Marriage and Family

I'm quoting the articles below not only because they are topical, but because they relate to the lectionary God's Time this week. Family is a key structure in our society. It is where we begin, for good of for ill.

Much debate over family, especially the "motherhood statements" of politics, set up the nuclear family as the only viable and truly legitimate way of having family.  One only has to look at the extended family structures of non western European cultures to see how narrow that perspective is. It is important to read the texts below from the wider perspective of family.

It is also important to look at marriage from a wider perspective.  Marriage has several definitions. One is the legal recognition of a relationship by the state. That relationship is NOT the same as the covenant of marriage that we celebrate in a Christian church. We celebrate a wedding in a Uniting Church, and pronounce the couple husband and wife independent of the state. Then we sign the papers of the state. The relationship, whether consciously Christian, Muslim or Goth,  in committment, has no necessary correlation to the paper work of the state.

It is the relationship, and its quality that makes the family, not the paper work. Within a legally sanctioned marriage there can be the most appalling abuse. This is observable fact to any one in the helping professions, and to anyone who cares to look.  It is also observable that within defacto heterosexual relationships, and gay and lesbian relationships, and with grandparents looking after the children of lost children, there can be the best of family relationships and nurture. Not to see this is wilful and or ideological blindness.

For all its centrality, family is not everything. That was the point of this week's lectionary post.... Read on >>>>

And for all its importance and centrality, family is perhaps in some trouble. But whose fault is that?  I'm not sure Family First and such like have it correct.

The week of the decision on Proposition 8 was also the week of the decision on "The Bachelorette." Ali Fedotowsky said yes to Roberto Martinez, one out of 25 who competed for the chance. Us Weekly had already reported that Roberto moved his insurance business to California, where the two contestants will go to live, apparently in San Diego.

There could be no more perfect metaphor for the state of modern marriage this week.

In the U.S., a couple who barely know each other can marry in a publicly validated media spectacle with a sound track, soft lighting, promotional deals and a cash prize, as long as they are a man and a woman. So far, since the show's inception in 2003, Trista Rehn is the only one of the annual contestants to still be married.

Yet a couple who quietly have been together for 15 years and married twice, in California, each time it became legal, have had to see their relationship invalidated twice by the courts, by people claiming their marriage was threatening traditional marriage... Read on >>>> (Alexander Chee)

Despite the political firestorm surrounding the federal court decision that overturned California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, little has been said about the real issues that are contributing to the dysfunctional American family. The disintegration of traditional marriage and the family, once the glue that kept society together, has set in motion a domino effect that, as it ripples outward, is relegating children to lives of poverty and servitude and destroying the foundations of freedom.

Contrary to what critics might say, same-sex marriage, while it may be a symptom of a cultural shift away from traditional marriage and all it has historically entailed, is not responsible for the collapse of marriage as a long-revered institution in this country. That blame rests squarely on the shoulders of heterosexuals for whom marriage -- and the family unit that arises from it -- has become a temporary arrangement at best, with divorce now seen as an immediate cure-all and cohabitation a happy, less permanent, alternative.... Read on John W Whitehead at Huffington Post, who begins by quoting Chee, above >>>>

August 2010


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