Marriage: What’s It Really Worth?

What is a marriage certificate really worth? Lately it has come to my attention that some people think the union of two people is not valid unless they are married. These people see this to be especially true once a child is involved. Obviously, most people who believe this are highly religious. Personally I don’t understand the sentiment. Yes, I would some day love to be married to the person whom I’m currently in a relationship with but, I don’t think that changes our relationship in anyway. It legally binds us and adds me to his health insurance but my commitment to him? That DOES NOT come from a piece of paper; it comes from my heart. Just as his commitment to me comes from his heart. When Christianity and Catholicism first started there wasn’t a way to legally marry your significant other. It was a vow two people made to each other. A promise. I already have that. So why is it that our children will be born at the wrong time if they happen to be born before we’re married? Why is that so wrong?

Maybe I’m coming from a different place than most when it comes to this topic but I have personally seen the horrible circumstances that marriage can bring (sometimes). I’ve seen people stay married and continue on in unhealthy, unloving relationships because they were told that “marriage is forever” and that “you have to stay together for the kids”. I’ve also seen those children grow up to pick partners who didn’t really love them or who weren’t good enough for them. I’ve seen children witness years and years of abuse between their parents because they chose to stay together long past their relationship’s expiration date. I’ve seen various men and women be forced into continuing the legal side of a marriage because the other person wouldn’t give them a divorce. I fail to see why someone would force another person to stay legally bound to them when that person doesn’t love or want them anymore but hey, who am I to judge?

My point is this, while I do value marriage and believe in it, I do not believe that it makes the bond between two people any more valid than it was before. Sure you’re making a commitment to them but am I old-fashioned for thinking that my agreeing to spend my life with you beforehand didn’t also serve the same purpose? For me personally, my commitment to a person comes from my heart, my spirit, my promises; not a piece of paper that any two people can walk into a courthouse and get signed on any given day. And because I believe this, I see no problem with conceiving or raising children out of wedlock. Marriage, to me, is a piece of paper that says what my heart has already felt, what my soul has already committed to, and what my voice has already expressed; but it changes nothing except the legality of it all. So again, just to be clear, I have nothing against marriage. But I do have a problem with people thinking that two people are doing their child a disservice by not getting married before they conceive. I have an issue with an innocent child being referred to as a “bastard” because their parents don’t have a piece of paper. Now I realize that marriage is not just a piece of paper in the eyes of religion but I whole-heartedly believe that my God sees my commitment and my love to my partner even without that piece of paper. In the beginning, before courts and marriage certificates and (big surprise) money became involved, all that existed was the lifelong commitment two people made to each other. I don’t need a piece of paper to prove that to me and I think that my God sees my commitment to my partner as being much more important than the ceremony and legality of a marriage. Am I alone on this?

by Ashley Hebner

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