Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Is the Moon Blue?

For only the second time I can remember, I find myself (much to my astonishment) in agreement with George Monbiot. The original and archetypical logic- and fact- free Moonbat, the man whose articles coined the word.

But even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I lampoon him not because of who or what he is, but because of his habitual careless disregard for fact and evidence.

When he has the facts on his side - not often - then it doesn't matter who expresses the idea, it only matters whether the idea is true or false. A genius can be wrong; an idiot can be right. Monbiot is neither genius nor idiot, just, um, a Moonbat.

Here he's right though. The facts are on his side.

Truth is the forgotten family value
Cultural conservatives' moral concerns about marriage are based on a view of history that is almost entirely false.

"Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman." So says the Coalition for Marriage, whose petition against same-sex unions in Britain has so far attracted 500,000 signatures. It's a familiar claim, and it is wrong. Dozens of societies, across many centuries, have recognised same-sex marriage. In a few cases, before the 14th century, it was even celebrated in church.

This is an example of a widespread phenomenon: myth-making by cultural conservatives about past relationships. Scarcely challenged, family values campaigners have been able to construct a history that is almost entirely false.
From The Early Church's View on Marriage:
The earliest form of Christian marriage was a simple blessing of the newly wedded pair, in facie ecclesiae - outside the church's closed doors - to keep the pollution of lust out of God's house.

Common-law marriages were often informal. Mere cohabitation could constitute a valid marriage. Temporary trial marriages were legal up to the early 17th century in England. The church displayed remarkable reluctance to deal with the matter of marriage at all. During the Middle Ages there was no ecclesiastical definition of a valid marriage nor of any contract to validate one. In 1753 Lord Harwidke's Act made clerical blessing a requirement for legal marriage in England but the Act didn't apply to Scotland nor the colonies (ie the USA to be). …

Origen declared: "Matrimony is impure and unholy, a means of sexual passion."

St. Jerome: "The primary purpose of a man of God was to "cut down with an ax of Virginity the wood of Marriage."

St. Ambrose: "Marriage was a crime against God, because it changed the state of virginity that God gave every man and woman at birth. Marriage was prostitution of the members of Christ."

Tertullian: "Marriage was a moral crime, more dreadful than any punishment or any death." It was "obscenity," or "filth."

St. Augustine: "Marriage is a sin." Augustine also expressed disgust at feminine sexual and maternal functions. He coined the saying that birth is demonstrably accursed because every child emerges "between feces and urine."

Church customs reflected many of the above views. There wasn't a Christian sacrament of marriage until the 16th century. Catholic scholars said the wedding ceremony was "imposed on" a reluctant church. …

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) decreed that a person who even hinted that the state matrimony might be more blessed than celibacy would be declared anathema - accursed and excommunicated.

From Wiki -
This view of marriage was reflected in the lack of any formal liturgy formulated for marriage in the early Church. No special ceremonial was devised to celebrate Christian marriage—despite the fact that the Church had produced liturgies to celebrate the Eucharist, Baptism and Confirmation. It was not important for a couple to have their nuptials blessed by a priest. People could marry by mutual agreement in the presence of witnesses.[36]

At first, the old Roman pagan rite was used by Christians, although modified superficially. The first detailed account of a Christian wedding in the West dates from the 9th century. This system, known as Spousals, persisted after the Reformation.[36]

[36] Armstrong, Karen. Gospel According to Women. Anchor Books, 1991. ISBN 978-0-385-24079-6


Billie said...

I never thought of my LTR as common law or co-habitation, I just enjoyed being able to co-habitate, lol! Nor did I know there was a history of common condemnation of marriage. To think they actually helped me become what I am today. My sincerest thanks to all of them!

Great article, Zoe.

Buck said...

It can be argued that the main reason the Church got into the marriage business at all is because the Church used state marriage as a means to keep and grow its power base during the Dark and Middle Ages.

The Heterodox Homosexual said...

The 'phobes evidently see nothing wrong with lying about history, or even about the Bible on which they supposedly base their beliefs, to make their point. Someone recently said to me, "Marriage has always been one man and one woman. Read the Bible." Bigotry uses rationalizations, not reasons.

mythusmage said...

One gets the feeling that the early Christians were supposed to stay celibate and refrain from reproducing, thus making them much like the old Shakers, gaining new members from recruitment. Might be interesting to explore the ramifications of such a policy on world history.

Anonymous said...

Hello Zoe,

Take a look at this article on the Church and Marriage from 2001 (Original link is dead, but I have found a copy on Way Back...

or or this mini-link if that should break...