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    20 Oct '07 16:011 edit
    Is marriage primarily a secular issue, a religious issue, or some sort of blend?

    Does the Bible offer a clear definition of marriage? What about the Qur'an, Constitution, or any other document that people appeal to? Should countries, states, counties, or individuals decide what "marriage" is?

    (Your thoughtful responses will assist me in my arguments with a group of conservative Bible believing Lutherans who: 1. believe the Bible to be authoritative, 2. hold to Luther's understanding of the "two kingdoms" (and also to the related "two kinds of righteousness" ) , and 3. almost universally define marriage as one man and one woman.)
  2. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    20 Oct '07 16:435 edits
    Originally posted by kingdanwa
    Is marriage primarily a secular issue, a religious issue, or some sort of blend?

    Does the Bible offer a clear definition of marriage? What about the Qur'an, Constitution, or any other document that people appeal to? Should countries, states, counties, or individuals decide what "marriage" is?

    (Your thoughtful responses will assist me in my argument righteousness" ) , and 3. almost universally define marriage as one man and one woman.)
    To demonstrate that the Bible is not and ought not be the sole authority governing what constitutes marriage, find instances of what the Bible depicts God as endorsing as marriage and show that they lie fairly far removed from modern people's notion of marriage.

    For instance, in the beginning, we had Adam and Eve. Ought Adam and Eve have married merely in virtue of the proximity in which God placed them? Does the Bible say that they became loyal mates only after recognizing appealing qualities in each other and coming to love one another? Or rather, was it a marriage of convenience, or an arranged marriage? Does either case conform broadly to how marriage is conceived in cultures around the world?

    Next, from Adam and Eve, soon we have their sons...and their wives. Whence came the wives? If you take the Genesis account as actually true, then those wives must have been the daughters of Eve, which means that brothers married sisters (possibly sisters who were also their own daughters). Does this conform broadly to how marriage is conceived in cultures around the world?

    We have essentially the same thing happen after the flood.

    Numerous men portrayed in the Old Testament as righteous and as part of God's chosen people had both wives and concubines.

    Some hid or denied their marriages to gain favor in foreign lands.

    Are these things characteristic of what cultures around the world broadly conceive of as a good marriage?

    Various Old Testament laws and New Testament teachings prohibit or permit various aspects of marriage. Do these rules conform broadly to how marriage is conceived in cultures around the world?


    The answer to these questions is No, for a couple reasons. One is that even among cultures that typically contain Lutherans, many of these biblical notions of marriage are far removed from people's actual conception of marriage. Secondly, the sorts of marriages that exist in Lutheran cultures are hardly representative of marriages around the world. Marriages in California, Paris, India, New Guinea and Lynchburg are all very different. If marriage in the real world is or ought to be just what marriage was in the Bible, then marriages around the world are or ought to be radically more similar to each other, and radically different than they actually are.
  3. Donationkirksey957
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    20 Oct '07 16:56
    Originally posted by kingdanwa
    Is marriage primarily a secular issue, a religious issue, or some sort of blend?

    Does the Bible offer a clear definition of marriage? What about the Qur'an, Constitution, or any other document that people appeal to? Should countries, states, counties, or individuals decide what "marriage" is?

    (Your thoughtful responses will assist me in my argument ...[text shortened]... righteousness" ) , and 3. almost universally define marriage as one man and one woman.)
    I just hope this Lutheran group doesn't endorse Luther's attitude about the Jews.

    OK, marriage is one of those things that you "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto God what is God's." For me to get married, a piece of paper from the state (government) is required. But that's just a piece of paper. If I get married in a church, that is a ceremony. That is all it is. A ritual of some sort. It can be a good and meaningful ritual or it can be a contaminated event for the benefit of making the in-laws feel like "queens for a day."

    Whether you get married in a courthouse, a church, or cohabitate, you ain't married until you find a soul mate. That's not the job of the state or the church. That comes from some place that matters more.
  4. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    20 Oct '07 16:59
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    I just hope this Lutheran group doesn't endorse Luther's attitude about the Jews.
    Or about logic and reason.
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    20 Oct '07 17:33
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    I just hope this Lutheran group doesn't endorse Luther's attitude about the Jews.

    OK, marriage is one of those things that you "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto God what is God's." For me to get married, a piece of paper from the state (government) is required. But that's just a piece of paper. If I get married in a church, that is a ce ...[text shortened]... ot the job of the state or the church. That comes from some place that matters more.
    Rec'd.
  6. Standard memberKellyJay
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    20 Oct '07 19:411 edit
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    I just hope this Lutheran group doesn't endorse Luther's attitude about the Jews.

    OK, marriage is one of those things that you "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto God what is God's." For me to get married, a piece of paper from the state (government) is required. But that's just a piece of paper. If I get married in a church, that is a ce ot the job of the state or the church. That comes from some place that matters more.
    What is it you think marriage is? I'm not trying to corner Kirksey here
    I thought his answer was well done. Yet, what makes a marriage, if it is
    a binding of souls, what binds them when you find a soul mate, can that
    change once it is declared this is the one? If so does it matter at all
    that any promise was made, or that someone’s acknowledged soul mate
    was only a soul mate for a day once they woke up?

    Under what umbrella does it matter that one is married and why? If just
    the state only the state blesses the marriage as it sees fit, if a church and
    by extension God does that matter? The state will take as much or more
    than it gives; there are rights involved yes, but also tax burdens and so
    on. If a church and God blesses a union okay fine you get the blessings
    and burdens that comes from that too, depending on what church and
    god/s or God you are dealing with.

    In other words it only matters where you find value in the matter. I know
    people that got married but refused to get the state involved, they reject
    what the state offers, and want only God and the church to bless their
    union. As they reject birth certificates too, not something I like or would
    promote, but their mind set is not the same as mine when it comes to the
    church and state.
    Kelly
  7. Donationkirksey957
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    20 Oct '07 19:53
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    What is it you think marriage is? I'm not trying to corner Kirksey here
    I thought his answer was well done. Yet, what makes a marriage, if it is
    a binding of souls, what binds them when you find a soul mate, can that
    change once it is declared this is the one? If so does it matter at all
    that any promise was made, or that someone’s acknowledged soul mat ...[text shortened]... mote, but their mind set is not the same as mine when it comes to the
    church and state.
    Kelly
    On some level, marriage is an emotional snake pit of generations of wounds where two people try to come together for some healing.

    Because of this, obviously not every one will work out. Be that as it may, there are some relationships/marriages that serve a purpose for a limited time and there are others that are for life.

    I kind of like what the Quakers do. The church doesn't certify the marriage. Neither does a minister. It is the congregation that validates the ceremony. One of the things I like about this approach is that it points out that while we get married to a person, there is a larger community that we are part of as well.
  8. Joined
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    20 Oct '07 21:282 edits
    So, how do you define "marriage" and on what basis do you make your definition?
  9. Donationkirksey957
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    21 Oct '07 01:22
    Originally posted by kingdanwa
    So, how do you define "marriage" and on what basis do you make your definition?
    Marriage is an agreement between two people who fear that they won't get any more sex unless they have some binding agreement that unites them to 1) stay under the same roof and 2) suffer consequences should the binding agreement end.
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    21 Oct '07 23:34
    I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I feel a bit disappointed by your responses. Perhaps if I had put forward a specific position, you would have felt more comfortable pointing out its flaws. But I'm sincerely curious about how others actually define marriage, and on what basis.
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    22 Oct '07 00:18
    Originally posted by kingdanwa
    I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I feel a bit disappointed by your responses. Perhaps if I had put forward a specific position, you would have felt more comfortable pointing out its flaws. But I'm sincerely curious about how others actually define marriage, and on what basis.
    Why not start where Jesus teaches about marriage? I don't think even Luther would debate Christ.

    Matthew 19:4 "And Jesus answered them, "Have you not read, that he which made them as the beginning made them male and female. And said, for this cause will a man leave father and mother, and will cleave to his wife; and they two will be one flesh? Wherefore, they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put assunder."
  12. Joined
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    22 Oct '07 01:29
    Originally posted by whodey
    Why not start where Jesus teaches about marriage? I don't think even Luther would debate Christ.

    Matthew 19:4 "And Jesus answered them, "Have you not read, that he which made them as the beginning made them male and female. And said, for this cause will a man leave father and mother, and will cleave to his wife; and they two will be one flesh? Wherefore ...[text shortened]... more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put assunder."
    Does "Jesus' definition" apply only to Christians? On what basis do non-Christians define marriage?
  13. Standard memberNemesio
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    22 Oct '07 02:39
    Originally posted by whodey
    Why not start where Jesus teaches about marriage? I don't think even Luther would debate Christ.

    Matthew 19:4 "And Jesus answered them, "Have you not read, that he which made them as the beginning made them male and female. And said, for this cause will a man leave father and mother, and will cleave to his wife; and they two will be one flesh? Wherefore ...[text shortened]... more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put assunder."
    This is actually not Jesus' definition of marriage, but a response to whether Jesus permitted
    divorce. Jesus doesn't exclude any other permutations (Male-Male, Female-Female), nor does
    He say that God wouldn't join them together and form one flesh of two such individuals.

    In any event, why aren't Christians trying to pass a Constitutional Amendment to ban divorce,
    since it is also clearly a grave sin in the eyes of God?

    Lastly, if this were a Christian definition, why should it inform the American definition of marriage?
    Religious marriage is about the binding of souls and so forth; Civic marriage is about the rights
    for one's partner -- medical decisions, property and estate, and so forth.

    Nemesio
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    22 Oct '07 03:32
    Originally posted by Nemesio

    Religious marriage is about the binding of souls and so forth; Civic marriage is about the rights
    for one's partner -- medical decisions, property and estate, and so forth.

    Nemesio
    Nemesio,

    I like where you're going with this. Could you give a little more detail about what you mean by "Civic marriage?" Is this merely a matter of public opinion, a blend of various religious beliefs, or some sort of "natural law?"

    Similarly, how does this relate to the nearly universality of the institution of marriage in all cultures (regardless of religious affiliation)?
  15. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    22 Oct '07 03:4413 edits
    Originally posted by kingdanwa
    I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I feel a bit disappointed by your responses. Perhaps if I had put forward a specific position, you would have felt more comfortable pointing out its flaws. But I'm sincerely curious about how others actually define marriage, and on what basis.
    One reason the question is hard to answer is because you haven't specified whether the debate will be addressing the issue from a normative perspective or a descriptive perspective.

    If the question is a descriptive one, what you are investigating is the set of characteristics exhibited by actual marriages -- marriages being those things that various people might denote by the term "marriage" or those things that they would concede fall within their notion of the concept. This is essentially an empirical question, resolved by analyzing observations about the way the world is.

    If the quesiton is a normative one, what you are investigating is whether there is a notion of marriage that people ought to adopt, and what properties would be shared by such marriages. This is essentially an analytical question, resolved by appeaing to fundamental principles about what people ought and ought not do.

    To cite the teachings of Jesus in a descriptive debate is largely irrelevant; to cite the statues of Vermont is largely irrelevant in a normative debate. A descriptive debate can only be fruitful once all parties agree on what facts and observations about the world are true; the debate is a matter of who is employing the most faulty analysis about those facts. A normative debate can only be fruitful once all parties agree on fundamental principles governing what people ought and ought not do; again, the debate here will be a matter of demonstrating superior analysis from those principles.

    For example, a person living in 1800 and a person living in 2000 could not have a fruitful debate about the claim "Black people in the U.S. have the right to vote" if its propositional content is taken to be descriptive, since they cannot agree on the elementary facts -- namely, the actual law. However, they could very well have a fruitful debate if the claim's propositional content is taken to be normative; there is no reason both people couldn't have the same basic ideas of what people ought and ought not do; their debate might consist in determing whether those priciples entailed preventing black people from voting or insuring that black people have the same civil rights as white people, etc.

    By contrast, two people living today could very well have a descriptive debate about whether black people have the right to vote in the U.S.; they both would likely agree that the body of U.S. law governs the issue, and they would also likely agree on what statutes constitute the law. The debate would be in interpreting the law. (In this example, it's pretty trivial, but in practice this constitutes the bulk of civil litigation.) However, if those two people are, say a white supremecist and Al Sharpton, then a debate about the normative content of the claim is likely to be fruitless, since they have fundamentally different views about what people ought and ought not do.

    So, to get more precise responses, it's best to
    1) State whether you are posing the question in a descriptive sense or a normative sense. That is, whether you want to know about the way the world is, or the way it ought to be.
    2) If it's descriptive, state the empirical scope of your question; e.g., over all of human history vs. now, in the U.S. vs. the whole world, in Christian circles vs. across all religions. Or if it's normative, what sorts of ideologies you want to hear from (using analysis from free-loving hippies to debate against a conservative Lutheran is going to be an instance of a fruitless normative debate described above).

    The Philosophy section here offers a good briefing if you are intereseted in arming yourself further. Citing Hume while pounding the podium might at least make your opponent a bit nervous.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative
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