Civil mariage… a Lebanese discussion
Posted by worriedlebanese on 16/12/2009
The Unesco club of Saint Joseph University organised this year a discussion on Civil mariage, inviting two clergymen (a sunni and a catholic), two laymen (a judge and an actor) and two laywomen. Yes, it was quite a large pannel that included a great deal of different perspectives. But unfortunately, the discussion wasn’t very interesting. The speakers were quite interesting and made their best to infuse as many ideas in the debate as possible. But the problem isn’t there, it is in the issue of civil mariage is debated in Lebanon. So one can hardly blame them for confusing political, legal, administrative and normative arguments.
As I sat listening to Yorgo Shalhoub, I caught myself humming Moonage Daydream with its lyrics running through my mind: “don’t fake it baby… lay the real thing on me… the church of man, love… is such a holy place to be…”. But I kept listening to this relatively young Lebanese actor make the worst defense possible for the introduction of civil mariage in our legislation; he based his argument on an odd mix of 19th century positivism and new age spirituality. He spoke of man’s liberation, of religious freedoms, shared with us his spiritual coming of age story, and threw himself in a lengthy presentation of how he perceives the relationship between God, “church” and man to be. His intervention was closer to a sermon than the one that preceded him (and believe me, it was hard to outbid the preachy carmelite father who held up the Bible three or four times during his sermon speech).
With “progressives” like these, who needs “conservatives”?! What exactly is their battle?
- Provide the Lebanese with a liberal legislation on mariage that guarantees identical rights to men and women, and a possibility to dissolve their union whenever either of them chooses?
- Provide the legal framework that would allow or encourage interfaith mariage and bring about the physical fusion of all the Lebanese into one national community?
- Provide a legal framework that allows people to opt out of a religiously determined identity?
- Provide a legal framework that allows people to opt out of a religious determined legislation?
- Change the relationship between individuals and clerics?
- Provide a space for atheists, agnostics and new agers?
These are very different battles. And the proposed civil mariage law hardly meets any of these aims. What I find pitiful is the fact that no one has ever discussed the problems that such a civil mariage legislation could bring about in our particular system (multiple religious legislations and neutrality of the state with regards to religion) and try to see how they could be prevented or solved!