I am curious how most Atheists view marriage? It is largely seen as a religious act. Should non believers participate in marriage?

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judge. They will usually perform the ceremony anywhere you want for a small fee. Me and my wife who is Christian did this and worked out well for us.

Also, it is important to note that the verses in the Bible talking about the different faiths comes from the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah and are quite situational.

Paul in the New Testament says there is no problem with two faiths being married. In fact it says that unbelieving spouses are sanctified through the believing spouse.


"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches."

1 Corinthians 7:12-17


I know for an Atheist this is not exactly helpful, but it is if you are are going to marry or are married to a believer like I am.

What you get in a church is a wedding. Marriage is first and foremost a civil contract. That's how it started out as. Nothing but a transfer of property (i.e. money and the bride) from one family to another.


The church didn't even get involved in the marriage business until the middle ages! At first they kept the Roman customs, who already had completely secular marriages as well as common law marriage (formal, elaborate wedding ceremonies were for the rich). The Catholic Church made it a sacrament during the counter reformation. Then France was forcefully secularized during the French Revolution. France introduced a mandatory civil ceremony in addition to whatever religious rites people wanted. Napeleon spread that practice throughout continental Europe where it can still be found today.


Unfortunately, the US took over the British common law and has a screwed up hybrid that allows almost anyone to act as an agent of the state during a wedding. But when you break it down, all that matters is the marriage license/certificate. And that comes from the state.

Thank you for freeing me from being the Debbie Downer and bringing up the crucial, not so distant marital history of property transfer.  Because of this historical subjugation through marriage I think civil unions should be made equal to marriage in the US (But, ah, ah, ah--I still want my fellow lgbt people to have access to marriage, if they so choose.  I know, I'm sooo demanding!).


Thanks for the background on the religious integration, Steve...very informative!







I'd like to believe it is a religious act.

but unfortunately, there's a lot of privilege in being married that those of us who aren't really interested in being married will never get.

Obama is fighting for equal rights without marriage. This is their way of avoiding the Gay marriage topic but it does solve that problem. If we have equal rights, do we still need marriage?

The way the system is set up in America, there can't be equal rights without marriage. There is simply too much attached to it at so many levels. Civil Unions demonstrably don't work. Not legally and not socially. A court case was just filed in New Jersey because despite CUs people are still denied benefits and rights and have all kinds of problems with it.


Some other countries like the UK made institutions like Civil Partnerships work for the most part. But if you attach the same rights to it and just call it something else, you might as well call it marriage. Besides, "separate but equal" doesn't really fly in the US. 

Nup. I live in Australia, and I don't understand why people these days 'get married'.

First time married, twenty three years, with three children. Husband left, abandoned his three children. Being 'married' made absolutely no difference, Things changed in late 80's. Laws changed, church did not. With my marriage, I thought, 'DUH", that the woman had to change her name to his legally, WRONG. I'm sorry I didn't give my family name to my children.

I live in a de facto relationship for the last twenty five years, and we are treated, by law, the same as a married couple in every way. 

What difference does getting married and not getting married - NONE in Australia - I feel more in partnership than I ever did when I was 'married' - so what is the point. Men and women are cheating more now than ever before. People get married for the wedding and the party, when they don't really know who 'they' are.

Marriage doesn't keep anybody honest and loyal - living de facto, because I want to be here, not because of a piece of paper, that in the long run, doesn't mean much for the relationship.

In Australia there is no 'privilige' in being 'married. So come to Australia, where we have an Atheist Female Prime Minister, shacked up with her boyfriend, but that is another story.

@Moral Atheist:  I haven't heard that the Administration is up to this.  It wouldn't surprise me.  Where did you hear this?  I am extremely interested...

Marriage is far from just a religious act. I'm a married Atheist and there was absolutely nothing religious about the ceremony. We rented a hall, hired an officiant, wrote the ceremony and our own vows. It was a beautiful ceremony and there was absolutely devoid of god.

As for if it should be for life... Religious marriages often don't seem to be, so I don't see why a non-religious one should require it to be.Obviously we'd all like relationships to continue without end. But the truth is that people and situations can change. Maybe since freethinkers tend not to get caught up in fairy tales is why so many forgo marriage and just live with the one they love as long as they will have one another.

Actually far from it. I've been married for 7 years. We didn't get married in a church or by a priest. We went to the county clerks office and got married in front of a judge. No where in our vows did it mention any type of religion. There are a lot of benefits to being married I wouldn't use religion to keep you from it.
I'm getting married next year. We originally planned to have the wedding outside but fearing it may rain we will probably have it in a church. My fiancee is Lutheran but only attends church on christmas( thank goodness thats it, I go with her and her family). She asked if I would have a problem with having the ceremony in a church.  I would rather not but i'll just tune out all the religious crap and focus on the real reason im there. I would like to have a secular wedding but i know that wont happen. If i throw up or pass out it wont be because of the anxiety of getting married( it'll be my second time). It'll be because I have to stand there and listen to the preacher spew his garbage and me biting my tongue.  I would love to have a little discussion with the preacher after the ceremony.  Give me a little time with him and he'll be an atheist too! lol

Have that discussion before hand...it's your wedding too!!!  Surely there's a way for him to be a bit more circumspect, perhaps speak more abstractly and metaphorically? 


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