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Discussion 3 to Reflections on Ethics 56
It does happen.

by JT

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I must confess I engaged in hyperbole with the "thousands of years." But, we do regularly see stories out of India about people marrying animals in Hindu ceremonies with Hindu priests officiating. It is not an unknown practice. It is ongoing, and there is no reason to suppose it is a recent innovation. Also, if you check out Indian folklore, you will easily find old stories with the practice central to the story.

I am not suggesting your Hindu friend is misleading you - he may very well be unaware that this is going on. Hinduism is not monolithic and there are numerous regional variations and local practices, some of which would be considered objectionable in other areas. For example, in a recent article on AIDS in India, I found an interview with a young woman who had been given to the local temple as an offering by her parents when she was eight, used a a cleaning slave by the priests until she reached puberty and then they turned into a temple prostitute. Even though it is illegal in India, temple prostitution apparently is still practiced in some Hindu temples. I would not be surprised if your Hindu friend is unaware of this Hindu practice either.

But back to the issue of marriage to animals. As currently practiced, it is not a matter of bestiality. These marriages seem to be a matter of curing an illness or relieving a curse. In one news item I found of a very young girl being married to a stray dog, the priests said she would be free to marry a man when she was of age.

Given that these marriages are not about sex, and definitely not about the procreation of children, by using the example of the woman marrying the snake, Bishop Harvey inadvertently undermined his proposition that marriage "is a framework that... is designed for the care and harmonious development of the child." These religiously conducted and sanctioned marriages have nothing to do with the care and development of children.


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