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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I also agree it is extremely naive to make a lifelong commitment, but marrying later in life increases the likelihood of things lasting.  My parents did that, and I don't think anything could pry those two apart.

To me it's just a way to have the government acknowledge your union.

I think it's more than having the government acknowledge your commitment to one another--it's also making that announcement to your peers and family.  Afterward, if you wear rings or make a symbolic name change, you're announcing your partnership to the community as well. 

It is much more far reaching and important than even that.  Why do you think the LBGT is fighting hard for the right to marry?  Commitments and announcements don't need marriage licenses.

(Admission here) While I have only recently begun to refer to myself as "atheist", I have always been an unbeliever.

 

I was married in a church.  Why?  Straight up, I wanted to be a part of that lady's life, and she a part of mine.

 

Twenty-nine years on, and the love is stronger than ever.

 

For THIS atheist, marriage works.

That depends on what marriage means to the people involved. There are some benefits, at least in the U.S. at this time, which can only be had with marriage. It is a civil contract. It is also a religious sacrament for some people, but for those of us who have no religion, the notion of a sacrament, of course, is null and void. If, however, you would feel that you are being hypocritical to participate in marriage, by all means, refrain. If you are considering having children, it can be helpful in many ways because of some of the archaic laws (in the U.S., at least).

 

I don't feel hypocritical participating in marriage, although I am not married. There are good, practical reasons that my partner of 13 years and I are not married at this time. If the situation changes, we may marry. I would prefer not to marry again, however, until anyone in the U.S. who wishes to marry is able to do so.

 

However, if the only way I could provide needed healthcare for my child would be to marry someone who I trusted and loved, I would not hesitate to do so. I would NOT marry someone I did not love and trust deeply for that reason, because the legal entanglements involved are too serious.

 

As for dealing with compromise in a mixed atheist-Christian situation: when I married my daughter's father, I he was a cultural Christian (no real attachment to any particular church or doctrine) and I had left Christianity completely after having grown up in a fundamentalist Christian family. He had a vague desire for someone other than a judge to  perform the ceremony, and I refused to have a Christian religious ceremony, but knew that our families would be happier if there were some sort of religious official involved. I found a Unitarian Universalist minister who agreed to perform the ceremony, which was held in my parents' back yard, and everything went off marvelously. (For a wedding planned in 5 days, it was incredible.)

One old friend, fundamentalist so extreme he couldn't find any church that didn't give offense in some way, wouldn't close his eyes during a prayer that wasn't addressed to any specifc being because he thought the minister might be praying to me and my new husband. When he told me about that later, I explained that while I knew he really, really wanted to find a nice girl and get married, doing so would not provide deification.

For what its worth, my partner and I met in a UU congregation. They tend to vary widely, but the UUA itself holds no dogma. It welcomes atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and people of just about every religion. I would have to say that fundamentalists of any stripe would almost certainly be uncomfortable there. There will occasoinally be some exposure to "woo," but they do provide the benefit of a local community and the opportunity to raise children with the opportunity to learn about many different religious traditions without any bias towards (or against) or investment in any of them, and a strong commitment to social justice. The sex education program is absolutely incredible, as well. The community aspects were especially important to us as homeschoolers.

 

At the end of my belief in a personal Gaea...when I was sliding into a space where I waffled between Deism and Agnosticism, I found the UU's to be very welcoming.  I wouldn't have an issue with such an officiant at my wedding.  I'm sure they would add quite a bit to any secular ceremony and might even suggest some appropriate dedications/readings.
Personally, I have no need for marriage. It is an antiquated, needless institution. If I want to make a commitment to my partner, I will make a commitment to my partner. I need no god, government, or community to sanction it, or be involved in any way.

 

Good luck with that.  While the sentiment might hold true with regards to love and commitment, legal matters are another ballgame altogether.  Marriage is a legal contract that grants certain rights, such as rights of survivorship or the ability to make medical decisions on your partner's behalf (or to even visit them in the hospital in some cases!).  To say that marriage is antiquated or needless is a shortsighted and demonstrably incorrect assessment.

If all that marriage is, is a legal contract, then why not just draft up a legal contract? Why go through the whole marriage rigmarole?

 

If your relationship is successful, then marriage is fine and dandy; but if it goes south, as they often do, you are tied up legally, and dissolving the marriage takes lots of time, money, and emotional distress (apart from the emotional distress of a relationship falling apart).

 

I'm willing to concede that maybe it's not antiquated, and others clearly have use for it, and that is fine, by me (I'm all for marriage equality, for example). I'm purely talking about my personal views. I have seen too many friends, family, and acquaintances go through multiple marriages and divorces for it to be worth the risk, in my eyes.

 

Even putting aside legal issues, (most people don't get married for the rights, after all) love isn't always forever, and oftentimes even if love remains, it isn't always enough for "till death do you part." Love 'em while you got 'em. There's no need to pretend eternity.

Marriage is not JUST a legal contract.  It comes with special rights and priviliges that can't be captured in other, legal contracts. That is why people go through with the whole rigmorole and why many others are fighting for those special rights and privilages that they are currently denied in many places instead of merely drawing up something with their lawyers. 

 

You are welcome to view marriage with disdain and never marry, but I just wanted to point out that there is more to it than what perhaps many on this thread seem to realize. Half of all marriages in the U.S. fail and second marriages have even worse rates of divorce.  It is not for everybody, I agree.

 

And you are right, love is not eternal and is often fleeting.  But, love shouldn't be the only reason to marry someone.  Love deludes and fools more often than not and there are many types of love.  Having love helps a lot, but people should enter into marriages with their eyes wide open.  Commitment is the key to a marriage, not love.

I understand that marriage grants certain rights that other contracts don't. In that case, rather than fighting for marriage equality alone, shouldn't those laws also be changed so that they CAN be captured in other contracts?

 

It should be my decision who has the right to see me in the hospital, or make medical decisions for me in the event that I cannot, regardless of marital status. If marriage is the ONLY contract that can grant certain rights, then it is essentially that contract making the decision, and not me. That in effect, makes me feel pressured into the institution of marriage simply so that someone close to me has the correct set of rights. It is arbitrary and needless provided those rights can be granted in other, less complicated ways.

 

I don't view marriage with disdain, I view it with distrust, and even then, only in relation to myself. I've been involved in one way or another in a bunch of marriages and I have been happy for the couples and families involved, and never held any feelings of disdain towards their decision.

 

I agree that commitment is the key to all good relationships, romantic or platonic, married or unmarried.

I understand that marriage grants certain rights that other contracts don't. In that case, rather than fighting for marriage equality alone, shouldn't those laws also be changed so that they CAN be captured in other contracts?

 

Maybe.  I'm stepping out of my comfort zone with this, but my understanding is that marriage carries with it a lot of precedent across a broad range.  This is important because with most legal contracts, if it is not written down, then it is not part of the contract.  So, you'd have to right a contract that would cover every contingency that marriage covers by default.  And even then, you'd fall well short of reaching the scope that marriage allows.  For example, you can't make a contract with a person that will grant them something like Spousal Privilege.  And even if you write a contract with someone that leaves all your belongings to them, your family could successfully challenge that after your death and your partner might be denied a home, a pension, life insurance monies, etc. 

 

Right or wrong, it is what it is.  I'd say that children, financials, and charged emotions are can what make marriages and divorces ugly, not the institution of marriage itself.  And those things can happen within unmarried relationships and make the breaking of bonds everybit as hard as it would be if you were married.  Buy a car or a house together and you just got married, financially, for 5 to 30 years.  Have a kid and it's a bond for life.

 

I just wish America would catch up - there are other countries in the world you know, and they have totally different rules and laws than America does - much more civilzed and secular rules.

Being married or not married makes no difference in Australia.

Being married, fathers can turn into dead beat dads, as my ex did after 25 years of marriage - the same as de facto's can. Children can question a will - doesn't matter if the couple were married - or not - A man must still support a child, whether married or not - property is shared - married or not.

I have been in a de facto partnership now for 23 years - rights by law are the same - married or not - medical decisions - married or not. It's a brilliant way to live - no fear, and the law is on everybody's side.

 

Ah, yes marriage is antiquated and needless, but that depends on what country you live in.

 

 

 

 

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