Marriages & family forms: opposite
and same-sex, in ancient times and now
Marriage -- now:
There are a relatively few types of families in Christian countries
today. Essentially all are one of the four following types:
Living together arrangements of opposite-sex and same-sex
couples: These are common-law, informal co-habiting arrangements,
which can sometimes be registered with the government. Most North American heterosexual
couples who eventually marry, have spent an interval of time living
together before marriage. Some choose to never marry.
Opposite-sex marriages of one man and one woman. These are
formal marriages registered with the government. Many are performed in a
church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc. Others are civil ceremonies.
Polygynous marriages, which involve one man and a number of
women. In North America this was practiced extensively among Mormons, but
was largely phased out during the 19th century. Today, it appears to be
confined to small Fundamentalist Mormon groups which have been excommunicated
main Mormon church: the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. The Attorney General of British Columbia, Canada,
originally decided to not prosecute Mormon splinter groups in that province for
polygyny. He assumed that he would lose any case that he initiated because the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' guarantees of religious
freedom might well nullify the Province's marriage act in these cases.
This gives such marriages a degree of legality, at least in one province
Tens of thousands of polygynous couples live in Utah, Arizona and
other states where their illegal marraiges are largely ignored by police.
Same-sex marriages and unions of two men or two women. Same-sex
couples can marry in Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands, South Africa. In the U.S. they can marry in the District of Columbia and six states. More information. Same-sex residents of Israel can get married
elsewhere, return to Israel and have their marriages registered. The Knesset
is attempting to close this loophole.
Numerous countries in Europe and some states in the
U.S. allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc. and
obtain most or all of the state marriage benefits. However, in the U.S., they receive no
federal government benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Marriage -- now and in the past:
Topics covered in this section:
Copyright © 2001 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-JUL-3
Latest update and review: 2012-AUG-12
Author: B.A. Robinson