Marriage in the 21 century
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Introduction Does the contemporary view of marriage as a public commitment of private love and romance resonate with religious and legal regulation (past and present) 56% of people living in the United Kingdom still see marriage as the best type of relationship1 The essay will seek to analyse the role marriage plays in the twentieth century and how the ancient old institution has changed over time and taken on different formats. It will reflect on how a very private and emotional ceremony for many has been entangled into stringent legal and religious regulations, and how these regulations have shaped what, in the past was viewed as marriage and what is now considered to be marriage. The questions requires an in depth analysis of the history of marriage and how over time the contemporary view of marriage has changed. It is important to note from the onset that it will not be an essay answering whether or not marriage is important , but an essay that evaluates the connection between the person and the states regulation of the institution and whether there is a significant degree of separation between a public commitment of love and romance and the legal and religious regulations that surround these notions. The essay will draw upon examples of where the idea of public commitment of private love goes head to head with legal and religious rules. An example of this being the contentious issue of gay marriage, and how the legal but more specifically religious rules have shaped what the publics view of marriage is, and how in 2010 the idea of gay marriage may resonate with legal regulations with the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act 20042 but still struggles with religious regulation. The essay will look at the religious regulations such as the requirements for marriage and see if they resonate with the contemporary view of marriage.
The older view in which marriage regulated sexual desire and b) settling landholding by married couples. If we take the first and arguably the most important (historical) function of the modern English marriage it becomes apparent why the contemporary view does not know go in hand in hand with the regulations. Historically the tool of marriage was used as a method of passing on and granting of property rights to the spouse, as Christopher N.L. Brooke points out in his article, 'Marriage and Society in the Middle Ages'11 the King of England at the time, Henry II is an example of using the institution of marriage as a 'vehicle for dynastic , and landed ambition'12 . In many corners of the world the dowry system was used and best represents why the legal regulations were so stringent and not linked to the contemporary view when determining marriage. A dowry is described as ' A present made by a man to the father of his prospective bride as a condition of her being allowed to marry'13. Therefore the basis of marriage when a dowry or bride price is used takes on the form, at least historically, of a contract between the two parties. Just like a contract between business man and his client it is purely objective and free from romantic feeling. Therefore when one takes this historical view of marriage coupled with the other function of marriage that being a method for granting property rights it becomes clear why in the past, regulations especially legal ones, do not represent the modern current view of marriage, since historically it was about the legal regulation of a contract and the passing on land between spouses. This purpose of marriage stems as far back as the Ancient Greeks where for a marriage to be obtained no legal requirements need be met, as they saw a marriage as a way to regulate the business agreement between the two families involved.
So what is the future of marriage regulation in the United Kingdom and for Christianity? We have seen that people are becoming more reluctant to the idea of marriage and the question alone needs a whole paper devoted to it, but what is clear is that in 2011 the contemporary view of marriage is being rejected through legal and religious regulations even though the majority of the public agree with the contemporary view. 1 Hughes, M. (2009). Social Trends of marriage. Available: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_social/Social_Trends39/Social_Trends_39.pdf. Last accessed 09-01-2011 2 2004. c33 3 Stiers, G. (1999). Our Love is here to stay. In: From this day forward. USA: Macmillan. 5 4 Wardle, L. (1997). Comparative Law Problems and Conflict of Laws Solutions. Marriage and Religious Liberty 5 (1886) LR 1 PD 130 at p. 133, per Lord Penzance. 6 2006, c.7 7 Lewis, J (2001). The end of marriage. Cheltenham, UK: Elgar Publishers limited . page 90 8 Wardle, L. (1997). Comparative Law Problems and Conflict of Laws Solutions. Marriage and Religious Liberty. Pages 10-12 9 Office for national statistics. (2008). Divorce rates. Available: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=170. Last accessed 09-01-2011 10 G. Duby, Medieval Marriage: Two models from Twelfth -Century France( trans E.Forster, Baltimore and London, 1978) 11 Brooke, C. (1981). Marriage and the Society in the Middle Ages. In: Outhwaite, R.B Marriage and Society. London: Europa Publications Limited. p17-35 12 Brooke, C. (1981). Marriage and the Society in the Middle Ages. In: Outhwaite, R.B Marriage and Society. London: Europa Publications Limited. P21. 13 (2009). The Oxford English Dictionary volumes A-M. Oxford: Oxford Publishings Ltd 14 Wardle, L. (1997). Comparative Law Problems and Conflict of Laws Solutions. Marriage and Religious Liberty 15 Hughes, M. (2009). Social Trends of marriage. Available: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_social/Social_Trends39/Social_Trends_39.pdf. Last accessed 09-01-2011 16 For a complete set of Church of England requirements see http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/youre-welcome/legal-aspects-of-marriage.aspx 17 (1990). Divorce and Remarriage. Available: http://www.theologicalstudies.org.uk/article_divorce_snuth.html. Last accessed 09-01-2011. 18 Zeitzen, Miriam Koktvedgaard (2008). Polygamy: a cross-cultural analysis Berg. p. 3. 19 Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1992-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-05. ?? ?? ?? ??
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