To The New46 YAHOO Group
Shlomoh Sherman
August 10, 2003

To: "46list"
From: "Shlomoh"
Date: Sun, Aug 10, 2003
Subject: Some thoughts on the re-definition of marriage

FRANK RICH And Now, the Queer Eye for Straight Marriage With same-sex nuptials in the air on the eve of his vacation, George W. Bush rode to the rescue, and not a moment too soon.

I opted just to show you the link to this article rather than quote it all verbatim. You are all familiar with the arguments.

Most of you on this list are Christians with varying degrees of religiosity. I, however, am neither Christian nor religious. Although much of my thinking is in line with some of the Conservatives on this list, nonetheless the fact that I am Jewish colors much of my opinion and thought on changing social mores of this new century.

Although I disagree with much that religious Judaism has to say, some of my thinking is still influenced by 20 years of religious indoctrination as a Jewish Fundamentalist.

The areas where I disagree with Jewish and Chistian Biblicalists are generally in the areas that deal with personal status of human beings.

I see the major problem with Biblicalist thinking is that it strives to maintain homeostasis in a rapidly changing Post-Constantinian world where social homeostasis is impossible. Prohibition of divorce and birth control and absolute prohibition of abortion were practical in a premodern world where people had no or few options for living life. The modern world has produced a society where these prohibitions don't work anymore. This is shown by the fact that even people who now call themselves Conservatives disagree with these prohibitions.

President Bush, as a Conservative believing Christian, declares that marriage is an institution to be entered into by man and woman only. But marriage was created by man, not by God. In Jewish thought, 2 people elect to get married and then God is invited to be the 3rd partner in the agreement. If you told a Jew that marriage is a sacrament he would not even know what you are talking about. Marriage is a CONTRACT between Jewish partners, not a sacrament. It's a contract wherein the partners agree to certain rules of conduct. These rules become clauses in the contract but no one VOWS anything.

When people ask me if I ever dishonored my marriage vows or if I ever renewed them, I answer that I never made any marriage vows. What I did under the CHUPPAH [marriage canopy] was make a declaration to my bride that she was now "devoted" to me [the Hebrew word MEKUDESHET is not easy to translate because when you translate it, it leads to misunderstanding]. I made the declaration that my bride was now devoted, consecrated, limited, whatever that word might best be translated as, to me and me alone. That means that she cannot be touched by another man for as long as she is married to me. I said that as I put the ring on her finger. Her silence as I placed the ring on her finger and made her MEKUDESHET to me was an indication, in front of witnesses, that she agreed to my words. She AGREED to be limited to me. She did not vow to do so.

On the other hand, technically, I made no agreement to such a limitation. I say technically because up until the creation of the State of Israel, Jewish married men living in the Arab world practiced polygamy and concubinage and even today in the 21st century, there are Jews in Israel and America who do it covertly. A concubine is another word for a girlfriend. I won't go into the details of what is involved in concubinage but it is neither against Judaism nor the religion preached by Jesus the Nazarene. Nowhere does he say that a man must have only one partner. If he had, the Galileans listening to him would not understand where he was coming from. They understood his words about divorcing only for adultery because that was a feature of Galilean Judaism. In Galilee the common people only divorced for adultery, that is, when they were not dealing with adultery in an older Jewish way of stoning. In Judea, no one stoned adultresses. The story of the attempted stoning of such a woman in the gospels was a Galilean episode.

Getting back. Since There are no vows in our marriage and since it is a contract entered into by people and since marriage is a creation of man, who says that today we have to agree with President Bush's definition? In fact, a "marriage" is really a contract between people who are loving adults.

In former times, marriage was a way of ensuring legitimacy of children and control of family properties. Today, many people elect not to have children but still wish to live together in a contract of love.

To the people on this list who are NOT religious Conservatives, what do you think? Gays are going to love each other and live with each other regardless of what anyone says. Why should they not have the same protections of their contract that non-gays have? I think we have to desacrilize the word "marriage". There is not anything INHERENTLY sacred about marriage except to those people who have chosen to give it that meaning. Marriage is more about love and trust and sharing than about anything "holy".

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