Marriage and Society: A sociological perspective

November 7, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

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By

Thriveni C Mysore

 

 

Men and women are predisposed to favor the idea of marriage because that institution is so deeply rooted in nature. The question is why didn’t this institution become natural instead of a social fact? Where did the idea first arise among the primitive men that there were types of affection between men and women that were lawful and others that were wicked? Why should moral lapses be the cause for whole communities to lose favor with the power that governs the world? Why should private lives of mortals be of any significance to super naturals? An aversion to marrying close relatives still persists with us today and exists in all cultures. Why so?

 

Is marriage a social concern or an individual’s interest? Marriage has been explained in various ways as a psychological relationship, as a task, as an art of existence, as a work of art, as a fetter, as a fulfilment, as a self-development, as a spiritual attainment, as religious obligation and as a nature’s way. The ideal of marriage has gone through as many stages as human evolution itself. It was a group activity at first and then became a self-centered world of its own kind.

 

Man’s ignorance being the root cause of all fears and observations, folkways and mores arose. Of all, sex mores are one of the greatest. They cover the relations of men and women to each other before marriage and in marriage, with all the rites and rights, performances and duties of married and unmarried respectively, to the rest of the society. The mores determine what marriage shall be, who may enter into it in what way they may enter into it, divorce and all details of proper conduct in the family relation. It is evident that customs govern and prescribe actions. When positive institutions and laws are made they always take up, ordain and regulate what the mores have long previously made facts in the social order. Variations in the mores are due to the fact that children do not perpetuate the mores just as they received them. They change because conditions and interests change.

 

Marriage as an institution has gone through various stages according to the whims and fancies of men and society. It was a convention, change of economic status, a self-appeasement bond, which satisfied self-needs, and nothing else. From one different perspective a change in the treatment of and attitude towards the woman has brought about change in the marriage system. If the system was considered sacred, why should there be laxity in morale in all stages of evolution irrespective of what religions preach.

 

Abuse, anger, avarice, backbiting, blood shedding, bribery, calumny, dishonesty, drinking, envy, flattery, greed, hypocrisy, lying, miserliness, pride, slander, suicide, usury, violence, wickedness, warfare, wrong doings are all deprecated. Virtues like brotherhood, charity, cleanliness, chastity, forgiveness, friendship, gratitude, humility, justice, kindness, labor, liberality, love, mercy, and moderation. Modesty, neighborliness, purity of heart, righteousness, steadfastness, truth and trust are all enjoined by each and every religion no matter by what name they are called and this also forms the essence of all religions.

 

Yet, all is not well within and without the society. Religion is a human universal, so is marriage which is differently expressed in each society, ceremonies are different yet same in content and goal. The differences may be in ecology, economy, polity, religious organization and worldview. Even after knowing the origin of things, why is man afraid to shun the irrelevant?

 

Though not to be considered as absolute knowledge, man, this day has gained sufficient scientific knowledge as to the working of nature. In spite of this, he is unable to come out of the shackles of primitive thoughts, thereby becoming a ‘primitive’ basically in thoughts.

 

When vows taken during marriage are no longer kept, when ceremonies, with a belief of supernatural are no longer probable, when lofty ideals of religious propositions are no longer feared, when sanctity of marriage could no longer be preserved, when such profuse observances of propitiation, invocation and precautions just to withstand the test of time and evil could be broken by divorce, when second marriages are low key affairs which are not socially effective, what turn is the evolution taking? Doesn’t this mean that we are going in circles, finding the grass greener on every other side of our existence?

 

Man, capable of intellectual thoughts of the highest order, can he come out of the vicious circle of primitive ignorance? Essence of human existence has remained unchanged throughout the process of evolution. The essence is just better life, better society.

 

So?

 

By himself, a man has no right to anything whatever. He is a part of a social whole; and he has a right only to that which it is for the good of the whole that he should have. Marriage is one such institution that is governed by morality. It forms the core of harmony and peace within a family, which is the building block of human society. Any lapse in this influential human social institution has, but serious effect on the very form of society. Religious ethics and code of conduct have evolved to near best for human betterment. If marriage fails as a moral institution, society returns to barbarism and human intellectual evolution loses its significance. Be it any country, any religion or any faith, morality is taught to the next generation through this healthy institution-the parents. Sociologically, it is the basic functioning unit of human society.

 

To rediscover the goodness of this institution on a moral basis is to save the society itself and also to save the individual from wasted life. That the human is a notch up from other creations is a fact, though is yet to be proved, going by the present valuation.

 

 

 

 

Thriveni C Mysore

Thriveni C Mysore is a science teacher from Karnataka, India. She is locally acknowledged for her writings on Philosophy and Education in regional language. She loves naturewriting and ecopoetry.

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