Saturday, 23 June 2012

Things Christians Say, part 21: Real marriage

A weekly series of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012.  The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte'). 

I really don't think your marriage can be considered a real marriage!


I'm quite curious to know why it is that Christians seem to claim the idea of marriage for themselves and try to define it in their own specific ways.  Even if that were acceptable, it has to be recognised that the different Christian traditions have their own ideas, often based on verses from the bible, but still not entirely consistent with each other.

In my own case this claim would not be true anyway, having been married in a Methodist Church.  In fact I always remind people that my late father-in-law married me, but that I didn't marry him.  (He was minister of that church you see!)

However, even if that was not the case, if I had married a Hindu, would my marriage be considered a 'real marriage'?  For many Christians the answer would be yes, since god in some form - maybe not your favourite form -  might have been involved.  What if I had married a Buddhist.  Most Buddhists are strictly atheistic, so are their weddings valid?  They are, at least, religious ceremonies.

Anyway - fortunately your opinion doesn't really matter.  Within the eyes of the real law (not religious law) marriages are quite well defined even if not yet entirely fairly.



Kindly define marriage for me. Is it the usual narrow-minded view of one man and one woman, married in a christian church by a special kind of witch doctor who happens to be ordained into one of the Christian cults that seem to proliferate so easily.  Or does it have to be your own particular cult - which you would probably prefer to be called a denomination?

Might your definition stretch to other religions perhaps?  I'm sure you have noticed that people all around the world get married to each other.  In some traditions polygamy is allowed.  What is your view of that?  And in yet others men are allowed to take child brides.  (Mohamed stretched this point to a point that most of us would consider to be inappropriate.)

I suspect that these forms of marriage are starting to reach a point that you are less comfortable with.  We haven't even started to talk about same-sex unions which you probably regard as being outside the definition of marriage.  But on what basis can you claim that.  As I have already mentioned, marriage comes in many forms that exclude your particular deity.

An entirely secular commitment between two people of either gender would hardly seem to me to be sinful, and your particular opinion doesn't affect me greatly unless it is imposed upon the society that I live in.  Personally I do not ever want to marry another man, but I don't think my own preference have any bearing on the rights of those who do.

Ooh . . . wait a minute.  Your view does seem to be imposed on my society to some extent.  Religions get too great a say in the proper process of government.  I do strongly object to that!

Before I finish, have you noticed that people like to get married in churches for the tradition of it all.  It is not that they believe in friends in the sky, but that it is seen as romantic and their friends and family expect it of them.

But don't delude yourself that they are getting married in church in order to involve God.  Most priests know that that is not the case but they continue to pretend - yes PRETEND -  that it is.

Last week: So - are you a communist too?
Next week:  The evidence is all around you. Just look at this world.

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