Everybody's already covered the Pope's citation and the subsequent Muslim outrage. I'm too late to the party to deal with that. But, fear not, Gentle Reader... I'm going to hit upon it in a more roundabout way.
Today, I want to talk about Marriage. And while there are endless words to be said about the subject as it exists in my own country, today I want to discuss Marriage as it exists somewhere else.
Nikah Misyar, the Traveller's Marriage, is an option practiced under Sharia law in Muslim countries. In this arrangement, a man and woman are legally 'married' but the man has no responsiblities to this wife. He may visit her, in her parents' home, at any time he wishes. But he owes her no financial responsibility, no home of her own. He may contract such a marriage irrespective of other, traditional marriages he has made. The first, second, third, and fourth wives do not have to approve of the Misyar bride; they do not even have to be informed that the misyar marriage has occurred.
My search of the web has turned up numerous people looking to contract such 'marriages' all over the globe. It has also turned up something more interesting: the opinions of Muslims the world over. It seems that 'no respectable woman would consent to such a marriage.' Most often, Misyar marriages are a last, desperate hope for widows, spinsters, and girls living in abject poverty. Often they are hoping the misyar marriage will somehow become a real one.
But wait! It gets better!
Nikah Mut'ah is a temporary marriage! In this arrangement, a couple agrees to marry, but with a fixed termination point. The husband has no obligations to provide for the wife, or live with her. A maximum of four temporary wives can be taken, in addition to the maximum four true wives under Islamic law.
The apparent purpose of both these forms of "marriage" is to allow men to copulate with women, without responsibility (beyond the financial support of offspring, that is) and without the sin of Zina, fornication.
This is good, since Zina tends to result in little girls and women of all ages being stoned to death or hanged. Isn't it lovely that Allah's One True Pedophile was so thoughtful as to provide us with this alternative?
I could now go on at length about the apparent hypocrisy in a culture that abhors the decadence of the west, while crafting nifty 'marriage' definitions that put a new face on the old sin of prostitution. But I won't.
Because I honestly have to ask, how do Misyar and Mutah differ all that much from the customs of our own country? Every day, women enter into relationships in the hope that they will end in marriage. Young girls give their bodies in hopes of getting love, in exchange for sex. Like their sisters in the Muslim world, they hope, often vainly, that if they are just good enough in bed, and kind enough out of it; if they work well enough, forgive easily enough... if they just try HARD enough, the boyfriend will metamorph into the ultimate status symbol: The husband. Because even after the "sexual revolution," after decades of women having the vote- after women's lib, ERA, RoeVWade, the pill, "Having it all"... after all of this, women still want husbands. Feminism hasn't managed to eradicate that biological drive for safe pairbonding.
But at no time in history has there been less incentive for a man to marry. He no longer needs to do so in order to find sex. He doesn't even need it for the production of legitimate heirs; as illegitimacy has become passe'. He can have his bachelor abode, and his bachelor life, and send out his laundry and take out his meals. When the urge for sexual gratification overwhelms him, he can boot up his computer and enjoy a wide variety of pornography. Or he can head out into the world and, without much difficulty, find a willing woman to warm his bed for a night. nevitably, he knows some man who can (and will) tell him horror stories about divorce court, alimony, and court ordered child support. Understandably, he may not look at the women he dates as potential mates; he looks at them as potential adversaries or a resource to be exploited.
And most of those women are hoping, just like their Muslim counterparts, to find "true love." They're mortgaging "right now" for a shot at "til death do us part." "Pleasure Marriages" and "Sleeping Together" are morally equivalent, and equally disrespectful of the institution itself. They deprive men, women, and children, of the most basic and vital aspects of the human pairbond, substituting mere physical union for a deeper, more spiritual one.