Being born and raised in an essentially religious-based culture, it is hard to dispute the fact that the union of "marriage" is often held as the ultimate achievement in any 'dating' relationship.


The question is; 

Is "marriage" not a religious principle ?  And if so, then shouldn't ALL Athiests be "single" ?


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Marriage very much is not a religious principle; though many religions have co-opted it for their own purposes.

Committing to one partner for life is something that is even seen in some other animals. In humans it is older than any religion practiced today (I suspect the first beings to decide that it was not okay for a man to bop another man over the head and take the woman he was with had some sort of godlike thing they believed in that controlled what we call natural forces).

In cultures that still have arranged marriages, marriage is more about business that religion. From what I have read about ancient cultures, it seems that marriage was a social and business (trade relations) construct when it wasn't just about who liked who.

I view marriage as a public statement of commitment that comes with a legal agreement that sets certain rights and responsibilities. The public statement doesn't have to be a big elaborate party, there can be no party at all if that is what the couple wants. (Me, I want a party, but nothing like the traditional American church wedding with a shiny white dress and penguin suits - I want it outdoors, no mention of religion, a medieval and/or Viking theme, and one heck of a lot of fun.)
"something that is even seen in some other animals"
Actually, monogamy is more common in the animal world than you might think, although it is very often unstable (cheating is also common).
90 percent of bird species are monogamous, largely because of energetic constraints.
Monogamy tends to evolve whenever a prodigious amount of parental care is need to ensure offspring survival. Males must stay and commit to helping one female, or they risk losing their fitness.
Mammals, on the other hand, are 90% polygynous. Mammal females have specialized adaptations for post-natal care that permit males to abandon them more easily without a fitness consequence - no wonder we love breasts :) So it all comes back to how parental care is partitioned and how much is needed. Here is a really neat story someone posted over in the science group:
"Single" ends where "relationship" begins, I believe. Marriages are a subset of these, so the idea that you present falls on its face right out of the gate.

It is a human thing to do to pair-bond and all that stuff. We did that before anything that actually was religion existed; religions are attached to them to give the religions greater apparent legitimacy.

Marriage is just a making-legitimate of something--the same as how people have this obsession with trying to set it law--with punishments and so forth--their moral sentiments, making them official rather than just "true" in their popularity. People are obsessed with this idea of officialness and legitimacy; I really don't get it.
I think you might agree with my viewpoint earlier, about how an official marriage ceremony or document is unnecessary.
Currently I have made the decision to not get married, but meeting the right Man could change my mind. I may want to try it only once, see what its like, get a new name. But after a very painful failed relationship with a theist, I dont think marriage is right for me.
Marriage, in a nation-state sense, is simply the creation of the basic economic unit of a society, which is independent of religion. It may be monogamous, polygynous, or of other form. It allows a government to deal with those people in the marriage as a single unit for tax, property, and other purposes. Atheists might be married, if, for example, it is advantageous for them, as a couple, to be considered as such by the government. They might also feel it is a serious form of commitment. Overall, given that marriage in a government-sense is little different from LLCs and corporations, it is ridiculous that our government continues to regulate who can marry (i.e., only "monogamous" heterosexual couples).


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