Marriage and I have a fragile relationship at best. At 19 I was told by someone I was in love with that I was “not the kind you marry.” That was cruel enough, but what was worse is that he would not elaborate, and that gave me infinite ways to interpret that statement. In fact, here I am at 48, and I never did marry. Saying that his comment was the reason is according it way too much weight, though. In actual fact, there have been a few occasions when I’ve wanted to be married. But apparently the men in question were not on the same page. And there have been times when I’ve been proposed to, but not by anyone I wanted to marry. So there you go.
Do I feel that I have been worse off for being perpetually single, a spinster, an old maid? Not at all. I’ve seen very few examples of happy marriages, and a whole host of examples of married people who are living lives of quiet desperation. If I’m to be miserable and lonely (which I am not, most of the time), I’d much rather do it on my own, calling my own shots, crying into my own flavor of ice cream.
After all, marriage as an institution came about when the average life expectancy was not even 40 years old. You can get along with the devil himself for 10, maybe 15 years, can’t you? But when it stretches out for decades…then it becomes more like a life sentence. That has very limited appeal for me.
So part of me is kind of bemused by this battle for marriage equality. It seems to me that a great deal of fuss is being made over the ability to enter into an institution which, frankly, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I really don’t see the point of marriage in this day and age unless you have children and are therefore trying to provide them with a certain level of legal protection.
But do I think everyone should have the right to make their own mistakes? Definitely. Absolutely. No doubt about it. And that’s really what this battle is about, isn’t it? Fundamentally, every human being on this planet should have the right to be able to do what every other human being has a right to do. And therefore, by extension, I think that any person who willingly wishes to enter into a marriage contract should be allowed to do so. (Marriage against one’s will, or due to unbearable cultural pressure, or when so young that you can’t really make an informed decision is a topic for another blog entry entirely.)
This is not the 1600s, when only men who owned land could vote. This is not 1840, when slavery was considered acceptable. I’d like to think we’ve evolved beyond a time when we considered one group of people inferior to another. When viewed that way, the situation seems ridiculous at best. Why on earth would anyone want to hold on to an antiquated belief system that insists on making people comply to a completely random hierarchy, a set of boxes, and expect people to say in “their place” and shut up, and behave? Insanity.
And the main reason for all of this hubbub? Religion. Don’t get me wrong. I think having a spiritual standard that helps you to hold to a moral code is a good thing. But I also think that whatever divine power you subscribe to must surely expect you to use your common sense. I’ll use the Bible as an example only because it’s the book used in my particular culture. Here goes:
Have you ever played the game telephone? You whisper a sentence into your neighbor’s ear, and he then passes it on to the next person, and so on and so on, until at the end when you hear that message, it has changed so dramatically that you can barely recognize it? That’s the Bible in a nutshell. After having been passed through Aramaic, Coptic, and Greek, as well as the various historical contexts that it went through during those various translations, much of its original meaning has been lost. And then when you consider the many controversies over what books to include in the bible and what books to leave out, who knows what the original “story” was meant to be? I’m not saying that there isn’t value in the text that we know today. I’m just saying that we must use our common sense when interpreting it. Anyone who thinks that it can be taken literally when it has been changed so dramatically over time, and when the readers of today are so different than the writers of yesterday that they might as well be from different planets, has no sense of history whatsoever.
So don’t use the bible as your excuse for prohibiting gay marriage. Not when there are parts of the bible that advocate slavery and polygamy, and tell you not to interact with a woman who has her period, and don’t wear clothes of multiple fibers. For heaven’s sake, use your brain.
If you want to convince me that gay marriage is wrong, then come at me with a non-religious argument. Then maybe I’ll listen to you. Probably not, but maybe. In the meantime, if my nephew or my best friend, both gay, and two of the most amazing and loving and decent men I know, want to throw themselves into the utterly unpalatable institution of marriage, then I will be right there, pelting them with bird seed and crying tears of…well, who knows what they will be tears of. But more power to them.