Marriage and the Slippery Slope

Dear Reader,

I saw a news story recently about how the family portrayed in Sister Wives is suing to have the right to polygamy. And I am, frankly, not shocked. It does not surprise me that once we have opened marriage up to two people of any gender combination that then the next step is to say “why just two?” A Canadian friend once told me such things were discussed there some years ago.

I remember reading some science fiction books many years ag in which marriage was basically a contract. A marriage in their universe could include any number of people in any combinations and also had a set time limit. So we could, say, agree to get married for 5 or 10 or 20 years and after that time is up, the marriage is over. We could renew it is we want but there is no obligation. I wonder how long before this idea also takes hold. It almost makes sense even if you consider that we already have prenups and so many marriage end anyway. Why not just plan for that eventuality? Wouldn’t it be less stressful  and more peaceable for everyone involved?

Of course as a Christian, that is not really how I believe marriage should be. I blogged on my view of marriage recently here. Part of me does wonder though if we should just let marriage go down this slope. Why not make more of a distinction between civil and Christian marriage? Where my sister lives in Germany, they basically get married twice, once for the government and once in the church. Maybe if we let civil marriage go down that slope, we can reclaim Christian marriage. Maybe we will be more of a light if we keep the traditional view of marriage in our churches even while society at large lets it go.  (I am not sure if I really think this; just pondering the idea.)

But the main point I wanted to make is that while I do think modern marriage is on a slippery slope, I don;t think we can blame homosexual marriage for that. Many said if we let gays marry, society will collapse. And while that hasn’t happened yet, I also don’t think we have seen the full effects yet. If we want to play with this fire, we need to give it at least a generation to say we have seen the results. But the truth is, I think the slippery slope started way before gay marriage. It started so far back (40 years or so but our memories are short) that we do not even connect today’s effects with yesterday’s causes. It started when we got effective birth control and thereby made marriage easier to avoid. It started when we allowed easier divorces and thereby devalued committed heterosexual marriage. If we traditional, heterosexual people want to blame someone for the slippery slope our society os on, we need to start with ourselves.

I wonder if the people who cried “the end of marriage as we know it!” and “society is doomed!” back in the 60s are still paying attention and seeing the results they feared?

The truth is, we are not starting on a slippery slope. We have been on it for a while. We are farther down it than we think. But we also have farther to go than we can imagine.



6 responses to this post.

  1. I, too have been thinking it may be time to disconnect marriage from the state. It will have to start with the church.


  2. Great post! I linked in from Sheila’s blog. 🙂


  3. I agree that marriage has been on a slippery slope for a long time. Easy divorce, but also easy marriage. Any two idiots can get married and then quickly divorce once things aren’t working out to their liking. I know there is no way to mandate pre-marital counseling, but if more people would pursue that, it might cut down on too-fast marriages and too-fast divorces.
    The unrealistic expectations people put on their spouses and marriages is a killer. I think women are more susceptible to this than men are, at least in my observations.

    (Says one who married thoughtlessly the first time around. I thank God for the pastor who counseled us before my 2nd marriage.)

    I think your idea of separate civil and Christian marriages is a good one.


  4. Marriages are easier to get out of than a contract and many times it is not modeled any better by Christians. It is sad, I want better for my children.


  5. Posted by Sara R on July 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Great post! I’ve thought the same way. Heterosexuals have done such a good job making marriage whatever we want it to be, regardless of the consequences for society and the next generation, that homosexual marriage is only the next step and seems fair (not that I want it).


  6. Very interesting post. There is a viral “status message” on FB going around about how heterosexual marriage has been completely devalued by poor choices and that makes it okay for other alternative marriages. In some ways, I agree with that. I’m still sorting out my own feelings on gay marriage, polygamy, etc but I can clearly see your points.


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