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February 10, 2008

World Marriage Day?

Today, being the second Sunday in February, is known as World Marriage Day. (Well okay, maybe "known as" isn't completely true, seeing I definitely didn't know that and couldn't find anyone in my life who did. But apparently it's a real thing).

World Marriage Day honors husband and wife as head of the family, the basic unit of society. It salutes the beauty of their faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in daily, married life.

The idea of celebrating marriage began in Baton Rouge, La., in 1981, when couples encouraged the Mayor, the Governor and the Bishop to proclaim St. Valentines Day as "We Believe in Marriage Day". The event was so successful, the idea was presented to and was adopted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter's National Leadership. By 1982, 43 Governors officially proclaimed the day and celebrations spread to U.S. military bases in several foreign countries. In 1983, the name was changed to "World Marriage Day", designated to be celebrated each year on the second Sunday in February. In 1993, his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, imparted his Apostolic Blessings on World Marriage Day. WMD celebrations continue to grow and spread to more countries and faith expressions every year.

It actually sounds kind of sweet... for about a second. And then I started to read further and realized that it is a Christian movement that instead of celebrating marriage, as you'd think it's supposed to do, it actually is promoting marriage. Now some of you might be thinking, well who cares, what's the difference? There is a difference and yes, it is signficant.

I'm not against marriage, but I definitely don't think it is for everyone. I resent the implications often made about unmarried couples, that their relationship or their love is somehow less real or less valid because they don't have that piece of paper calling them husband and wife. Which brings me to my next issue, husband and wife. World Marriage Day is clearly about marriage between husband and wife, that is a man and a woman, and completely discredits the love that can occur within same-sex relationships.

So, if I don't want to get married - my love somehow isn't legitimate, I'm "living in sin" or not willing to "sacrifice" enough. However, if I do want to get married, but I happen to want to marry another woman... well that's not okay either. Eh, screw World Marriage Day. I mean Valentine's day is enough of a crock of superficial love without having to pair it up with the message that "if you don't get married too, you're really not in love!"

Anyway, as I say, screw World Marriage Day... but it did make me think a little bit about how much marriage is on everyone's minds lately, especially in February. I've often said that I don't want to get married and people often mistake that for a hatred of the institution of marriage. I honestly have nothing against marriage and by saying I don't want to marry, doesn't mean that I wouldn't marry. If I ever found someone that I loved so deeply that I actually wanted to be with them for the rest of my life (or at least, potentially) and they asked me to marry them... yeah I'd say yes. However, I've heard so many women speak of marriage proposals in the terms of "when will he ask me already?" and ultimatums. If you have to put pressure on someone to marry you... do you even really want to marry that person? I think if a marriage proposal doesn't come unsolicited, then it's virtually meaningless. If someone asks you to marry them because they're afraid they'll lose you if they don't (or even worse, they know they'll lose you if they don't) then what is the point?

The way I see it, the only reason to propose to someone is because you're so deeply in love that you can't fathom not having them in your life, you want your friends and family to witness it and join in that love, you want to scream it from the rooftops, you want the world to know, and you just need to express that love in every means possible, including legally.

But if you do all that without, you know, the "legally" part - does that somehow make your love less? I know that theoretically marriage is more than just a piece of paper, but really, technically, is it? Does that piece of paper make your relationship realer? Just because you're sworn in front of friends and family - and potentially "God" - that you will love this person forever, does that somehow make it less forever than if you made a private promise? Does signing that marriage certificate somehow mean that they'll never break your heart or you'll never fall out of love? I know that marriage is a test of faith, but isn't it really more that love is a test of faith? Does the fact that it's somehow "easier" to end a relationship when you're not legally bound to each other, make that bond of marriage somehow less breakable?

I don't have anything against marriage, but I will never "need" it the way some people do. And I will never "crave" that ring and that wedding the way some women do. And that's not to say that they're stupid or weird or old fashioned if they do want and even need the wedding and the ring and the piece of paper. I have nothing but respect for people who want to get married and who actually do it, I just have a distaste for those who want it so much they'd sacrifice the who or at least the why.

So in "honor of" World Marriage Day, consider the next few days before and after Valentine's Day: "Evil Slutopia Wedding Week", or, um, sort of. Yeah never mind that. I don't want to devote a whole week to weddings. Maybe we'll give you two more days, max. I think that's all you need anyway.


Anonymous said...


Although we are on--ahem--rather different sides of almost every issue you write about (except Gardasil, with you on that) I regularly read your blog because I have an open mind and am curious about other's opinions. Though I rarely agree, I enjoy your writing.

The idea of promoting marriage has nothing to do with making you feel inferior. In fact, it's really not about you at all.

It's about your kids (Head spinning yet? Wait, hear me out).

Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri abuse reports published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005.

Children living in stepfamilies or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault than children living with two biological or adoptive parents, according to several studies co-authored by David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.

Girls whose parents divorce (or were never married) are at significantly higher risk of sexual assault, whether they live with their mother or their father, according to research by Robin Wilson, a family law professor at Washington and Lee University.

Research published by the University of Arizona shows that girls raised in households without their biological fathers present experience earlier menarche, presumably because of the increased stress of living in a single parent household and because of the proximity of unrelated males in the household (mom's boyfriends).

Finally, social science research is almost in universal agreement that cohabiting has been negatively associated with childhood mental health outcomes, school performance, deliquency, and socialization.

In short, to be offended by World Marriage Day is to be offended by the overwhelming agreement among social scientists of all political persuasions that marriage truly is best...

for children.

Thank you for your time.



Although I'd be curious to see how socio-economic factors and play into those statistics, some of your points may in fact be valid. Except for the fact that no where in this blog did we mention children. Why? Because we don't agree with the concept that the goal of marriage is procreation.

Just like we said in our blog about Mitt Romney, we don't believe that a marriage without children is somehow less valid than one with children. This has nothing to do with children, it has to do with love.

I have seen many couples stay together in loveless marriages for "the sake of the children" and more than anything I think children benefit from having happy parents, married or unmarried.

The facts you've given to support "promoting marriage" seem to be based solely on the kids - but again, we never said anything about kids. I'm not talking about single parents here or divorce or stepparents (although wouldn't stepparents fall under the realm of marriage?)... I'm talking about husband and wife, not parents and child.

And I'm talking about the concept of marriage as an expression of love and while I definitely think it can be that for some people, I think it's wrong to suggest that it would be that for all people. Especially when so many people can't legally marry the ones they love anyway. I think everyone should be able to express their love in the way that feels right to them, that might be legally or in "the eyes of God" or it might not... but every version of love is just as valid as the next.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Regarding your question, SES is largely irrelevant. Children from intact marriages consistently do much better on all measures of wellness than do children raised in the homes of their cohabiting or divorced counterparts. The lower the SES the worse the situation tends to be, but the comparison holds for all SES levels.

You wrote...

"we don't believe that a marriage without children is somehow less valid than one with children."

and, "I'm talking about husband and wife, not parents and child."

and finally, "And I'm talking about the concept of marriage as an expression of love"

I mean no offense, but these statements bespeak a common but mistaken notion of the origin and history of marriage.

Contrary to your assertion (and I think, ironically, that you might actually agree with me) you don't need a protected social institution for the purposes of serving as an expression of love. You want to express your love? Send a card for God's sake. Move in together. You don't need marriage to "express your love." I think most people who think they oppose marriage would agree. After all, isn't their motto, "I don't need a piece of paper to prove I love my girlfriend/boyfriend"? Well, they're absolutely right. You don't need the social insitution of marriage to say, "I have feelings for you."

You NEED the social institution of marriage to guarantee the financial security of the couple/family and the well-being of the children. You NEED the social institution of narriage to gaurantee that two people who have feelings for each other will not use those feelings to create a mess that the rest of society has to spend valuable resources cleaning up. Poverty, homelessness, starvation, social isolation are all social consequences of abandoning marriage.

As for the loveless marriage, no one is advocating that, but two points. First, the jury's in on this. Research consistently shows that children raised in low-conflict, loveless homes do better on all measures of well-being than do children raised in co-habiting or divorced households.

But the bigger point you raise, and the root of our disagreement is this, you wrote, "No one is talking about children."

That's the problem. I'm sure you've probably noticed that children come from sex--even when people don't want them to. The reality is that marriage is all about children because its all about sex, and whether people want to admit it or not, babies come from sex whether we want them to or not. We represent the first generation of humankind since the beginning of creation to be surprised by this statement.

To speak of marriage IS to speak of children. The problem, as you say, IS that no one is talking about that. But the fact is, what two people do together, barring some medical condition (which is, though not entirely unusual, relatively rare in comparison with the general population), will eventually result in a kid. And that kid has a right to be considered at the outset, not dealt with as an afterthought.

The opposition to the marriage movement likes to treat children as an afterthought. "Nobody is talking about them." But they are not an afterthought, and they have a right to be spoken about from the beginning of a relationship.

Thinking of kids as afterthoughts, which opponents of marriage do--unwittingly--is directly responsibile for causing all those bad things to happen to kids that I listed before.

That's what's in play. Not someone's cheap-ass desire to have a hallmark moment with someone else.

As always, a pleasure.