Saturday, June 28, 2014

Marriage -- Back To Its Roots

A while back I used a status update on my Facebook page to preview this post.

I am NOT a proponent of the popular (mis)interpretation of the First Amendment, resulting in the commonly referenced Separation of Church and State.  I believe the Supreme Court grossly erred on their interpretation, and I still hope they will one day correct their ignorance.

That said, I find it odd that the same folks to demand this errant separation are so amenable to it when it works in their favor.  Marriage is, by all accounts, an institution rooted in religion.  I'm aware of no historical accounts of marriage which pre-date the religious sacrament of marriage.

Of course, history has seen the concept of marriage--both sacred and secular--change over time.  Society, not religion, has evolved and expanded the role of marriage far beyond its roots and intentions.  The Law of Unintended Consequences as seen the use of marriage as a simple delineation create a political, societal, legal, and moral quagmire.

Even a cursory review of the tax code and the laws on federal, state, and local levels will find it replete with references to marriage.  These, no doubt, were created for good reasons, but they no longer serve the purpose(s) as intended.

As a singular example, let's look at the marital tax deduction.  In today's world this could easily be seen as a regressive tax.  The most common marital status of our lowest income bracket is NOT married.  The marital status of our highest income bracket IS married.  In a society were the norm has both married adults working, the marital deduction is not only illogical, but is a slap in the face to some of those who are in far greater need.

How about we look at medical decisions.  Is it really rational to believe that someone should have a right to make medical decisions for another simply because they are married to them?  Marriage does not ensure an innate knowledge, or even that one person likes another, much less ethical alignment.  It certainly doesn't indicate any level of medical knowledge.

Of course, this disconnect would be equally glaring in each aspect where the sacrament of marriage has been overlaid with secular definitions, rights, or obligations.

The laws that have been developed over time to provide for a norm have become as likely to be punitive as they are beneficial.  What was the norm, no longer is.  The desire for otherwise is irrelevant.

Perpetuation of this entanglement will only magnify and multiply the injustices and negative impact.  This can be seen in every sector -- financial, social, religious, legal, and on-and-on.

It is time for marriage to go back to what it was intended for--a promise between two people as to how they will live their lives together.

All the ensuing, though well-meaning, entanglements which have followed must be untangled and removed.

If the government wants (for reasons I can't conceive) to incentivize people to live together exclusively, they can certainly do so without reference to, or dependence upon, the institution of marriage.

In essence you could have two separate and totally independent functions--marriage and a tax status around cohabitation.  Further, there are already existing laws around things like medical directive, asset distribution, etc.  But, in most cases, these are overridden by marriage.  That need not be and should not be the case.   A person should be free to choose the person whom they wish to make end-of-life decisions or financial decisions.  Better yet, you should be able to proactively decide for yourself how these matters are to be handled when you aren't able to decide; and to do so with the confidence that a spouse can't override your wishes when (s)he is, at best, emotionally weakened.  

Make no mistake, this would require very real, very significant changes is laws and tax code.  Sadly, I feel it would require little change in today's common view of marriage.

For me, marriage plays a vital role in society.  Not in-and-of itself, but as part of a deeper and broader covenant with God.  But, that does not need to be everyone's concept.  Without legal engagements, my opinion of marriage has no barring on you.  If you choose to believe marriage is little more than a nicety to make your mother happy, that's your choice.  Your belief does not degrade or diminish my covenant any more than the person who shared my belief but has chosen to break that promise.  

Without the legal and tax ramifications, each person can (as is right) have the ability to signify their desires without preconceived notions or undesired consequences.

To me marriage is a sacred proclamation between my wife and I, before and through God.   I do not need, nor do I desire the government's permission or incentives to live the life I have been called to live and that I have promised to live within my marriage vows.  

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