Thoughts on Legal Protections for Biblical Marriage

Dear Reader,

I recently reviewed Frank Boreham’s book The Whisper of God. There is one more thought I had while reading it that I wanted to share. At one point, Boreham says:

“Now it has been often remarked that the amplification of marriage legislation weakens that sense of the awful sanctity of marriage which it derives from its divine institution and commandment. Men and women become more careful to observe the letter of the human law than the spirit of the divine ordinance.” (Kindle loc. 376)

Now Boreham wrote some time ago and in New Zealand so I don’t know what legislation he is thinking of, but his point is still a good one — when we have a written law before us, we tend to forget the spirit which was originally motivating it. We can see this is Jesus’ day as he rebukes the Pharisees for enforcing he jots and tittles of the law while neglecting the spirit behind it.

In our own day, conservative Christians are up in arms about gay marriage. The solution to this perceived threat is to pass legislation, whether laws or constitutional amendments, which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I am not at all sure that this is the way to go. I do think the other side has a good point when they say that we would thus be imposing our morality on them. And I can understand how it would seem unfair for us to say one loving couple can get married and another can’t. Christians of course will argue that this is a country founded on Christian values which we must uphold (I am not at all convinced of this since many of our founding fathers were deists) or that the government has no right to redefine marriage which is an institution established by God. In this latter argument I think we begin to get to the crux of the issue.

The truth is we began to lose this argument long, long ago when we first allowed the civil government to make laws concerning  marriage and to require marriage licenses of us. The government already has its hand in marriage. We have allowed them to say whether our marriages are valid or not. That is not something we can take back all of a sudden now that they are saying other marriages are valid too.

My proposal would be that we separate out these two forms of marriage which are now quite mixed and muddied in this country (I am told that In other countries like Germany civil marriage is really held quite separate from church ceremonies). Let us call what the state authorizes civil union and let it be available to everyone. The purpose of this contract, for that is what it is, a legal contract between two parties, is to convey certain legal rights like sharing health insurance and the ability to file taxes jointly.  But let us in our churches also have something quite different. I would prefer to call the one civil union and keep the name marriage for what happens in the churches but if this is not possible, let’s come up with a new word. And then when we do marry people in church let’s make sure it looks different too. For the truth is we began to lose this fight decades ago when we went the way of the world and started divorcing each other left and right for often very petty reasons. But a good marriage is more than just not getting divorced too. If we really made our marriages look the way the Bible says they should be, this would be quite a witness to the rest of the country that we really do have something different going on. This is the way to win hearts and minds — to act and live differently, to publicly live more godly lives, not by trying to pass yet another law which enforces our morality on others.








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