Is traditional marriage still relevant?
The Church of England has announced that it will no longer offer the traditional service of reading the banns, for weddings involving foreign nationals, in an attempt to crack down on sham marriages. Indeed, those couples that request the banns will automatically be reported to diocesan authorities and their details passed on to the UK Border Agency. The Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, said the new guidance was needed because the “office of holy matrimony must not be misused by those who have no intention of contracting a genuine marriage but merely a sham marriage.” This drive by the Church of England provokes certain questions about the changing status of marriage in modern society.
The fact that the Church of England have grown so concerned about the level of sham marriages taking place in their church, certainly suggests that there must have been an increase in recent years. The Immigration Minister, Damian Green, claims there have been 155 arrests for sham marriages in a recent clamp down, but it is not known how many of those services were conducted in a Church of England ceremony. Is it nothing more than a sensible decision on the part of the Church of England, to ally itself with a law keeping agency, in order to protect the sacrament of marriage? Especially if sham marriages are moving away from the registry office, into the churches, as a means of avoiding the authorities. Or does it point to a significantly different trend?
The problem however, is what, precisely, constitutes a real marriage anymore? With the rights for co-habiting couples growing, the ability to sign mortgages and share bank accounts without having to be married, has this tradition grown obsolete? Or does it continue to play a key role in how we perceive the world around us? Has marriage ceased to be either a business or spiritual contract, and grown more earthy, and domestic, as our expectations change? Either way, The Church of England has certainly succeeded in following its own tradition: turning a tradition upside down if the circumstances require it.
Tradition - it still stands
Although parts of the wedding and marriage tradition do change, the reasons behind marriage and the traditions are still in place.
It is still an important part of growing up and a goal in life to be married and have children etc. It is always described as every young girl's dream to be married, possibly to a prince, but it still stands and is still an aspiration in life. The traditions and reasoning behind marriage for love and for religious purposes still stands but the variation on beliefs and family traditions is a lot more varied than it used to be. With this in mind, the traditional church wedding is not as frequently experienced but the notions behind the marriage are.
Change in rights
Something that has changed the relevance of marriage, that is not to do with shams or foreign nationals, is the rights that a partner is now given. As a partner where two people have been in a relationship for over two years, the rights in terms of next of kin and inheritance are the same as in a married situation, unless wills are involved and other arrangements have been made.
Often marriage was a way to instigate a joint partnership in terms of possessions, implications of illness and bank accounts - nowadays it is not as relevant.
It is not the sense of a traditional marriage that has changed but the traditions that are behind marriage and the reasons that we get married.
Tradition in a church of England and a church wedding sense is not as relevant today as it used to be.
Britain is a much more diverse country with a variety of belief systems and religions, each with their own traditions regarding marriage and weddings. It can be said that marriage still holds a spiritual connection but it is not just to the Christian faith but many faiths and those who do not believe in religion, but still believe in marriage.
What is a traditional marriage?
What constitutes a traditional marriage? We think of a traditional wedding, but marriage itself has always had its down points, changes and defects. After all it was Henry VIII that separated the Roman Catholic church from the Church of England to allow a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
Marrying for money can be seen as traditional. Marrying for love is always seen as the most traditional but not always the most appropriate, so who is to say that marriages are only scams when there are foreign nationals involved or that they are always scam marriages? or should be suspected as such?
Tradition changes as we do, and defining marriage is always something that is questionable and variable.
Why make these unions illegal?
The British government has NO right to illegalize "non traditional" marriage, just as the United States has NO right to even begin to think about illegalizing gay and lesbian marriage.
What do you think?