There are folks who reject any kind of authority, yet they claim authority themselves. Basically they either attack or facilitate attacks on anything that constitutes a corner stone of human societies.
Marriage is one of the oldest legal institutions of mankind. It’s not a meaningless religious ritual, like so many load-bearing institutions have been hollowed out over the last few decades. Marriage is the very core of society per se. So, societies have evolved from tribes to states and all forms of societies on the long way from tribal societies to modern states looked in all directions – past, presence and future – to plan and rule how people live together. Marriage is a complex legal institution that evolved over many millennia and the focus lies on legal institution. Regardless of whether a couple spends time with each other, there is a threshold where their relationship develops a binding character and transitions into a contract. And like so many contracts good faith is not enough, so finally it will be written and there will be witnesses to the conclusion of the contract and then we already have the ingredients modern marriage.
The legal part of the marriage is governed by law and law is governed by a legitimate legislator. When it comes to the legislators’ legitimacy, they often enough refer to God. This is where religion comes back into play. Of course, we now could digress into value-systems, morality, deities and stuff, but here we don’t.
For legal reasons, the authorities who govern contracts describe the properties, circumstances….etc that makes a contract morally acceptable. So, for instances in western societies (up to now) we all agreed that marriage has to be an ethical contract between two free parties, while there also are societies (predominantly Muslim societies) which basically govern marriage as the transfer of ownership of a female from her father to her new husband.
A society has a vital interest of properly governing legal institutions like marriage, because legal institutions are defining for this society.
Modern societies register these contracts. Therefore they operate registry offices and these registry offices are either solely run by the state or they are delegated to religious institutions under the states terms and this terms are clearly defined by law.
So, there comes a “progressive” Rabbi, Dov Haiyun, from the Masorti movement and there are two options.
- We assume this Rabbi is a well educated man who knows exactly what he is doing or
- we assume this Rabbi is stupid and doesn’t know.
Let’s go with option a) because b) is too simple. Rabbi Haiyun knows exactly what the legal institution of marriage means. At last he is a Rabbi which also means he is a lawyer for Jewish law. He is no idiot in terms of law, yet he chose to ignore the law. He dismissed the legal framework of marriage and downgraded it to a meaningless religious ritual. In a state/society where the registry offices are solely run by state authorities, any moron can perform a marriage applying any religious ritual and if it’s performed by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so be it, but in a state where the registry offices are delegated to religious authorities which represent the minorities present in that state, such options aren’t available. In order to perform a legal marriage, the marriage must be performed under auspices of a legal registry office. If someone chooses to ignore this terms, he performs an illegal marriage. So it may happen that children perform a marriage in the sandbox. then it’s just play. If adults do it, there are questions to ask. For instance: Did the Rabbi deceive the couple and did the couple believe their marriage was legal?
Since Mr Haiyun is a Rabbi, he knew exactly what he was doing.
This is where state authorities chose to step in – actually Rabbi Haiyun didn’t leave them a choice.