“Sex life, intoxication and meat eating are general tendencies of human society, but a regulated householder does not indulge in unrestricted sex life and other sense gratifications. Marriage on principles of religious life is therefore current in all civilized human society because that is the way for restricted sex life. This restricted, unattached sex life is also a kind of yajna because the restricted householder sacrifices his general tendency toward sense gratification for higher transcendental life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.26 Purport)
“What would you say to the people who think that marriage is outdated? It was common only a generation ago for people to get married at a young age. It was not that common for men and women to live together outside of this sacred institution. Children were more likely to be born within the institution than out of it.
“Today, the situation is vastly different. What is the need for a piece of paper? Just live with that significant other. Who cares what the local religious leader has to say? How is shacking up with someone any different than being officially married?
“People think they have found a way around the system. They have discovered the flaw to the rules they view as mere dogmatic insistence. What is the response from the other side? Is there any logic behind the institution of marriage?”
The acharya of the Vaishnava tradition explains the concept of personalism, that worship of God as a person is foremost. There is variety to the practice of religion, or as it is more accurately known, dharma. Worship can take the form which matches the intended result, i.e. desire.
One person worships with the intent of harm befalling their opponents and enemies. They follow a specific procedure for temporary advancement of a specific ability, with the hope to dominate others.
Another person worships in order to maintain home and family. Just keep the basic necessities in adequate supply. Protect against the elements, including disease. Allow for life to be enjoyed without hindrance.
A third person worships for the purpose of elevation to the heavenly planets. They are done living on earth. They don’t want to suffer the harsh cold of winter anymore, and the same for the scorching heat of summer. Old age is a bitter reminder of the effect of time, and so they would rather gain promotion to a higher realm. Move up to a C-level suite, so to speak.
Personalism is worshiping God directly, as opposed to the impersonal feature of the Brahman energy. It is like appreciating the sun instead of knowing only the sunshine. Honoring the founder of the company instead of associating only with the colleagues and the products sold on the market.
One name for the personal side of God is Vishnu. This references a distinct personality, who has a specific form, who lives in a certain place, and who takes other, non-different forms for various purposes. Vishnu is the detail behind the abstract concept of God.
Another name for Vishnu is yajna. This is generally described as “sacrifice,” but since the ultimate beneficiary is Vishnu, the terms are identical. Worship of the personal God and the personal God are the same. This is why the worship is so important; it is like already achieving the goal before the shift has taken place.
The Vedas provide the institution of marriage as an outlet for yajna. In other words, it is a kind of sacrifice. The purpose is not to enjoy. Rather, through accepting a partner for life, I have a way to control the urge for sex. Control over this height of material enjoyment is essential for proceeding along the spiritual path.
Every other interaction within this category is essentially sense gratification. Whether a person is officially married or not makes no difference. Whether they are with someone of the opposite sex or something different, the engagement has the same influence, repeated birth and death.
When marriage is done as yajna, it is for the satisfaction of Vishnu. Since He is a person, He has direct interest in the activities dedicated to Him. He will help me to succeed in yajna. Sense gratification is for our personal interest, and we fall under the shelter of the material energy. Vishnu is ever-present, but He does not interfere with material life.
Therefore, marriage is always valuable. It always has relevance. Sense gratification has the same effect, whether in the past or the future. Time does not influence the illusion of maya that covers the intelligence of the individual living entity.
Stipulations on eating and sex life are within scripture for the sole purpose of restriction. Regulated sense gratification is the only way towards transcendence. Uncontrolled indulgence clouds the mind and creates a dangerous situation of continued rebirth, where the cycle begins anew with every subsequent placement within a material form.
Not that system outdated,
Principles our time predated.
That sense control needed,
Otherwise rebirth proceeded.
Marriage institution a way,
In regulation to stay.
Such that for Vishnu dedicated,
Simultaneous consciousness upgraded.