faint. It is, after all, a re-purposed life and a lifelong commitment as well.
The great cornerstone and the very foundation of marriage, is faith – keeping faith. No government, no legislation can enforce faith. It is a promise made before God and company.
Marriage as an ideal was a beautiful thing until the churning lawyers and mass media seducers of women got holt of it.
[Marriage is prostitution sanctified and made holy over time.]