Sunday, September 27, 2009

Faulty Logic

The other night I was changing stations while listening to the radio in the car. I happened upon a station where they were talking about a survey of Americans who had been married at least once and it said that out of that groups, 76% had been married only once, 20% had been married twice, and only 5% had been married three times. A spokesman for the religious right group, Focus on the Family, said that the results were proof positive that most Americans still believe in and supported "biblical marriage".

Feel free to roll your eyes now.

Before I comment I on the faulty logic surrounding this conclusion, I have to point out that Christians didn't invent marriage; that marriage existed well before the Abrahamic religions did. One should also be aware that there's more than one kind of marriage mentioned in the Bible. So one would have to ask "Which type of so-called 'biblical marriage' are you talking about?"

But let us return to the original faulty assumptions made here.

First of all, the 76% of people who had been married once in their lifetimes were not necessarily currently married -- they'd just been married only once in their lives. This included widowed and divorced people, as well as the currently married.

It's quite possible that many of those not currently married may have simply chosen to live with any subsequent romantic partners and decided not to involve the government or the church in any new relationships. In other words, such people remaining legally single had nothing to do with any adherence to fundamentalist ideas about marriage. Similarly, there are no doubt many others who hadn't found another partner yet at the time of the survey, but who are open to being married again.

Secondly, out of the 25% who have been married more than once, this includes widowed people who have married again. Are these FotF fundamentalists saying that it's "unChristian" to be married more than once regardless of circumstances? I'm guessing that quite a number of religious people would beg to differ on this point.

Third, it would seem to me that many people who have a string of failed marriages and have several divorces under their belts have a misplaced belief in the institution of marriage and would do better not involving the legal system in their personal, intimate relationships in the first place. Marriage doesn't fit everyone and there's no shame in that.

Using myself as an example, I've only been legally married once, but they're definitely barking up the wrong tree if they think I'm a supporter of "biblical marriage". I'm one of those people in the third category who is better off remaining legally unencumbered, as marriage as it is currently understood is a bad fit for my non-monogamous, libertine lifestyle. Unlike those who have several marriages and divorces under their belts, I learned my lesson the first time.


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