Fairly recently there was a failed move in Alabama to stop issuing marriage licenses. It is the first of what is undoubtedly a lot of legislation like this in "red states" where the imposition of homosexual "marriage" by an act of judicial fiat is looming. The end result is obvious to anyone who is paying attention. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, the Supreme Court will whisk up a "right" for homosexuals to marry and that will be that. There is a great deal of wringing of hands among culture warriors but the die is cast and nothing is going to stop it now. All that is left to us now is a strategic retreat to get the marriage house in order.
Marriage is not really about property rights or tax breaks or who gets to make decisions about end of life medical issues. It is about the union of a man and woman and as a result, generally speaking, the creation of a family unit that is fruitful and multiplies and replenishes the earth. The ideas of creation, of marriage and of child-bearing and child-rearing are as inextricably linked to the Genesis account as sin and the Fall. It is through the course of history that man has added in things like dowries, inheritance rights, succession of children all the way up to the modern era where marriage, like church, is seemingly more a vehicle to get tax benefits than a sacred and inviolable covenant. If you doubt that, just wait until the Supreme Court inevitably decided that contributions to churches are not tax deductible and that clerical wages don't get special tax treatment and see what that does to the level of giving at local religious organizations.
Back to my point. The sacred covenant of marriage doesn't benefit from having secular benefits attached to it at all. Certainly individuals may benefit and many do. I am all in favor of anything that reduces the burden that the state seizes from individuals and families although I chafe at the notion of citizens having to come before Caesar, hat in hand, and beg for their own money back. Yet the cost to the covenant relationship of marriage for the church as a whole has been devastating. By simultaneously expanding the scope of marriage to include contractual and financial benefits and minimizing the sacred nature of marriage the church has created this mess where certain people can argue that the inherently exclusionary definition of marriage is discriminatory because it only confers benefits from the state on one specific form of union. Now that is true for a lot of benefits. Only veterans get veteran's benefits, railroad workers get their own retirement plan, etc. but inconvenient facts like that are irrelevant.
As I look back now, it seems like the push for "civil unions" might have been a better tactic and is still the way to go. Allow people to enter into binding contractual obligations that confer the non-sacred benefits of marriage to people and get rid of the entire concept of marriage as something controlled by the state and that brings with it state benefits. I have argued this before many times but actions like those we saw in Alabama are going to be accelerating and the time is now for the church to start talking about this. My position is as follows:
- The church should decline to perform marriage ceremonies for unbelievers or even for people who have a cultural, "I checked the 'Christian' box on a survey" kind of "Christianity".
- The church should not require state marriage licenses to perform ceremonies.
- The church should refuse to sign off on those licenses.
Let the state figure it out and decide how to confer benefits formerly reserved to married couples. Homosexual couples and any number of iterations of men, women, men who used to be women, women that used to be men, etc. are going to get secular marriage benefits so let's just take the concept of marriage out of the equation entirely. We helped make this mess by greedily taking Caesar's offer of financial goodies if we agreed to be his servant but being unequally yoked in this case has been as disastrous as it always is. It is time to fix this mess and only the church can do it, but if we insist on fighting culture war battles that are already lost we are going to be worse off than any of us can imagine.