Originally Posted by Bytor Peltor
Wow - you waved your Sonic Wand and compartmentalzed everything so nice and neat. You listed religion first, so let's start there.
Are there any common denominator between the religions as to why religion plays a roll in marriage?
well, before the rise of the contemporary era, religion was claimed as the source of the law.cfrom the self-appointments of chosen people to the divine right of kings, social standards and morals were understood as god-given rather than the institutionalized product of economic conditions.
what economic conditions? the need for the organization of work (division of labor), for reproduction and the security of the offspring, for the accumulation and distribution of wealth and political power (inheritances, dinasties). Etc.
the thing is -- the family has always been the basic economic unit, adapted to the needs of society in its environment. religion, in its socially regulatory function, simply enshrined that institution.
later (it was a huge dispute in the XVIII and XIX century), civil society took on that regulatory role. civil wars were fought over the establishment of civil marriage. okay, i exaggerate a bit, but yes, church vs. secular was a huge social battle in the aftermath of the french revolution. in some middle eastern countries (including israel) there is no civil marriage.
the thing is, those social-economic needs change with history. what we think of "the family" today has very little to do with the family of the past. we don't live in large extended families because we no longer live in family farms.labor makets promote migration. the nuclear family is an industrial product--literally. but even the nuclear family, where the father goes to the factory and the mother stays at home looking after the children, is now potentially obsolete.
reproduction no longer requires the two-backed beast-- artificial insemination, sperm/egg donors, and surrogate mothers have changed our understanding of reproduction. beyond that, globalization has made adoption from poor to rich countries a huge possibility-- rich people no longer have to fuck, only the poor do.
work-- technology and economics keep changing the landscape. we no longer have child labor so children are no longer the way to rule the land but an economic burden. used to be children were born "with a loaf of bread under their arm" (translating from spanish here), nowadays people say "children are expensive," so instead of having 10 or 12 kids couples have one or two. and women in america joined the work force in huge numbers in the 70s not just because of "equality" but because of eroding wages made it hard for males to be the sole providers. still, depending on your circumstances today, one can have many more options--you can have a traditional family with grandparents and uncles and cousins in one big house or maybe a family compound, you can have the industrial nuclear family, you can have two incomes with kids, two incomes with no kids, you can be a stay at home mom who telecommutes, you can be a housedad, you can homestead in the boonies and have nine children. you can have two dads with kids, two women with dogs but no kids, you can take turns going to school and providing for each other---there is no one-way for the family to organize the work anymore. so the definition of the family changes.
as for the divine right of kings--irrelevant. nobilities-- only good for hola magazine. yes, the bushes and the clintons are modern political dinasties (or trying to become) but they don't just get proclaimed by virtue of their birth-- they still have to work for it. and inheritances only default to family in the absence of a will (not in all countries-- but still).
so, the family keeps evolving as we evolve. the law evolves and religions evolve. some religions however continue to lock up their women, and deny them schooling, and stone to death the adulterous ones, for example--they're sticking to their old time religion and consider your life scandalous and immoral.