The blessings of marriage

It seems the Marriage Ammendment is back in the news.

So, it’s again time for me to ask, why is the government involved in the moral issues of a religious institution such as marriage? It seems to me that “sanctity” issues around life-long relationships are a faith matter, not a governmental matter. The government (in a country that promotes freedom of religion) should concern itself with matters of justice and public order, not with the covenantal relationship of marriage. Therefore, I think the government should stop issuing marriage licenses and performing marriages; the state should establish civil unions (same-sex or not) so that equity can be served in state recognized relationships between people. It would deal with issues of child custody, taxes, insurance, workers benefits, medical issues, etc. But marriage … that is, a union between two people in the eyes of God … is fundementally a faith-based relationship and should be sanctioned only by churches and other faith communities.

The gay marriage debate doesn’t often boil down to scientific understandings, psychological, sociological or even economic reasons (in fact, these perspectives almost always point to the civil recognition of same-gendered unions). No, it most often boils down to an issue of Biblical interpretation … and it’s not for the government to endorse one interpretation of scripture over another …. we’ve seen the tragedies that can be born out of state-sanctioned theology.

Personally, I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity of marriage. Dwayne and I have been happily married (most of the time) for close to 27 years; the commitment to a life-long relationship built on the strength and love of God has brought us many blessings: it has held us together through the more difficult times; it has given us the freedom to look honestly at the issues before us and ask for forgiveness when necessary; it has only benefitted our sexual relationship; and it has given us an understanding that our love reaches beyond our own wants and needs, and continually leads us to want to share the love and generosity of Christ to many other people. I would love for everyone to enjoy the blessings of this God-filled, life-long relationship. In fact, I hope my gay and lesbian friends could also enjoy that kind of Christ-centered relationship.

A civil marriage doesn’t provide for the blessings of a covenantal relationship — only a faith-based marriage does. A civil marriage is nothing more than a contract between people that says we’ll share things with each other for as long as we’re together — and a recognition of that relationship by the greater society. It’s legality offers no blessings of its own; the blessings come from the presence of God in the relationship. That is not something the state can provide for people.

The age of Christendom is over. The government is not the church, and it ought not to be. We need to have legally recognized familial relationships and unions that are fair and just for all people. AND we need to have faith communities be better able to articulate the blessings that come from having god-filled, sanctified, blessed unions. Christian churches need to better articulate the importance of having Christ-centered marriages. And we should provide ways of nurturing and encouraging love and spiritual understanding in marriage.