Did the idea of marriage appear as a result of a need of a social order before religion and then religion came along and formalised, ritualised and regulate it?


was the system of marriage given by religion alone?

Is this system likely to survive the pressures of time? Will science completely upset it by inventing a system of asexual reproduction for humans and a made to order progeny?

Views: 375

Replies to This Discussion

Since marriage (in one form or another) can be found throughout the world in unrelated cultures, developed and primitive, I'd say that the construct predates religion. Religion muscles in on all aspects of the followers life, of course marriage was no different.

Now, the definition of marriage varies widely between these cultures. One man, one woman is not the universal. There are far too many polygamous cultures out there to say it is. Also, not every culture puts such ritual or formalization around marriage. Many are far more casual about it such  as a man saying "This is now my wife" in front of the village (or vice versa in some matriarchal cultures)

As for the second part, I don't know how to answer that at all. I suppose such science fiction could be possible. We might be preserving our consciousness into data-banks by that point as a means of immortality, and instead have machines do all of the physical work. Who needs bodies at that point? There are a thousand different directions we can go in assuming we aren't wiped out first by our own hands or some cosmic calamity first. 

I think the same too. Many species in animal kingdoms also exhibit some form of "marriage" or partnership -  Emperor Penguins, crows, etc. Religion must have jumped on this partnership as another means of control over the masses.


You seem to be equating loyalty with marrage. Marriage may demend loyalty but does loyalty, particularly among birds and other animals does not demand a marriage. This actually tends to show that neither marriage nor loyalty are original ideas of religion or god. Do you agree?

This leads me to the second part of my question. What is the future of marriage/loyalty among animals, birds on one hand and humans on the other. Will non-humans prove to be steadier than humans? Should humans emulate nature or not?

Any book on evolution will tell you that strong bonding between two or more persons is evolution´s answer to the needs of a pregnant woman or young mother.

What religion makes of marriage is a system of repression.

And I think people will always live together in couples or small groups because it´s a good way to live. Look at couples staying together far longer than is necessary to help the children find their feet.


This really depends upon what one means by marriage. That sounds fatuous, but really isn't. The "one woman-one man" formula for marriage is almost certainly a religious concotion. As Jason points out, there are just too many different kinds of arrangement within history, let alone considering prehistory, for it to be a purely natural setup. The trouble is that the religiously minded have certain ideas of what marriage is for, and those ideas have led them to their definition. However, marriage has never been exclusively for procreation or to provide man with "an helpmeet." It is clear from the Hebrew Bible that marriage for the ancient Hebrews was an economic system of tying together two families, with the bride as the token of exchange. Throughout history, among the upper classes marriages were primarily political matters, rarely for love (hence all the courtly romances about adultery in the Middle Ages). The idea of marriage as the solidifying of a nuclear family unit is again largely religious and fairly recent in construction. I don't think it will survive long (a couple of hundred years). Current economic and social conditions in the developed world do not favor it. Educated women realize that for them marriage is all too often a trap. Therefore, fewer educated women are choosing marriage, and more women are getting educated. Additionally, the general populace in the developed world is gradually coming round to the notion that marriage as pledge of sexual pair-bonding cannot legitimately be an exclusively heterosexual domain. A couple of hundred years from now, there will still be one-one marriages, but not as frequently and not with so much urgency as there is today.

How a society organizes forming units and arrangements of persons of the two genders can be reduced to one major factor:
How much or how little consideration is there for the suffering of the women?

There has been a wide variety of arrangements in history and in many societies. These arrangements were controlled and determined predominantly by the men's needs. There is no justification for men to hurt and harm women. They do it, because they have the power to do it.
The plight of women is caused by one decisive factor:
Men are physically stronger than women and women are even more vulnerable, when they are raising children.
This has always allowed men to enforce any kind of asymmetrical situation between rape and polygyny. The decision of men to take advantage of women was not influenced by responsibility or consideration concerning the suffering of the women. The experience of being physically able to dominate women has led men to the false belief, that women existed as mere commodities and utilities. Being able to dominate made these men believe to be entitled to dominate and use women at their convenience.

Morals are only a choice for those, who have the power to decide, how to behave. A man has the choice to rape or not to rape. A woman under his power has no choice to be raped or not to be raped.
Justifying and excusing any harming behavior by the explanation, that humans are also animals is ignoring the fact, that animals cannot get emotionally and intellectually attached the same way as do humans. Animals cannot get emotionally attached because of the joy of sharing skeptisicm and atheism.
A man has the cognitive ability to know, that the alternative to raping is not raping. A lion has no cognitive alternative to automatically kill the antilope.

The social development since the beginning of the ubiquity of the media, especially tv and the internet, has led to the substitution of one cause of women's suffering by another.
During the archaic history, men restricted, what they considered morals, to other men, while women were not even considered as beings deserving morals. Now the oversexation and desensitization of modern societies has reached a state, where many men have the false belief to behave morally, while they are just ignorant, oblivious or in denial of what suffering they cause to women. Physical wounds are visible, emotional wounds are not.

The specific human cognition enables humans to get bonded to another person because of personal traits. This leads to emotional attachment and an emotional need for exclusivity. When this need is not met, when a person is dumped or cheated upon in spite of being bonded by such attachment, this causes a lot of suffering and sometimes even trauma with serious long term consequences.
A person with mature morals refrains from hurting and harming based upon the full knowledge of what others feel hurt by. An attached partner is protected by such mature morals from being dumped and cheated upon.
But unfortunately many people do not have such morals, especially those men drooling over every woman's body. During the social development towards more civilization, many religions have substituted the lacking mature morals by the institution of monogamous marriage as a social institution. The fear of a god contributed to the reduction of the suffering of women as victims of male promiscuity.
But discarding morals together with discarding religion unfortunately is a backlash and interruption of the development towards a more civilized protection of women's emotional needs.

While the social institution of marriage may be obsolete, full awareness for the vulnerability of emotionally attached people and their protection is of paramount significance.

Maruli Marulaki,

A person with mature morals refrains from hurting and harming based upon the full knowledge of what others feel hurt by. An attached partner is protected by such mature morals from being dumped and cheated upon.  

A man who has experienced and enjoyed sublime mna-woman love would never hurt a partner. I think that this sort of love did exist to a large extent, sometime in the oast, probably in all civilised societies. Humans of bad character and bad tastes are few but bring a damaging influence on society.




Well, the answer to this is simple.

Is it more likely that catholicism has invented this form of long term relationship, and that everyone stole it off them, or that they have been it's chief purveyor to the western world for the last millenium, and have forgotten that they just borrowed it off the last legal system they overran (ergo, Rome)?

Atreus Redezem

You seem to have some strong objection to "this form of long term relationship". You also seem to attribute this form of relationship to religion, implying that this kind of practice emerged after religion and was not known previous to religion. This seems to give only implied answer to one of my question. Would you kindly elaborate?

I believe you have misinterpreted my argument. I have made the comparison between the two supposed origins of this practice (Religion vs age old human custom) with the intent of making one of them seem completely ridiculous. That one being religion as an origin.

What I am trying to say is that it is both arrogant and idiotic for any religion to believe they "invented" marriage, and hold any sway over it, let alone modern day religions, as they owe all their customs and practices to older, extinct religions. I am trying to say that marriage as a concept transcends religion, and so religion cannot affect or control it.

Atreus Redezem

marriage as a concept transcends religion, and so religion cannot affect or control it.

Thanks for your quick clarification. I particularly like your above thought and hope that it will come and remain true. I say this because, unfortunately in India, religion has needless influence on marriage.


As the various religions were formulated, promulgated, and came to dominate, they adapted to the traditions and mores of the societies into which they were introduced.  The Christian idea of marriage may have its stodgy and doctrinaire attributes, but it really is no innovation, for good or bad - just an attempt to refit existing traditions into a new doctrine.

There is something intuitively appealing to the idea of one loving pair bonded in a monogamous relationship, whether or not that relationship entails breeding, whether or not that relationship is codified by ecclesiastical or civil law.  While in some cases mutual fulfillment may be possible in communal arrangements, where partners are changed frequently, or in polygamy or polyandry and so forth, these are probably more the result of individual creativity than of an innate evolved predisposition. 

Marriage as a legal institution does need to be reformed, especially in terms of property laws and the taboos of "married people" vs. "single people".  But my impression is that pair-bonding, however it would be treated by the state or the community, does have substantial value, and will persist indefinitely as the preferred arrangement in future human history.




Update Your Membership :



Nexus on Social Media:

© 2018   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service