Does It Have To Be?

This is my public policy post on this subject. I’ve actually said this before in different words and the more I hang out with anarchists, the more I find myself agreeing with them.

The Bible is very clear that homosexual behavior is a sin. It follows that the commitment ceremonies gays insist upon calling “weddings” are public declarations of ongoing sexual immorality. The Bible tells Christians to FLEE sexual immorality because it corrupts our relationship with God. It is worse than other sins because it involves our own bodies. From those two facts, I judge that God is telling Christians that we may not encourage the homosexual activity of other humans. For the sake of our own relationship with God AND for the sake of the homosexuals we come in contact with, we must NOT participate in their commitment ceremonies, even as an unwilling caterer, photographer, florist, etc.

The Bible also teaches me that I am responsible only for myself and members of my local church. Nobody becomes a Christian by forced conversion. They may become a Christianist, but that is not a true relationship with Jesus Christ, which is what true Christianity is. My faith teaches me that I should always evangelize wherever I go, but it is not me who brings people to Christ. He does that.

So how does that connect to a public policy statement?

Christians need to recognize that we live in a very secular world and we can’t do anything about that. Stop trying to legislate morality. It doesn’t work and it just hardens people against the gospel. I firmly believe that if we stopped trying to use the government to force people to do things our way and concentrated on being friendly, loving, and firm in our beliefs and practices informed by those belief, we would see a sea change. People would be more willing to come to the Lord because they would understand that He is not a dictator and we are not His minions.

Think about that.

To secularists through the United States – I don’t want to persecute you. Everyone has the right to believe as they want and, to the extent that we are not harming others or depriving them of liberty, to live as they wish.

But …

Tolerance in liberty is a two-way street. Your liberty depends on my liberty and mine depends on yours. If you try to force me to participate in the sin of others, I’m going to say “NO!” My resistance is not a form of hatred, but an expression of love. I may not completely understand why God condemns homosexuality, but it is enough for me to know that He who created mankind does in fact say it is a grievous sin. Just as I would not sit down for a beer with an alcoholic because that would be harming the alcoholic, I won’t attend or cater the commitment ceremonies of same-sex couples. Yes, they have a right to commit to one another, but I have a right to not participate.

When you force your ideology on others, you force them to have an opinion on the subject. You’re welcome to your opinion about the practice of my faith, but you are not welcome to force me to violate it. If you don’t want me to resist your sin, don’t ask me to participate in it. That’s tolerance. We BOTH have the freedom to live our lives without interference from the other. Anything less is tyranny.

And this is where the public policy statement comes in.

Government is not the answer to our problems and it is rapidly becoming the source of tyranny. A marriage license is a secular non-religious document – a contract. It does not create a marriage as God understands marriage.

Christian marriage is an institution of the churches. The 1st Amendment makes clear that the government should have no power to tell churches what they can and cannot do regarding Christian marriage, so why have we given the government that power?  Nothing prevents us from “hand fasting” before our churches and entering into “marital contract” with one another. My parents did … my mom still being unable, because Alaska was still under federal law, to get a divorce from her husband, contracted with my dad to own houses together, to receive his life insurance policies, for power of attorney for end of life decisions and for custody of me. It worked out better for her than a marriage license because with a contract, she had actual rights and he had actual obligations. They weren’t Christians, so theirs was a wholly secular decision, and it worked — in the 1960s when almost nobody was doing it.

But I’m a Christian with libertarian leanings and I want my political philosophy to be in line with God’s laws. It might surprise you to learn that God doesn’t say you have to have a government marriage license. For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families … or two individuals, like my mom and dad. For 16 centuries, Christianity defined marriage based on a couple’s wishes. If you claimed you had exchanged marriage vows, the Catholic Church accepted that as a valid marriage. In 1215 the Church (really an amalgamation of church and state) decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church, but people who married illicitly had the same civil rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate, the wife had the same inheritance rights, the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce.

In the 16th century, Europeans began to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices, mainly in an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed the match.

The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely rules that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage, but then the Civil War happened and the United States began to nullify common-law marriages between blacks and whites.

By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos”, or Asians while 12 states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, addict or “mental defect”, and 18 states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.

By the mid-20th century, courts invalidated laws against interracial marriage and other barriers, but governments began relying on marriage licenses as a means to distribute resources to dependents. Social Security survivor benefits require proof of marriage. Employers use marital status to determine whether they will provide health insurance or pension benefits to employees’ dependents. Courts and hospitals required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information. In the 1950s, using a marriage license in this way made some sense because marriage was the default condition of most Americans. Cohabiitation and single parenthood by choice were rare. Today, possession of a marriage license tells us little about people’s interpersonal responsibilities. Half of all Americans aged 25 to 29 are unmarried, but many of them have already incurred obligations as partners, parents or both. Almost 40 percent of America’s children are born to unmarried parents. Many legally married people are in remarriages where their obligations are spread among several households. Children can no longer be denied inheritance rights, parental support or legal standing because their parents are not married.

I favor of reverting back to an older marriage tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit”. Let couples write contracts between them for legal protections and obligations. Then just leave each other alone.

Christians understand that the only true marriage is that founded by God. Government need not be involved in that. Our private affairs should be none of its business.

Marriage is a promise made before God with your marriage partner, possibly before a witnessing community. Government is not needed for this to take place.

Souls are not saved by regulating morality. I understand the point of wanting to ban certain behaviors, but it doesn’t work and it is hypocrtical since there are plenty of divorced and remarried Christians in churches and our kids are often sexually active before marriage.

If you want to make a difference in our society, start with your own family and community. God is not surprised by what is happening now with regard to our government. Teach your kids in the way they should go, call your churches to task for where they have strayed. Reach out to friends who claim to be Christians but who are living sinful lifestyles and gently guide them back where they should be. When that fails, churches should consider discipline. Discipline does not make the sin go away. Of the divorced and remarried Christians I know, it’s unlikely any of them could reconstitute their former marriages. But they would be helped immeasurably by confessing their sin and recognizing that they are outside of God’s will before committing more deeply to the relationship they are in currently.

If we want Godly communities, Christians must be leading their families and raising their children in a Godly way. As a whole, we have largely failed at this. If we really want those that are homosexual in our communities to love Jesus, and reconsider their lifestyle as a result, we must first show them the love of Jesus that we claim exists. As a whole, this too we have largely failed at.

To the gay community, please understand that I do not hate you. However, I do encourage you to consider pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ. Not only for your own sake in this life but in the life to come.

The reality is that Jesus hung on the cross for your sin too.

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