My recent blogpost about contracted infidelity has been a bit controversial. Why wouldn’t it be? I pointed out a new trend for couples who agree to a marriage where affairs are part of the contract. This is bothersome to the traditional marriage defenders, including me, and it makes people very uncomfortable just to discuss it. There is a lot of energy spent on defining and defending opinions about what marriage is, so I thought I would offer yet another challenging way to think about marriage.
There are two kinds of marriage, in my opinion. There is the “sacred” marriage and the “secular” marriage. Sacred marriages are bound by God and tied to faith, ritual, religion and spirituality.
Secular marriages are not dependent upon a church and they are simply a contract between two people agreeing to remain committed to one another.
Is there a place in the world for both kinds?
Actually…there IS a place in the world with both kinds. Since 1999, France has had both marriages and civil unions as a way for couples to commit to one another. Initially created as a way for homosexual couples to acknowldege lifelong commitments to one another, civil unions have now become primarily heterosexual arrangements.
In December of last year, the New York Times reported on how the popularity of the civil union has exponentially grown over the last ten years. It is an easy way to create a legally-recognized couple, without the weight of marriage.
I know it would likely be a rather unpopular idea, but I propose to categorize marriage into degrees of commitment. On one end of the scale would be the sacred, lifelong marriage. On the other end would be a civil union or secular marriage contract. Somewhere in the middle of that scale would be the marriage with the clause for infidelity (and any other type of contractual marriage that is not in line with biblical principles).
Because I’ve spent so much time, in the last eight years, figuring out how to make our sacred marriage work well, I do not plan to move, even slightly, on the scale, but I feel it is a modern trend to want to redefine and restructure what marriage is.
I’m simply offering, in place of a singular definition upon which no one seems to agree, a multi-leveled categorization that addresses the complex reality of modern marriage.