With Alta Coetz
Marriage as a business: the mindset of the Monoteism Religions
PART 2: How these collaborated to create the business mindset of the marriage
The Jewish culture formatted the Western culture. Doesn't matter if you believe in it or not as a religion that it's God, but many moral values comes from it.
Christianism and Islamism derives from Jewism as well. Because of this, many rituals and values can be compared and there are a lot of similarities.
Again, we are not talking about religion, but how these three thought ideas collided and created the fundamental idea for the marriage as we know it today.
Marriage has great value for the monoteism religions. It is possible to find many guidelines in their Sacred books: Tora (Jews), Bible (Christians) and Quran (Muslims). In these religions we can find the marriage as a business venture more than a love experience.
Let's see how the above all came about.
Marriage as a Business in the Jews’ culture
Rachel and Jacob is the only love story in the Bible. In their time, a man used to marry a woman from his family.
Tradition tells us that Rebekah advice her son, Jacob, to move to her brother’s land and to get married to his daugther.
Laban agreed that Jacob would work for seven years to get the right to marry Rachel. After the seven years, Leah, the older sister, was still single. Because of this, Laban decided that she should get married to Jacob first.
Jacob was not happy about this, but agreed to work another seven years to be able to get married to Rachel, his true love.
Leah gave him his fisrt children. After a period, she was not able to have anymore children and, thus, allowed him to have sexual intercourse with her slave.
Eventually, Jacob and Rachel got married, but because she was sterile, she too gave him her slave to have children with.
The children of a woman’s slave became her children by right because the slave was her property.
Later, Rachel had two children of her own.
Both these marriages were arranged marriages. The stability of society during this historical era came from the idea to get married inside the same family. The mindset for this was to remain “pure” and to keep the assets within the “clan”.
The woman’s worth solely lied in her ability to produce a lineage. When Leah and Rachel were not able to get pregnant it was their duty to give theirs slaves to him to ensure his lineage. Sexual intercourse with other woman was not a problem. But it had to be the slave from the official wife. This was not considered adultery, because the slave’s children were not bastards they were legitimate children of the owner.
Nowadays, we could compare this kind of midset, very roughly, with open relationships.
Marriage in the Christian Era
To make more sense, it is important to understand a context before to introduce marriage concept in this period.
The followers of Christ were a free movement without institutional characteristics. These people were pursued because they were seen as a threat. They used sentences like “Christ is the Lord”, “the Kingdom of Jesus”, “Jesus is the Savior”, “Jesus brings the good news”, “Jesus is the Son of God” and many others. Because Cesar was the “most important citizen”, only he could use these expressions: Cesar is the lord; the kingdom belongs to Cesar; Cesar is the savior; Cesar has the words of good news; Cesar is the son of the gods and his/her representative on the earth. This was the reason the Christians were pursued and not their faith, until the period of Constantine when the persecution ended.
Despite this, the movement grew and the Roman Empire could not stop it. Emperor Constantine understood that he was powerless and created a new religion: Christianity. He merged customs, philosophies and others greek-roman religions to accommodate this new religion.
The historian Simon Sebag Montefiore said in his book Jerusalem: the biography:
No one knows why he embraced Christianity at that moment, though, like many brutally confident men, he adored his mother, Helena, and she was an early convert […] the new faith suited Contantine’s new style of kingship.
Constantine was encouraged to find solutions for many doctrinal problems about Christ which was causing tumult. He organized the Council of Nicaea as a way to find these solutions.
The Christian leaderships developed many puritan thoughts based on Apostle Paul’s revelations. But his words were out of context. Those theologysts were not able to recognise that Paul gave this advice against the culture of the time his was living in. This made his philosophy ironic. Unfortunately, even today, many people interpret his word literally and believe it to be the absolute “truth”.
The Catholic Church’s doctrine enforced the idea of the woman being inferior to the man. Evil came from the woman as Eve was the original sinner and she tempted Adam. Part of this doctrine was to prohibit priests and nuns to get married.
Since IV Century, the Catholic Church prohibited Christians to get married to Jews. Jews were prohibited to have Christian slaves, as described by Jefrey Richards in his Book “Sex, Dissidence, Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages”. In the XII Century, marriage became a Sacrament. During the same period, the worship of Mary as mediator between God and people started. This worship was based on the Greek-Roman liturgy of the godesses of fertility, according to Dr. Francisco Aurélio Ribeiro in his book “O Convento da Penha” (Penha’s Convent). The Church started documenting these unities and marriage thus became an institution of social control orchestrated by the church. Without the church’s blessing the marriage was not legal or recognized. If a couple practiced pre-marital intercourse, the consequences inflicted upon them by the church and the community were very dire.
In the XVI Century the movement, the Council of Trent (1543–1563), was formed as a counter-Reformation against the protestantism. The revision of the Roman Catholic doctrine that occurred during this period became the guide that influenced the modern day mindset. Dr. Beatriz Nader said:
During that period, the Catholic Church was the instituion that held the ideologic power and almost monopolised religion in western society.
After the Council of Trent, woman’s status improved and she became the guardian of Christianity. The church even developed an educational program to teach the woman how to be a perfect wife.
Firstly, the woman belongs to her father. After that, she belongs to her husband and from then on she is totally devoted to her children. She is primarily responsible for the well-being, success and prosper of her family. Marriage became an institution to control sexual and physical desires and its only ultimate goal was to procriate.
Marriage in the Arab culture
Marriage in the arabic culture follows the customs of the Arabic Peninsula. There are many similarities to the Jewish customs.
It is mandatory for a man to get married and this mindset still remains today. He can get married at very young age (18) but should not be unmarried after the age of 30. This is considered to be dishonourable to the family. The moments he gets married he is considered to be an adult (man). Until then he is remains a “teenager”.
When an Arab man falls in love with a woman, he asks his mother to make contact with the family of the woman he loves. Mothers are responsible for this negotiations.
An Arab man told me once that many get married only to have his lineage. If a woman cannot fall pregnant, he is allowed by his culture and religion to marry a second wife. But the first must give permition and accept the second one. It is dishonour for a man to be childless.
In extreme cases, a man would refuse to say his wife’s name in public. The reason for this is that he considers her his property and thus his asset. In the previews centuries, Nomades were known to caputure other tribes’ women. This is one of the reasons the women wear black formless attire and covered their hair and faces to make them shapeless and unrecognisable as woman.
It is possible to find the business mindset amongst these three cultures: Jewish, Christian and Arabic. The ancient mindset remains until the 21th century. Actual culture is a mixer of everything in the past: official lineage, agreement amongst families, women’s possession and bodily control. The concept of love is tertiary to the first two factors.
This mindset is also found in the Eastern religious cultures today. In India most people are linked through arranged marriage. A man told me when he arrived at his house in India for a vacation, his father introduced him to his future wife (whom he just saw for the first time) and announced that they will be married within the next month. His father was merely following the rules of society and was not necessarily wanting his son to get married. Two years later they got divorced. This happened between 2015 and 2017.
Another incident happened in Bangladesh. A man met his wife only on the day he got married. And this happend in 2017.
Love is part of modern society. A post Romeo and Juliet era. Shakespeare’s play was criticised for exposing this kind of unity between two people. This play reflected the changing mindset of society towards a more accepting attitude of the “love” concept.