Anyone who has known me for a while knows that at one point I was engaged. My ex and I had gotten her sized for a ring at a jewelry store and I was a couple of months away from buying the ring and helping to announce the whole plan to her family when things fell apart, she called off the engagement and I spent my engagement ring money on tattoos. The entire experience was a big wake up call for me. I was 22 and trying to settle down for the long haul, doing the Christian family man thing. When that relationship ended I was forced to re-evaluate my feelings on a lot of topics and I am a very different person now. If nothing else, I am at least grateful to my ex for waking me up out of some really silly delusions.
Marriage — in the broadest sense — is universal across all human societies. Marriage is defined in an anthropological sense as any rite which determines sexual access. Given that humans lack a biological trigger to determine sexual access the way that animals do, a cultural process is required to regulate sexual interaction and procreation. Marriage ceremonies and criteria have a very wide range, some marriages create permanent bonds, others temporary ones, some involve two people, some involve more, some tribes in Africa have a marriage ceremony wherein a man and a woman from separate villages are married and then never see each other again. The range of these kind of rituals is very very interesting but the one thing they all have in common is that they determine how, when, and with whom a person can have sex.
Americans have a policy of refusing to acknowledge other cultures and so our legal system only acknowledges an Abrahamic marriage ritual. This has multiple cultural effects, all of which are stupid: it reinforces a cultural mythology centered around romantic love, creates a childish debate about marriage between homosexual couples, and gives religious institutions one more avenue by which they can invade and dictate the lifestyles of ordinary people.
I would like to go on record as saying that I respect and am intellectually fascinated by the anthropological concept of marriage. I am however thoroughly disgusted by the western Abrahamic ritual of marriage. This should come as no surprise as I have outlined in a few different posts how I feel about love, procreation, and religion.
It surprises me how many of my friends are still fascinated with the myth of love and marriage. On my most optimistic days I view marriage as a huge joke. On my most bitter days I see it as a religious conspiracy to control reproductive rights, subjugate women, and repress sexual minorities. Hence all this debate about gay marriage.
Gay marriage has become a hot-button issue in the past few years and has been one of the defining political debates of my generation. We have heard so much rhetoric from the religious right over the past few years about the fact that gay marriage cannot be legitimized because heterosexual marriage is a sacred institution. In response many gay rights groups have tried to make the familial structure based around a same-sex couple seem more legitimate and normal to American society. In solidarity I would like to try to work back from the other side of the line in an attempt to delegitimize heterosexual marriage to the greatest extent I can. If gay rights groups succeed in normalizing same-sex relationships, and I succeed single-handedly in making a huge joke out of heterosexual marriage, we all win.
The logic from the conservative Christian movement employs any of a number of arguments for the sanctity of marriage, including that heterosexual marriage is sanctioned by god, is for the purpose of procreation, is an expression of love, is a lifetime commitment, &c. So my goal for 2010 is to go to Las Vegas to get married and subsequently annulled. By my atheist marriage to someone I don’t love with whom I do not intend to stay married and with whom I cannot reproduce I can do my own small part to invalidate all of the aforementioned claims.
The hard part is going to be finding a like-minded woman who would be willing to travel with me to Nevada to get married. I plan to make a fun vacation out of the excursion, get married, and document the entire process for my blog. As of right now round-trip to Vegas is less than $300 bucks so I think it’s a viable option.
On a personal level, this marriage plan would also give me a chance to permanently put that dark “Christian family man” chapter of my life behind me.
I’m now accepting applications for a wife. If you’re interested in getting married, email me.