I have a friend who offers a Friday Evening Question on his FB page.
The following was tonight’s:
Here’s my Friday Night Question. The issue of homosexual marriage has been in the news a lot lately. Just today Oregon voted to remove all reference to husband and wife or male and female from their marriage certificates. I believe most Christians believe homosexual marriage is wrong. But here’s my question. Is it within the perview of government (state or federal) to insist that everyone in America conforms to the Christian view of marriage? Why or why not? What are the implications? Let the conversation begin.
Here is my response, posted here, as much so that I have it “saved” somewhere… and available to public viewing just in case you wanted to know 😀
No, it is not in the purview of the Government (Fed or State level) to insist that everyone lives by the Christian view of marriage.
However, This is an argument we as Christians lost about 150 years ago. Prior to that time, Marriage in America had been limited pretty much as a sacrament of the Churches, altho, clearly, in the West, it was much more often what we would refer to today as Common Law, with or without witnesses… Do a google search of “Marriage License original intent” to learn more, but I’ll summarize.
Post Civil War – During the Reconstruction period there were laws in most of the states which forbade inter-racial or miscegenation marriages. See, “negroes” were thought to be inferior to whites, and of course, the verse about being unequally yoked was, at the time directly seen as referring to racial differences, not spiritual differences. And so, many Christians backed such laws. We gave the STATE the right to make laws regarding marriage. Prior, the norm had been that both parties agreed, the parents agreed, and a notice of intent be posted publicly… Our founding Fathers did not have a Marriage license. However, by the early 1900’s, states decided that there was money to be made in allowing such “unlawful” interracial marriages. And so, they granted a license, ( license – according to Black’s Law Dictionary is a “permission to do that which is unlawful”) to said interracial couples wishing to marry…. Eventually the States realized this was a good source of revenue, and began requiring a marriage license for all marriages, not just those which had been legally deemed unlawful (as interracial marriages were until as late as 1967 in some states) . The worst part of all of this is, in some states, the marriage license actually lists three parties in the contract – the wife, the husband and THE STATE!!
Ok, so my point is, Christians asked the Government to step in on the matter of Marriage during reconstruction.
The state did. When it did, we lost Marriage as a right .. by allowing the state to exercise control over marriage, it is implied that we merely have privilege, not the right, to marry. In addition, Marriage should be between Us & God, witnessed by friends and loved ones. It should never have been in the hands of the state. But it now is. And now that it is, the state, I believe must treat all people equally under the law. Encouraging the State to enforce beliefs is a dangerous slope, one that marriage has been sliding down for over 100 years.
If the church had maintained it’s hold on “blessing marriages” – “By the power invested in me as a minister of the Gospel, by God; you are married, what God hath joined together let no man separate” during the reconstruction, the state would have come up with contracts to deal with the legal side of things – such as end of life decisions, inheritance, etc. They could also have granted their own “blessing” on a marriage entered into by the non-religious. These would have been legally binding but would not have been “permission to do what is unlawful”. And the “Church” at large would still have a prominent voice in the world in regard to marriage. But now, both the Church and it’s Ministers come under the authority, not of God, but of the State. “By the power vested in me by the State of _____ and God, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife.”
Maybe not what you had in mind Friend, but when this conversation comes up, I always chuckle sadly, cause it’s a battle we lost a very long time ago….”
The response was “Thank You, I didn’t know that.”
To which I further replied…
“You are welcome. Do a little looking into it. Wikipedia’s entry on Marriage License covers a great deal, altho mostly summary. OH state law is one that includes 3 parties on the marriage license, and that can be seen in online documentation from various law offices (there’s a link on the Wiki page). This particular rabbit trail goes even deeper, because on the books of many states, it says that the “product” of the marriage (ie children) are now of State concern… And we all know that type of thinking, while helping to ensure the safety of children in BAD situations also leads to “rights of the child” type mandates at the UN level, in which the authority of the parent is dismissed. Again, another really slippery slope, which all has a foundation from Asking the State to incorporate laws regarding marriage.
As you might imagine, if I were a minister ordained by God, and therefore separate from the State, I’d be hard pressed to marry someone according to authority given by the State… AND should I ever remarry, I’m not likely to seek a marriage license to engage in a God given right, which the State sees, by definition of the license they require, as unlawful.