I have talked about the concept of marriage before. I was trying to think why the term “sanctity” was applied to marriage. It occurs to me that marriage was never sanctified. Assuming that the Bible is an accurate history, and that Adam and Eve were the first people, they got married because there was no one else. In any case, there was no celebration, no priest, no vows. They just decided to be together. I’ll skip the part about them only having sons so where did the rest of humanity come from… just like Christians skip that part.
Later in history, marriage was more of a business contract. A father would basically sell his daughter to a young man in exchange for property or something else of value. Humans were doing this before written word. Sure there may have been a celebration, but love was never important. In fact, most of the time, the couple had no feelings for each other but were obligated through loyalty to their families and the marriage contract.
In some cultures, marriages were arranged by the parents, often when the couple were children. Love played no part. It was all about convenience. The two people were close enough in age, so they should be married. The couple’s wants and desires never mattered. If one or both of the people decided to break the contract, they would become outcasts in their community. They were seen as “unreliable” for breaking the contract. Oddly enough, arranged marriages, statistically, lasted. It seems that when people are in charge of choosing their own mate, we often choose someone based on either our childhood traumas (someone who was molested as a child will often pick a mate that molests their children) or superficial criteria (nice hair or physique). Arranged marriages removed this issue, by not letting the couple have any say in the matter. I also think that one of the main reasons these marriages lasted was because the couple wouldn’t want the shame of breaking the contract.
I don’t think “love” really was considered until recent history. Part of it was the Women’s Suffrage movement. Part of it was the Sexual Revolution. I think that up until the early 1900s, women did not feel comfortable (let alone allowed) to speak up and have their needs and desires met. So if a man wanted to marry a young girl, he drew up a contract with the girl’s father. The girl’s permission was not sought. It didn’t matter. Anyway, once women took a stand, that’s when “love” came into the picture.
Ironically, it wasn’t until love was involved that divorce started occurring at a high rate. Sure there are examples of people like King Henry the VIII of England who was notorious for his divorces. Even in those cases, they were business decisions, not related to love. Throughout human history, business contracts were more important that emotional contracts.
So really, how sanctified is marriage?