Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marriage is Made in Heaven, But...

Marriage in Christianity is made in Heaven.  In contrast, marriage in Islam is made on earth.

In Christianity, when the couple gets married, they are said to enter into a holy matrimony.  In Islam, they simply get married.

Though the two differ in terms of perspectives (it is a sacrament in Christianity while it is not so in Islam), both consider marriage to be sacred.  Nowhere does Islam consider marriage to be profane, although it views marriage largely from practical perspective.

Since marriage is made in Heaven, divorce is not allowed in Christianity, that is, until Protestantism came into the picture.  When Henry VIII, the King of England, wanted to divorce his wife, Queen Catherine, for the latter could not give him a son to inherit his throne, he appealed to the Pope, but was rejected.  Bent of getting what he wanted, Henry divorced Catherine nevertheless, and was excommunicated because of that move.  The Church of England, therefore, was separated from the Catholic Church.

Marriage in Christianity is viewed largely as a necessary evil, for without it human race cannot be perpetuated, or at least cannot be perpetuated in a proper way.  Thus marriage is allowed largely for procreation, not for pleasure.  Celibacy is considered a virtue.  A man or woman of God is not allowed to marry.  Thus the priest and the nun must remain single throughout their lives.  This view is probably patterned from their belief the Jesus the Christ did not get married throughout his life on earth.  One can sense this view from the writing of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, the man who gave Christianity its name.

Islam, on the other hand, considers marriage from practical view.  Man and woman are created with intense desire to be with each other, both in bed or otherwise.  Man is only half done, and so is the woman.  To be whole, they must unite together.  But this union must be regulated.  This union, or to be more direct, to have sex, must be entered properly.  The proper way is through marriage.

Since Islam approaches marriage from practical point of view, and that it is made on earth, which is imperfect, and not made in Heaven, which is supposed to be perfect, divorce, through frown upon, is therefore allowed.  Marriage is supposed to bring bliss and happiness.  If the married couple is living in hell through their marriage, then they are allowed to separate amicably.  While only man is granted with the right to divorce his wife, the woman is also given the provision for recourse, should she decide to end the marriage.  All these are specified in details, in the large body of laws and rules to regulate the marriage and divorce.

Since Islam regards the union between man and woman to be something natural, but must be regulated, while Christianity regards it more like a necessary evil, in the good olden days, therefore, the Christians tended to view the Muslims as very sensual and permissive.  The Christians crusaders who came to liberate Jerusalem from the “Mahometan infidels,” as the Muslims were generally called back then, were shocked to find out that the Muslims took marriage and sex to be rather liberally, as if these were something natural.  The Muslim men not only can have more than one wives, but they can also divorce them with relative ease, and marry again.  On top of that, the elites among Muslims often have huge number of women in their harems.  Marriage was not holy to the Muslims, but profane.

As times went by, however, the Christians were to discover that the profane urge was greater than the holy inclination.  Subsequently, they began to view that the union between man and woman, though still made in Heaven, should not be tied up till the end of their lives, if they were leading the life in hell. 

Protestant movement came to liberate them of this shackle.  Not only that the married couple was allowed to get divorce, their men and women of religion were also allowed to get married.  Thus, while the Catholic priest and nun cannot get married, the protestant reverend can.  Since Protestantism was a religious movement, to protest against the excesses or deficiencies of Catholicism, the religious virtue of disallowing sexual relation out of wedlock was still upheld.  Hence, while divorce was allowed, sex outside of marriage was not.

Along with Protestantism came Renaissance.  As renaissance is nothing but a big word for enlightenment, suddenly it dawned upon the Christian nations of the West that it was religion who threw them into backwardness.  Their progress, first made through the Greeks and later through the Romans, was stalled as soon as they embraced Christianity.  Thus they ditched religion from their daily lives and confined it only to ceremonial rituals, and the State was separated from the Church. 

As religion was separated from their daily lives, they embraced science with a possessed-like rigor, resulting in Industrial Revolution.  With the advent of Industrial Revolution, the way of life among the Christians changed considerably.  Hitherto, men used to be the bread winners.  With Industrial Revolution, women too can chart their own destiny, independent of men.  With the new found freedom and the ability to live independently of men, soon came Sexual Revolution.

Sex was no longer a necessary evil, but a thing to enjoy between the consenting adults.  As long as it is consensual, sexual intercourse is allowed, even outside of wedlock.  I used to ask my Christian classmate during my student days in the United States, as to what rationale sex is not considered wrong outside of marriage.  “It is economy, my friend,” she said, “as women are no longer tied to their men for their livelihood, so is sex no longer tied within the wedlock, for now women can live independently of men.”  As I was not in the mode to debate, but only to know, I just nodded my head.

Be as it may, as the time changes, the Christians change their outlook on sexual relation.  In the Middle Age, they considered the Muslims to be sensual and promiscuous.  But since the Christians have changed their outlook on sex, from a necessary evil to something to be enjoyed, they no longer consider the Muslims to be sensual and promiscuous where sex is concerned, but outdated and rigid.  Since Islam still frowns upon sex outside of marriage, the Muslims now belong to the ancient past, where women covered their body and face.  Furthermore, Muslims women are now considered the oppressed lots, who are not allowed to enjoy their body but remained subservient to men. 

Christianity still regards marriage to be made in Heaven, but since people are living on earth, the divorce lawyers are among the busiest men on earth.  Many consequently draw a prenuptial agreement which makes a mockery of their marriage vows; to love and to cherish until death do us part.

As for the Muslims, since they have been playing second fiddle to the Christians for a couple of centuries already, many of them forget the true teaching of Islam on marriage.  Their response has been reactionary.  Those who worship the West follow the Christians’ promiscuous footsteps, while those who are against the West sink further from what Islam allows. 

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