Why is the Government in the Marriage business?

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Marriage in front of a judge

Civil Marriage in front of a judge

One of the hottest topics in the last 10 years is that of so-called gay-marriage. Everybody knows you have to go to the local county government to get a valid marriage license, but why?

The history of marriage is about property. Marriage was a way that kingdoms could unite, wealth could be shared and the offspring of men could be counted. Marriage today is less about uniting kingdoms or fortunes, and more about love and attraction, nevertheless, when that attraction dies, or the faithfulness to the institution deteriorates, it is the job of the state to split up the combined fortune of a couple in the divorce proceedings.

Churches claim marriage as their own, but that harkens back to the middle ages when the power of the state was granted by the priesthood of the church. Today churches do little with marriage beyond performing a ceremony.

So what happens when a marriage dissolves? Does the church get involved helping to split up the wealth? No, that is left to civil governments, which is why civil governments have to authorize the marriage contract. For the law the dissolve a contract, it must recognize the contract existed in the first place, thus, government has to be involved in marriage, if only so it can adjudicate divorces.

 

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About The Pluralist Advocate

The Pluralist Advocate started out this life in a conservative Military oriented community, and he later moved to that bastion of liberal activism called the San Francisco Bay Area. Having lived both ends of the political spectrum he has a unique understanding of both sides of most issues. He was also very religious growing up, serving as a studying the Christian scriptures and even spending some time as a foreign missionary. He used to think he had all the answers to life's greatest questions, but the more he looks around the world, the more he finds a wide variety of different values that work for different people. This blog is an exploration of thought and consideration from as many points of view as can be held at one time. He now holds the position that truth is found in many different disciplines. You may know the Pluralist Advocate around the web and twitter as brihartwell, or his given name of Brian Hartwell. He hates to be narrowly defined by one title, so as you read these musings you may find things you identify with, and others that you despise. That is good. Please share your reactions to the thoughts here and we will all grow together.