BY SAM FIELDS
As it has played out in the media, the marriage debate has been portrayed as “Gay Marriage versus Traditional Marriage”.
At the moment the spotlight is on the Supreme Court where gay marriage is front and center. The Justices have been asked to look into the constitutionality of the Defense Of Marriage Act and the California ban on gay marriage.
Leading the charge on behalf of “traditional marriage” are conservative Christians proclaiming that one man and one woman is their god’s Biblical commandment. Their table pounding proves I am, once again, right: “Bible thumpers don’t actually believe what the Bible says. They are just convinced that the Bible says what they believe.”
The easy shot is to point out that, for every time the Bible suggests that marriage is between a “man and a woman”, there are multiple stories showing that it is equally acceptable for marriage to be between a “man and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman, etc…”
Check out Abraham with three wives and a concubine Hagar who bore him Isaac. How about Abdon in “Judges” or Abijah in “Chronicles”, Ahab in “Kings”, Ahasuerus in “The Book of Esther” or Ashur whose multiple wives also show up in “Chronicles”.
And that’s just the “A’s”. So forgive me for not getting to King Solomon with 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Marriage Was A Business Deal
Even when the Bible describes a “one man–one woman” relationship, it ain’t Ozzie and Harriet. There is a reason that it is called the “marriage contract”. From the start it was a business deal. The first one was between God and Adam: “Give me a rib and I’ll give you a babe.”
After that, and until only a hundred years ago, women in marriage were property in a deal for farm animals and land. In some respects the farm animals had more rights in the deal. Sex for instance. Marital rape was not a crime in the United States until the latter part of the 20th century. That was long after many jurisdictions had outlawed bestiality.
“Take my wife…please…but leave my sheep alone.”
The Conservative Christian view of rape still is not the way most of us see it.
In 2012, Richard Mourdock, running as a conservative Christian, was the GOP nominee for the United States Senate in Indiana. He attempted to downplay sexual assault by describing pregnancy from rape as “part of God’s plan”. A real “traditional family values” kind of guy. He still got 44% of the vote!
The following fictional dialogue typifies how the overwhelming number of “traditional” marriages came to be.
[Imagine an East European accent.]
Vladimir: ”Alright, I give you twenty cows and ten sheep. You give me two hectare land next to river.”
Sergei: “No, no, no. Need more.”
Vladimir: “Okay, I throw in number five daughter Natasha. She have wide hips…give you many sons. She give you trouble you beat her.”
Sergei: “You got deal.”
To this day, that’s how many marriages happen in Third World countries. It’s how most marriages took place in the West up until the 20th century.
At the top of the food chain, 99% of royal marriages were political and economic deals. Many work out well. Some like Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI…not so much.
Yes, there were historical and fictional “boy meets girl” relations. They usually didn’t “live happily ever after”.
Romeo and Juliet culminated in a murder/suicide.
Heloise and Abelard’s attempted a true love marriage. It left her in the nunnery and him with no nuts.
TV’s Phony Marriages
Any fair look at history makes it clear that Ward and June Cleaver are not “traditional” marriage.
It was a fantasy world that left the rest of us with a nagging feeling that something was lacking in our families.
But times changed and so did Hollywood.
In the 1970’s shows featured divorce, drugs and infidelity. “Dallas” (1978-91) was a cauldron of adultery and divorce. Billy Crystal in 1977 played Jodie Dallas on “Soap,” one of the first gay characters who had a child after a one-night stand with a woman.
Every home in TV land was no longer “Dobie Gillis.”
NBC’s “Will and Grace” was one of the first show to openly portray gays as “the new normals”. ABC’s “Modern Family,” which features a gay couple with kids, has become the new “Dick Van Dyke Show.” There is “Glee.” ”Gray’s Anatomy” has a married lesbian couple. Even HBO’s “True Blood” has openly gay characters in relationships.
HBO’s “True Blood:” Lafayette (reclining) and his boyfriend Jesus
Untraditional relationships, some can be called alternative marriages, were always there. As much as anything, these shows and others have convinced a majority of Americans that gays and gay marriage is nothing to fear.
The Census indicated America is changing, too. The U. S. Census said its findings in 2010 indicate “the unmarried partner population numbered 7.7 million in 2010 and grew 41 percent between 2000 and 2010, four times as fast as the overall household population (10 percent).”
Conservative Christians, on the defensive, have reacted by cooking up a menu of revisionism and rejection. But, beginning with the institution of marriage, their imaginary world is passing away at lightning speed.
That’s a good thing for the rest of us and the “real America” that has always been with us.