Can You Marry Yourself?
I wonder how many people are familiar with The Onion. It’s a satirical newspaper that, quite surprisingly in New York City, you can pick up for free on street corners and newsstands. They often have headlines and stories that are ridiculous (and often funny) poking fun at current events. For example: “Romney spends most of factory visit yelling at employees to work harder” “Obama Launches More Realistic 'I Have Big Ideas But We'll See How It Goes' Campaign Slogan.”
When I opened my internet browser a couple of weeks ago, and read this one headline that was in the “News” section of the homepage I thought maybe the website had been hacked by some cyber-prankster or perhaps I missed a memo informing me that April Fools Day would now be observed in June or something. The headline said: “Nadine Schweigert, North Dakota Woman, ‘Marries Herself’, opens up about self-marriage.”
As I clicked the headline, I thought it was going to be a satire from The Onion on the heels of the recent news about President Obama’s “evolution” in embracing “same-sex marriage.” But the article actually was a legitimate regular news story from The Huffington Post website which was reporting on an interview the CNN’s Anderson Cooper had conducted with Ms. Schweigert. The story recounted how Nadine, who had gone through a painful divorce, followed by her children choosing to live with her ex-husband, had come to a point where she decided she wasn’t going to look for love in someone else - she would simply love herself, invest in herself, and in fact “Marry herself” - complete with a “commitment ceremony.”
Has it really come to this?
For thousands and thousands of years, across cultures, societies, religions – the institution of marriage grew out of the idea that when a man and a woman shared a sexual relationship that was something special that they didn’t share with just anyone. Primarily because that sexual act often resulted in the conception and birth of a child and that the raising of this child would be something that would dramatically change their lives for the rest of their lives. The furthering of the human race is important to the future of every society, which is why governments protected this relationship recognizing the specialness of it from any other relationship.
We as Christians know that we are called to love, to support a person like Nadine who was devastated by divorce and experienced painful feelings no one could understand when her children chose to live with her husband. But how supportive is it when some of Nadine’s closest friends counseled and encouraged her to “marry herself?” I’m sure it was out of good intentions and concern for their friend. But inadvertently they helped cast light on a deeper problem our society has been having with the institution of marriage. Because in the last decade or so, more and more people seem to be embracing a distorted understanding of marriage. Not to long ago (and I kind of believe a mast majority today) most people reading the term “self-marriage” probably did a double take thinking the term doesn’t make sense. It goes against what we have known and understood marriage to be. A person can’t be married to themselves.
But that someone would advocate, promote, the idea of “self-marriage” shouldn’t be surprising given the current theory gaining favor among some. As some politicians and pundits have been trying to advance the idea of “same-sex” marriage, the notion of children has been more and more eliminated from consideration or relegated as an afterthought. Vice President Joe Biden just a few months ago in expressing his support to same-sex marriage said: “Who do you love? Who do you love and will you be loyal to the person you love? That’s what people are finding out what all marriages at their root are about.”
If the Vice-President and those who agree with him are correct, that’s the root or definition of marriage, then Nadine, arguably has every right to “love herself.” Just playing devil’s advocate you can imagine the debate: “Who are you to say she can’t marry herself? Why are you so biased and hateful of people who love themselves? Nadine deserves the right to declare her love for herself and have the same rights as any other married person.”
Many people seem to be voicing support for “same-sex” marriage purely out of care and concern for friends and relatives of theirs who have a same-sex attraction. Which I’m sure for many is borne out of good intentions. That we as a people are mindful of the bigotry and hateful things that people have done to others who fall out of what is “the norm” in society is a step forward for humanity.
Yet thinking about Nadine, it struck me that not only is this an attempt to redefine marriage, but this isn’t a valid way of support. That’s not even a loving thing to do. Because if we forget what was essential to marriage – the other –that a husband putting his wife before himself; the wife putting her husband before herself – and that mutual sacrificial giving to one another was a love so strong that it brought about new life we’re not only redefining marriage, we’ve also redefined love to simply about fulfilling my wants, my desires, my agenda. If that’s the case, then society should take Nadine’s advice and go marry itself.
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May 19, 2014
Can You Marry Yourself?
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