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In my last post, I discussed the issue of marriage as a civil right versus the Constitutional right of freedom of religion. Essentially, the secular view of marriage as being between two people who love each other joining to form a single household is completely incompatible with the Judeo-Christian view of marriage, that being that a union is between a man, a woman and God. So how do we reconcile the two? The conclusion is that the two cannot be reconciled. Same sex marriage is simply incompatible with a number of religions including most denominations of Christianity. No matter how the Supreme Court rules on same sex marriage, the fact that marriage and the benefits of being married are so heavily codified in law means that more litigation is all but inevitable.
All of which brings up an important point: Years ago, gay rights groups sought legal recognition for Civil Unions. They won this argument in several states, and indeed the nation seemed to be trending toward civil unions as a solution to deal with the same sex marriage debate. All of a sudden, this wasn’t good enough. Suddenly, only recognizing “marriage”.
Some of this was a response to the weak civil union laws enacted by some states. While civil unions carry the same protections as marriage in some states, others do not recognize survivor benefits, next of kin, tax benefits and other legally codified marriage benefits. Some people, however, were simply dissatisfied with the idea of having a “civil union” instead of a “marriage”, even if a civil union has the same protections and benefits as a marriage.
The word itself has become the issue. They want their union, civil or otherwise, recognized under the law as a “marriage”. Period. For these individuals I simply say, have a union, whatever your state calls it, and call it what you will. The Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist Churches will never recognize your union as a “marriage”, but many Americans will.
On the flip side, those proponents of traditional marriage who want to codify marriage as a “union between a man and a woman” need to back off. Even their definition isn’t sufficient, as “traditional” marriage for Christians is between a “man, woman and God”. Since the First Amendment prohibits Congress (and by extension, the States) from making an “establishment of religion”, defining marriage according to a religious perspective seems to me to be doing just that.
Rather, proponents of traditional marriage should push for the elimination of the word marriage from the law. Replace the very concept of “legal marriage” with “civil union”. This enables both parties to have the exact same thing, and allows “marriage” to be defined by one’s personal preference, or by their church, or whatever standard they choose.
Better yet, push for the elimination of any kind of union from the law, aside from registration and recognizing next of kin status. Marriage needn’t be codified by law to encourage people to get married. Two people can join together in permanent bonds without the State granting its blessing.
On a final note, some proponents of same sex marriage won’t even be happy with codification of any type of union into law. Until churches and private institutions are forced to recognize same sex marriage in the affirmative; until ministers are required to perform same sex marriage in violation of their religious beliefs and churches required to offer their sanctuary to same sex weddings, these individuals will never be happy.
These individuals are hopeless. Their world view is so self-centered that they can’t be reasoned with. There is no justification, legal, religious or moral, that should compel a minister to violate his morals and ethics to comply with the law. There is no sound justification for requiring a church to abdicate its religious principles. The only reason to attempt enacting such requirements is to attack individual freedom, both of the ministers and the parishioners. It would be, essentially, an Inquisition by secularists against religious people. It would be the creation of a Politically Correct Thought Police, a state that is anathema to the very freedom and individualism it would claim to uphold.
Neither side of the same sex marriage debate can ever be fully satisfied with a fair outcome. But our secular world must come to a reasoned conclusion, or we risk devolving into one of two inevitable outcomes: Endless litigation of civil rights versus individual, or the creation of a police state where one side or the other rules all outcomes. Neither of those two options seems all that appealing to me.