On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United Sates extended the right to get “married” to same-sex couples. It was a day of joy and celebration for same-sex rights advocates, and a day of infamy for most Christians. Most Christians believe that the Supreme Court changed the definition of “marriage” by their decision, but that is NOT the case. If you were born after 1923, you have lived under AND embraced the modern definition of “marriage“. If you have ever gotten a “marriage license“, you have affirmed the validity of the modern definition of “marriage“.
Note that I am NOT addressing homosexuality. I am addressing “marriage” as it is defined and exists in the United States.
Before you start picking up stones to throw at me, bare with me and hear me out. Prior to 1923, “marriage–licenses” were largely-unknown, but then the Federal Government passed the Uniform Marriage and Marriage License Act, and by 1929, every state in the Union had adopted marriage license laws, and by 1935, all states required licenses except Maryland, which soon followed shortly thereafter.
“Marriage” had been largely under the domain and authority of the Church, but then the State stepped in and gave itself the authority to license and regulate “marriage“. Do you understand the implications of this fact? What the State can regulate and license, the State can also define, or redefine as it sees fit. The State can also expand it as it sees fit.
The Church wasn’t going to be left out in the cold, so the Church became the “enforcer” of this new State-sponsored “marriage“. How many churches would allow an “unlicensed” wedding to take place in their facilities? How many pastors would perform a wedding for a couple that didn’t have, or intend to get, a “marriage license“? The take-away is that “If you want to get married in the church, you have to have a “marriage-license“”. If that isn’t being an “enforcer” for the State, I don’t know what is.
There is the common attitude among Christians that any couple which isn’t “legally–married” is simply “living–together” and “living in sin“. That attitude reinforces the “need” to “do it right” and gives Christians the “justification” for condemning those people as “immoral” and “sinners“.
What is “marriage”?
See, what the people fail to realize with these procedures for marriage given by the Government unto States is that, when you marry with a marriage license, you grant the State jurisdiction over your marriage. When you marry with a marriage license, your marriage is a creature of the State, it is a corporation of the State, therefore, they have jurisdiction over your marriage including the fruit of your marriage, in which the fruit of your marriage is your children and every piece of property you own. When you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, but you are also marrying the State. “With This Ring I Thee Wed“, is of the State and is found in most county courthouses in many States. That phrase was published by the State Bar Association. They don’t tell you that when you repeat your vows, you enter into a legal contract, in which there are three parties to that contract, with the first being you, the second being the person you are marrying, and the third being the State you marry in. See, the State and the lawyers know that when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, you are marrying the State, thus giving undue jurisdiction to the State.
Thus, “marriage” is a legal-contract, which is “licensed” by the State, recorded by the State, and enforced by the State. If you believe that this is Biblical “marriage“, you are smoking some kind of strange weed. According to our modern definition of “marriage“, nobody in the Bible was “married“. PERIOD!
In spite of the “Christian” trappings of most weddings, they are, at their core, a civil ceremony. The officiant perfoms the ceremony under the authority of the State, and without that State authority, the marriage is not legally-recognized. Have you ever heard; “By the authority vested in me by the State of ____________, I pronounce that you are husband and wife.“?
For more background about how the State “owns” you, go back and read “You Are Not Your Own…”
Common-law, or undocumented marriage is only allowed in nine states plus the District of Columbia (DC). All of the States are supposed to honor common-law marriages from other States, but some States place restrictions of how they honor those marriages. In spite of our disdain for common-law marriage, that was the way non-religious people got married for hundreds of years before the advent of “marriage-licenses“. Under common-law marriage, a couple is considered “married” if they live together and say that they are married. How is that any different than any other kind of “marriage“?
Is there really a “Biblical marriage-model“? The simplest marriage “prescription” I have found is in Genesis 2:23-25:
“Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
In the Old Testament, we note that Abraham married his sister.
We also note that Abraham sent one of his servants to seek a wife for Isaac, and he took a LOT of goodies with him, the “dowry” or “bride-price“.
Jacob served Laban for seven years for each of his two wives, for a total of fourteen years service, as the “bride-price“.
David killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their bloody foreskins as the price of his first wife, Saul’s daughter Michal.
Are we really ready to go back to “arranged-marriage“? That was the model throughout much of the Old Testament.
“Biblical marriage” recap…
Rampant incest from the beginning up through at least Jacob…
Polygamy throughout the whole Old Testament…
Sex-slaves (concubines) throughout the whole Old Testament…
Girls were the “property” of their father until they were “sold” to their husband, and then became the “property” of their husband…
What part of that do you want to revive to get back to a “Biblical marriage model“?
What about monogamy?
Over the last several hundred years, monogamy has become the predominant marriage-model here in the west, driven by the false notion that it is the only “Biblical” marriage-model. The reality is that monogamy is only prescribed in one place in the Bible, and for one particular group of people – church leaders.
Qualifications for Overseers
3 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Qualifications for Deacons
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:1-13)
Church leaders are held to a higher standard because they represent Christ to the church. If a man is not a church leader, elder or deacon, he is NOT constrained by this command. Plural-marriage makes him ineligible to be a church leader, but this doesn’t imply that it makes him any less godly. Many Evangelical groups believe that a man is ineligible to be a church leader if he has been married, divorced and remarried. I believe that is an accurate interpretation.
I was ordained as a deacon in one church, and then ordained as an elder in a different church, and even though the church I belong to now believes that ordination for elder is for life, I am not eligible to serve as an elder because I have been married and divorced several times. What I do otherwise has no bearing on whether I am eligible to serve.
What are the options for Christians and churches that reject this expansion of “marriage–rights“?
1) Try to get all marriage laws repealed: Good luck getting all marriage laws repealed, because once the State gains the authority to regulate and license something, they aren’t going to give that up. Power corrupts, and more power means more corruption. Marriage and divorce are HUGE cash-cows for most States, and particularly for greedy divorce lawyers.
2) Refuse to participate in ANY State-sponsored and regulated “marriage“: Just as the church has the right to NOT perform same-sex weddings, the church can also refuse to perform ANY wedding that includes State-licensed civil-marriage. If a couple wants to get married in a church, to have a “church–wedding“, they are married BY the church, and if they want a State-sanctioned “marriage” as well, they can go to the courthouse.
3) Quit “feeding” and “endorsing” this State-sponsored “marriage–monster“. When you quit requiring couples wanting to be married in your church to have a “marriage–license“, you are no longer “feeding” and “endorsing” State-sponsored “marriage“.
4) Change your attitude towards couples who are “living together” without being “married“. Get to know them before you condemn them as “living in sin“. If they believe that they are “married” and present themselves as being “married“, they ARE “married“. “Marriage” does NOT require a piece of paper to be valid, whether the State recognizes their “marriage” or not.
Before you throw stones…
Before you start throwing stones at me, do your own research. Become more than passingly-familiar with the whole Bible, particularly the Old Testament. Most Christians know more about the “traditions of the elders” than they actually do about the Bible, even though they believe that the “traditions of the elders” are “biblical“. I have done, and continue to do, my own research.
How does this Supreme Court decision affect you?
Unless you are in a same-sex relationship, this decision has no affect on you. If you are in a same-sex relationship, you may now get “married“. The Supreme Court did NOT “redefine” “marriage“. They simply extended the rights to the benefits of “marriage” to same-sex couples. “Redefining” “marriage” happened long before most of us were born.