What Is The True Origin Of Marriage?

Prepare yourself to be shocked: early marriages were NEVER about love. (What??? Never about love?) It’s fascinating to research the origins of marriage and to discover they were not as black and white, and cookie-cutter in form, as we would like to believe. Love was seldom even a part of the equation.

The purpose of marriage in its beginning stages was simply a right of ownership: a man owned a woman. She was, in essence, his property. The reason for this was so the man’s children were legally his biological heirs. All I can envision is Tarzan the ape man beating on his chest saying “Me Tarzan. You Jane.” (Skip the love; let’s just get to it. I OWN you.) The first ever recorded marriage ceremony of a man and a woman happened in Mesopotamia around 2350 B.C. and there were no Instagram photos and no ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ – just say YES to the institution of marriage, no love included. The Greeks and the Romans saw marriage as nothing more than a business deal, and men were allowed to even satisfy their sexual urges with prostitutes. It was like they were allowed to ‘have their cake and eat it too.’

Somewhere around the 8th century, thankfully LOVE did come into the picture as the Catholic Church began to recognize marriage as a religious sacrament requiring a priest’s blessing. The institution of marriage was first seen as a formal ceremony, but then became an actual law in 1563 at the council of Trent. Marriage was considered a sacred vow, not to be taken lightly, and meant to last ‘till death do us part.’ Many Scripture verses echoing that point are used in wedding ceremonies today.

Genesis 2:21-25 “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one …If either of them falls down, one can help the other up…”

Whether people want to acknowledge it or not, marriage as we know it today was started as God’s idea for us. It was His gift to us, to find someone to love, to have for a companion for this life, AND to procreate. This should bring to mind two names – No, not Kanye and Kim, but Adam and Eve. Remember them? Adam was alone and lonely, so God made him a companion. Enter the most beautiful woman ever created: Eve. (I’m guessing she was a perfect 10.) Genesis 2:23 expresses Adam’s joy over no longer being alone as he exclaimed – “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

There is NO greater joy than to have a companion and no longer be lonely. I wonder if the entrance of LOVE into a marriage changed this institution for the better. Yes! I DO believe that would be a resounding YES. This is where the Cinderella concept comes into play – romantic love – ah, a world where a woman can love her man, not be his servant or baby bearing business associate. Love changes everything – always has, always will.

member-deal-adMarriage is also called matrimony or wedlock. The dictionary definition is as follows – “Matrimony or wedlock is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouse that establishes rights and obligations between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. It is a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. It is a holy and divinely established covenant.” Until the 1500s, the Catholic Church didn’t require any written proof that a couple had married. If you said you did, they took you at your word. You didn’t even need witnesses. I would guess this practice had a lot of holes in it.

It was a long time coming to get to where licenses were issued for marriage, and in the United States it came in the form of a state-issued license. Massachusetts was the first to issue a marriage license in 1639, and by the 1900s marriage licenses were the norm. An old ditty was “Love and marriage. Love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage.” Yes the day had finally emerged when you would marry for love. Well, in the United States. In other countries you can still trade a cow for a woman, or pick a wife from a line up without knowing her name. There is just something lost in that translation!

Let’s look at marriage as a covenant. That is a pretty big word. It means (drum roll please) – commitment! Sadly, in our world, keeping your word – much less keeping a covenant – is becoming a lost art. What does this do to a nation? Well, look around. You can see what it does. Our word should be our bond. If we aren’t committed to the small things, how do we think we can keep a marriage vow, or why would we even want to? Our culture seems to scream, “I do what I want!” But that way of thinking could be the downfall of our personal self, our families, and eventually our country.

Let’s stop and consider families as they pertain to marriage. If marriage IS for procreation, then even the law recognizes its value. In ancient Greece, marriage was only about procreation, and by law, marriage makes a child legitimate. Marriage has rights attached to it. It was a really smart idea! We as humans evolve generation to generation to generation, and strong marriages help to ensure that there will be strong generations to follow – hopefully ones who learn from us how to keep their word.

Beyond the obvious idea of creating a family and generations to come, marriage has a lot of special, legally binding perks. The number may blow your mind: there are 1,138 rights, benefits, and protections provided on just the simple merit that you are married! (Enter a big WOW.) To name just a few, marriage lets us have benefits when it comes to Social Security, taxes, immigration, employee benefits, health coverage, and, of course, a last name for your child. (Remember, there are still 1,132 more…)
Again, our Creator is no dummy. As my husband used to say, “If you do it right the first time, you don’t have to do it over.” It literally pays to do things the right way. Our own law even recognizes that.

There is a timeline back into the 1990s when gay marriage began to be a subject of controversy. In 1996, when Bill Clinton was president, he signed a bill called ‘The Defense of Marriage Act” banning the recognition of same-sex marriage. It was in the same year that Hawaii ruled same-sex marriage WAS legal in their state and would be recognized exactly as the union of a man and a woman. The ruling was appealed the very next day, so it was very short lived. In 1999, Vermont ruled that the rights of gay couples were the same as heterosexual rights. It was slow in coming, but by 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to grant same sex marriage licenses. It is now legal in all 50 states as of June 26, 2015. The theme this past year for gay marriages has been ‘Love Wins.’ The gay community asked to be allowed to marry the ones they love. They feel they won. Whether we agree or disagree, though, love ALWAYS wins.

So, say YES to the dress, run off with your prince or princess, and live happily ever after. At the end of the day, the origin of TRUE marriage is LOVE (Why Women are So Happy About Getting Married?)

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