WHEN I first saw the title of Channel 4’s fascinating current series Married at First Sight, I thought it was a programme about the Moonies.
Now, after a few weeks watching how science-based arranged marriages are working out, it’s difficult to split the madness of so-called relationship experts from the dogma of cult leaders.
The current series is following the progress of four individuals who committed themselves to marrying a partner they had not previously met.
A fifth gentleman, wisely no doubt, pulled out before going to the altar.
The theory is that science can accurately match people on the basis of their looks, personalities and interests.
But, from what I have seen so far and the initial two series after which all ‘couples’ the computer put together have subsequently separated, science isn’t up to the job.
And it’s not difficult to see why.
Science, for all its merits, operates on the basis that we are all machine-like rather than human, spiritual beings.
It focuses on our biological functions and actions but ignores the very essence that makes us human – feelings, emotions, intuition and free will.
As an example, I will quote a very interesting story I heard on Radio 5 recently.
A woman told of how she met a gentleman after the breakdown of a relationship and that, after a short time together, they decided to go their separate ways.
Then, around a decade later, fate brought them back in contact and they have now been happily married for 28 years.
Her telling comment was that had she tried to make the relationship work first time around it would almost certainly have failed.
For her, it was a case of right man, wrong timing.
I’m sure that is very often the case.
But there are still deeper issues here that need to be challenged.
Firstly, scientists are making the huge presumption that marriage is a natural and desirable state of life and that it should last a lifetime.
Both ideals have been drummed into us almost from birth. Yet both have little foundation in human history.
The concept of romantic love is as old as the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
It’s interesting to note however that ‘marriage’ did not exist in early Biblical times.
Infact there is little historical evidence that it arrived in Britain prior to the 12th century.
It was much later still that marriage was regarded as a romantic partnership rather than an alliance of families.
In my view, marriage is not a mystical union between man, woman and their maker.
It’s a human construct, greatly encouraged by the church, to control society. In the case of the procreation and bringing of children, this has its value. Otherwise much less so.
The idea that a marriage has ‘failed’ because a couple eventually part is no more valid than saying your car has failed because it needs replacing after a few years.
Spending most of our relatively short lifespan primarily with the same person is, logically, very self-limiting.
Perhaps, as the couples in the current programme struggle to come to terms with realty as opposed to scientific theory, we would be better served considering whether marriage has a role to play in our future as human consciousness increases.