By Elder George
I came across a news item this week that stated Scotland now has more marriage ceremonies conducted by the state than by religious institutions. This trend represents a natural outgrowth of Western thought, which does not understand the purpose of marriage. It considers marriage a legal vehicle to administer the convenience of living together for the purpose of satisfying personal desires. State conducted marriage ceremonies do not require any obligation to the rest of society or any societal obligation to the married people. It does not infer any sanctity on marriage and does not concern itself with its permanence.
The natural purpose of marriage is to ensure the propagation and preservation of the species including its spiritual growth. It is a communal activity attended by all members of the tribe, for their safety and preservation depend upon proper unions and their offspring. Native societies throughout the world conduct marriage ceremonies, which express the seriousness of the union. Marriage represents more than a utilitarian arrangement of the peoples, it also serves as a manifestation of spiritual understanding and activity. All religions sanctify marriage.
Even within materialistic Western society, religious sects can be found that place a big emphasis on marriage and family. An example is the Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch. All their marriage ceremonies are religious and are conducted in the home. Divorce is non-existent. This religious sect has resisted â€œmodernization,â€ in many respects. They are organic farmers and shun the use of all chemicals. They do not use modern machinery but rely on horse-drawn farm equipment. Men work the fields and women nurture the family. They do not vaccinate their children and have never had a case of autism among them.
The population of the Amish has increased rapidly and they are purportedly the fastest growing religious sect in America. They have moved far beyond the borders of Pennsylvania and now have a presence in 28 states. A custom of the Amish is to leave the land to their heirs, but with so many heirs many Amish have moved on to where land is more readily available.
The Amish are but one example of those who have not prostituted the fundamentals of their faith for fame or fortune, and they have reaped great rewards. They have family, good health, and prosperity in the sense that their earthly needs are provided for. They do all of this without the intervention of the government. They do it without advanced education either, as Amish children do not receive formal education beyond the eighth grade; all further schooling comes from within the community.
I did not write this article for the purpose of promoting the religion of the Amish but to show that there are those within the materialistic Western culture who have resisted modernization, maintained their faith, remained independent of the government, and prospered as a result.
Marriage is a spiritual undertaking supported by religious ritual and dogma. It is not a state institution. This is an important consideration for Muslims, for the pressure imposed by Western society on the entire Islamic community is to be more â€œmodernâ€ and â€œmoderate.â€ Fundamental truths are neither modern nor ancient and their practice does not go out of style.
Elder Georgeâ€™s website is www.mensaction.net and he can be reached at 212-874-7900 ext. 1329.