Isn’t the wedding ring dumb? – Jonathan | sex & theology


Lord Byron says the wedding ring is “the damnedest part of matrimony,” and I like the idea that, in protesting rings, I’m part of a long tradition of poets and sensitive people asking . . . what love could really be?

Or recall the old Freda Payne song, “Band of Gold”—

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Now that you’re gone
All that’s left is a band of gold
All that’s left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold

In the song, the departed man seems to be gay. They never had sex, she says. There is a story here, actually, of men and women held in traditions that prevent them from seeing each other, or learning what each other needs.

But she’s focusing on a bit of metal. A ring that becomes a repository of her “dreams” that are really just cultural scripts, taught to her since she was a girl. And now, even when shocked by reality, she can only stare at it, singing to a man who isn’t there.

I know all about delusional thinking. I grew up Evangelical Christian, a tradition-based, indeed, slavery-based system in which the ring is an cherished sign.

Lately I’ve been trying to use the Jesus teachings to re-think the world. He discourages vows, as in Matthew 5:33–37, His followers are family, all together. “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother,” he says in Mark 3:35.

Could possession-based love be avoided entirely? Antonia George suggests “a shift away from romantic love” points “toward Revolutionary love.” I wonder if a start on that might be: not putting a band of metal on someone.

I might say to a loved person: I share my freedom with you. Let’s learn how to love. Nobody taught us how.

And really, they didn’t know. Maybe spousal relationships, or what I call close relationships, could be about learning to be human together. A process that is not governed by tradition, and continually re-focuses us on the immediate need, in the present moment, to see each other.

Not looking down at metal on our hands.

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