After years of deconstructing both my worldview, my faith, my theology, my sexuality and every other aspect of my faith I have come to this conclusion (among many others to be sure), marriage is meaningless.
Marriage has meant many different things in many different times and many different cultures. Most of the time marriage has been mainly a business transaction, a way to secure land, possessions in a word ownership. It is clear that the “protection” of marriage in the decalogue is purely protection of assets: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours ….. Possessions (wife included).
Jesus both protects and deconstructs marriage/family, you shouldn’t divorce on one hand against a child will leave parents etc on the other. It seems to me that Jesus protection of marriage was an act of justice. No you cannot just leave a person (your wife) unprotected and with no financial security, destitute and unwanted.
Today all these reasons for marriage are void, in our post-modern, post-secular society the individual can live alone without the family unit for financial security and protection. The institution of marriage (not instituted or even commanded by god) is very much a human, cultural invention.
Therefore marriage today holds only the meaning we give to it, it contains only the magic and blessing we bring to it. The rules, the shape and structure of marriage, whatever we decide it to be.
In other words, if you want your marriage to be blessed, be a blessing in your marriage, if you want your marriage to be a sacred adventure, live a sacred adventure. If you want your marriage to be an isolated duet close the doors. If you want to include more people (friends, children, co-workers, fellowship), open them. If you want you marriage to be a joint business venture, make it so and if you want it to be your closest friendship work hard to make that happen.
Whatever you do, do not think that marriage can be all of these, human beings are meant to live in tribes, collectives of people who connect with each other in different ways, transactionally, emotionally and or sexually. Some people will have friends outside the marriage with whom they are more intimate than their spouse. Most people especially parents with young children, spend more time at work or with the children than their significant other, these connections are natural and valuable and whether you like it or not part of your marriage. Don’t like it? Change!
Marriage is an empty container that will hold whatever you put in it, if you put discontent and resentment that is what you will have. If you put in grace, loving the other, that is what you will get.
Marriage is a piece of clay that we can shape together (Ghost, anyone) to whatever shape we like for it to be.
Let me put this in a different way for my more “churchy” readers. If we by sacrament mean “an outward sign of an inward grace.” Then a marriage is only a sacrament when it is a sacrament. That is, marriage is only a sacrament when it is a positive environment that nurtures and enables each person involved to grow and become the person they were created to become, that is, when the marriage is filled with grace and love. There is no secret magic in the marriage ceremony, no automatic bliss that comes with tying the knot. Marriage just like your Christian life and spirituality takes a lot of work, and while I am sure we get help from god, as so much else, in the end it is up to us.
Personally I think this is good news!
Marriage, if taken as a carte blanche, a contract we have yet to fill with conditions, stipulations, dreams and visions, becomes an amazing adventure of becoming. Where we as partners, co-creators of our lives shape the future we wish and hope for in the turbulent currents of our lives.
Doesn’t god have any place in marriage then? Of course, god will be as involved in our marriage as we are. God works in us and through us, when we create our dream marriage god is right there creating along with us, luring us into the future and accepting with loving, forgiving grace whatever we make of it like a loving parent receiving the toddlers squiggles.
If god truly is omni-present, immanent, Emmanuel, god with us then god is already at work within your marriage. The marriage is sacred because you are holy, divine images of the godself. Just as god is also at work in your friendships, business relations and in every other relation in your life, equally sacred because of the presence of the divine in every place, every moment of your life.