by Jamie Neben
KISS guitarist Gene Simmons recently tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend Shannon Tweed after being “happily unmarried” for 28 years. Anyone who has heard Simmons express his views on marriage over the years, whether in interviews or on his reality-television show, should know why this event comes as such a surprise. In his book Sex Money Kiss, in which he dispenses business advice, he even saw fit to write a whole chapter arguing why men should not get married. Some of his more colorful statements include:
“The worst thing a man can do, financially and biologically speaking, is to get married.”
“Dumb men will always get married. So will smart women.”
“The only thing wrong with marriage is that one of the two people getting married is a man.”
Simmons may portray a demon onstage, but the ones inside of him were causing him to lead a selfish, dishonest life. Although it’s likely that he would still be maintaining his misbehaving ways had he not been caught, Simmons should be applauded for ultimately confronting his issues and making the commitment to his family once and for all.
But does the act of getting married hold that much value anymore?
I’m not suggesting that marriage is undesirable by any means. When two people vow to be together until death do they part, they are putting their dedication on record when they make it official. That’s a beautiful and powerful thing. I would not try to dissuade any happy couple from making their relationship legal. I may even try it myself someday.
However, a couple of glaring facts of life make wedded bliss seem not all that blissful after all. The divorce rate for first marriages is currently holding around 40%, and is significantly higher for second and third marriages. So much for hanging in there for better or worse and all the other sets of circumstances that are laid out in the beginning. Divorce is such a likely possibility these days that the pre-nuptial agreement is becoming just another item on the wedding checklist in many cases.
Of course, people change over time, and they may go in different directions than their partners. There could be lying, cheating, stealing, abuse, loss of interest, and many other factors that lead to divorce. When somebody is done wrong by their spouse in today’s society, not only do we usually support them in walking out, but we blame them if they don’t. I wouldn’t sit still for something like frequent abuse any more than the next person, and there is often good reason for couples to call it quits. Often there is not. Either way, the sacredness of the institution is weakened just a little more every time it happens.
The other point I made earlier concerned two people vowing to be together. That’s great except that not all people are considered equal. That dilutes the value of marriage as well. If we’re talking about a man and a woman, then with very few exceptions, there will be no legal reasons why they cannot be married, and we will accept it as “marriage.” On the other hand, if we’re referring to two men, or two women, somehow they don’t deserve the same privilege in most states. It doesn’t matter if a gay couple has a long and loving relationship that has lasted a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if a straight couple is just together for convenience, or if they have no intention or ability to reproduce. As it turns out, equality is very one-sided.
The most common argument against gay marriage that I’ve heard? Religion.
While everybody, including myself, is entitled to practice their faith in this country, religion has no place in our government. While I don’t expect opponents of this to suddenly change their minds and agree with the homosexual lifestyle, excluding gay people from the true and legal experience of marriage is wrong. If couples are building a life together, sharing the same house, and otherwise acting married, why should they be denied the formality of it?
Another reason why religion doesn’t hold water in this debate is the fact that one doesn’t have to be a Bible follower to get married. So if gay couples wouldn’t be recognized spiritually in the eyes of the Almighty, then what about Muslims or Buddhists or atheists? Why don’t our laws reflect that you have to be in solid spiritual standing with the powers that be (whoever writes the law) before you dare to fill out the certificate?
This is all a moot point though because God is all about love. I believe some people have forgotten that in their haste to justify their own beliefs or fears.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find myself walking down the aisle. But if I do, I hope marriage seems more valuable to me at that time than it does now. If we can focus on love, whether it’s in our own personal situations, or by extending the same rights of it to others, regardless of gender, we’ll make a lot of progress.
I guess if Gene Simmons can get married, anything’s possible.