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Are traditions like marriage becoming too old-fashioned?

When do we question traditions like marriage?
When do we question traditions like marriage?

In this article:

  • When should we questions tradition?
  • Traditions help people find belonging, and stay rooted to their history and culture.

It’s the season of love, so let’s talk about marriage. This January the love of my life proposed to me. With engagement comes a lot of questions. What kind of wedding are we going to have- traditional or nontraditional? Or do we even want to have a wedding? Making the decision to get married is one of the most impactful decisions you can ever make. Back in ancient times, marriage was more of an economic decision than a romantic one. But nowadays more and more couples are making the choice to not get married.

Marriage in history

Is marriage becoming an old-fashioned tradition? Evidence of marriage ceremonies date back all the way to 2350 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Over the course of several hundred years marriage became a widespread institution that was embraced by ancient Hebrew, Roman, and Greek cultures. A major goal for marriage back then was to create an alliance between families. Even still to this day in many cultures, families will arrange for couples to be married. In modern times marriage for love has become the norm. At the same time, divorce rates began to rise. Divorce rates hit an all time high in 1988-1993 according to the CDC.

I always felt fortunate because both sets of my grandparents had healthy marriages as well as my parents. I feel as though that is uncommon considering how many of my friends grew up in homes affected by divorce. I straddle the Millennial and Gen Z generations. We tend to see why some people have their reservations about marriage. Some young people nowadays find the institution of marriage too conservative or too risky and choose instead to stay unofficially attached. 

My fiancé and I are not the most traditional people. We are typically the ones to go against the grain, not out of spite or rebellion. We just are that way by nature. I personally feel like traditions can be confining, and in some instances can prevent change and progress–particularly for minority groups. However, I don’t agree with throwing away traditions entirely. Traditions also help people find belonging, and stay rooted to their history and culture. Traditions create a space for people to come together and find unity. 

So my fiancé and I were toying with the idea of just eloping. We thought that it would be the quickest, most efficient and cost effective way to get married. However, when we started conceptualizing the idea of an intimate elopement in a beautiful national park, we kept on adding names of people who we would want to be there. For us, eloping would have left us regretting not having a wedding with near and dear ones there with us. 

The non-traditional tradition

However, getting married in the traditional fashion did not seem fitting either. We are going more of the non-traditional route by having a destination wedding. We are not getting married in a church. Instead we are going to have the ceremony outside in God’s beautiful creation in Montana. However, in some ways it will still be a traditional wedding. We are going to have a minister. We are going to do marriage counseling beforehand. I even decided that I would take my fiancé's last name. 

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To be honest, I really don’t care that my fiancé helped me pick out my wedding gown, and we are not going to freeze the top of the wedding cake for our anniversary. I don’t think that some of the typical wedding traditions that our culture holds onto really matter in the end. However, the one thing that I do think really matters is God’s love being emanated in the ceremony, which is why I want 1 Corinthians 13 to be read at our ceremony. 

13 If I speak in the tongue of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is the greatest gift that God has given us and it is celebrated and honored in the institution of marriage. Marriage also embodies the virtues of faithfulness, sacrifice, and devotion. To me the test of the worth of a tradition is if it honors God.

Madison Myers is a graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in marketing, and a young professional. She has traveled to a majority of America's National Parks and is eager to see them all.