Traditional marriage hasn’t existed for a long time

This article from the WaPo clearly lays out why the supposed threat to “traditional” marriage posed by same-sex marriage is based on a misunderstanding:

We are near the end of a two-stage revolution in the social understanding and legal definition of marriage. This revolution has overturned the most traditional functions of the institution: to reinforce differences in wealth and power and to establish distinct and unequal roles for men and women under the law.

Over time, marriage largely ceased to have safeguarding property or making alliances between powerful families as its primary function. Instead, people came to believe that they should marry for love and happiness. The feminist revolution followed, and we gradually came to understand that marriage didn’t have to mean prescribed roles for men and women either. Modern, heterosexual companionate marriage is, therefore, “traditional” only in a very attenuated sense. The most radical changes are already behind us; gay marriage is simply one more step in the institution’s evolution.

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3 thoughts on “Traditional marriage hasn’t existed for a long time

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Traditional marriage hasn’t existed for a long time | A Thinking Reed -- Topsy.com

  2. I think companionate is a key term here and maintains a central component of traditional notions of marriage that cannot help but be concerned with matters of estate, namely board and bed. To be a companion is one who shares bread together, and be extension, all that this requires as responsibles–work, home, hearth, children if so blessed, parents to attend in later years, etc. It does not allow you to fly the coop of responsibility as too much of romantic notions tends to do.

    In companionship love unbridled and undisciplined and otherwise disposed not to care but for self (lust) needs takes shape as for others, firstly within the realm of hearth and home, but not without being so in the rest of life at work, extended family, etc. Romantic notions of marriage at play in our culture are a problem for me as Christian because what I am looking for, what I would discern as a mark of a healthy marriage, is are you overtime both growing in for others? And sometimes that starts with accepting that the beard shavings will never be wiped out of the sink!

  3. That’s a good point. It’s worth noting that modern “romantic love” seems to have its origin in medieval notions of pining for an unattainable object (the “courtly love” tradition), which by definition avoids the messy reality of day-to-day companionship. I think we do need an incarnational, vocational understanding of love & marriage that isn’t tied either to overly romanticized notions or to hierarchical relationships.

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