Does religion corrupt marriage?

A friend offers dissent against my comments:

You can’t just take a case example from the Mormon cult and use it to show the perversity of ALL religious attitudes to marriage.

“[Y]ou surely have to love and commit to your partner for their own sake entirely.” – Absolutely, which is why the idea that to worship God diminishes humanity is a false one. Devotion to God ought to grow proportionately to faith in humanity; God is so intimately bound up with Creation that by enjoying Creation to the full, you’re doing what God wants anyway… so the problem is separating God off from the world and humanity, and making him an object of devotion as something DISTINCT in his own right. I don’t see marriage as a “Sacrament” in the way the Church would, but I see no problem with commending your loving relationship AS a means to “worship” God (worship having a broader meaning than prostration and incense in church, etc.). Bad example, but if you commend the chef for cooking the meal you ate on an anniversary meal, is the chef thereby invading the relationship?

I apologise for the generality of my remarks. I knew better than to suggest that the idea of marriage as a relationship overseen by a divine dangler of carrots and sticks had to be held by all religious persons. But I do suspect that this is a view held by more theists than we’d like to think.

The chef example is a great one. And this broader point – about the ability we have to value something intrinsically, but also thereby for the sake of something else – is certainly true, and I should have seen its relevance here. It sounds like a paradox, but consider how we view activities like playing golf. Do we say that the man taking the final step of putting the ball into the hole does so for the sake of playing golf? Well, in a sense. But it’s not like in putting the ball, that leads to or causes him to be playing the game. It seems more like putting the ball just is playing golf. The same goes for watching films. If you ask me why I bother and I say it makes me happy, obviously that doesn’t mean I’m perverting the movie-going experience by only valuing it as a means. The point is that I watch films for the sake of happiness, but only in the sense that films simply do make me happy.

Similarly, I guess you could easily hold a view of God according to which praise and devotion is best served not by consciously seeking the divine out, but by focusing entirely on humanity and thereby expressing your love indirectly. And this form of love for God seems purer. And it would not, of course, mean you suffer from schizophrenia. It would still be perfectly consistent with loving your wife or husband absolutely.


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