Preserving "the sanctity of marriage"

A thought I had after reading Scott’s forums:
If we’re so interested in preserving the original Biblical concept of marriage (by creating an amendment banning gay marriage), shouldn’t that amendment ban divorce (except for where scripture allows)?

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42 Responses to Preserving "the sanctity of marriage"

  1. Scott says:

    I’ll go ahead and try to make a point that I tried to make on my board. Marriage is a legal relationship as well as a spiritual one which is why the government has authority to specify what may and may not be considered marriage. I think the legal question addresses the issue of who may or may not enter into a legal relationship called marriage. I see this as different from mandating the issues of how, where, why or when two people can be married and under what circumstances they can break the relationship.
    Certainly, I’d prefer that anyone considering marriage would follow biblical guidelines. As the author of marriage, I think God would have some good ideas for what works best. Undoubtedly, there are severe problems with marriages in our culture especially in the area of divorce. I see this as a problem but not a matter of law. Law can regulate behavior but not conscience or feeling, and a miserable couple that is emotionally divorced is not a favorable legal solution to the divorce rate. I still contend, however, that there is a societal benefit outside of the religious realm in specifying who may enter the legal relationship of marriage.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I appreciate where conservatives are coming from; I really do. But for them the battle is already lost.
    The industrial revolution killed traditional marriage. I agree with the conservatives that marriage is a bedrock of society. But the economic foundations of society have changed and marriage has always been primarily an economic institution.
    Marriage has always changed and adapted to fit economic realities. Arranged marriages once made perfect sense and to challenge that notion was to challenge the foundation of society. A ban on interracial marriages once made economic sense (though, certainly not morally) because races tended to be so sharply divided along economic lines. There were caste systems and intermarriage meant elevating someone to a higher caste, thus depleting the ranks of workers. Once those barriers were cracked, though certainly not removed, the need for a prohibition of interracial marriages dissolved. No need for slaves means no need for segregation.
    Now, we have no need for children. We face over-population, over-crowding and over-spending. We are a culture of disposable employees and career changes. To have children is to actually decrease your economic power and this has never been the case in recorded history that I know of. Having children is a matter of choice for us (get ready for the abortion tie-in, kids). The modern human’s need to procreate is nothing more than selfish emotionalism – not, of course, that I won’t selfishly and emotionally have kids. Kids are something you plan to have like buying a lake house or a boat.
    The actual root causes of various “problems” with the Western family are rampant capitalism and the rise of the middle class. The American Dream killed the American Family. No need for children means there’s no need to protect the unborn; there’s no need for traditional families capable of procreation; there’s no need to stay with a partner for life (this, combined with an extended life span); and there’s no need to reserve sex for marriage. Would you be so naive as to assume that there were no gay people in 1787? No “partners” cohabitating? No abortion? Of course there were all of these things, but the economic realities of the day self-regulated society so that these were aberrations.
    Now, I won’t take a theological or a moral stance on these issues. I have my views, but I don’t know that they’re relevant at this point. The course has been set. To restore the American Family to its traditional roots would mean a return to a society where children (and, thus, families) are important. We’re not going to do that unless there’s a catastrophe that forces us to revert economically.
    I do find it ironic that the political party that wants to restore “family values” is the same party that so heartily endorses big business, the cause for the death of the American family.
    As far as what “The Government” should do, I think that a constitutional amendment against gay marriage would clearly be overstepping its bounds. It would be taking the moral stance that a minority of Americans hold dear and decreasing the rights of citizens, rather than preserving them. That terrifies me. Who’s next? Maybe Catholics; maybe Muslims; maybe Democrats. Should we make drinking illegal again because Bush doesnt drink? Weve done it before. I think the amendment, not gay marriages, will mark the decline of our society. The purpose of our government has always been to preserve liberty; not to legislate morality.
    Churches don’t even agree with each other on the nature of marriage, anyway. In the Catholic Church, no civil ceremony is considered valid; it’s recognized only as long as the participants wish to recognize it and can be easily annulled. That’s because in Catholicism marriage is a sacrament that must happen in a certain way. So, no civil ceremony, heterosexual or otherwise, is valid… therefore, because of my beliefs, I think that no one should make me recognize marriages that my church considers invalid (drip, drip, goes the sarcasm). In the Orthodox Church you have to be married on a Sunday. Liberal Episcopalian churches already marry homosexuals, as do many other “progressive” denominations.
    By saying the he wants a constitutional ban on gay marriage Bush has signaled that he wishes to establish a state religion. It’s not just a matter of choosing the views of Christians over non-Christians; he’s choosing to take sides in a fight that Christians, themselves, are battling. He’s picking one group of Christians over another and saying that their views should be held over everyone else. Bad idea. Now, I happen to belong to a church that proclaims gay marriage as sinful. But I don’t want to force those views on anyone else any more than I want it to be illegal to eat meat on Friday during Lent.
    The answer, I think, is to let marriage be a completely religious institution and recognize legal rights based upon choice. I could have a civil union with my cat, for example. It doesn’t matter. The institution of a civil union would have no less weight than marriage currently enjoys – remember the Britney Spears matrimony stir-up? Traditional marriage as a civil institution has long been dead.
    Banning gay marriage won’t make a single person become straight. It won’t do a thing other than set a precedent for government to take sides in religious controversy.

  3. Jon says:

    Once again I follow Jeremy’s logic, but to a lesser extent in this instance. I don’t have a point for point rebuttal, but I would like to bring out an inconsistency that seems to be glaring to me. Your point about our government’s existence: I agree wholly with you that the point of government is to protect the rights of the people and to protect us from each other, this makes perfect sense and I think it should be pushed much more in political discussion, but to say that one cannot legislate morality is a different issue. Morality will always be legislated, the question is then, whose morality are we going to legislate? Mine? The gay agenda? The pro-choice agenda? The “progressive evangelical” agenda? The Catholic agenda? This is why I think that while my feelings towards GWB aren’t of the greatest enthusiasm, I will support our country’s leaders who follow the logic of marriage as a heterosexual union, in that area, not as discrimination, but as having moral standards and holding to them. Granted, this leaves out many other facets of the discussion, but perhaps a moratorium on the you cant legislate morality jab could be granted?

  4. Derek Lidbom says:

    I agree. Those who think or say they don’t legislate morality are simply bringing their morally relative stance into their decisions on legislation. I believe that a person’s views on morality are inseperable from their lawmaking decisions.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Right, Jon. Good call. “You can’t legislate morality” is a catch phrase that I’ll admit is very vague. I suppose what is commonly meant by that phrase is that making something illegal doesn’t make it go away. We couldn’t legislate morality in regard to alcohol; there were still gin joints and people still drank. Laws don’t make moral people; moral people make laws to protect themselves from having their liberties suspended. I suppose what I mean by that phrase is that taking the religious beliefs of a minority group and making them the law of the land doesn’t mean that the nation supports those religious views. I think it’s an important thing for religious conservatives to consider – is time wiser spent “making disciples” or going for the scraps that culturally conservative politicians throw them to keep them voting?
    I know I’m going to get nailed on the “minority” thing. I know that polls show that a majority are opposed to gay marriages, but I think it’s a majority in the same way that a majority is always fearful of change. I think it’s a minority that is opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds. This is reflected in the fact that only a minority are opposed to civil unions.

  6. Jeremy says:

    I want to reiterate that the phrase “you can’t legislate morality” does not reflect what I’m trying to say. I should not have used that phrase. All legal judgements are moral judgements. What I do mean is that it isn’t right to choose the religious views of one sect of a religion and make them law for everyone else.
    Ultimately, that’s actually a very humanistic interpretation of the purpose of government. It’s trying to create a utopia based upon your values. I’m very fatalistic about government, I’ll admit. We won’t create utopia; I think what we should have learned as a culture is to quit trying to create one view of utopia, but rather to secure all of our rights to live out our beliefs as best we can.
    Unfortunately, what’s moral is dictated by who has power. The role of government is to restrict that power and the power that citizens abuse to restrict other citizen’s freedoms.

  7. Derek Lidbom says:

    “All legal judgements are moral judgements. What I do mean is that it isn’t right to choose the religious views of one sect of a religion and make them law for everyone else.”
    “Unfortunately, what’s moral is dictated by who has power.”
    I don’t quite understand that, as it sounds like a relative view of morality…which is one that I don’t think that you hold to.

  8. Derek Lidbom says:

    Actually, I’m not so sure I agree anymore with the text I quoted. The first quote almost seems contradictory. If all legal judgements are moral judgements, then isn’t every legal judgement going to infringe on someone else’s view of morality?…Still thinking…

  9. Jeremy says:

    I think we’ve seen what’s considered to be moral shift all over the spectrum throughout history. That’s not to say that what actually *is* moral has changed. That’s a different debate. What I’m saying is that what’s considered to be “moral” by most people is dictated over time by who is in power: who sells us things, who governs us, who has power in our churches.
    What I’m saying is that most people don’t and won’t think for themselves.
    I’ve read some interesting theories that say that most people actually are not moral agents; most people make “moral” decisions out of a sense of self preservation – a “what can I get away with” system of self governance. I don’t think I’d go that far, but I do agree with it to an extent. That’s why I think that government should make as few laws restricting private behavior as possible. People will obey, but they won’t be making moral choices. Giving them freedom makes a more moral society because people have the option to choose.

  10. Jeremy says:

    Right, Derek. I guess that all views, even views to not allow religious views in the public debate, are still religious views.This conversation is good; I’m getting practise at watching what I say very carefully. :-)I guess my main position would be that government should allow it’s citizens to make as many moral choices as possible for themselves. It’s role is to restrict it’s own power and to protect us from infringing upon each other’s liberty.

  11. Scott says:

    I know it’s phenomenally uncool to draw comparisons between homosexuality and any other type of relationship, but there is something that keeps bugging me about the argument that I hear in support of gay marriage which is basically, let people do what they want to do. Let them express their love with whomever they want to. This is all fine, but what about incest? Before you get mad, seriously, using the same logic, why can’t two family members be intimate? I personally think it’s disgusting, but that’s a personal, moral opinion. What right would I have to say that these two people cannot be together? I’m not being sarcastic. Feel free to roll your eyes and write me off as one more homophobe, but I really don’t know how to hold a consistent world view that supports gay marriage but is disgusted at incest. The line seems too arbitrary. If I defend one, I lose the ability to express disapproval of the other and remain consistent in my views. Again, don’t get mad at me. I’m not saying that these two types of relationships are the same. I’m just saying that the arguments I keep hearing are so broad in terms of ensuring people’s rights to do anything that they want to do that they defend more than they probably mean to. I wouldn’t think that anyone on this board would defend incest, so what is the line that I’m missing? I’m looking for the logical divide that allows homosexuality but disallows incest. I know I’ve probably crossed a line here, but I’m interested in where this leads.

  12. Dwight says:

    I must confess I’m partial to Jeremy’s postings. I find his thoughts are usually the most thought-provoking, but in this case, sorry Jeremy, I’m going to have to take issue with your basic proposition that capitalism at the core of all our ills. Blaming capitalism for the moral, social and economic ills of society, more specifically as you stated, “…the actual root causes of various problems with the Western family are rampant capitalism and the rise of the middle class, the American Dream killed the American Family” is not a viewpoint of even the liberal left, but is rather a core tenet of Marxism. The argument begins with Ignoratio elenchi- the irrelevant conclusion. There is no logic in the premise that capitalism has anything at all to do with the decline of families or culture. It is a premise to support a proposition which has nothing to do with the discussion. The question we need to focus on is whether the government is justified in asserting that marriage is the bedrock of society and that there is a vested interest in, We The People, defining what the family is to be? I assert that of course we do. Keep this in perspective folks we’re not talking about inter-racial marriages, caste marriages or arranged marriages. This is a male-female issue. I’ve got to run. More later.

  13. Jeremy says:

    Right, but I’m not making a judgment against capitalism or in favor of the “traditional family”. I’m just saying that marriage, as we know it or want to recreate it, is already dead. If people (and I’m not saying that I consider myself in this number, though perhaps I do) want to recreate traditional marriage, then I think that the emphasis needs to be on creating a place for the family in society.

    This has been the position of the Catholic Church since (well, theoretically forever) 1968 and the Pope’s Humanae Vitae. I think that when conservatives attack “social ills” like abortion, gay marriage, extra-marital sex, etc. they’re missing the root cause, which is a society that has no room for the family. That’s because family is no longer an economic necessity. I’d say (and this is a totally side tangent) that a hypothetically, utopian solution would be a tightly regulated capitalist economy which encourages free enterprise but discourages excess and robber baronism. Wal-Marts do nothing to help family values. A small hardware store that’s passed from generation to generation does. If we didn’t have so many huge corporations we wouldn’t have all of the consumables that we enjoy, but do we need those things? That’s a pretty radical view, I admit, and not one that I’m strong on. I’m just putting it up for debate.

    P.S. – I first came to think about the debate already being lost whilst reading an article posted on an ultra conservative site, ironically enough.

  14. Jeremy says:

    Scott, I’d say that it depends. Are we talking about incest which involves an adult and a minor? Cousins? Siblings?

  15. Scott says:

    Let’s keep it to two (or maybe more) consensual adults. Counsins, siblings, gay, straight, whatever. I don’t think those distinctions matter for the discussion from what I can tell. But I would separate minors from this discussion since child molestation is a different issue.

  16. Josh says:

    I feel based on scripture that living a homosexual lifestyle is wrong, just as it is to live the life of a drunkard, glutton, or liar. I believe we are all born with a genetic tendency to sin. So, I feel that even if we do say that homosexuality is 100% genetically based, that it is still wrong. I believe that marriage is a God created relationship that was designed from creation to be a living picture of His relationship with His people. He set it up in context of one man, and one woman. Throughout scripture he keeps using the male and female pairing. To me, this, among other things, makes marriage a very sacred institution. It makes me cringe to think that our country would endorse homosexual marriage in the same way it would heterosexual marriage. At the same time, it makes me cringe that so many heterosexual people are being marrried in our states and in our churches who have absolutely no business entering into a covenat relationship like marriage. I believe that God mature these people and create God honoring marriages in spite of these marriages being founded improperly. All this said, I am not sure about a constitutional amendment to prevent homosexual marriages. Based on my limited understanding of this context and history, it seems like this would be an instance where the federal government would be dictating state legislation, which in the past led to a civil war. Again, I confess, I may be way off base there. Basically, I believe that homosexual “marriage” is wrong and would like to not see it widespread, but I am not certain that a constitutional amendment is the answer.
    I agree with Scott’s illustration that when we make this sort of relationship normal, when will the line once again be moved. What’s next, NAMBLA ( leading the way to legalized “Man Boy Love”? Or we could go back to poligamy or on to beastiality…we have no way to keep from going down the slippery slope.

  17. Leslie says:

    The difference between homosexuality and incest are that homosexuals don’t run the risk of reproducing at all, where incestuous relationships run the risk of producing children with various medical problems.
    The difference between homosexuality and ‘man boy love’ or beastiality is that it is 2 consenting adults.
    And….as far as gay marriage goes, who is it hurting? It’s ironic that a few years ago, people who were homophobic used the excuse that gay people were promiscuous and just ran around their little ‘gay towns’ having sex with whomever. Now those same people don’t want their long term monogamous relationships taken seriously.

  18. Derek Lidbom says:

    So…don’t allow the incestuous relationships to reproduce (it’s that simple, right?)…

    But seriously, I’ve been trying to think of a good answer to Scott’s question to play devil’s advocate, and I can’t. Is that the only reason incestuous relationships should be disapproved of, because of potential medical problems in their offspring?

  19. Scott says:

    Leslie, I totally agree with your point that child molestation and bestiality are in a separate category than two consenting adults. I tried to make that clear in my response to Jeremy. As far as the reproduction issue in regard to incest, yes that is a problem, but heterosexuals can also have severely disabled children. Even so, I recognize your point. But what about gay incestuous relationships between adults? Granted I haven’t heard of many of these, but should these be protected? There is no chance of reproduction there, but I think most of us have a core objection to that even though you could say that it’s not hurting anyone else.

  20. Josh says:

    I’m starting to think consenting adults get more credit than they need…

  21. Leslie says:

    I usually read all the political debates here, and don’t bother putting my 2 cents in, but this one hits much closer to home. My 2 best friends here in Buffalo are gay, and a couple, and would be married if so allowed.

    In order to keep this short, I just want to point out clearly one fact.
    We live in a free country, where people can choose a religion, or none at all. There should be no law, or constitutional amendment that is religiously or fear based.
    I don’t care who it makes ‘cringe’…or who it bothers…ignore it! Ignore it like you ignore Jewish people, or Muslims, etc.
    Those should make you ‘cringe’ as well.
    You aren’t going to take away their marriage rights, correct?
    I’m not going to touch the incest topic much, because to be honest, it doesn’t bother me either! It’s odd, but so are many things.
    I deleted a bunch of rambling that was here.
    It’s early.
    I just don’t understand how rules written thousands of years ago can be the end-all be-all in people’s thinking.
    I bet God would have something to say about many things today.
    Gas-guzzling SUV’s.
    Factory farming.
    Drunk driving.
    To name a few.
    Rambling again.
    I just don’t think true love should ever make anyone cringe for any reason.

  22. Scott says:

    “I’m not going to touch the incest topic much, because to be honest, it doesn’t bother me either! It’s odd, but so are many things.”
    That’s fine, and that’s pretty much my point. I disagree with your conclusions, but at least they are consistent. Many people wouldn’t hold them on principle to the extent that you do. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on this point, so I won’t try. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything in the arguments supporting gay marriage.

  23. Dwight Ball says:

    What is the purpose of marriage?

  24. Jon says:

    In response to Dwight’s question(sice no one else has taken the labor to answer):

    I would say, initially, that marriage, being a Divinely instituted ordinance (thus making it sacramental) would ultimately not be for the purpose of happiness but for the purpose of holiness, of those coming into the bond. Perhaps I could make some clarifications: Marriage as sacramental: I believe there is a difference between calling marriage a sacrament and calling marriage sacramental. In the theological tradition in which I stand, that of the reformed tradition, marriage has not been viewed as a sacrament per se, but more so as a covenant. I think this point of marriage as covenantal, while differing in the conclusions about the implications of the covenant, can be agreed on by all branches of Christianity; Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.
    This would require for us to define a covenant: A covenant is different from a contract. A contract, according to its legal definition, is an agreement between two parties in which they assent to do (or not do) a certain thing(s). Technically, this would require an offer, an acceptance of that offer, and then something usually referred to as a consideration, which is traditional legal language for the benefit received. When you think about it, this definition fits a lot of marriages. Many marriages today are, in fact, legal contracts: there are an offer or a proposal (of marriage), an acceptance (the engagement) and a consideration (lifelong bliss, I suppose). Over the centuries, governments have played an important role in enforcing and regulating the contracts that their citizens enter into, including marriage contracts. For marriage to be more than a contract, we would say that there must be something more. And for Christians this something more is rooted in the Biblical understanding of covenant.
    Which brings us to a discussion of covenant: The Old Testament stories about covenants God makes with his people ordinarily have two elements- a promise and a sign. One of the first covenants scripture describes is the covenant between God and Noah (Gen. 9:8-17). God gave his promise to Noah to never destroy all life again through a flood and the sign given was a rainbow. (Lets keep on track and not get an offshoot about the historicity of a universal deluge&) Later, God made a covenant with Abraham when he was 99 years old (Gen. 17:1-22). This covenant promise was for a people designated to God and the sign of that covenant was circumcision (which interestingly enough carried a sign of blessing and curse; what’s signified by the cutting of the skin on the male organ is blessing for those who believe (the shedding of blood points to the redemptive work of Jesus) while those who do not embrace God’s promise that a messiah will come (the seed of the woman and promised redeemer) will be cut-off from the covenant along with their descendants.) Still later, God made a covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:4-29), and this one in many ways is a very personal and real covenant made with David in which God promised to take care of Israel and David, and even promises to take care of Davids son after David dies. While no specific sign is mentioned with this covenant, it may be well found in the relationship itself. Finally, in the New Testament, Jesus established a covenant at the Last Supper with his disciples (Luke 22:19-20ff) Here the sign and thee promise are clearly made one. Jesus body and blood are for us both the sign and the promise. God was interested, always and only, in an exclusive relationship. I will be your God, and you will be my people. A constant refrain in Old Testament stories, and as you know from your reading of the Old Testament, faithfulness was a nearly impossible promise for the people to keep. However, God did, and does, remain faithful. So, when we speak of a covenant today in a Christian context, this is what should come to mind. Covenants, Biblical covenants, involve us at the deepest level of our beings, and thats true of covenant marriage as well.
    What is a covenant marriage?: First, in a covenant marriage we say that God takes the initiative. This is fundamental to the very nature of covenants, and it is a constant theme in scripture. God calls or invites people into relationships. Human beings, I believe, were created as relational beings, not just with God but with each other. More than that, God desires men and women to be in relationship with each other. Marriage was Gods idea. In Gen. -2 there is the remarkable suggestion that men and women together make up the image of God. Neither men alone, nor women alone, but together. In the image of God, we read, he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27) Im sure we all get sick of Bible thumpers screaming this verse expecting the whole world to hear their message without love. Im not a thumper, and it would NOT logically follow that because I believe that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman, that I automatically am homophobic or a gay-hater. For the record, I also have homosexual friends. Second, in a covenant marriage, change and growth are both anticipated and accepted. This not an issue of when you get tired of how the individual acts, or you just grow apart that the contract can be made null. Not so in a covenant marriage. A covenant by its very nature is elastic and flexible. When God entered into a covenant with Abraham, God knew from the beginning that Abraham would sometimes break the terms of the covenant, and whats so remarkable is not that Abraham was faithful (or unfaithful) to God, but that God was continually faithful to Abraham. The covenant endured. Changes take place, the covenant will endure. Third, a covenant implies freedom. While Biblical covenants may not be voluntary, they have the paradoxical quality of being life-giving and life-enhancing. Gods promises to those who enter the covenant are simply staggering. Fourth, as implied, a marriage covenant, like a Biblical covenant, is intended to last.
    Having said all that, I find something missing. This brings me back to the point of marriage being sacramental. It may surprise you to know that, in the beginning, the church took relatively little interest in marriage. Early in church history, the preferred state was celibacy. It was practically sacred. And marriage? At the beginning it was all but ignored. As one writer puts it When asked, some priests might come by and say a blessing as a favor, just as theyd say a blessing over a childs first haircut. Another seemingly small but critical important characteristic of marriage in the early days of the church is that marriage was typically announced rather than pronounced. Early on, couples, or rather families, would simply announce that there was going to be a marriage and the church took little notice. Church ceremonies to mark the beginning of a marriage were largely unknown, which may seem very strange today since elaborate church weddings are the norm. Centuries rolled by with virtually no change to this arrangement. But then something began to happen. Historians dont agree on all of the details, but what seems clear is that power became an issue. Slowly and unevenly, the church began to exert its control over Europes social and political life, and this included the writing of laws pertaining to marriage, family and sexual union. In774, for example, the pope gave Charlemagne a set of writings that defined marriage and condemned all deviations from it. But it wasnt until 1215 that the Roman Catholic Church formally decreed marriage to be a sacrament, the least important one, to be sure, but a sacrament nonetheless. Equally important, the church established a systematic canon law for marriage, with a system of ecclesiastical courts to enforce it. These actions profoundly shaped our understanding and practice of marriage until the last century. In 1517 Luther nailed his theses to the church door (doorpost) in Wittenberg, and among his concerns were the Churchs rules about marriage. In 1520, with increasing boldness, Luther publicly burned the canon law. (Sounds just like Ole Martin. J) The most obvious issue that Protestants addressed was marriage as a sacrament. The reformers believed that only those acts Jesus himself told us to perform could be sacraments (yes, I do call them sacraments), limiting them to two, baptism and the Eucharist. Therefore, because Jesus nowhere (not even in the pseudo graphical Coptic gospels) tells his followers to get married or offers explicit commands with regard to marriage, the reformers would not regard marriage as a sacrament. And centuries later, thats still the official Protestant position. Marriage has never qualified as a sacrament. But then, what is marriage if it isnt a sacrament? This reiterates my distinction between sacrament and sacramental. Over the years it has become one of the rites of the church, and so it typically has the look and feel of a sacrament. There is certainly a tangible reality about it, and further, we say that it is a sign of Gods grace and presence. As one liturgy puts it husband and wife become one, just as Christ is one with the church. Thats an extraordinary statement, and it has a sacramental ring to it, but what does it mean exactly? Its difficult to say. In the liturgy we refer to the marriage relationship as a mystical union. In Gen. 2:24 the powerful description of this relationship is one flesh. It is the deepest, most profound relationship that is possible to have with another human being, deeper in many ways than the relationship between parent and child. I think that Catholic theology has a profound point on this aspect. Marriage as sacrament, the theologians say, refers to the months and years of married life more than it does to the wedding ceremony. In other words, Gods grace becomes visible not only at the church as the vows are spoken, but during a lifetime of shared experience. I once read a Catholic theologian try to explain this point before I was married by telling an old joke. When are two people married? he asked, Thirty years later! he exclaimed after an implied pause. At the time I dont think I fully understood, nor do I yet, but Im beginning to.
    So, with all that prolegomena I would say that marriage is a sacramental, Divinely instituted ordeal, intended to be a covenantal relationship between a man and a woman, that becomes, over time, a visible sign of Gods grace, that in turn works in the lives of the man and the woman taking part in that covenantal union towards holiness.

  25. Derek Lidbom says:

    Any other views on the purpose of marriage? (They don’t have to be as long) 😀

  26. Josh says:

    I believe the purpose of marriage is to bring God glory through being a picture of His relationship to His people (which has the result of bringing others to know Him and to know Him in a more intimate way). In order for this to happen more and more, the marriage provides a context for the couple to become more holy as individuals. Through increased holiness and glorifying God, the couple are better able to enjoy each other and their Lord, and in that He is glorified all the more.

  27. Josh says:

    Leslie: I 100% agree with you that “God would have something to say about many things today.” Hence, I see this topic as being among a growing list. However, one difference I see is that the breakdown of the family is contributing to and exasperating the rest of the things on that list.
    I’m not convinced we live in a “free country”. We are granted various liberties, but there are limits. I think a question we need to ask ourselves in this discussion is “What is the purpose of government?” How we answer this also influences our answer to whether or not our government should legislate on marriages. If one of the roles of government is to preserve rights and protect justice, or as the Constitution says, “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [defense], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” then the answer would then depend on the impact that homosexual marriages have on society. If research were to show that adults who grow up in a home that is grounded in biblical principles (not necissarily Christian or those who call themselves Christian), tend to be less likely to kill, steal, etc. (things that do not promote the justice, domestic tranquility, or general welfare as mentioned in the Constitution) and those who grow up in environments permiated by homosexual unions tend to do more of these things, would we then say that it is the duty of the government to prevent these unions as a means to accomplish that which the Constitution sets forth as thr purpose of our government? I realize this hypothetical research design stinks, but humor me and imagine some sort of research that would fit that bill. If the reverse were true (people in biblical homes are the ones who prevent tranquility, general welfare, etc.), then it would also be our govenment’s duty to do something about that. I can imagine that some supposedly “biblical” environments are doing a great job at turning out some really nasty folk (as is seen by many a pastor’s child). But, as is implied by my quotes, I’m thinking that those environments are not really founded on biblical principles. Don’t ask me to exactly spell out what that would look like, I don’t exactly know off the top of my head.

  28. Scott says:

    “I can imagine that some supposedly “biblical” environments are doing a great job at turning out some really nasty folk (as is seen by many a pastor’s child).”

    I’m hoping that wasn’t a pointed comment :o)

  29. Dwight Ball says:

    Well- I’ll say it if no one else will. It is obvious that many of us stand on opposite sides of a great divide. If the question is raised: What right does the government have to outlaw murder? Most of us will say that God established the precept that murder was wrong. Those who don’t believe they are accountable to God say it has been a timeless acceptable constraint put on all cultures and all societies. The same would go for cheating, adultery, stealing, running red lights and any host of other laws and boundaries we voluntarily put on ourselves. Where the gray areas come is when the Bible is silent on a specific ethical situation. As christians we are bound by the precepts, laws, commands and clear intent of God found in the Bible. Above all, we are bound to the highest law, that of love for our neighbor, ourselves and God. For those who believe they are not accountable to God, life becomes a never ending quest for a meaningful code to govern one’s life. Anyone who wants to debate SUV’s, deforestation, big business, capitalism, and whatever other ism, can find christians and non-christians alike who will stand on either side of a line in the sand. But there are times when the christian and the non-christian have no choice but to part ways. Times when there is divide between them which the christian must unapologetically stand separate from a society that chooses to disregard a clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible doesn’t speak about SUVs, but it does speak about homosexuality. It is clearly stated in both old and new testament that homosexuality is a perversion and an affront to God. (The same as adultery, infidelity, drunkeness, lying and cheating.) As a christian then I have to decide how I respond when judges and government officials in San Francisco choose to disregard the laws the rest of us live under and give legal sanction to gay marriage. Will it take a constitutional ammendment proclaiming that marriage is to be between a man and a woman only, a stance all christians should be taking? I don’t know. I doubt that will pass. But one think I must do is be unapologetic in proclaiming that the divide between us is clear. God started the whole concept of marriage. He declared it to be sacred. Marriage between homosexuals isn’t a marriage then. It is an unholy alliance of those who choose to shake their fist in the face of God and declare themselves beyond God’s laws.

  30. Josh says:

    Scott, you and your family are some of the most amazing exceptions to that stereotype and i can only hope that my children turn out as well.

  31. Jeremy says:

    My question, dad 🙂 , is whether, therefore, “adultery, infidelity, drunkenness, lying and cheating” should also have constitutional amendments against them?

    Adultery isn’t illegal. Why is that? Neither is drunkenness, unless your drunkenness is likely to harm innocent victims. Lying and cheating are only illegal in specific situations.

    Why aren’t Christians pushing for a constitutional amendment that makes infidelity illegal? That is just as wrong in the Bible as is homosexuality. In fact, I’d say that they’re on par with each other. Why did the founding fathers choose to not make adultery a federal offence?

    My position is that the reason that adultery isn’t illegal should be the same reason that homosexuality shouldn’t be illegal. There’s a difference between prohibiting those things that will obviously cause harm to others (specifically, where one party is a victim) and prohibiting those actions which have no “victim” but could be considered as “sinful” by certain religious groups.

    A common misunderstanding in the conservative ranks is that allowing something to be legal means that the government endorses it. I don’t think that’s true. Does the government endorse adultery? How about drunkenness? Greed? Lust? No, it has simply said that those are matters between you and whatever god you worship. They’re not matters for the government to decide. Likewise, no matter how “sinful” homosexual sex may be, it’s not a matter for the government to regulate. I dont feel that the government should have any hand in what is essentially a matter between you and your religion. Thats why civil unions should be all there is between you and the government.

    Allowing “sins” to be legal as very much in the spirit of the Christian faith. Why doesn’t God just *make* us obey him? Why is there evil? Why (if you’re not a Calvinist) do we get to choose whether to obey? Because having the freedom to choose allows us to be moral agents. Our decisions not to sin are based upon devotion to ideals, or out of love, rather than out of self-preservation. The more regulated a people are the less moral they are. Obedience to authority is not a moral act; it is an act done out of self-preservation. A nation given the freedom to choose is truly moral.

    The reason that conservatives push to outlaw homosexuality and homosexual marriage is that they feel threatened. Some homosexuals have organized. They have political power. Who would a constitutional amendment against homosexual marriage protect? It’s not going to make gay people not be gay. It only protects the “moral majority” against the “gay agenda” – against having to deal with the existence of ideals that do not match their own. Its what this country was founded on  we dont like the way youre doing things so were going to run away and isolate ourselves. If the Christian is called to be salt, then the American Christian feels compelled to hang out in the salt mines.

  32. Jeremy says:

    Oh, and one more thought. I know that many people don’t like the idea of legally having to recognize marriages that they consider sinful. But I’d counter and say that you probably already do. Marriage after a divorce is considered adulterous, right?

    The difference is that there isn’t a national association of people in a second marriage that has political power.

    My position is that no one should have to legally recognize any marriage. Civil unions should be how we are legally paired off.

  33. Leslie says:

    I second that. For the most part.

  34. Bitsas says:

    Homosexuals are Terrorists

  35. Jeremy says:


  36. Derek Lidbom says:

    I’ve had some more thoughts and conversations on this:

    It seems to me that both sides have somewhat effective slippery slope arguments.
    The people who want to remove morality from government argue that if we let the government make moral decisions, then we might not be able to stop the progress in that direction, and soon enough the government will be telling people they can’t get divorced, then they have to believe in God, then they have to go to church, and so on. The people who want the government to enforce the constitutional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman argue that every legal decision is a moral decision, and if we remove morals from government, then what’s next? Somewhere along the line, they can come up with something that is a not very unreasonable possibility in the progression of keeping the government from enforcing moral decisions that you (probably) disagree with. Incest, Beastiality, Pedophilia.

    I would like someone on the other side of this issue than me (I support defining marriage as it has almost always been defined, through the ages, cultures and religions, as between a man and a woman) to give their perspective on Josh’s line of questioning that seems to have been ignored. From his Feb. 26th post at 4:34pm:

    If one of the roles of government is to “…promote the general Welfare” then the answer [as to the role of government] would then depend on the impact that homosexual marriages have on society. If research were to show that adults who grow up in a home that is grounded in biblical principles…tend to be less likely to kill, steal, etc. (things that do not promote the justice, domestic tranquility, or general welfare as mentioned in the Constitution) and those who grow up in environments permeated by homosexual unions tend to do more of these things, would we then say that it is the duty of the government to prevent these unions as a means to accomplish that which the Constitution sets forth as the purpose of our government?


  37. Jeremy says:

    I would be very suspicious of any study that “proves” one way or another the effect that growing up in a home with homosexual parents has on children. There are just way too many test groups and I doubt that a study would include them all – a study would have to not only compare children from a homosexual family to children in a traditional family but also compare all of the other various non-traditional family units.

    I think this is a flawed line of reasoning anyway. Even if you grant that homosexual homes are flawed environments you’d have to put them in the same grouping as single parent homes, abusive families, homes where parents work too much, latch-key kids, homes with step-moms and dads, homes where a parent remarries after a spouse’s death… the list could go on and on. All of these situations are less than ideal. But the government has no business getting involved.

    I also think it’s a slippery slope to call something moral simply because it’s been considered moral by the ruling classes (winners make the history) in most of recorded history. Slavery, racism and extreme sexism would fit neatly in those categories.

    I don’t think we’re going to have a government that “figures it out” and makes prefect laws. We’re not going to achieve utopia. And it is a slippery slope on either side of the debate over judicial morality. But, I think that when we err, we should err on the side of freedom.

  38. Dwight Ball says:

    I think the events of the past two weeks give us sufficient grounds to question whether a slippery slope argument cannot be used. When logic is taught and the subject of slippery slope comes up, it is discounted not because it is per se invalid, but because of a misuse of “if-then” assumptions. A series of increasingly unacceptable consequences are drawn to arrive at a conclusion which appeals to fear but not logic. However, if one can show that there is precedent and plausible connection between the stages of A to B then the slippery slope argument should at least be considered. For example: if you headed off on a hike through the woods and your mother says, be careful, one slip and you’re liable to go tumbling down a hill, hit your head and lie there unconscious until a bear eats you, you’d say, “ma! that is an invalid slippery slope argument.” However, if you are at the top of a cliff that drops off into an abyss, its been raining and there is mud everywhere, then we would say you are a fool NOT to accept the slippery slope argument. Let me bring this around and make a proposition. Gay marriages are the first stages of a slippery slope that are going to change our society in a way that most of us will not like. To support this theory I would have to make connections between the stages. The events of the past two weeks have provided more than enough fodder for this. In the past two weeks, one> two separate governmental bodies, the city council in San Francisco and the mayor of a Massachusetts town have defied the law choosing instead to follow “their heart” and do what they felt was the higher good. two> Canada, which legalized same sex marriage last year has been dealing with groups demanding equal protection for incest, siblings that love each other deserve equal protection under the law. three> NAMBLA has posted on their web site that their goal is to seek the lowering of the age of consent so that men can enter into loving (notice the language) relationships with young boys. four> Katie Couric interviewed the mayor of the Massachusetts town and had a gushing love-fest interview in which she asked him if he was going to run for president some day. This man is blantantly defying state law, and she’s asking him if he is going to be our leader some day. Contrast that with the blistering abuse Roy Moore took from Katie for wanting to keep the ten commandments in a courthouse. I do not claim we can prove a slippery slope connection, however, I will state that if society allows the government to back down on same-sex marriage, neither will have the backbone or the means to stop pedophilia, bigamy and beastiality from being protected by the law. Now who’s the homophobe? Me? No. I’m not afraid of homosexuals. I will love them as people whom God loves, but I will oppose their behavior and fight allowing them to mainstream into society. No, the homophobes are those who would puke at the thought of having homosexual sex and yet back off from gays for fear of offending them or telling someone that what they are doing is unacceptable and wrong.

  39. Derek Lidbom says:

    I do (through good reasoning) put homosexual homes in the same group as some of those other homes (abusive, single parent, etc.). The group that is less than ideal. But I think it is poor logic to say that because they’re in that same big group, and we haven’t done anything about the other issues, that we shouldn’t do anything about this. Marriage has become a joke to many. Why is that a reason to let it keep sliding down? If something is immoral (or bad, or undesireable), and we’re not doing anything to address that problem, does that mean we shouldn’t try to do anything to address the other issues that are in the same group as that something?

    If things are going to get better as a whole, they have to stop getting worse first.

  40. sarah says:

    my computer applications class results on this are as follows:

    3 say NO gay marriages
    1 says as long as they stay away from me
    1 said, yeah whatever and then changed his vote to NO.


  41. Ben says:

    I wondered how long it would take you to post a topic about this Derek. 🙂

    In my opinion, this is one of the most laughably rediculous things W has tried to pull in his one (and hopefully only) term of office. The only point of what he is trying to do is to legalize discrimination. Why dont we just go ahead and ban interracial marriage while you’re at it. And divorce (like Derek said). And we should just probably go ahead and outright kill all gay people anyway, because they have nothing to live for anyway, right?

    One can definitely tell that “W” has never had any gay friends in his life. He seems to assume that all gay people are gay by choice just to spite God. This is about as far from the truth as one could actually get. Many of the gay people I know struggled long and hard with this. Sometimes their faith helps them come to grip with who they really are, sometimes their faith drives them to suicidal depression, usually its somewhere in between.

    How can you deny someone the same basic rights that the rest of us enjoy because of who they are?

    (Sorry, this particular issue gets me a bit riled up, if you can’t tell)

  42. Ben says:

    From now on, I’m just going to start every one of my posts on these issues as “I agree with what Jeremey just said”. We seem to have the same opinions on most things, and he can sure put things into words so much better than I can. 🙂

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