Just Merveilleux

Life at № 42

Arguing religion at face value and why it’s a waste of time

“It is the law of the brothel. This type of marriage will never be anything but an immoral and scandalous concubinage. A form of incest.”Spokesman for Catholic Bishops (El Pais archive)

On the heels of the Irish referendum, you may think the quote above was in some way related to the no campaign; so you may be surprised to hear those words were actually spoken 145 years ago.

Let me set the scene. The 1800’s are known by Spanish historians as the century of revolutions. Three monarchs were deposed, there were five civil wars, 130 governments and nine constitutions. In the specific time period I’m referring to, Isabella II had been deposed (1868) in what was known as the Glorious Revolution. She was replaced by Amadeo de Savoy as king, but he only reigned for two years. The first Spanish republic was then declared. In the midst of all of this turmoil, were the discussions regarding the 1870 law concerning civil marriage (1).

Until the 16th century, the most common form of marriage in Europe was of the common law variety, known in Spain as marriage of pure consent (2). What changed that were the directives of the Council of Trent and specifically its instructions on marriage. The Council gave the church all-encompassing powers over marriage. In a nutshell, they promoted celibacy, condemned concubinage, and here it comes: made marriage dependent on a wedding being presided over by a priest (and in the presence of two witnesses.) This was undoubtedly a response to the reformation as it reinforced the sociopolitical power of the Church by making itself (even more) indispensable in matters of everyday life. If one had been baptised, their only option for marriage was doing it within the church. The very Catholic Philip II, in his 1564 Royal Decree, then outlaws common law/purely consensual marriage (3).

This remained the status-quo in Catholic Europe until the 19th century when the Napoleonic code was enacted in France and Garibaldi had Pius IX locked away at the Vatican. Many in Spain knew that for society to progress, they had to adopt this new model that separated church and state- and what better way to do that than releasing marriage from the clutches of the church and giving it back to the people? 

As expected the church fought back. In essence, between 1564 and 1978, civil marriage in Spain was only legal from 1870-1875 and 1932-1939. The church’s alliance with Dictator Franco secured their totalitarian theocracy well into the 20th century.

That digression into history was intended to show the sociopolitical factors that are the genuine shapers of religious doctrine. For too long people have been arguing the specificities of religious doctrine and traditions- when in reality those things are nothing but political tactics designed to control the greatest number of people for the greatest possible amount of time. Every religious diktat that has been imposed since the inception of monotheistic religion has been the result of a political calculation. And it wasn’t just marriage that was used to consolidate religious power, look up the imposition of confession (17th century), the generalization of mass (20th century), papal infallibility (1871), abortion (1869)- and many, many more.

When we engage in god says or the bible says discussions, as if either of those things had any validity whatsoever, we unwittingly lend credence to the hogwash that was created to indoctrinate the people it has successfully indoctrinated.

Discussions on gay marriage aren’t about gays. Discussions about abortion aren’t about abortion. Discussions about euthanasia aren’t about euthanasia. If they thought putting lipstick on macaques would reinforce their model of totalitarian patriarchy, that’s what they’d be pushing, and the animal rights groups who opposed the revelation that imposed putting lipstick on macaques would be their target. And if you’re getting the impression that what I’m saying is it’s all a farce that ignorant people fall for- you’re absolutely right.

References:

(1) JOSÉ M. MIQUEL GONZÁLEZ, SISTEMA MATRIMONIAL ESPAÑOL.)

(2) ENRIQUE GRAHIT FERRER, EL MATRIMONIO CIVIL OBLIGATORIO:LEY ESPAÑOLA DE 1870

(3) Novisima recopilación de las Leyes de España: Libros I-II

 

 

 

 

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44 comments on “Arguing religion at face value and why it’s a waste of time

  1. makagutu
    May 25, 2015

    It is interesting to have you writing about religion again.

    What you point out in this post makes a lot of sense. The church or rather the goddites have associated themselves with issues social to remain relevant. And their reasons, I think, as you suggest have been mainly political.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      May 25, 2015

      I can see few that are disconnected from politics. Baptism at birth assures children don’t have a choice. Communion indoctrinates. Marriage (and being forced to marry within a faith) ties the person to the religious community. Confession places psychological power over the individual in the hands of the church etc. etc.

      If you asked psychiatrists to develop a sociopolitical system designed to control the masses, I think we all know what they would have come up with.

      Like

      • makagutu
        May 25, 2015

        I agree, baptism is disassociated from.politics but is the prep ground for goddite

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        May 25, 2015

        In that sense it is political 😀 Imagine being assigned a political party at birth!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. roughseasinthemed
    May 25, 2015

    That’s a fair enough point.

    I did struggle to work out MDLXIII for some reason on reading the CoT translation. Obviously lost my Roman numeral fluency. It was an interesting link. Took me back to similar Elizabethan documents of exactly the same period. And while I don’t remember studying marriage per se (by then England had ditched the evil Papacy) I do remember vagrants and the role of the parish even in the new Anglican Church.

    But back to the point. Or rather lots of them. I think we all choose our own way to argue with religion, whether individuals or a rather more organised grouping. 😉

    And of course we all, well most of us (?), accept it is about power, control and indoctrination. But it doesn’t alter the fact that gays, women and macaques are the subject of the latest control battle to reinforce power. And we do need to wrest those annoying battles from religion and secularise them.

    Anyway. I don’t enter into the god says or the bible says discussions. I see no point in entering into a discussion with a reference point that doesn’t exist.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      May 25, 2015

      Of course people can choose to argue as they desire- but some ways are more productive than others. I didn’t mean this as veiled personal criticism against anyone of the purple persuasion, it’s more in the hope that people in general recognize the difference between the symptom and the disease.
      If everyone understood it was actually a discussion about power and how to grab and keep it, I imagine the tone of the abortion debate would be very different.
      The reason you don’t enter those discussions is your mind is trained to work in an analytical and logical manner. You’re capable of making the judgement that skirt length isn’t a genuine marker of ethics/morality. That means you can stop a discussion on skirt length before it begins with that basic assertion. The people who join in, and then spend hours trying to justify short skirts are playing into the hands of manipulators.

      Like

    • Mariah Windrider
      May 26, 2015

      Excellent points. Again, when told that some proposed law or practice is “against God” or “against the Bible”, the only real answer to that is “So what?” If the person is particularly annoying, “who gives a sh*t?” is an excellent alternative.

      Like

  3. Arkenaten
    May 25, 2015

    Reblogged this on A Tale Unfolds and commented:
    Definitely worth a read.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. john zande
    May 25, 2015

    Awesome

    Like

  5. inspiredbythedivine1
    May 25, 2015

    Terrific post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Clare Flourish
    May 25, 2015

    Mmmm. My religion doesn’t. I know there are billions of Catholics and not a million Quakers, but we seek to diffuse power and to empower individuals.

    Constantine did Christianity grave harm. And you missed Simon Bolivar.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Charmaine Martin
    May 25, 2015

    This history seems to begin with the Counter-Reformation, and ignore Protestantism with its opening of religion to individual interpretation. The Council of Trent tried to put the genie back in the bottle. But once the Bible was printed in vernacular languages, people could actually discover what was and wasn’t there. (As the joke puts it, “It says CELEBRATE, not Celibate!”) And, alas, pick and choose which texts to emphasize and which to ignore.

    I’m an American Episcopalian: we try to avoid “proof texting” although a lot of it has been done as we squabble our way toward full acceptance of all God’s people. I think we’ll get there eventually.

    I agree with Clare about Constantine. Kipling has a line about “a servant when he reigneth.” – the church is supposed to serve, not rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      May 25, 2015

      Impressive knowledge. Why aren’t you writing? And if you are, where do I find it?

      Like

      • Charmaine Martin
        May 26, 2015

        You’re very kind. I’m a bit too busy in the second oldest profession (accounting) to navigate the blogosphere, let alone figure out how to blog. But I like the company here – history is my avocation. Thanks for allowing me to visit.

        Like

    • Mariah Windrider
      May 26, 2015

      I would think the real problem was when the “new” versions of Christianity started using the Bible as the sole basis for their religions. It is so vastly flawed that it is totally impossible to do that. Then, on top of that, you have the fairly recent idea of taking anything that’s in the Book as if it was God speaking which vetoes actual quotes from Jesus by quotes from Paul who never even met him. Then the popular trend of enthroning “faith” as the end all and be all of religion. Phew! And I thought quantum mechanics was hard!

      Like

  8. Pingback: MY GOD WILL HAVE ITS REVENGE | Amusing Nonsense

  9. gipsika
    May 25, 2015

    Exactly… and I’d go beyond that: racial issues, gay issues, religion issues of any sort are a distraction for the people so we don’t notice what is actually being brewed behind the scenes. We’re supposed to bash each other up and go at each other for non-issues so that we don’t look in the right direction…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. acflory
    May 25, 2015

    I’m gobsmacked, Pinky. I somehow assumed that the connection between marriage and church dated back to the very beginning of Catholicism. I’d actually like to know a bit more about ‘common law’ marriage. Was it much like our de facto marriages now? Wouldn’t it be curious if we’d come full circle without even knowing it?

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      May 26, 2015

      I tried to keep it concise 🙂 The first official declaration of marriage as a sacrament of the church only occurred in the 12th century (council of Verona)- and didn’t come about spontaneously; It appeared as a condemnation of the Cathars. That still didn’t translate to marital rites as we know them. The role of clergy, when present at all, was limited to blessing the bride and groom or the ring, privately.
      And yes common-law marriage is a de-facto marriage. That differed according to each specific culture. Dowries, parental permission, arranged marriages- each culture/region had their own customs. Up to the 20th century the families of brides were expected to pay up when a woman got married.

      Like

      • acflory
        May 27, 2015

        ‘Up to the 20th century the families of brides were expected to pay up when a woman got married.’

        I’m not sure what’s worse – being ‘bought’ by the groom or having the groom bribed to accept the bride. Tell me again why anyone wants to get married?

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        May 27, 2015

        taxes 😀
        If Mike and I were not married and something happened to either one of us, the surviving partner would be liable for up to 60% tax on the deceased’s property.

        Like

      • acflory
        May 27, 2015

        Oh My God…… That is probably one of the best reasons I’ve heard for getting married. 😦

        Like

      • roughseasinthemed
        May 28, 2015

        Add in benefits eg welfare and healthcare that can be claimed for the spouse, taking pensions on the death of a spouse, and while not financial, it actually makes life easier. When my mother was in hospital, all my partner had to say was I’m her son-in-law and everyone was immediately helpful and willing to speak.

        Sadly the institution of marriage commands respect, whereas two people *just* living together doesn’t. Incidentally, I have no idea why we got married, but it has proved useful in practical terms. But mostly, people assume we’re not. No rings. Separate names. I refer to him as my partner. It’s private business, relevant only to us and our tax office.

        Like

      • acflory
        May 28, 2015

        I guess marriage is ‘official’ and useful in that sense, but I made the mistake of giving up my maiden name when I got married and the hassles associated with becoming unmarried outweighed the benefits. Then again I could be a wee bit jaundiced. 😉

        Like

    • Mariah Windrider
      May 26, 2015

      In Medieval times in Western Europe, it was customary for the bride and groom to go to the village church and on the steps of the church (outside not inside) announce to the world that they were now a married couple. The rest was party, party, party.

      Nobility got some better quality frou-frou and got to go inside to the altar, probably because of the volume of officials that needed to witness the marriage, and that because of the political ramifications involved rather than any religious ones. It made sure that the bride would then be acclaimed as the Queen and her children had dibs on the throne.

      Divorce was also possible, for instance, Eleanor of Aquitaine divorced the King of France and then turned around and married Henry Plantagenet who became Henry II of England. Nobody thought anything of it, well, at least not the legal or religious aspects of it. Brian Boru was also divorced and remarried.

      Like

      • acflory
        May 27, 2015

        Thanks Mariah, all of this puts marriage into a very different perspective. I guess the ’till death us do part bit’ must have been relatively recent.

        Like

  11. myatheistlife
    May 26, 2015

    Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
    If you are not following justmerveilleux you should be. This post nails it when explaining that what USA Christians call biblical marriage has little to do with their book and all to do with politics. History, sometimes it enlightens us and other times it hurts to read it. If it hurts to read about history that is called the ‘clue stick’ and history doesn’t mind hitting you square in the forehead with it. Thankfully we have those among us who can eloquently explain what we should have learned in history class but did not.

    Like

  12. Mél@nie
    May 26, 2015

    Mr Merveilleux, your blog and this post are magnifiques… 🙂 bonne continuation & cheers, Mélanie – Toulouse, France

    Like

  13. agrudzinsky
    May 26, 2015

    In case of abortion, I always wondered why “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are presented as a dichotomy. One can be pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. True dichotomies are “pro-life” — “pro-death” (apparently, pro-choice people aren’t “pro-death”) and “pro-choice” — “pro-force”. Apparently, people opposing choice want to force their will upon others and that’s the only point of the argument. All seemingly “rational” arguments on both sides are nonsense. It’s just about power and control. Exactly the same issue is the core of the gay marriage or euthanasia arguments.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Arguing religion at face value and why it’s a waste of time | Scotties Toy Box

  15. Cary Vaughn
    May 27, 2015

    I have nothing to contribute so I’ll just say that this is remarkable.

    Like

  16. muffy
    May 27, 2015

    Excellent post!

    Like

  17. Pingback: Nudity, Christianity and marriage among others | Random thoughts

  18. theatheistbiblestudy
    June 1, 2015

    That’s a vth thorough and well-argued piece. Excellent use of historical evidence, which is unfortunately all too rare in discussions like this. All too often people write about religion with no historical perspective at all.

    In so far as your point is that religion is political, I agree absolutely. Religion is inherently, profoundly, political. In fact that’s pretty much always been the point of it.

    Where I would disagree is that it’s a matter of ignorant people versus the leaders. It’s too easy to assume people do what the are told, because they are too stupid not to. But there has always been a degree of collective consent among the faithful, based on fear of social chaos. The Church’s control over people’s actual behaviour has often been limited.

    Remember, the boy in the story who pointed out the Emperor was naked was not saying something nobody knew. What made a difference was they realized everyone else knew.

    What just happened in Ireland was like that. We realized that all the talk about ‘gay rights’ was about people we knew – family members, friends, work colleagues. People like us. A generation of openness in public discussions of sexuality has led to the collapse of social fear. The result was a broadly based and genuinely popular political change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      June 1, 2015

      I wouldn’t dream of disputing the role of group dynamics in ‘religious belief’, but it remains that people purport to believe- in saints, angels, miracles, prayer. That takes on a life of its own.

      Like

  19. Liberty of Thinking
    June 1, 2015

    Well documented, well written, concise and non-beligerant…:-)

    Liked by 2 people

  20. WrenchMonkey47
    June 21, 2015

    I may be kicking a hornets nest here but what the hell? This may be a bit off topic but it’s still why religion does what it does. Just my opinion.

    “What psychopaths apparently discovered in the past is that they can make much of the world “psychopath friendly” and one way in which they did this was by inventing and promoting various religions.”

    “Religion is in reality a “psychopath machine” in that
    a) religion was created and promoted by psychopaths for the benefit of psychopaths
    b) it does create secondary psychopaths (or zombie-like people) by destroying otherwise normal human minds.”
    (source) (Teras)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      June 21, 2015

      It’s an interesting theory. The more I observe of religious leaders, or people pushing hard for their religious beliefs to be adopted by all of society, the more I’m inclined to believe in the concept of that theory- although I’d enlarge it to include garden variety narcissists, and people who are too simple minded to understand the universe doesn’t orbit around their existence.

      Like

  21. WrenchMonkey47
    June 21, 2015

    …garden variety narcissists, and people who are too simple minded…

    Those who are “infected” by the top tier essential psychopaths.

    Inherited and acquired psychological disorders and ignorance of their existence and nature are the primal causes of evil. The magic number of 6% seems to represent the number of humans who either carry the genes responsible for biological evil or who acquire such disorders in the course of their lifetime. This small percent is responsible for the vast majority of human misery and crime, and for infecting others with their flawed view of the world. (source)

    Liked by 1 person

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