Would Arranged Marriage Work For Pagan Communities?

Many of you probably already hate this idea, just from the title. Let me save you some time: I know that you hate it and I know why you hate it. I already know that most Pagans do not share the views I’m expressing here, and I don’t care. Now that that is out of the way…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of family and continuity in Pagan communities and culture. We tend to base our communities on people who are religiously similar to us, but who rarely have a deeper connection. It is one reason why our communities are so easily fractured. We don’t have to rely on each other for basic services (in fact we tend to not patronize each others businesses), we don’t have to rely on each for basic social needs, we aren’t equally invested in communal religious/cultural property, and we aren’t bound to each other by family ties. The individual is paramount, and other people are expendable.

To say that family was important to the ancients is practically an understatement. Family was everything, both the family you were born into, and the family you adopted. The fact that it was fluid didn’t demean its importance. Divorce happened. Adoption happened, including the adoption of adults. Same-sex relationships weren’t exempt from this concept of family, as most strikingly exemplified by Hadrian and Antinous. Family was about many kinds of temporal support, and about continuity. Whether you are heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous, monogamous, have 9 children or choose to remain childless, etc.., temporal support and continuity are still vital to your well-being.

Maybe one of the best examples of this is the drag community. Older drag queens adopt younger drag queens and teach them the craft, and they form drag families. If you follow RuPaul’s Drag Race you may remember Willam feeling that she was missing out because she was solitary, and didn’t have a drag family. There were things about drag culture and etiquette she was unaware of, but also she was missing out on the love and support from her fellow queens.

I’m 30. I ain’t old and I ain’t young. I’m firmly in that stage of adulthood known as “old enough to know better and too young to act better.” I don’t hang out in bars anymore. In fact, I spent yesterday talking to two old friends who don’t hang out in bars anymore either. None of us stay up late like we used to. None of us drink like we used to. A lot of my friends have settled down, some even have committed relationships and children. We used to hang out all the time, because bar culture was what we had. Without that, we didn’t have a good frame of reference for hanging out. We don’t attend church, we work hard, pay our bills, and try to build a comfortable life. Now we drink coffee and stay at home watching Netflix. We lack culture, and we lack a sense of family.

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One of my friends is a really awesome lesbian woman who has trouble meeting people. She doesn’t want to hang out in bars anymore, she doesn’t want to drink, and she doesn’t want the crazy bar scene drama. But around here, most lesbians her age hang out in bars, drink, and are suffused with drama. She’s looking for something real that lasts, and not just something for tonight. She’s a bit frustrated because she doesn’t have a culture that supports finding what she needs when it comes to relationships and family.

I feel for her dilemma. Pagan communities are barely supportive of existing families, much less able to encourage and support the creation of new families. There is an idea that wanting to be with someone who shares your core religious/ethical values is somehow wrong, and that you should be happy to love anyone who comes down the pike for however long it suits them to be loved. An idea that continuity is bad when it involves children, and somewhat suspicious when it comes to adults. This is partly because the majority of our communities are made up of solitary eclectics with beliefs so personal and individualized that they couldn’t pass them on if they tried.

When you look at other religious cultures who have survived over the millennia, including polytheistic cultures, you find that the process of creating, expanding and strengthening family was extremely important. Like anything else, these traditional processes could be, and sometimes still are, used to abuse and harm. Just as with a knife that can both slice bread and cut flesh, we don’t simply abandon traditional things because they have the potential to be used to harm. We already work positively with elements that could be used to harm in the wrong hands: divination, initiation, magic, etc…

Matchmaking, arranged marriages and dating within your community are not bad things in and of themselves. They are cultural tools that can be used to create healthier families and communities. Being ill I’ve recently rewatched some of my favorite “chick flicks,” and among them were Bride and Prejudice, Arranged, and First Wives Club. The first two films tackle the concept of arranged marriages in very different ways, but both emphasize the benefits of having your family and friends participate in the process of finding a partner. The last film has nothing to do with arranged marriage or matchmaking, but has a really significant plot point in which Stockard Channing’s character expresses regret that she lost the presence and support of her friends as much as she regrets the dissolution of her marriage. There is a sense that their respective marriages dissolved the women’s sense of community and worth, and that rather building marriages on the foundation of their community and support system, they instead found themselves isolated.

Marriages tend to dissolve because people want different things. One person wants children, and the other doesn’t. One person is religiously active, and the other person isn’t. One person wants monogamy, and the other person doesn’t. One person wants to put down roots, the other wants to move. One person wants to work things out, the other is eager to move on.

Modern dating methods tries to resolve these conflicts in strange ways. One is finding someone with common interests, as if both people being a fan of Family Guy is a good predictor of success. You have the bar scene, where you can find someone who likes beer and trivia. You have sites like OkCupid which tend to focus on sexual preferences and more casual relationships. You have sites like eHarmony which lumps all religious people together regardless of profile settings, as if an Orthodox Jewish person and an Episcopalian are somehow interchangeable. Most of these methods shy away from the concept of marriage, long-term commitment, family, and children.

Traditional dating methods tend to focus on specific cultural and family-oriented goals. Building a stable household environment for all partners. Expanding and enhancing existing family relationships (i.e. gaining a daughter-in-law, having/adopting children). Passing on particular religious and cultural values. Creating a new family hub for religious and secular celebrations. Creating a strong relationships that can help to support and nurture both the previous and future generations.

So, how could this work for Pagan communities? Let’s looks at some hypothetical examples.

Crow is a gay male Wiccan. He wants a monogamous marriage and children, and to create a stable household environment where family and friends can gather to celebrate the Wheel of the Year. Sure, he wants a nice guy who likes the things he likes and is sexually compatible, but he’s not interested in getting involved with a nice guy who doesn’t want the same things he wants. Services like Grindr and ManHunt aren’t going to help him find someone. But Crow is lucky enough to have Wiccan friends who know him well and are like family. They know what he’s looking for and put out some feelers. When they meet guys who seem to have some potential they make a point to find out if they are interested in marriage and kids. It takes a little while, and Crow goes through some bad dates, but eventually he finds a husband who wants what he wants and who is loved and accepted by Crow’s current support family of friends. They become a stable hub for religious celebrations and are instrumental in bringing children’s activities into Sabbat celebrations.

***

Mary can’t have children of her own for medical reasons. She’s unable to bear children and unable to adopt because of her medical issues. She’s also a bit of an introvert, and needs her space. Despite this, she does want family, and she wants children in her life. Mary is a Heathen, and she’s a bit at a loss as to how to have the family she longs for. She lets some close friends from her kindred know of her quandry, and they discretely look for options and opportunities for Mary. One of her friend’s happens to have a sister who is also Heathen, and a couple in her kindred are interested in bringing another wife into their marriage, but they already have three children, and don’t really want more. Introductions are arranged. Visits are made each way. Everything clicks. He’s attracted to her, she’s attracted to him, the wife likes her and so do the kids. Mary still has a supportive kindred, the husband she wants without having him 24/7, children in her life, and the joy of a sister-wife.

***

Bill is a heterosexual Roman polytheist. He’s a little embarrassed, because he really wants a wife who is interested in being a homemaker and raising children in religio Romana with him. He’s liberal in outlook and politics, so he feels it is somehow anti-feminist to want a wife and kids, and he feels weird about bringing up marriage and family with women he dates. He’s not a “barefoot and pregnant” misogynist, and he doesn’t want to come off as a creeper who stalks Vesta devotees. So he talks to an elder in his community about how to go about dating. She happens to know women who have confided the same desires to her, and who feel it is also un-feminist to state those desires. So she quietly sets up some dates where both parties are completely aware of the other person’s goals for family and marriage before they even meet. Some go really badly. One is ok. Not great, not bad, just ok. They have different interests when it comes to entertainment and cuisine. He likes horror films and Mexican food, she prefers Italian dishes and comedies. They decide to keep dating even though there isn’t much spark just to see if something develops. Despite their differences they come to admire each others core values. They get excited about building a life together and begin to fall in love. They marry, she works freelance from home, and they raise kids with the virtues they hold dear.

***

Raven is a lesbian woman that doesn’t want kids. She is heavily involved in teaching Goddess spirituality. She needs a life partner who is supportive of her spiritual and community work. Not being very good at dating, she asks her sister, her brother, her mother and close friends for help. They hold a series of dinners with Raven to discuss what she wants and needs in a life partner. Then they consult among themselves, and they can think of three women in Raven’s religious community who might be a good match. They talk to each of the women informally to get an idea of what they want and what they think of Raven. They find that one of these women not only wants the same things as Raven, but has a bit of a crush on her. They arrange a few dinners where she and Raven are sat next to each other, and gentle nudges are given in both directions. It’s a good match. Raven would have considered this woman out of her league and unapproachable, and is thrilled when they find themselves falling in love. They marry, have a gazillion cats, and become a cornerstone of their spiritual community for decades.

You could probably think up other examples: a bisexual male couple who are looking for a woman to raise children with in the Reclaiming tradition. The important thing is that in each of these instances the person’s friends, family and community were supportive and active in the process of creating family and forming stable marriages. These people find that they can rely on their community to help them. Similar processes happen in other religious communities all the time.

There are some very good reasons that matchmaking, arranged marriage and traditional dating methods would work well for Pagan communities:

  1. Pagan dating sites tend to be geared towards kink, BDSM, sex magick, casual dating/sex, and goth communities rather than marriage/commitment oriented.
  2. Saying you’ve been claimed by Odin tends to not make for successful speed dating.
  3. That moment when you have explain that you won’t convert to Judaism for your potential inlaws.
  4. There aren’t many of us, so finding someone who share our religious values (if not our beliefs precisely) through modern methods is difficult if not impossible.
  5. We love having a role in our community. Matchmaker is role some of us would revel in, and it’s a role many elders would love because it would keep them active in the lives of younger Pagans.
  6. It creates a culture that respects and embraces multi-generational religious community.
  7. It provides a safe, value-based way to meet people (I’d imagine date-rape is less likely to happen if your whole coven is involved with your dating life).
  8. It helps us find partners who are actually interested in creating the same kind of life we are, rather than us dating someone cute only to find they think marriage is archaic and pointless.
  9. It shifts our community focus away from individual growth to building relationships.
  10. Marriage, children, adopting people as family, and encouraging the creation of family, nuclear and extended, reinforces the continuity of our religions and culture as something relevant and needful in the future.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. What are yours?

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Brian Rush

    Well, my first thought is that you seem to be talking about something voluntary on the part of the couple. That being the case, you don’t mean arranged marriage, which in traditional pre-industrial societies was done with or without the permission of the main participants — or at least of young women. (Sometimes involuntarily on the part of males, too, but ALWAYS on the part of females.)

    A better word might be “assisted marriage,” maybe? And don’t friends help out with that anyway? Maybe you’re suggesting we should help each other out more, not just with relationships but in general?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       Nope. Arranged marriage doesn’t mean the couple have no choice. It means the family/friends take an active role in arranging a match.

      • Carey Moore

        Not universally.  In some cultures, it is breaking the rules for the couple to assert their choice, because they by tradition don’t have that authority.  I might call this “arranged dating”, if it were up to me (which it’s not, because it’s your blog).  =)

        Also, I’m very delighted that OK Cupid will let you select “My partner should share my religious beliefs and it’s very important to me” as an option.  You have to dig through a lot of questions to find it, but it does affect the search filter once it’s there.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

           Universally, not all blondes have brown eyes.

  • sunfell

    I’ve always hated dating with the fire of a thousand suns. I’ve never been successful at it, and just the word ‘date’ makes me shudder in horror. And forget bars. I hate the noise, the fakeness, and the overstimulation. Dating sites do not accomodate people like me, either.

    But while I do not feel that I am cut out for a relationship that involves anyone living under my roof (it’s an Aspie thing), I do still find myself yearning for community. I don’t really care about the nitpicks of ritual any more, and am happily agnostic. But if there were a community that didn’t require that I swear some hoary oath to belong, I’d do so in a heartbeat.

    If I had the means, I would create a business that would help foster community: a laid back coffee shop/lounge. Nothing overtly Pagan, but a nice place to eat, drink (non-alcoholic beverages) visit, and enjoy.

  • sunflwrmoonbeam

    I think some of your ideas are interesting, but honestly I have a hard time getting past the phrase “arranged marriage.” Yes, I know you addressed this in your first paragraph, but I’ve seen how arranged marriage shakes out. It usually involves coercion if not outright force and the idea that individuals are interchangeable. My best friend, a Hindu with a US citizenship, was forced into an arranged marriage a few years ago. At one point before the wedding her fiance expressed frustration with her, wishing she had certain qualities more like one of their friends. My friend responded “so why don’t you marry her then?” 

    There was no good answer. 
    I mention this because too often I’ve seen people who don’t know any better touting the benefits of arranged marriage. I think you do understand the problems there, but many of your readers probably don’t. I think matchmaking is a much better term, and better fits what you’re describing. 

  • http://www.groveofthelion.com/ Adrian Monogue

    I dont think so. People tried that with my brother and I.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Seems to me, from what you say causes most marriages to end, that actual pre-marriage counseling/evaluations by the clergy performing the ceremony (which leads to what we expect our clergy to be able to do, I guess) would solve some of the problems. 

    But when it comes to ‘fixing people up with others’ …. who do you trust for that, and why?  Many of Our elders, let alone our friends, have no great personal history of successfully selecting their own spouses.  It doesn’t seem reasonable to think they’d be better able to pick whose good for you. 

    I once suggested color-coded symbols on one’s festival/conference name tag, indicating if one was Looking, and what one was looking for – man, woman, SO, OSO, festival frolic, etc. 

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    I see two separate issues here:  matchmaking and family bonds. 

    Family bonds have been killed (or at least seriously damaged) by the mainstream society elevating individual autonomy to the greatest good, and by conservative society emphasizing the “nuclear family” at the expense of the extended family.  We still need those extended families, so we form them through interest groups (religious, sexual, recreational) and through work relationships.  But those bonds are far weaker (i.e. – easier to abandon when they’re no longer convenient) than the bonds of blood and marriage. 

    The only thing that will strengthen those bonds is commitment and time.

    Matchmaking can be helpful, but it requires those being matched to want to be matched, and to be realistic about what it takes to build a successful long term relationship.

    My marriage is the product of two matchmaking mothers who went to the same church and had adult children of roughly the same age who they thought were unmarriable.  25 years later, it’s still a very successful and fulfilling partnership.  Our relationship is too close for some and too distant for others, but it works for us.

    • Cara

      John – do you mind if I quote you?  I am filing things away fro when I start back on my book and what you said is exactly what took me way longer to dance around re: modern US culture and family.

      • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

        I’d be honored – thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

    First I want to say, I haven’t read it yet, but I love being married, and will read it here in a sec.
    Arranged marriage is certainly not new in Pagan communities… here in Atlanta anyway.  Mine was informally arranged, and we are quite happy with it for over 20 years now.  I’ve known others here that were successfully arranged.  So, its not that it doesn’t work, but its *how* does it work.Now onto the article.

  • David Pollard

    Arranged marriages has traditionally meant that your parent pick (sometimes with professional help) your spouse. You may (or may not) get a veto, depending on the culture. Often this will occur before you reach puberty, so that “dating” in the Western sense is never really an option the table. Outside of the US, this has been how the vast majority of Pagan marriages have happened.

    What you’re describing is a matchmaking service. Not a bad idea, but not the same thing as an arranged marriage. One could also wonder what a Pagan version of eHarmony would be like…

  • Dagaz

    I’ve been thinking about this myself for the last year or two.  I think arranged marriage might very well be a reasonable alternative to the chaos we have now and the enormous failure rate of relationships formed under our current practices.  Almost everyone has multiple failed relationships in their past, and the divorce rate is still hovering around 50%, so MOST relationships fail.  Obviously, we’re doing something wrong.  The problem is that people are not equipped to make good choices about
    relationships on their own — but we would be drawing matchmakers from
    the same pool of ill-equipped people who can’t choose for themselves, and entrust them with other people’s marriages. 

    Many people today have strange ideas and pet theories about the sexes and the way relationships work that are not supported by evidence.  Many also have poor moral reasoning, poor relationship skills, and emotional problems of varying degrees of seriousness that would cloud their judgment.  So while I like the idea of arranged marriage as an alternative that *might* produce more stable marriages, I don’t see how it could be implemented.  If we actually had enough well-educated, emotionally healthy people to act as matchmakers and make it work, wouldn’t we have what we need for people to make better choices for themselves, without the need for a third party to arrange marriages?  Ultimately, I think the solution to the problem of marriage/relationship failure is to educate people and to prevent and treat emotional problems.  (And by “preventing” emotional problems, I mean primarily preventing the child abuse which causes them, which is obviously a stubborn problem that is not easy to deal with.)

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      This.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

    Wow!!  I was ready to SLAM this article, based solely on the title… starting with “love is NOT a contract”, “…freedom of choice…”, “blah, blah, blah…”,  then I read it.
     Glad I did! You bring up many good points, Star. I think I may like this idea. It reminds me of a conversation with a Sikh friend who had been married twice, both arranged, but both times he was eagerly involved in the process, much the same as the scenarios explained here. Totally changed my view of what I thought was a tyrannical, archaic belief. 
    Thank you for reminding me that my way isn’t the only… or even the best, way.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       Hence my opening comment! XD

  • kenneth

    It’s not a ridiculous idea at all. I think it’s already happening informally at some level. As long as those involved are of the age of consent, it shouldn’t have the onus of “arranged marriage” as we usually think of it. Most people these days have no interest in marriage until their mid to late 20s anyway. It could be a very good resource for pagan communities, and we ought to also look at other potential benefits of intentional communities – crafting traditions to look after our own elders etc. 

    The real challenge will come in trying to mesh these concepts with the radical individualism that rules our society. Getting people to really participate in and contribute to tribal structures of life requires a degree of tribalism, and a degree of physical and cultural insularity. It requires something akin to the closed societies you find in Hasidic Jewish communities or the Amish or recent immigrant communities. Those sorts of societies offer some wonderful support structures, but they’re perpetuated by strong expectations of its members, and a fair amount of social pressure and authority. It’s hard to see how most contemporary pagans would get to this level, given that we’re some of the most ardent individualists around, on average. On the other hand, we do have some powerful concepts of interconectedness and sustainable living. 

  • GOPagan


    it is somehow anti-feminist to want a wife and kids”

    Really? Count me as an anti-feminist then.

    Within the Heathen community, this doesn’t seem to me to be a problem, because on the whole Heathens tend to be much more family oriented (Asatru groups aren’t called “kindreds” for nothing). At many Heathen gatherings, you’ll see whole families, complete with a passel of kids in tow; I’d be willing to wager that the number of Heathens who want to remain child-free is significantly less than the number of Wiccans or other neo-Pagans. 

    That, I think, might make the issue of meeting someone for marriage a little easier; when the community has a larger percentage of married couples and families actively involved in specifically Heathen gatherings, events, get-togethers, etc. one gets (perhaps subconscious) reinforcement in that direction.

  • http://wyrdmeginthew.blogspot.com/ Siegfried Goodfellow

    That 50% of relationships end (assuming these statistics are correct) is not a sign of failure but of vitality.It means modern people won’t put up with stagnation anymore. True, it can also be a sign of the disposable culture, but let’s be two-sided here, lest we become the reactionaries we pagans too often become. Something is not better simply because it is “traditional”, “long-lasting”, etc. The class system of the last 6000 years has been pretty long-lasting and it needs to be abolished. No one is going to choose my mate for me. No one. Fuck that. I stand with the Cathars and the practitioners of Courtly Love. Arranged marriage needs to be destroyed as a tradition. If you want to “hook people up”, fine, but fuck all the pressure and conformity of arranged marriages. Seriously. This is the 21st century.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      The class system works pretty well, or it did, historically.

      I have had more than 2 (romantic) relationships in my life.  As such, the statistical majority of my relationships have ended/failed. It wasn’t stagnation that caused those failures, it was me (almost always).

      Sure, not everything long lasting is good (nuclear fall out being a nice example), but you can’t build a community without long lasting bonds.

      • http://wyrdmeginthew.blogspot.com/ Siegfried Goodfellow

         The class system does work pretty well. It works pretty well at suppressing most of the people, in particular those who do the work.

        Why would community have to be built out of lasting marriage bonds? People can continue to relate to each other at the level of community whether or not they are married.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           I didn’t say marriage bonds, did I?

          I said:

          “you can’t build a community without long lasting bonds.”

          Which is true to the point of being self evident.

          Marriage is simply one type of bond (hopefully long lasting) and the one up for discussion on this topic.

          You think that only some do the work? Try adjusting your perceptions. Work comes in lots of different flavours.
          Also, I did add a qualifier to my assertion – that it worked well historically.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “Would arranged marriages work for Pagan communities?”
    Yes.

    But how?
    With difficulty, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

    I think arranged marriages are a very good idea in many ways. I would say, however, that the most important factor is choice.

    I have two boys. Say I wanted to arrange a bride for each of them. I would look for girls (I’m being heteronormative here, my boys are too young to have a sexual preference that I’m aware of)  that would be suited to them (no point in arranging an incompatible marriage), along with families that would accept my boys into the fold (as the missus and I would do with their daughter).

    I would then get the boys and the girls to spend time together, courting. Once they know each other, we (the parents) would give them the choice as to whether the marriages that had been arranged would actually occur.

    The key difference between arranging and forcing a marriage.

    Just to ramp up a bit of controversy, and to throw in a tangent:

    “the majority of our communities are made up of solitary eclectics with
    beliefs so personal and individualized that they couldn’t pass them on
    if they tried.”

    Does it seem that this is stifling Paganism and, thus, Pagan communities?

    • http://sinnsreachdlife.com/ Dáire Hobbs

      “Does it seem that this is stifling Paganism and, thus, Pagan communities?”

      Absolutely! Whether or not it is stifling Paganism I suppose depends on one’s definition of Paganism (Neo- vs. Recon, spiritual vs. religious, etc.). However, it is absolutely stifling, or outright preventing, communities. Community requires commonality of belief (not uniformity necessarily) and direct, purposeful relationships. “Solitary” and “eclectic” are antithetic to this. Covens, Kindreds, Clans, etc. can certainly be communities. The best that hardcore eclectics can hope for I fear is a social club, or maybe congregation. 

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         Congregation, used in a religious context, is a form of community, to me.

        I was raised in a very (Anglican) Christian household and the sense of community within the congregation was extremely strong. Everyone knew everyone, they had numerous social events throughout the year as well as weekly mass.

        The model works very well at combining religion and community.

        Of course, I can say that as my family were the ‘lynchpin’ of the community – stepfather being the priest – which gives a somewhat biased view of how this can work.

  • http://glassrobin.blogspot.com/ Robin

    I think that it would be wonderful to have somebody who you know and trust to help you find a partner. I’m am not sure about the arranged marriage part, it is a concept that I am unfamiliar with. However, I would be on board with a Matchmaker that could set you up with potential partners. And even if you didn’t find love, you might meet somebody who become a good friend.

  • http://sinnsreachdlife.com/ Dáire Hobbs

    I really like the idea of getting one’s religious community involved in the dating, and hopefully matchmaking, process. The biggest obstacle I see with the idea is that local groups of people that share that kind of trust are few and far between. 

    I really wish there was a resource for putting family and commitment oriented Pagans together with like others. Families (and I mean committed households, not any particular sexual, gender or procreative requirement) are definitely a minority within Paganism. I know that I have had a really hard time finding other families, let alone ones that share similar religious views to my own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

    Having actually talked to real live people from India about this subject, and knowing that it is a voluntary system, I definitely agree that what Star describes constitutes “arranged marriage” by the definition of at least one culture that practices it.  Sadly, the reactions here so far make it clear that we’re gonna hafta call it something else if we ever want Neo-Pagans to even consider it.

    I’d definitely like to see more  family-centered community in general, and I’m glad that so many of my Grovemates are in families that practice at home as well as in our group.  Being utterly unmarriageable myself, though, I don’t know if I have any helpful advice as to how to make that happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1197543165 Eric Devries

    While I certainly don’t support anyone getting coerced into a partnership with our divorce rate nearing 50% and the worldwide arranged marriage divorce rate near 6% it’s hard to make like there aren’t positive aspects to it. Yeah, the heart wants what the heart wants but the heart apparently  isn’t all that bright.

    • sunflwrmoonbeam

      Just because a couple doesn’t divorce doesn’t mean they have a good marriage. I have to wonder how many of those 94% are abusive. I read a July 2006 India Today article on spousal rape that claimed 90% of Indian husbands rape their wives. 

      I happen to think they need a much higher divorce rate. 

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       I am of the conviction that most relationships are founded on lust and fear, not ‘the heart’ or love/affection.

    • M.A.

      Hey, in my experience the heart is Mensa-level intelligent next to, say, the naughty bits that drive so many relationships, at least in the beginning.

  • LaurelhurstLiberal

    Pagan matchmaking would be great. Look at how the Jewish shad chan works. Arranged marriages usually thrive where marriage represents an arrangement between families or clans and there’s lots of social pressure to go along with the system.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Thank you for writing this at a time that is especially poignant for me, Star!  :)

    I was just at an LGBT Pagan Meet-Up in Seattle last night, which went well, and I saw lots of folks I don’t get to see very often; but, I was upset, because one of the main reasons I went was because there was someone who RSVPd to it that I was keen to meet and put feelers out on, and he wasn’t there.  Drat.  I still had a good time…

    But, as I was getting the mail after I got back, I saw my next-door-neighbor, who is in a long-term gay marriage.  I was at a “Gay-la” at their house recently, and was the youngest person there, and one of few who was single; several of them pretty much said “We need to get you a boyfriend.”  I’m kind of shuddering at the thought of it…but, I also do appreciate the help.  Queer people doing the reconnaissance might work better than the “Oh, I know someone who’s gay!” thing that far too many of my straight friends have done over the years, with the results that I meet so-and-so and they’re utterly revolting to me for various reasons…

    The problem I’m also having, though, is that whoever I end up with is going to have to know about and be all right with my very long-term and dedicated commitment to Antinous and other deities…and, I’m not entirely sure that the local gay caucus, as it were (“cock-us”?), will be able to find someone who would respect or understand that very important part of my life.  (Or my gender peculiarities, etc.)  Which is why I have hopes for the LGBT Pagan meet-up, etc.  Certainly, OKStupid has not really done me many favors over the years, and will likely continue not to…I may actually take the initiative now and erase my profile and just eliminate it from my mental space.

    I heard a “building tribal communities” presentation at PantheaCon ’08, which was wonderful, and the Israelite polytheist who presented it talked about arranged marriages, and I was so intrigued by it, and kind of thought, “Yes, that might make a lot of things easier.”  So, well done for taking the initiative on this fascinating topic!  (And for mentioning Hadrian, Antinous, and their very queer family, which was quite extended and had multiple mothers involved, too!)

  • Kendrick Crystal

    The reason why we have such a high divorce rate is because marriage requires emotional maturity and realistic expectations, two areas that many Americans lack.  It has nothing to do with who ultimately chooses.  My mother’s pick for me or my best friends’ pick for me would be equally horrifying.  Secondarily, why swing from one extreme to the other?  What is it with the grass is greener mentality of late?  Just because modern society is sucky right now doesn’t mean we should build a society like the iron age.  We’re so focused on extremes.  Why can’t anyone talk about solutions that lean more to moderation?  There are more than two roads after all.  And here’s some statistics on abuse in India that practices actual arranged marriage, not matchmaking:  http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=56501

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       In a lot of cultures that practice arranged marriages, the marriage is not just about the two people getting married, but the larger community. This means that marriage failure will be lower, because it isn’t quite as selfish.

      It is not about trying to recreate an ‘iron age society’, but about learning from history. Not just the mistakes, but also the successes.


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