Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “marriage”

Same-sex marriage: one cheer for Bermuda

There have been reports that Bermuda has rescinded a law on same-sex marriage that it passed a year ago, and replaced it with one on domestic partnerships.

Bermuda legalized same-sex marriage a year ago. This week it abolished it. – The Washington Post:

In an unusual move, Bermuda has abolished same-sex marriage less than a year after it was legalized, replacing the same-sex unions with domestic partnerships.

Bermuda Gov. John Rankin signed a bill into law Wednesday that reverses an earlier Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. The new law gives domestic partners in the British island territory similar rights as married couples — but without the legal title.

The reports are short on details, but from what I have read it seems to me to be a step in the right direction, and one step towards something that I proposed in a blog post 12 years ago: The State should get out of the marriage business | Notes from underground. I’d be glad to see if some countries went the whole hog, and left marriage to civil society, rather than making it a government prerogative.

Marriage Equality

In Brazil a civil union between a male and two females had been described as “unprecedented”. In Brazil perhaps, but not in the world. They need look no further than our esteemed president.

Unprecedented civil union unites Brazilian trio –

  • In Brazil, a notary has granted a civil union to unite a man and two women
  • The public notary who approved the status says they have the right to be a family
  • Others say it is a violation of the constitution and destroys families
  • The notary is now studying unions for another trio and for a quintet

Now that is the kind of thing I have been advocating for years.

Not that I have been advocating that particular form of ménage à trois, but rather that the state should get out of the marriage business and, if it sees the need for it, register various kinds of social and domestic partnerships without perpetuating the illusion that it somehow creates marriages or has the power to define marriage. See here Notes from underground: The State should get out of the marriage business.

I have suggested that the state can register such partnerships, whatever form they take, in the same manner as it registers births and deaths. The state should no more try to create marriages than it tries to create babies. If it treated the registration of births in the way it treats marrtiage in most countries, we would have decanting factories, as in Aldous Huxley’s book Brave new world.

Humanist weddings grow in popularity in Scotland | Ekklesia

Perhaps Comte’s religion of humanity has at last come of age.

Humanist weddings grow in popularity in Scotland | Ekklesia:

The recent growth in humanist marriages in Scotland means they have overtaken Episcopal ceremonies for the first time, say organisers of the ceremonies. Since they were first made legal their number rose from 82 in 2005 to 710 in 2007.

The Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) now says it expects to marry over 1,000 couples this year and predicts it will help 1,500 more to tie the knot in 2009, reports Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

My to-do list

  • 1. Destroy marriage
  • 2. Destabilise family life
  • 3. Flush civilization down the drain

That is what my to-do list must look like, if this blog is to be believed:

Contact Online Weblog: How the decline of marriage is destroying our pupils:

Do we realise that the liberal agenda is destroying our children and probably our civilisation is going down the drain too….faster than we think – in South Africa as well.

And it goes on to quote an article that says

The decline of marriage is leading to widespread underachievement and indiscipline in schools, teachers warned yesterday.

Children with “chaotic” home lives turn up at school too troubled to learn, wrecking their prospects of success in exams, they said.

Growing numbers are being brought up in splintered families by mothers with children by different fathers, leading to behaviour and mental health problems including eating disorders and suicidal thoughts, a teachers’ conference heard.

Since I am a liberal, and those are the items on “the liberal agenda”, they must be high on my to-do list too.

Now with all due respect to my blogging friend who wrote that (and he is a friend), terms like “the liberal agenda” used like that do not facilitate communication, but impede it.

The use of the definite article — “the” liberal agenda — imply that those items are high on the list of priorities of every single liberal in the world. All liberals everywhere are out to destroy marriage, families and civilization.

Well, I know Mr Vorster believed that, but as Jonty Driver, a South African student leader, said when Mr Vorster called him a “leftist”, “It is no shame to be called a leftist by such a prominent rightist”.

It was Mr Vorster’s National Party government, with its conservative right-wing agenda, that deliberately set out to destroy family life through influx control and the migratory labour system. And it was a prominent South African Liberal, Alan Paton, (who was national president of the Liberal Party, so if anyone’s agenda was liberal, it was his) who ran a school for juvenile delinquents and was fully aware of the effects of the destruction of family life in hindering children’s learning.

I am heartily sick of the calumniation of liberals and liberalism in this fashion, by such vicious lies and innuendoes.

What is this thing called Love?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Tarot card originally called “Love”, later “The Lovers” originally showed a man and a woman with Cupid aiming an arrow at them. Later a third figure was added, so that there were two women, one beautiful, the other ugly. Some saw them as allegorised into vice and virtue.

In a recent post on this blog (Fr Alexander Schmemann in Russia), I mentioned Father Alexander Schmemann’s theological writings. One of the things he wrote about was marriage as the sacrament of love. Human love is the reflection of God’s love, and it is through the experience of human love that we can relate to God’s love. Schemann notes that many people sentimentalise marriage, and make the mistake of thinking that the “content” of the sacrament is “family”, and so miss the main point; that it is love. One of the problems in the world today is that some people have idolised the family.

Nevertheless, family is important. A book that illustrates this is John Bowlby’s Child care and the growth of love, which demonstrates that children who do not experience loving relationships with parents, especially their mothers, in the first six months of life, find it far more difficult to form loving relations with other people in later life.

By our own behaviour, we often create this problem. Though wars, we make children orphans. Through systems like migrant labour coupled with influx control, which prevailed in South Africa for many years, children are effrectively deprived of parental love. They are more likely to become juvenile delinquents, child soldiers, adult criminals and abusive spouses and parents. In such a way the sins of the fathers are visited on the children, even to the third and fourth generation.

Schmemann points out that in Christian marriage, husband and wife become king and queen to each other. There is a small kingdom, a reflection of the heavenly kingdom. The possibility may be lost, perhaps in a single night, but it is nevertheless there. And he gives a moving description of a couple of old people sitting holding hands on a park bench, all battles past, all passion spent, but still an image of love.

St John summed this up when he said, “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he first loved us.” In order to be able to give love, we first have to receive it, and even if we have received no human love, we can still receive the love of God, though of course it is much more difficult. But having received the love of God, we need to give love, in order to enable others to love. “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Too often human love dies when people say that they no longer “feel” anything for each other. But love is more than an emotion or a feeling. We do not show love or give love by having loving “feelings” about other people. We show love and give love by loving actions, even contrary to our feelings.

To return to the Tarot card: Cupid’s arrow may strike, and we may have overpowering feelings of love towards another person. If we are lucky, they will be reciprocated. But that is not enough to lead to the couple Father Alexander Schemann saw sitting on the park bench in the evening of the day, in the evening of their lives. That takes more than just those first feelings.

In a beat generation novel by John Clellon Holmes, Go one of the characters, Stofsky, has a dream of meeting God, and God tells him “Go, and love without the help of anything on earth”. And that is surely the only thing that can turn back the tide of hatred that threatens to engulf the world.

List of synchronised blogs on the topic of Love — visit them!

The State should get out of the marriage business

I recently posted the following paper for discussion in the Christianity and Society forum.

Marriage in South Africa

Marriage and other social and domestic partnerships

Dr Stephen Hayes

1 Introduction

The Constitutional Court in South Africa has ruled that the
Marriage Act is unconstitutional, because it does not make
provision for marriage of persons of the same sex.

There has therefore been a proposal that legislation should be
amended to make provision for this.

The purpose of this paper is to suggest that the Marriage Act be
repealed altogether, and that marriage should cease to be the
concern of the State, but should for the most part be dealt with
by civil society.

One of the main concerns that has led to calls for changes to the
present system is the need for clarity about legal status and
inheritance. In this paper I suggest that these can be dealt with
by new legislation for the registration of social and domestic
partnerships of various kinds.

2 Social & domestic partnerships

Marriage is one of several kinds of social and domestic part-
nerships that can be found in society, and existed in most
societies long before there was any state regulation of it. In
some societies it has religious dimensions, but different
religions have different views about it.

2.1 Different views of marriage

For some, marriage is a union of two people of different sexes.
For others, it can involve more than two people. In both these,
however, one of the purposes of marriage has been the procreation
of children, and this has given marriage a legal and social
dimension with regard to such matters as inheritance. One of the
legal consequences of marriage has been that the parties to a
marriage become “next of kin” to each other. This is important
for such things as intestate succession, and rights of visiting
in hospital when one of the parties is seriously ill, etc.

Because South Africa is a multicultural country, there are many
different views of what constitutes marriage, and any attempt by
the State to regulate marriage too closely will cause dis-
satisfaction among some groups.

2.2 Other social and domestic partnerships

There have been various other kinds of social and domestic part-
nerships that have not enjoyed the legal recognition of marriage.

If the Marriage Act were to be repealed, there should be new
legislation provide for marriage and other social and domestic
partnerships to have similar legal consequences to those that
marriage has had in the past.

Such partnerships include (but are not necessarily limited to)
the following:

* Monogamous marriage

* Polygamous marriage

* Unions of two people of the same sex

* Unions of two or more people of the same or different

* Long-term communities, such as monasteries

* Unmarried siblings who live together

New legislation could provide for the registration of such part-
nerships and spell out some of the legal consequences, which
could, in some cases, be varied as the legal consequences of
marriage can now be varied by ante-nuptial contract.

Registration should be a secular, neutral process, like the
registration of births and deaths. There are no religious birth
or death registration officers. Social and domestic partnerships
should be registered in the same way, and their dissolution, if
it occurs, could be registered in the same way. Provision could
be made, in cases where it might be desirable, for the Master of
the High Court to supervise the winding up of estates of
dissolved partnerships, as is now done for the estates of
deceased, insolvent or mentally incapacitated persons.

Religious or cultural ceremonies could be held to inaugurate any
of these partnerships, some of them, or none of them, Such
ceremonies should not be a prerequisite or a necessary con-
sequence of registration, though evidence that people had par-
ticipated in such a ceremony could, where appropriate, be taken
as evidence that they intended to register their partnership.

Religious and cultural groups should not be obliged to perform
ceremonies in connection with any or all of these partnerships,
nor to approve of all such partnerships, and should be entitled
to urge their members not to participate in some forms of
partnership that they regard as undesirable.

3 Conclusion and recommendations

I therefore suggest that the State should withdraw from the
marriage business altogether, and leave it up to different groups
in civil society, whether religious or cultural, to determine
what marriage is for their members, and what kinds of part-
nerships are acceptable or unacceptable for their members. There
should be no religious “marriage officers” in religious groups
who perform marriage ceremonies on behalf of the state.

The Marriage Act should be repealed, and replaced by legislation
providing for the registration of various kinds of social and
domestic partnerships, and for the legal consequences of such




This post has been linked to the Synchroblog for October 2010: Same-sex marriage synchroblog | Khanya. Click on the link to see the other posts in the synchroblog.

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