Luke 12:48 -
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked"
Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted an interesting link to an article by an Indiana University Senior. You can read the post HERE. I don’t want to waste your time or mine responding to this senior’s sophomoric claims – but he does raise a pertinent issue in our country that is worth addressing. My hope is to show why the government should…
Give Marriage Back to the Church
A battle is raging in the United States regarding marriage. Gay rights advocates continue to cite the inequality of rights afforded to homosexual citizens as opposed to heterosexual ones with regard to civilly supported matrimony. Conservative Christians though don’t want to legitimate marriages, under God, that they believe Scripture says are sinful. Any government legitimacy of this action seems to them a concession that will endanger their faith. With such a dilemma – how can this problem be solved?
I believe that at the heart of this issue is a failure to adequately separate issues of church and state and I have a proposal that would rectify the situation for all parties involved.
My suggestion is that the United States government STOP performing marriages. Now here me out… The complaint by various Civil Rights groups is that various groups are not being afforded equal treatment under the law. Logically this seems to be a legitimate complaint. Instead of marring people – all people should be allowed to be attributed to one another though a Civil Union by which they would qualify for the civil benefits that current married couples do with regard to taxes, property, contractual obligations, etc.
If, on the other hand, various Civil Rights organizations are upset because the government is not affirming anyone’s right to marriage under God – well then, in my opinion, that is a Scriptural and theological issue outside the function of Government.
I suspect, in order to make my suggestion an acceptable reality, the government would need to “grandfather in” all civil marriages to date. I think for religious communities this would be a welcomed compromise.
The actual rite of marriage would then be left to religious institutions. It would thus follow that say – in the Christian tradition for example, denomination’s would need to decide as to what types of marriage they would support based on their Scriptural and/or theological stands. For example, the United Church of Christ – I would expect based on their current theological stand – would be all for marrying homosexual couples whereas the Catholic Church would not be. These decisions could be made based on what each denomination holds to be their foundational tenets. Various groups could join the denomination of their choosing based on these decisions.
I would note that it is often portrayed as if more “fundamentalist” or “evangelical” churches are simply bigots or “homophobic” for opposing homosexual marriage – and while there are certainly extremist cases of this – for the most part, this is not a fair assessment of these churches actions. The issue at hand is a hermeneutical one, that is, the science of interpretation of the Scriptures by each respective party. To say that a certain group are bigots or homophobic simply because they refuse to do something that they see as being opposed to the teaching of God is simply not a fair critique (nor is it an effective manner of persuasion to one’s position). Exclusion from private institutions is not illegal nor, would I argue, necessarily immoral.
Obvious illustrations of such exclusion extend to all kinds of societal membership. Person’s views on any number of things – behaviors included – can preclude one from being able to be a member of a given individual organization.
An easy example of such logical exclusion with regard to the church is some denominations use (or lack thereof) of technology. Because I have a different hermeneutical view of what the Scriptures say about technology I am not permitted to become Amish, German Baptist or Mennonite. This in no way means that my exclusion somehow indicates a lack of faith on behalf of my Amish, German Baptist or Mennonite brothers and sisters, it just means that they believe that they are called to live under certain restrictions in order to be faithful to how God is commanding them to act. For me, this is just an obvious indication that I am not called by God to be Amish, German Baptist or Mennonite. Regardless though as a Christians, even though we disagree theologically on this issue (or any other) we are still called to Love one another in Christ.
The United States Government’s willingness to turn marriage solely over to the church would ensure equal civil rights to all through civil unions while allowing churches – either locally or denominationally to retain autonomy as to their specific theological and Scriptural beliefs. Everyone wins. The government goes back to dealing with civil rights and the church (or other religious institution) rightly attends to issues pertaining to God and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, if couples feel called to get married “under God” they could pursue that option in addition to their civil union as well.