What’s the Definition of “Traditional Marriage”?

Hello friends. I’ve just traded my seven year
old daughter for a goat. You see, I’ve been living, as we all do, in accordance with traditional
marriage rules dating back thousands of years. That’s why I’ve been girding my loins to stone
any bride who isn’t a virgin, going on dates with ghosts, and why I was fired for kissing
my wife in public. Just as it’s been for thousands of years. But wait, what WAS marriage traditionally?
What is the REAL definition of traditional marriage? Well! I’m glad you asked. Let’s go back 4,000
years to Mesopotamia, where the laws around marriage were close to the laws around slavery.
As with slavery, Hammurabi’s Code specified how wives should be paid for, who owned the
kids, and even the terms for getting a refund. So, that’s a nice tradition. But then the Bible had to come along and redefine
everything. Traditional marriage in the Bible is pretty polygamous: Abraham had three wives,
or at least two wives plus a slave he had sex with. Caleb had 5, David 18, Moses just
two, and King Solomon had a thousand wives — although, to be fair, 300 were concubines. The Bible’s rules about marriage are very
clear. Rape victims must marry their rapist. If a woman’s husband dies, she must marry
his brother, even if he’s already married. Interracial marriage is strictly forbidden,
and if you marry a woman who turns out not to be a virgin, you have to stone her to death.
Really the whole Old Testament makes marriage seem like more trouble than it’s worth, which
probably explains the advice in 1 Corinthians 7:28, which is essentially, dude just never
get married. In ancient Rome, it was considered gross for
husbands and wives to be in love. According to the Stoic Seneca: “nothing is more impure
than to love one’s wife as if she were a mistress.” And Plutarch called it “disgraceful” when
a senator was caught kissing his wife in public. So that’s what traditional marriage looked
like. Except maybe not, because it kept changing. Early Church officials were pretty opposed
to marriage. Saint Jerome wrote around the year 400, “we must never be in the bondage
of wedlock, for as often as I render my wife her due, I cannot pray.” Jerome surrounded
himself with a circle of women who had taken a vow of virginity, and wrote letters to them
about what they should wear. Around 500 Emperor Justinian redefined marriage
again with the Corpus Juris. Under those rules, fathers could give away their daughters when
they turned seven. Christians couldn’t marry Jews. And a husband was allowed to beat his
wife — but if he did, he had to pay her afterwards. So THAT was traditional marriage, for a while,
until it changed again. Around the 13th century the Catholic Church decided to get into the
wedding business, and made marriage a sacrament. Pope Alexander redefined marriage to be an
agreement between the spouses, rather than their parents. But it still wasn’t a great
for women. In the 15th century, Bernard of Siena told parishioners to cool it with the
wife-beating, and that they should treat their wives with as much mercy as they would a chicken
or a pig. And Martin Luther wrote that he gave his wife a box on the ear whenever she
was “saucy.” Okay, so traditional marriage was basically
treating women like a punching bag. Actually no, it’s even worse. In 1736, Jurist Sir Matthew
Hale wrote in The History of the Pleas of the Crown that a husband cannot be guilty
of raping his wife, since a wife “hath given up herself in this kind to her husband, which
she cannot retract.” By the 1700s, marriage had been redefined
over and over and over. But the one thing it had almost never been was something you
do with a person you love. The advice in the 1700s was to marry someone you could learn
to tolerate, thereby anticipating the Kramdens by several centuries. “Bang, zoom!” If you wanted to get married in colonial America,
all you had to do is say you were married. As long as you were white. Slaves needed to
get permission from their owners. And as for women: “The very being and legal existence
of the woman is suspended during the marriage,” said William Blackstone. The very being! Blackstone
literally thought women cease to be when they marry. Tradition! Former slaves were finally able to marry after
the Civil War, and in the late 1800s South Carolina became the first state to rule that
men were no longer allowed to beat their wives. It wasn’t until 1920 — less than a hundred
years ago — that wife beating was outlawed nationwide. These changes were radical redefinitions
of traditional marriage, and they were redefinitions for the better. As a society improves — and
the people in the society improve — those people improve marriage. It was in the 1920s that people started marrying
more for love than for property — the term for it at the time was “Love Marriage” and
people were fascinated by this new idea that you could be in love with the person you marry,
and that you might not be allowed to beat them up. This all coincided with suffrage
and improved economic mobility and a stronger society, so of course marriage grew stronger
as well. And yet still there was resistance. Conservatives at the time said that this new
definition would completely destroy marriage by the end of the 20th century. And there were still more changes coming.
It wasn’t until 1967 that the Supreme Court overturned bans on interracial marriage in
Loving v. Virginia. At the time, states defended their interracial marriage bans by claiming
that they were — you guessed it — traditional. They also claimed that the Bible justified
the bans, and that interracial marriage was an attack on religious freedom. One judge
even wrote “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he
placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement
there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows
that he did not intend for the races to mix.” In 1971, the Supreme Court overturned laws
dictating that when a husband and wife have a legal dispute, “males must be preferred
to females.” The young attorney who argued that case, by the way, was Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
who may understand better than anyone else on the Supreme Court why it’s OK and sometimes
necessary for marriage to change. It wasn’t until 1979 that states got rid of
“head and master” laws, which said a husband could do whatever he wanted with his wife’s
property. And until 1993 — 1993! — it was legal for a man to rape his wife in some states.
If you want to be technical, outlawing spousal rape was a radical redefinition of marriage
going back thousands of years. Because remember: traditional marriage is one man and one woman,
enslaved, not in love, polygamous, married to a rapist or your brother in law, or never
married, with a seven year old girl, beaten as you would a chicken or a pig whenever she’s
saucy, barely tolerated, with no being or legal existence, and definitely not a different
ethnicity. And we didn’t even talk about traditions in non-western cultures, where marriage has
developed in even more directions. That’s because as Americans, we generally forget
that those cultures even exist. Look, marriage has been a lot of things. But
when you get down to it, it’s always been an agreement between people. And as people
strive to improve themselves, to become a more fair and just society, the marriages
that they form improve with them. So today you might have only one spouse, you
might even be in love, and you might be a union of equals. These are new experimental
changes to the traditions of marriage. It wasn’t that long ago that women were treated
like property, that people of color weren’t considered human. As society learned from
those mistakes, people updated the rules of marriage. Even more recently, LGBTs were thought
of as dangerous perverts, unable to form real relationships. And now marriage is updating
again as we realize that the fundamentals of same-sex relationships are the same as
straight relationships. Letting same-sex couples marry is actually completely traditional.
It’s part of the tradition of constantly improv ing the institution of marriage. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get these
tin cans ready for my new wife.

About the author


  1. They would not allow couples in the church to marry, they had to stand at the doors. Suddenly they have declared it is theirs and we now have them opposing gay marriage. AND what happened to not marrying between "races" even though we are all one race. They considered is wrong(bible) to not mix the "races". They considered black as different than white. The backward bible again.

  2. thank you so much for this video!
    too bad it wasn't around 2 years ago when one of my teachers talked about traditional marriage and that homosexuals should call it something else than "marriage"
    but i'll sure use this next time when someone brings up traditional marriage

  3. you should look into the marriages of pagan and wiccan cultures. maybe do a video talkin about marriages in other cultures. ik you're not the national geographic lol but hey learning about other cultures is awesome.

  4. I personally believe that Marriage is a religious institution and has no place in government circles ( seperation of church and state ) However , I do accept civil unions on the bases of humanist principals for all people . it would have the same benefits as marriage , yet wont have the religious undertones.

  5. hey man im a right wing populist and i watched one of your videos and now they keep recomening them to me, could you please block me so i dont have to see them anymore? thanks

  6. it says in the bible to love your wife as you do Christ!! did people miss that? LGBT is totally against God and it is perverted and selfish

  7. I've been involved with the gay marriage movement here in Australia for a couple of years now, and, we are closer to winning it than ever before. Wish us luck.

  8. the reality is, gay marriage is an oxymoron, you can't fully unite two men or two women. Full bodily union exists when two things work together as a whole toward a common end.

  9. Matt, you don't know how to read the Bible, why don't you read JESUS' interpretation of the Old Testament marriage laws from which you draw.

  10. Something very interesting you said. "Conservatives said "Love marriage" would destroy the institution by the end of the 20th century". Its true! Marriage is now ALL about human adult emotion and NOTHING about children! Children, of course, are the growing backbone of society.

  11. This is incredibly eye opening, and educational. This video should be Required Viewing in schools! Very well done!!!

  12. polices within the institution of marriage may have changed throughout the years, but it was ALWAYS rooted in the male/female component because these are the ONLY unions capable of creating new life. this is why daughters rather than sons were sold off. how else could heirs be created. your videos conveniently overlook this fact. in fact, your videos really stretch logic

  13. "traditional marriage" doesn't include two people at all. it's a property arrangement that only one of the parties to is considered a legal person.

  14. Hey Matt, have you seen the shit that's going down in Australia now? They want the country to vote in a survey on whether or not to consider (not to allow – just to consider) marriage equality… Their survey will cost $112,000,000 (says the government heavily cutting education, health care and support to state owned media – ABC… like the UK's BBC, or Canada's CBC). Day 1, the current party in power is comparing gay people marrying to having sex with animals, murdering your disabled children… the Prime Minister before the current one has weighed in to say gays getting married is against free speech, freedom of religion, and political INcorrectness.

    Member of Parliament:

    Ex Prime Minister:

  15. Actually with regards to biblical marriage, the letters of Paul are pretty explicit about monogamy in several chapters, as are early Church fathers. In 1 Corinthians, Paul desired on a personal level that everyone should be celibate but admitted that marriage was also necessary as a part of life. The mentioned 5th century AD source came at an early point in the development of the Catholic Church which helped develop the idea of celibate clergy and was not necessarily universal or accurate to biblical texts. It's also very clear from Genesis one of the earliest written books of the Bible as well as being an "origin story" if you will mentions monogamy as the ideal, which Jesus explicitly refers to in the gospels. The Old Testament never at any point approves of polygamy, it merely documents it happening (remember there's a difference between descriptive and prescriptive recordings) among the population, with monogamy a clear ideal.

    Nice video, I just wanted to clear somethings up 🙂

  16. This is exactly why christians kill me. How they can judge others citing that book with a straight face as if they've never read it. Also, can we talk about that "man may not lie with man" BS they like to cite from the old testament, but everything else listed with it is dismissed, like not mixing fabrics or how eating anything from the ocean without both scales and fins is an abomination, even touching the skin of a pig, cuz for those suddenly the old testament doesn't count or those aren't the same cuz it's stuff they enjoy. So frustrating.

  17. What I would like is if I don't agree with your ideas and ways of live, don't be criticised for it. You're not better than I, just different. If you want to force people to think like you, you just became on what you were fighting against. The key word is acceptance. If you want to be respected as a homosexual individual you need to respect those are not.
    I give you an example…. Gay Parade, every media coverage enbrace and applaud it right? But if somebody dare to march in a Straight Parade……you know what's going to happen. They will be destroyed to the ashes. It seems to me like unfair display of information.
    In the end no one owns the absolute truth.
    I watched your video by accident, but I learn something new, thanks for share your views, and thanks to allow me to where mi opinion.

  18. I'm glad my brother-in-law didn't insist I was his wife after my husband died. I don't think his wife would have appreciated that! (Yikes!).

  19. The big Conservative "intellectual" on marriage is Robert P. George. You should debunk his stuff. He uses the conjugal argument, not just the traditional one. His point is that gays cannot have a conjugal union because of child birth and where the parts go–teehee. He is the main right wing big wig on this subject and has lots of street cred, bad or worse.

  20. Gee wiz it seems like they had it all figured out way back then,I can't imagine why anyone would want to ever change it. 😦 I got the crap beat out of me years ago when I was dating this one guy, he had also beat his wife (they were separated when we were together, plus I was 19ish) but it was messed up bc I loved him at the time. I'm older and much smarter, I think, and realize that I am better than that and deserve better. Now I'm single, divorced whatever and personally I don't want anyone, not even looking for men or women. But jyst wanted to comment on being treated like you would treat a pig or chicken…I'm an animal lover and we know how ppl treat animals so I'll pass on being treated like one. Thanks again Matt for fantastic video. You are one of my top 5 fave you tubers. 😉👍

  21. I still cannot grasp how someone can dehumanize another person so much. A living, breathing person standing in front of you who does all the same things you do. How do some people block this out?

  22. In Canada, an "indian" woman was no longer considered an "indian", under The Indian Act, if she married a white man, and left the reservation. That law was overturned in 1985

  23. The Old Testament is full of wacked out shit. That's why it the old testament. Jesus didn't say anything to have multiple wives or sex slaves etc.. Marriage is a good thing if you put it on the right context. You're the type of person that twist things for your own agenda. Its funny how you talk about the history of marriage in western culture which kinda makes it sound like western culture is backwards or unprogressive. That word progressive haha. Some things that people say are progressive are actually regressive, creates social and moral decay. How come you cant look at the camera without without ur head sideways?

  24. Oh and something Christians were not allowed to marry Jews. Huh there is much said in Jewish texts about how Jews should not marry anyone who is not Jewish along with a lot of other sick, twisted, inhumane ideas to follow.

  25. I'd argue that many Americans still think women are property and that minorities are not human.  Disgusting and shameful, but religion makes people believe fantasies and discard reality.

  26. You focus very heavily on where the tradition of marriage comes from in the States, but what about Indigenous marriage traditions? Turtle Island has loads of "traditional marriage" examples that are quite different, and you can talk about how clan disruptions from the implementation of patriarchal systems and the forced Christianisation. Like these traditions have existed thousands of years before invasion and still continue to exist. I know you mentioned "non Western marriage" but you are standing on stolen lands from occupied countries. Recognise it?

  27. I come from a culture where women had more than one husband. Something tells me that the kind of people who try to argue against same-sex marriage with the Bible wouldn't like that either…

  28. So, to clarify, Moses actually marries a black woman, and when his sister gives him flack for it God blights her with a skin condition.

  29. @Matt Baume – I LOVE you sooooooo MUCH for this!💖♡💖♡💖

  30. aaaaaand I get an anti-gay, anti-trans, and white supremacist infomercial as I click this video. fantastic

  31. Feminism historically has been good for romance? How preposterous!

    Also John Green did a great video on this too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQw0eLzfGNI

    "We can't make gay marriage illegal because gay marriage has already existed for as long as people have been getting married. "

  32. I respect people’s freedom of religion. However, I pity people who are brainwashed by religion to the point where religion dictates their life choices and negatively influences their views on morality

  33. Interesting, but you got some facts wrong. The Bible does not condone rape. A man who raped was to be killed (Deut 22:25-27). Interracial marriage was allowed, just not every ethnic group (Deut 23:3-7). Also, a woman could be a stoned not necessarily because she was not a virgin, but because she cheated on him. Testing her virginity is a surefire way to know if she cheated him at the start of their marriage (Deut 22:13-21). Yes, women were to marry their dead husband's brother if she produced no children, so the dead husband's lineage would continue and he wouldn't be forgotten. It was for good reason.

    Also, I think although you may be correct at some things throughout your presentation, you are looking at things from one side and you were cherry picking at times. Still think it was a worthwhile video though.

  34. Ah, so gay marriage is the worst thing but "traditional and historical" marriage is okay and just.

  35. They mean traditional christian marriage. Men have married men, and women married women before anyone even cared.

  36. Traditions are MEANT to be broken! I freaking hate when people say "BUT TRADITION!" Tradition always changes and trying to stick to them is pointless. Sticking to some basic guides isn't bad but to stick to tradition is.

  37. It's so offensive to me when people say gay relationships are just like straight relationships. Straight relationships are a damn mess

  38. I don't know. I'm still inclined to agree with the idea that 'love marriages' have ruined the institute of marriage. It's okay if you love your spouse, but loving someone is not the right reason to marry or have children with someone.

  39. Traditional marriage means between a man and a women, two opposite genders as ancient civilizations always kept it even though it could have been through family.

    Now, in the context of homosexuality, if we are going to legalize that, we might as well legalize polygamy since it doesn't really affect anybody else and people are capable of loving more than one person. People already do open relationships so why not allow them to all marry? Sounds silly at first but if you think about it, the idea of homosexuals getting married was also considered preposterous too.

  40. Wow what a brilliant video destroying the idea of traditional marriage. It amuses me that the Catholic Church values marriage so highly that it denies it to its own clergy and same sex couples. I’d love you to take a look at The Postmodern Family channel who begin every video with the catch phrase that they are living a ‘traditional family life.’

  41. God bless everyone out there. Please stop pointing fingers at others, for any reason. Take responsibility for your own salvation and not picking on others. God doesn't need and/or require acts of perpetration to be done on His behalf by anyone. Make sure not to be tangled up in religion and truly be with God. If you are with God you will have peace and happiness and you will not be looking for reasons to cause problems for others who may not think and/or believe as you do. First of all, It isn't your place over to do so. You are not privileged or better than anyone else. God has no respect of persons. Tend to your own doorstep and you won't have time to worry about someone else's. Whatever you do, there are no justifications or excuses for perpetration, especially over doctrine. Everyone take care and keep your nose where it belongs. Everyone knows how to do that even if they choose not to do it. It's your choice. Nobody's entitled to a free ride. Get that notion out of your mind if it is lurking there.

  42. Excellent rebuttal. I wish you’d also brought up “left handed marriages” and their different nature in European tradition. The idea that there are different sorts of marriage, such as temporary marriages in Shi’a Islam or “jumping the broom” marriages in European serfdom and slavery, rebuts the notion of one line of marriage tradition itself. And concubinage deserves its own treatment in line with this. Marriage has always been in flux.

  43. I still can't believe marital rape was legal in England til R v R in 1991.

    Also as late as the late '80s wives, along with kids, could be on their husband's British passport.

  44. Well, though the marriage changes clearly did happen over centuries, the one thing remains the same: the aim of marriage is procreation between two people who will raise their offspring together. Hence no people of the same sex can procreate with each other (unless we learn how to make people hermaphrodites), then this aim is not achieved. I am all for civil partnership, because being gay should not stop people from having a legal contract with one another, but same sex marriage is an oxymoron which I cannot support.

  45. Great video, but I'm surprised you didn't bring up the ancient Greeks, who most preferred relationships between two men

  46. And all of this was only amongst Europeans and then Americans… there have been all kinds of other traditions surrounding marriage across the world.

  47. crazy that this was uploaded just 2 days before nationwide marriage equality… looks like your points made a difference!

  48. Everyone needs to see this video. It’s honestly shocking that marrying for love only became common in the latest century, and the fact that so many blatantly sexist and racist laws were only overturned in the last half century is madness. But it weirdly gives me hope, if this is what we achieved in the last century, what will we achieve in the next? Either way, the argument from tradition can rot in a hole.

  49. Why doesn't anyone cover the ancient greek same sex marriages? Yes, that was a thing way back before cheebus.

  50. So you are saying that if I was str8, I could have married a woman when I was 18 and legally beat her? I guess that Janet Jackson song true… "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone."

  51. Anyone else get a religious indoctrination ad before this video AND after ? Wtf YouTube, stop ✋

  52. 48 states allow children to marry adults (usually not so much on the divorce) with parental or court approval. Its massively exploitive and fuels sexual slavery… and idiots freak out about two consenting adults getting marred? Priorities people.

    Meanwhile I want a very traditional Biblical marriage. Any advice on convincing my fiancee that 1000 wives and concubines is a good idea? I mean King Solomon was the wisest of all kings so it must be a good idea.

  53. My Grandfather was very modern early on, he always said that he supported same-sex-marriage, because why should they escape😉

  54. This video was obviously designed to defend gay marriage as far as I can see. All people who favor traditional marriage or lets be frank the normal ones are saying is the following. All we define traditional marriage to be is between 1 man and 1 woman or male and female to put it another way. All the out of date practices of the past was never our way to define traditional marriage. Its the folks who favor gay marriage who pull these out of their ass to corner us who want to preserve the correct way of doing things.

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