Who Has the Ultimate Authority to Sanction Marriage, the Church or the State?
I recently had a conversation with a woman on YouTube, who was asserting the position that the State cannot be trusted with maintaining the binding nature of marriage, and that the power to adjudicate marital matters needed to be returned to the Church. The idea was that many of the issues that men face today in our gynocentric society when it comes to the forced breakup of their families was due to the fact that a secular system heavily influenced by feminsim was in control of marriage and its participants.
The idea that the marriage is a bad thing for men is a fairly new one. The prevailing belief seems to be that men use marriage to take their women 'off the market', to reserve a uterus for the gestation of their future children. Feminists would argue that marriage has long been a tool used by the "Patriarchy" to enslave women in a domestic setting. Many second wave feminists openly declared that in order to truly liberate women, the idea of marriage had to be destroyed.
"The nuclear family must be destroyed... Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process." -- Linda Gordon
"We can't destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage." -- Robin Morgan
Feminist theory and how it's been put into practice has basically removed any benefit from marriage that men ever had, and the tool through which this destruction of the family has been wrought is the State and the Judiciary. For men, becoming married is now essentially a "full risk, no reward" event. It is no wonder that many men these days aren't interested in getting married these days.
In all secular countries, there are entire sections of legal code dedicated to adjudicating marriage. Many of these laws have been designed specifically to remove any power men have in a marriage, the idea being that if the man has any power, then the woman must be oppressed. While rational people understand that men and women compliment each other in a relationship, feminists in particular, and adjudicators in general, see the relationship as adversarial, in which one party is the submissive victim, and the other a domineering abuser. And, let's be honest, men are usually painted as the domineering abuser.
Which brings us to the question, should the State remain the adjudicator of marital matters? I would say...no.
This woman's suggestion was that if we returned the power to adjudicate marriages back to the theocrats, then women wouldn't be able to use the law to coerce money from their husband, and then toss them to the wind and deny them access to their children. They wouldn't be allowed to seek a divorce simply because they were bored, as many women do these days. There is very little risk for a woman seeking divorce, and many benefits, so when they tire of the man to whom they're wedded, they can simply say "I'm out", claim 'irrecocilable differences', and then take half his stuff, and half his paycheque and wander off to find a new, better man. Having the Church in charge would 'fix' a lot of the issues that men are facing due to our legal system and family courts.
So then, should the Churches be back in charge? To this, I also say no. I mean, why swap one authoritarian overlord for another?
It seems obvious to me that the nature of a relationship is based on the people who participate in it. Submitting to an outside authority for the validation of that relationship seems...superfluous to me. All it can accomplish is detract from an already existing relationship. Unless one's relationship conforms to the ideals of the authority to which one supplicates, one will invariably find denial and reproach regarding the nature of one's relationship from that authority. Banning same sex marriages is a perfect example. ANY authority beyond the people in the relationship has the potential to place limits on what can or cannot be a valid marriage.
When a marriage breaks down, it is then that authority to whom the ex-couple once again supplicates themselves in order for a 'final ruling' on the division of assets, etc., a situation that usually ends in the destruction of one of the parties.
The 'sanctity' of marriage is a fallacy, in my opinion. Sanctity is subjective, and the only people who can declare the nature of their relationship as 'sacred' are the people involved in that relationship. I think the only way we can honestly be fair about marriage is to remove ALL external authorities from the definition of marriage.
This is what I would propose:
We treat marriage like a business contract. Each party involved agrees to a list of stipulations and obligations requested by the other(s), and offers a list of his/her own requests from them. A clause is drawn up that outlines the penalties for failing to adhere to the agreement. Hell, one could even put a time limit on the partnership. The point is, that the people getting married are the ones who define the boundaries of their relationship, and they define the penalties for violating that contract. That way we don't have to worry about the government dealing social issues like 'gay marriage' or 'polyamoury', or whatever the case may be. And, to quote a YouTube comment: "As for Churches, Mosques, and Pirate Ships, their marriages should be ceremonial only."
In the end, I wouldn't want a government bureaucrat defining my relationship with my spouse(s) anymore than I would want a religious theocrat doing it. The only people who should have the right to define my relationship should be me and my partner(s).
That being said, there are only two requirements that I would hold as essential prerequisites for these relationships. All parties involved should be adults capable of giving informed consent, and they should be able to demonstrate said consent. Other than that, leave the law out of it and let the people decide for themselves.