A Philosopher's Blog

Splitting Marriage: Love Unions

Posted in Philosophy, Relationships/Dating by Michael LaBossiere on July 26, 2013
Author: Bagande

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In previous essays I argued in favor of splitting marriage by proposing theological unions (for the religious folks) and civil unions (to cover the legal contract aspect of marriage). However, there does seem to be one aspect of marriage left out, namely the matter of love.

On the one hand, it is sensible to not include the notion of love in marriage. After all, a couple that is getting married does not have to prove that they are in love. People who do not love each other can get married and people who do love each other (in the romantic sense) need not get married.

On the other hand, the notion of marriage for love does have a certain romantic appeal—fueled by literature and movies (if not reality). As such, it seems worthwhile to include a third type of marriage, namely the love union. While the romantic image is appealing, there is also a more substantive basis for the love union.

As noted in another essay, the theological union was proposed to allow people to exercise both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. As was noted in the essay after that, the civil union was proposed to handle the legal aspects of marriage. In the case of the love union, the purpose is to allow couples to create their own relationship bond (and rules) apart from that of religion and the state. That is, this is a relationship defined entirely by the couple. While the couple might involve others and have a ceremony, a love union would not be a theological union and would have no legal status.  That is, the rules are only enforced (or not) by the couple. Naturally, a love union can be combined with the other types. A couple could, for example, get a theological union at their mosque, get a civil union from the state, and then have an event with friends to announce their love union.

Given that the love union has no theological status or legal status, it might be wondered what it would actually do. The answer is, of course, that this would vary from union to union. However, the general idea is that the couple would define the aspects of their relationship that are not covered by theology (which might be all of it) and do not fall under the dominion of the state. This sort of definition might be something as simple as a declaration of eternal love to a fairly complex discussion of the nature of the relationship in terms of rights, expectations and responsibilities. While not every couple will want to establish a love union, this does seem like a good idea.

Love is, apparently, the least important aspect of marriage when it comes to the political debates over the matter. This might be a reflection of the reality of marriage (that it is about religion and legal rights) or a sign of misplaced values. Because of this, I thought I would at least give love a chance.

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6 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on July 26, 2013 at 8:36 am

    This, after seven years, is a common law marriage. It’s also known as an “uncommitted to real marriage” relationship, and not likely to be popular with women 😉

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Interestingly, young women are getting less interested in marriage. Or so it is claimed. The common explanation is that women are no longer as economically dependent on men and hence do not need marriage as much as they did.

  2. Alan said, on July 26, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I’m afraid I do not see any need for dividing marriage in this way. The absolute most would be to emphasise the civil nature of marriage more by perhaps requiring a prior civil ceremony. The great problem with theological unions, as you propose them, is that you are inviting the state to enforce obligations of a confessional nature. It is seriously hard to imagine a greater breach of the separation between church and star. Civil unions were invented by politicians about nervous same marriage. They have no purpose except overcoming the famous ick factor. In a generation or so they will be entirely forgotten and our children will wonder what the fuss was about.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm


      Theological unions could work in a way comparable to how religions handle their priests/whatever: they define the rules and the state has no role in the matter (in general-obviously if being a priest involved murdering folks, the state would step in).

      Oh, the kids will have new things to fuss about. Probably robot marriage. 🙂

      • azzawp said, on July 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm

        And when some sect declares that its theological unions involve polygamy, child marriage and incest? It is quite easy to document the existence of sects with those beliefs. You are proposing a solution for a problem that does not exist without considering the fairly horrendous implications of your ideas.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm

          Those are easily handled. Since the state would not sanction child marriage, the consummation of a theological union involving a child would be statutory rape and thus illegal. In terms of polygamy, the theological union has no legal status-so the religion could unite people that way. It would be no more of a problem than people who have open relationships when dating. As far as the incest goes, if that is illegal, then it would still be illegal.

          The theological union, as I presented it, has no legal status. It merely allows religions to have their own ceremonies, rituals and such. Couples that wanted to engage in a legal marriage would need to go through the state and thus would be subject to all the usual laws. Crudely put, the theological union has no more legal status than people having a make-believe wedding.

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