Contract isn’t just a piece of paper
We were watching an interview about the latest trends on marriage and divorce in SA on one of the news channels earlier this week. The interview was based on a report released by Stats SA which says that fewer South Africans are getting married, and they do so much later in their lives.
The anchor and the relationship expert concluded their conversation about how marriage is not only getting extinct, but that it’s also “just a piece of paper”. At that point, we looked at each other and simply changed channels.
To be fair, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard such ignorance about marriage. It’s only that we’ve heard it far too often that it’s now irritating.
There are many possible reasons why marriage is on the decline in our country.
● These include the independence of women;
● intimidated and confused men; a rise in the choice of single parenting;
● other alternatives to fulfilling the need for companionship;
● career prioritisation;
● grown-ups — especially men
— that won’t mature;
● marital dysfunctions;
● lack of mentorship and role models;
● as well as the demise of shotgun weddings.
If the purpose of marriage had anything to do with these reasons, then the developments identified by Stats SA are good. It’s much better to have fewer weddings for the right reasons than to have a rise in weddings for wrong reasons.
Furthermore, people, millennials especially, see marriage as more of a capstone event at the end of a long line of accomplishments. They have no commitment-phobia as such, but would prefer entering marriage on their terms and seek to redefine it to suit their liberal views. Marriage as it stands in many of their eyes is an obstruction to progress, and progress generally means financial freedom and self-determination.
The decline in the number of marriages in SA also exposes the shallowness of the traditional reasons we’ve always espoused for getting married.
People traditionally place a lot of emphasis on procreation, companionship and a supportive base for child rearing as the main reasons for getting married. Then there are the lesser spoken about reasons, that of social status and coming of age.
In our library we have material where some authors mention the construction of a stable society, maturing of human character, reliable emotional support as well as the sheer pleasure of sharing life with someone you like as fundamental reasons for marriage.
We absolutely concur that these are critical, and indeed go a long way to create a shared meaning and construct a more peaceable and stable society. But we see them as some of the benefits of marriage rather than reasons for marriage as these can all be achieved outside marriage.
Using these as reasons for marriage when they can be accomplished without a marriage certificate justifies the misguided notion of marriage being nothing more than just a piece of paper. By the way, money is a piece of paper too, but people are happy chasing after it for the rest of their lives.
Marriage forces you to mature and grow in character, thereby becoming a better person. It taps on your ability to draw on such divine virtues as commitment, loyalty, trust, faithfulness, giving, self-control, unselfishness and unconditional love. The absence of these virtues leave you with a society of crime and social ills such as we have today, because so goes marriage, so goes the family, and so goes society.
Furthermore, to someone that believes in God like we do, marriage is primarily about serving him. It is about reflecting the relationship our Creator has with his creation. Marriage is primarily purposed to mirror both the love God has for us, as well as the structure God instituted to govern our relationship with him
Marriage is based on the fundamental truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the objective reality that children need a mother and father. Seeking to redefine marriage to make it accommodate political correctness as though it’s a social construct fundamentally rejects these truths.
Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the wellbeing of children. By encouraging the fundamental norms of marriage — monogamy, exclusivity and permanence — the state strengthens society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. The future of marriage depends on the citizens’ understanding of what it is, why it matters and demanding that government policies support, and not undermine, marriage.
Some people may try their hardest to render marriage a primitive nuisance that suffocates people’s identities, freedoms and progress. But as long as there are people willing to diligently learn, exercise their independence of thought and that are refusing to bow to the 21st century pressures of political correctness, it won’t prevail. Marriage, as a God-construct, can’t be reduced to a mere piece of paper.
Marriage forces you to mature and grow in character, thereby becoming a better person
Mo & Phindi are professional marriage coaches, and authors, to get in touch email: email@example.com or follow them on Facebook: Mo & Phindi or Instagram & Twitter: @mo_phindi