Episode:Marriage and Family—The Institutions (Part 2)

From Symmetry of Soul

The ancients mistrusted love and promises, so a marriage was secured by a deposit—the purchase price of the wife. But eventually, to avoid the appearance of selling their daughters, fathers offset this price with presents—the bride’s dowry. Primitive man also turned to priests and magic for insurance protection against marriage failure, and this movement culminated directly in modern church weddings.

Listen to the broadcast

Keywords: Urantia, Marriage, Purchase, Dowry, Weddings

Note: Brad Garner succeeded Ann Garner as co-host as of this episode.

Summary by Kermit

Post Review Commentary

We discussed the importance again, of challenging ourselves to attempt to understand the revelators’ perspective as we reflect upon the historical information in this material. When they point to the white and Polynesian matings in the Pitcairn experiment as having “…worked out well”, they are referring to the potentials inherent in an event of situation. Oftentimes the passage of time is required for positive potentials to manifest positive outcomes. Time and again in our study of both marriage and family as well as the legacy of the Melchizedek teachings, we are asked to challenge ourselves to withhold judgment of events or circumstances in the moment as being good or bad relative to eternity. A perfect example of this can be found with the Lucifer rebellion. Even today, the residue of the rebellion continues to confront us. Yet, we are told that “The Melchizedeks now teach that the good resulting from the Satania rebellion is more than a thousand times the sum of all the evil.” [54:6.6]. Can we view this material about the relationship between men and women in an evolutionary context that is “good”, rather than judging the circumstances of the moment as an endpoint that is inadequate?

83:3. Purchase and Dowry

The first paragraph of this section demonstrates how the property mores served to stabilize the marriage institution. The forfeiture of the wife purchase price in the event of divorce or desertion was an incentive to the continuity of the marriage. Man, being a material creature, requires a material motivation to conserve marriage. Branding a purchased wife, while seemingly barbaric was a materially pragmatic practice which helped sustain marriage. Our spiritually energized consciousness of today has us hyper-idealistic, which in turn compels us to attempt to rectify that which is less than ideal. Such impatience causes us to reject the slower evolutionary processes in favor of more immediate and revolutionary measures. We also have discussed the appearance of suddenlies in the evolutionary stream and our tendency to misinterpret them as divine intervention rather than the outcome of accumulated gradual incremental circumstances. Remember, spiritual consciousness is innately impatient with no sense of time.

We are reminded that every inhabited world progresses through these rugged evolutionary stages. Because of Urantia’s double deficit these stages are protracted. The wife purchase practices described by the revelators suggest progress, as the wife’s property status became non-transferable, and services became an acceptable substitute for cash in securing a wife. Likewise is the partial progress of evolutionary advances seen in the women’s suffrage movement and the abolition of slavery. It is a major misapplication of our mere spiritual consciousness to assess situations in front of us in temporal terms rather than eternal ones. So as wife purchase was gradually replaced by a dowry, we can detect the slow but incremental progress of civilization.

A caller to the show pointed out the sequential nature of the evolutionary process. The progress of the Supreme requires the actualization of the potentials of the current stage of development. Failure to actualize the potentials of the moment retards the Supreme. The timelessness of spiritual consciousness draws our focus to the consummation of the ideal in some imagined future. Rather we might see our duty to actualize those potentials that exist currently instead of vainly hoping for the future.

Our caller also brought up the issue of self assertion versus personality purposing. Unless the animal- origin material adjutant self is mastered and directed by personality, such an unbridled consciousness will assert itself. We are to use personality to direct such an asserting self towards the cosmos.

The transition from wife purchase to dowry shows evidence of increased expression of the ideals of greater equality between men and women. The “reality of the marriage bond”, and in the case of desertion by either party, the disposition of the children according to whether the wife were purchased or not, demonstrate the evolution of the mores beyond considerations of property.

83:4. The Wedding Ceremony

The evolution of the wedding ceremony stems from the early importance of the community, not just the individuals involved. Magic, ritual and ceremony surrounded the entire life of the ancients and marriage was no exception. With the advance of civilization, marriage became more important. The marriage ceremony likewise became increasingly pretentious while retaining the support structure of property and offspring to the present day. All of us are familiar with the grandiose spectacular marriage ceremonies of the rich and famous.

The red man is given credit for being the first to develop the more elaborate celebration of weddings. This was explained by his natural affinity with the 6th adjutant (worship-the religious impulse which is tied to greater imagination).

We reflected on the one time regular feature at weddings of well-to-do people, of human sacrifice. We further speculated on the kind of challenge to the idealism of our permanent planetary citizens and extra planetary ministers this practice would have presented. They must minister and serve without short circuiting the evolutionary process. Perhaps this is a clue to why so many of our helpers were led astray by the rebel leaders so long ago.

The dread of childlessness led to efforts to insure fecundity, and speak to our reiterated idea that race perpetuation was and is a foundational purpose of matrimony.

The revelators go on to point out the origins of many of the customs and traditions associated with wedding ceremonies and celebrations. Many such customs were instituted in order to hood-wink ghosts and spirits, to prevent them from visiting misfortune on the couple. Humorous as the reasoning behind these tactics were, we should remember that during much of this history, mischievous secondary midwayers, with their capabilities to be visible and engage matter, were afoot, perpetrating who knows what.

Because of the luck element, protection against marriage failure was sought through magic and priests, culminating in modern church weddings. However, it was only during the last five hundred years that church and state have assumed jurisdiction and now presume to make pronouncements of marriage, superseding the decisions of the contracting parents or the pair.