More and more I’m thinking we need different names for two somewhat similar but functionally very different institutions: marriage (civil & secular) and marriage (religious). One has distinct rights, benefits, and obligations attached to it under federal, state, and local laws; the other is peculiar to an individual’s and group’s religion.

The legal system doesn’t care about baptisms, bar mitvahs, or other religious rites because they have no secular impact; religions (none that I know of) care about how old someone must be to drive a car — not their bailiwick. It would be nice to separate religious marriage (spiritual commitment to another person) from secular marriage (legal commitment to another person).

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