Monday, March 17, 2008

one in thine hand

(this is a pic my lover and I snapped on a little get-a-way we took about a week ago. lots of fun)

I am reading the most fabulous book right now. It is called A History of the Wife, by Marilyn Yalom and it charts the evolution of marriage in the Judeo-Christian world through the centuries. Highly recommend it. When I finish it I'll write a review (maybe. depends on how busy I am).

And just last night I read a passage that made me think specifically about how we as mormons view marriage. In Germany in the 1500's a monk by the name of Martin Luther challenged the churches stance on a whole list of things... and one of them was the celibacy of monks. Luther didn't believe this practice was based in the scriptures, was unnatural, and that marriage (and sexuality within marriage) should be open to all, both priest and laymen. Interestingly enough, Luther also "argued that marriage was not a sacrament-a religious ceremony of sacred significance. He... reduced the seven Catholic sacraments to three; only baptism, penance, and the Eucharist remained... [as] necessary for salvation." (pg. 99)
In other words, he was all for marriage, but not as a spiritual requirement.

Which led me to think of the LDS view of marriage as an ordinance necessary for salvation (Elder Holland has even used the word 'sacrament' to refer to marriage and the marital bed). If it doesn't happen in this life, well... the LDS culture is working hard to change the view that you are a bit of a failure, and there is always the promise of being able to marry someone in the here-after. Because it needs to happen. Or else you can't go to heaven. Not only that, but it needs to happen in an LDS temple, or it doesn't count. When I read Luther's words last night, I wondered if perhaps the Church's emphasis on the necessity of being married (in the temple) to go to heaven, wasn't as unnatural as the Catholic Church's emphasis on being celibate. A situation which doesn't fit for everyone, and in the striving to fit, problems occur.

I love my husband, and we are such a good match for each other. but I have also seen some very bad matches that have occurred because of a rush to marry, to do what God requires.

(And, btw, the whole arguement that Jesus was married 'because-he-had-to-be-married-like-he-had-to-be-baptized' really trivializes the whole concept of marriage for me. Totally. It's my dad's favorite theory, and I just cringe inside at the thought of wife-as-object-for-salvation.)

Just some of my late night thoughts. What do you think?


Lessie said...

That is fascinating. It makes me think about all the people I know who are still unmarried and who are alternately condemned or pitied for their single state (and yes, I know a couple of marriages that have gone down the toilet because of a rush to marry). I didn't know that about Martin Luther. I looked for that book at our library and they don't have it :-(. I'm going to see about interlibrary loan. Sigh. Thanks for sharing this little bit of history.

Also, fun pick of you and hubby!

G said...

dang... your library needs some help!

about Martin Luther... the author of the book went on to say that in spite of his progressive views, he did believe that women were inferior beings, existing mostly to reproduce. ("created for no other purpose than to serve men and be thier helpers.")
nice stuff.

djinn said...

As to Jesus marrying, the Essenes (think John the Baptist) didn't marry; so there is historical precedent for Jesus not marrying. Besides, his kids would have been a quarter divine. How does one manage that? Godetts?

G said...

yeah, that whole demi-god thing always tripped me up a bit whenever my dad would go on and on about why Jesus had to be married. When I mentioned it to him he sort of fumbled around about how he didn't actually REPRODUCE....!!! what, a chaste marriage? or was he shooting blanks? or did he have to marry a barron woman to avoid creating some divine hybrid?

and how nicely it fit into my father's theology, the notion of woman as accessory to salvation (Jesus got married because he NEEDED to, just like he NEEDED to be baptized to get to heaven)