The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book
Paper 83: The Marriage Institution
Customs and rituals that surround modern-day wedding ceremonies stem from a number of sources. Magic and ritual surrounded the entire life of the ancients; marriage was no exception. Various ancient wedding rituals included eating together, the exchange of presents, consultation of astrologers, human sacrifice, lucky days, throwing grain, lighting candles, sprinkling holy water, and blessing the wedding bed. The bridal veil served to hide the bride from jealous ghosts. In some groups, wedding guests served as legal witnesses by observing the consummation of the marriage.
Group marriages preceded polygamy which preceded monogamy. Monogamy was unnatural to evolutionary man, but wholly natural to the purer Nodites and Adamites.
Monogamy has been of great cultural value to the advanced races. It is the idealistic goal of human sexual evolution and the measure of the advance of social civilization. Monogamy contributes to spiritual growth and to the refinement of moral character. It is the best arrangement for parental happiness, child welfare, and social efficiency.
Monogamy is good for those who attain it, but we are admonished to not disdain those unfortunate men and women who fail to achieve this ideal state. Large numbers of unmarried adults in a society indicate a temporary transition of mores. In modern times, the ideal of individual love in marriage has replaced the property motive; this has created temporary instability in the institution of marriage. Modern home life is also being challenged by the advancement of long-denied legal rights for women.
A successful marriage is a life-long partnership of self-effacement, dedication to child rearing, compromise, and devotion. Divorce will function as a social safety valve as long as society fails to provide premarital training, and as long as immature idealism is the arbiter of entrance into marriage.
Much spiritual development occurs from the sincere effort of a husband and wife to progress together, but marriage is not necessarily sacred. While it cannot be compared to the human relationship with the indwelling Adjuster, nor to fraternity with Jesus, the ideal mortal marriage may be considered humanly sacred.