Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why get married?

Hadfidha Sofia has a fine entry on her blog entitled “Getting married phase 2: Why am I doing this? , in which she explores her feelings about the impending wedding. It occurred to me while reading it that there’s a principle involved that applies to another marriage issue we’ve been debating in the UU blogosphere.

One of the reasons for getting married that’s seldom mentioned is that there is a profound psychological difference between making a promise and taking a vow or swearing an oath. An oath or vow plays into your deepest ego, your image of who and what you are... nearly all people- even hardened criminals- hold themselves to certain standards, things they simply will not do because that’s not who they are, they’re not that kind of person- and we know down deep that “oath breaker” is one of the oldest and vilest pejoratives. A public wedding evokes that kind of imagery in most people, even if only subconsciously. This psychological effect is what makes marriage, as challenged as it is, the most stable of relationships. Even absent children, married people are statistically less likely to go to prison, die in traffic accidents, get fired, etc., and more likely to save, invest, and have insurance. This is true for both sexes, all ages and demographic groups, and as near as I can find out, all cultures.

This is an important reason why gays and polyamorists should have the right to solemnize their relationships in formal public weddings. Given our society, they will have more stresses on their relationships than “normal“- shouldn’t they have every help they can get in holding their relationship together? Isn’t it better for all of society that they have “normal” marriages, allowing them- and us!- to reap the benefits there from?


UUpdater said...

What would deny them the ability to have a public ceremony? After the ceremony the wedding may not have the same legal recognition, but there is nothing that I am aware of preventing anyone from having a public ceremony. There is nothing to prevent the exchange of solemn vows.

Joel Monka said...

A "marriage" that has no standing before your church or the law hardly seems "real", and would hardly have the same psychological effect. For many, the church wedding- which many UUs would deny to the polyamorists- is as or more important than the civil; they are thinking of marriage as a sacred commitment rather than an arm of contract law.

UUpdater said...

Ok, but I do think it's enitrely possible for people to feel a deep psychological effect from a religious ceremony that has no legal standing. I don't think both legal and holy commitments are required.

David said...

Conservative UU Member,

You write that: [P]olyamorists should have the right to solemnize their relationships in formal public weddings.

OK. But if you feel that way, I'm curious about your personal definition of 'conservative.'

Joel Monka said...

"Conservative" and "Religious Right" are two different things. I discuss the conservative case for marriage equality here.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Joel - I tagged you for the "8 random things" meme that Ms. Kitty tagged me for. You can check it out at my blog, if you care to participate. Glad you're better and blogging away.