Marriages Are Made In Heaven?
History & Classics  

The saying that ‘Marriages are made in Heaven’, may seem quaint, but it was never taken too literally even during its heyday. In its original sacramental meaning, it referred to a preordained divine imperative where a particular soul was betrothed to another — often well in advance of that particular soul’s existence. However, in a more practical sense it did mean that the souls had to be gender specific — marriages were to be only between a man and a woman. Period. No exceptions.


Yet, much before the saying became known, same-sex marriages were not only common but included royalty, along with all its pomp and celebration. At least two of the Roman Emperors were in same-sex unions; and in fact, 13 out of the first 14 Roman Emperors were held to be bisexual or exclusively homosexual. The first Roman emperor to have married a man was Nero, who is reported to have married two other men on different occasions. First with one of his freedmen, Pythagoras, for whom Nero took the role of the bride, and later as a groom Nero married a young boy who resembled one of his concubines.
These practices continued until Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and a law was issued in 342 AD by the Christian emperors Constantius II. This prohibited same-sex marriage and ordered that those who were so married were to be executed. Such was the power of the Roman Empire at the time that the practice didn’t take long to become entrenched as inviolable and ultimately taboo.
And, publicly at least, held the test of time till the late 1970s when with the growth of an advanced social and judicial system, the judges finally heard a fervent appeal for a same-sex marriage right up to the American Supreme Court level before rejecting it. But that opened the floodgates with hundreds of similar suits in several countries, till in 1993 Norway approved a registered partnerships bill, becoming the second country in the world after Denmark to provide legal recognition for same-sex couples. Following this, more than 20 other countries and several states in the US set up similar laws.
Finally in 2018, the situation changed in India too. Whereas samesex marriage, which was now recognised in nearly 30 countries, in India, the world’s largest democracy, homosexuality itself was regarded as a crime. Then in September, being gay was decriminalised. It was a bold move and could lead to overwhelming changes in same-sex marriage ratification and entitlement procedures.
These are baby steps for India’s Supreme Court, but it’s also a fact that ‘Marriages made in heaven’ is now beginning to fight an increasingly losing battle against science and technology in the world’s exponentially growing global status. In 2004, Jennifer Hoes married herself in the Dutch city of Haarlem. The 30-year-old,who vowed to love and honour herself, told papers: “We live in a ‘me’ society. Hence, it is logical that one promises to be faithful to oneself.”
Also recently, 31-year-old Zheng an employee of Chinese multinational telecommunications firm Huawei, ‘married’ a robot that he had created for himself. The robot’s name is Yingying, and among her abilities are image-recognition tools for Chinese characters and pictures, as well as a decent vocabulary — presumably including ‘I do’. Zheng plans to add some all-important upgrades, such as granting his newfound beloved, the skill of walking and helping out with household chores.



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