- Marriages made in a time of war
- Marriages made for the purpose of diplomacy
- Marriages between heterosexuals
- Marriages between homosexuals
- Mixed race marriage
The legal meaning of a marriage is a contract between two consenting people, a man, and a woman – and in some states, this has opened to being between homosexual relations. The other rule is that the man and woman must be over the age of 18 and unless any of the parties in the marriage are 16 or under, then those parties need formal parental consent. This needs to be done in the presence of witnesses – the state – to effect a civil union, or a church or some form of recognized religious institution.
This is the simplest meaning of a marriage, so yes marriage is definitely a contract but if it is merely a contract then it loses the whole point of being a marriage because the point of it is actually being in love which Chuck and Larry illustrate quite well – for homosexuals too.
Arranged marriages are complex and interesting as with any marriage there are many factors to consider before you decide to commit to actually getting married.
In an arranged marriage the purity of the woman is always of paramount importance, almost more so than the male. Most probably because the virginity of the man cannot be proven although suggestions have been made in the surgical community that a skin graft could probably affect that for a woman…irrelevant and rather queasy to think of, but the reason I raise this is because arranged marriages were the way families would better their prospects of having a legacy or a form of perpetuating their existence or lineage, feel free to use whatever word you feel suits.
A marriage made in times of war or before wars were imminent were also very much arranged, not all princess and princes wanted to marry each other. Some of them were very young, most of the women from that time period would have felt unsafe and although usually a dutiful wife would be appreciated this is not always the case because people in that time were also poor and those times were raunchy.
In any case, marriages such as those were made in a sense, for diplomacy as well as for benefits. Usually both sides of the family would have to agree before a marriage was made and if the two parties were young and wanted to elope – God forbid – the family would usually not be very happy with that, however, we are lucky that nowadays people are free to choose their partners and don’t always have to listen to their parents about when they should get married or not because we live in a time where people can decide for themselves, nevertheless – in the Baha’i Faith, a marriage is a union that involves the unity of not only the two in love, a man and a woman but also their parents from both sides. This seems quite arbitrary, or almost smothering but in reality it is truly a blessing even though in the beginning it might seem like a curse, and believe me, I know this from seeing my own family. I’m very lucky to have been born in a Baha’i family and see my own family go through their own struggles and still have so much love around me and be able to give that love to the right person. It might not be the right time now but I know maybe one day it might be possible for me to marry.
As for marriages between homosexuals, this has not really been covered by the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel. At most, the Writings state that should one who is homosexual, seek the advice of a competent doctor to heal themselves and although marriage is allowed for homosexuals in certain states, there is no such thing as a Baha’i marriage for homosexuals. It does not exist. This does not mean homosexuality makes people bad, it just means that spiritually you have a different test and also, so long as you do not have sexual relations as a homosexual you can be who you are if it isn’t flagrant. I have struggled to answer this question to my friends who are inclined in this way because they are good people, kind, funny, practical, relatable, real people and I believe they’re awesome. I’ve crushed on gay people and I joke that GAP stands for Gay and Proud. However, I also understand that if this becomes the part of the legal system of all places in the world, it would make it very difficult for people to differentiate men from women and that in some respects does need to be different. Although the soul is genderless, and men and women are equal, and if you have a disability in this world your soul is not disabled, the importance of marriage is to ensure the felicity of not only those in the marriage but the families and the future generations they bring up. As far as I know, I don’t think this prevents gay couples from adopting a child or children if they wanted to, but that just means they have to show affection differently and it cannot be sexual. This I believe puts homosexual people at a very important stage for the world because they see things differently to heterosexual people, they are more giving, they are truly peacemakers, and protesters because they see how to bring justice and fairness differently, this means that we must learn from them as well, and I have met gay Baha’is but that means humanity truly does have a lot going on that needs to be healed.
There are probably hundreds of other arguments that can be made regards marriage as it is complicated. Some believe that a marriage is only a piece of paper, marriage is stupid, marriage just means there is more paperwork, marriage means I’m more tied down – these are usually the first answers that come to mind when you think of a marriage but it can also mean the exact opposite. Marriage means I love you, I’m committed to you, and only you, and when I see you I’m so damn happy you’re mine that I don’t give a **** where you are because I trust you and I will miss you but it’s okay because I know you’ve got my back.
Financially speaking a lot of traditional views for marriage state that there should be a dowry, and yes, in fact in the Baha’i Faith there is such a thing. I don’t remember exactly, but I learned it from my own family, and that is why I still believe even after all of this that marriage is a good thing – legally speaking a marriage also splits 50/50 but that is irrelevant as well. The most important though is that love is strong and not something you go into because you think your partner wants it or because you feel like you have to do it to prove something.
Lots of things are interesting in marriage though – age is a huge factor, culture, religion, goals, and at basic level habits and the parties’, likes and dislikes. These can be built up from an arranged marriage but consent should be the determining factor, even though that has not always been the case in the past and probably still so in certain parts of the world. The best way to find out these things is to spend time together, talk to each other, but understand what lifestyle you want to have together. This is the real question to ask – Where do you want to live? How much are we willing to spend? What kind of future would we like to establish…etc? These things are pretty deep questions and most people don’t know how to answer them, let alone wanting to sit down and discuss them at length. Some don’t even think of it to ask. This is why marriage is in need of a revival and I think homosexuals are the ones who see its value the most and it makes it almost ironic that those who don’t have it want it so much and those who have it don’t consider it seriously.
The painful part of marriage is that it is not always easy. Two people come together and you realize one of you is better at certain things and the other is better at another. The important thing is to realize how you deal with that pain and how you can comfort each other through that. Arguments also happen because well, of course, you’re not going to agree with the methods you might use to go about doing something whatever that is however if the conflicts get really bad it gets really painful when couples face divorce.
The root of the whole thing is this – I’ve given myself a year to finish my studies, and hopefully, at about 29 or 30 I will have come to terms with who I am, realized that I am happy with who I am and maybe get married and start considering having kids. We are lucky to live in a time when you don’t have to be very young to have kids – my parents set an incredibly good target – they married at 24-26 and had a blessed 5 years of blissful marriage before having me in ’93. Not only that but their marriage was special because they had a mixed-race marriage, my Mum being Persian and my Dad being Hong Kong Chinese. It wasn’t easy, England was not as prosperous as Hong Kong for architects in the beginning and that is why my parents moved to Hong Kong for work. Mum has always been a force of nature, and Dad has always been her pillar of support, comfort, and advisor. He’s also very good at lightening up the mood when things are tense by cracking jokes which my brother has picked up from him and our grandfather who has recently passed away.
My maternal grandmother took care of me and was like my second mother, teaching me how to hold scissors, use a knife, cook crepes, speak Farsi and memorize prayers in Persian and Arabic. On school days, my Chinese grandparents would pick me up from kindergarten singing in Chinese, encouraging me to explore kung fu, sing classic songs similar to Frank Sinatra my paternal grandfather has a great voice, and my paternal grandmother was part of Hong Kong’s movie heritage as an actress and movie producer. This cultural mishmash was and is the most amazing gift I have, my life, and my faith as a Baha’i. It doesn’t mean any of us are perfect, but all of us believe in high standards and bring them to the world differently, this is how I imagine families are – you just have to be open to exploring that, and the way to start is by saying ‘I do’.
“Do not expect too much of marriage, or too little. Water cannot rise above its own level. The union cannot produce more than you two contribute to it. If you are full of imperfections, intolerant, impatient, exacting, dictatorial, suspicious, short-tempered, selfish, do not imagine that these characteristics are going to make your marriage happy or that by changing your partner a new union will be more successful! Marriage, like all our other relationships in life, is a process which, among other things, serves to grind the sharp edges off us. The grinding often hurts, the adjustment to another person’s character is difficult at first, that is why love is needed here more than in any other relationship. Love, being essentially a divine force, binds; it leaps like a spark the gap between people’s thoughts and conflicting desires, between perhaps widely different temperaments. It heals the wounds we all inflict on each other whether inadvertently or in moments of rage, jealousy or spite. To the influence of love in marriage is gradually added another powerful catalyst: habit. The common home, the daily association, produces a common framework, and habit, one of the most powerful forces in life, begins to knit husband and wife together. It acts as a wonderful stabilizer; if love is allowed to fail, habit itself may be strong enough to preserve the union.”
From Rúḥíyyih Rabbání，quoted in “The Earth is But One Country”.www.datongbooks.com
So, what do you think of marriage? What kind of family did you grow up in? Let me know what you think.