The devolution of the law from faith has also passed on, over time, the oversight of marriage from the priesthood to the government.
Governments in this day and age including in the United States, the freest in the free world where ignorance of the law can be a crime when proven guilty of that ignorance by those less ignorant of it, oversee and control conjugal unions by the letter of the law and varying in its spirit according to the sentiments of bored judges in lower, local courts on government salaries who feel that their sense of self-importance is on the line on any given working day.
The judges perceive a sense of an imaginary collective social sentiment in adjudicating the individual marital lives of their constituents especially when elected. Marital arrangements, a matter of culture, of an implicit and common sense of shared responsibility to a commitment to certain social mores, become politicized through the administration of the legal code.
Faith has taken a secondary role in secular societies because the law has been divorced from the Church. Blessing by a representative of God has become optional, desiccating responsibility from marriage in preference for the nostalgia of the honeymoon. The government’s marriage certificate is the new canon of marital libertinism.
If it takes a tribe to make or break a marriage, either through faith or the law, it takes a village to raise or ruin a child. Children are pure public goods. They are non-rival and non-exclusive. A family bearing and raising a child does not preclude another from doing so, and sometimes the same child because of reproductive technology and adoptions. And some members of the society cannot prevent others from procreating. Children are, therefore, public responsibility, and hence, ultimately the responsibility of the law.
In any marriage, the persons involved are pronounced by law to be married, may beget and tend to children and may acquire property. When they decide to not live with each other, the government decides how they ought not to live with each other – whether they can live under the same roof to prove to be legally separated, did they continue to engage in sexual activity after separation whether living under the same roof or not, for how long they ought to wait before breaking the marriage in the hope of reconciliation, should they see counselors, is mediation necessary, and did they get back together outside of marriage after divorce.
The divorce court becomes the tribe, at a price, for the purpose of sustaining divorce lawyers despite (and causing) the distress of those dividing. Divorces are not granted until child custody and property issues are settled, also by the judges, if not already done out of their sight and knowledge.
Marriage, the oldest social more, is a matter of faith, and is governed by the First Amendment in the United States Constitution, including no government role either in permitting or precluding betrothals and marriages upon puberty, and likewise, polygamy and polyandry. Any conjugal activity outside of marriage (with the exception of prostitution, male and female) is a matter for the individuals involved, not either the faith or the law.
People’s bedrooms are their own. For their God or for their own conscience. For the eye of providence. No Strings Attached (NSA) or Marriage by faith, heterosexual or homosexual, is how the world always has been, but for the prurient and unconstitutional (Amendment 4 violation) insolence of the peeping-eye of the National Security Agency (the other NSA) as if the people are paying their government and government workers to watch over their pursuit of happiness.
There is no such thing as the economics of marriage (with due respect to Gary Becker of the University of Chicago) because prescribing the financial responsibility of one spouse for another when all men and women must be educated by law at least up to high school in the United States is both intrusive and suggestive of the failure of governance. Only property, per the pertinent property rights (including family names as brands with tangible brand value), NSA or marriage by faith, is a matter for the law.
Individuals, in any society, add to the life of the society. We are all both unique and akin to each other. The society does not live the life of the individual. Happiness, NSA or marriage by faith, is to each his or her own.
The government’s role is only in the protection of the society’s young as a safety net for the parent(s) and in ensuring property rights, NSA or marriage by faith.