With the current debate surrounding the notion to redefine marriage pretty much taking center stage in Australian news recently, and an approaching plebiscite, I cannot help but often reflect on what marriage means to me.
Each time I think about marriage, I am left with the reality that it is never about my own needs being at the forefront of what ultimately is a legal, and also to me, a spiritually binding agreement.
I needed to add ‘a spiritually binding agreement’ as for me marriage is a holistic union, which is why I also believe sex needs to be kept for after the wedding ceremony takes place. You see I honestly believe sex easily clouds a person’s good judgement, and creates such a powerful bond that when it happens outside of marriage often there is no protection for either person in the relationship…and really if people don’t need protection of their commitment to intimacy with one person why do they need marriage?
But back to the legal side…For a long time over human history people have been happy to commit to another person without a ‘piece of paper’. However we know, marriage is an instituted, lawful binding contract established to protect the most vulnerable people in a family, and we know from history and current domestic violence statistics, this is women and children.
Back a long time ago and even not so long ago, women and children were not considered (in many societies) to be equal with men. Many men had concubines and women slaves they had intercourse with, and could dispose of when they desired. We know the children were often not a consideration at all. Prostitution was often the only source of income for many unmarried women. Women and children were treated like property…But I’m probably not stating anything you don’t know, right?
Fast forward to today and here in Australia, I have equal legal rights as a female to any male. I have legal protection even without marriage, and so do my children, therefore many people, especially those with no faith, don’t bother about the piece of paper anymore…
Marriage today, is more of a public declaration of monogamous commitment, and the assurance that children know both biological parents…The husband and wife both being on the birth certificate, and mother, father and child having the same surname.
Marriage therefore is still an established legal right for the protection of the most vulnerable – it has nothing to do with our own desire to be loved, and declare that love to our friends and family – that is really done every day through the often unrelenting, tough sh*t you go through because of being committed, with or without a piece of paper!
Marriage is not about looking flawless and spending thousands of dollars. It’s not about sexual attraction. It's not about equality or legal protection in Australia – cohabitating couples regardless of sex are recognised. Yes, we already have equality and legal protection here in Australia, irrespective of our gender, thank goodness! Furthermore, marriage is not about commitment, people can easily get divorced…yes even a woman can divorce her husband without his consent – It’s been this way for a while now...
The current legal definition of marriage ensures the protection of the child’s right to know their biological parents, and have shared custody, especially if the marriage ends in divorce. We who work with children and adolescents know the trauma a child experiences from feeling abandoned by a parent, irrespective of the factual circumstances involved…It is these children and youth, who so often grow up to be dysfunctional adults, crippled by the loss of their biological connectedness and cultural heritage.
As someone who has had a failed marriage and is now married again, I can honestly say marriage is always about the children, it protects their right to grow up knowing their biological parents. It certainly should not be a vehicle to service the insecurities of adults. For if it does this, where will the redefining of marriage for a ‘loving relationship between consenting people’ stop? We already are reading of cases overseas where parents and their biological children are being legally married, just to name one arguable situation…
Marriage is a legal binding agreement that requires our mature response for what’s best for our children and society as a whole. Again especially today, marriage is not about our adult needs. Over my life I have lived in a defacto relationship, and also as a married wife…I know legally I had the same rights, and equally could leave either if I so chose to do so…the document makes no difference.
The truth is marriage shows us selfless love for those who are the most vulnerable and today that is still children…I know that I have given that right to my children who do know their biological father, and even though that union ended in divorce, they have that legal protection granted by the marriage and their legal birth certificate.
A society which ignores the voiceless, and bends to the will of any volatile mob will not prosper, history has proved this. Structured working societies that prosper are not ones that treat everyone the same – They are the ones that protect and give more to the most vulnerable…The unborn, the children, the disabled, the sick and frail…
In true love, respect and concern, Melanie.