The Good News is that the Republicans failed in their attempt to "defend" marriage. The Bad News is that the Pennsylvania legislature wants to waste time writing what is already law (in our 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) into the fabric of our state’s constitution (see news article here). Gotta love conservatives, always messing with the Constitution . . . .
A few thoughts on the whole marriage issue, and how it may or may not affect the church.
- As far as the state is concerned, marriage is a legal contract between two people (increasingly states are rushing to clarify that those two people be of the opposite sex) to which certain rights, privileges and responsibilities are ascribed. The state has decided to incentivize marriage through a variety of tax breaks, believing that a society constituted of married couples is a good thing.
- If marriage is about the commitment of two people in a stable, loving
relationship, and if we think that a society made up of people in
commited, stable relationships is a good thing, how is it a bad thing
if the people in such a relationship are of the same gender?
- When clergy perform weddings, they are acting as agents of the state. Though legal institutions govern the granting of marriage licenses, the marriage itself isn’t legal until the presider signs the license. Perhaps, as was suggested by Marshall in a comment on Derek’s blog, the church should get out of the business of signing off on the legal/civil state of marriage and simply concern itself with the church’s blessing on the married couple. I witnessed a wedding in Ecuador years ago that kept the two separate – the judge performed a civil marriage in the family’s home at a beautiful party, and a few weeks later the couple had a church wedding at which their civil union was blessed. This kind of arrangement just seems cleaner to me . . .
- What does it mean to "defend" marriage, anyway? I don’t think that marriage needs a Big Government defense or gender-specific legal language. Rather, let the free market of singles and couples decide what type of social/relational fabric our society needs, and let this issue sit far below energy, war, terrorism, and the economy on the priority list of our politicians.
- It seems that co-habitation and divorce are a much greater threat to marriage than are committed homosexual relationships. And of course, current rates of divorce and co-habitation are partly a product of increased freedom – freedom to get out of a bad marriage, freedom to live with someone without marrying, freedom to make choices not available to women and men two generations ago. Give me freedom – I’ll take freedom’s consequences rather than suffer the oppression of a cultural tyrant any day.