Originally Published March 26, 2013
With all the hustle and bustle about gay rights for marriage going on right now, I thought I’d take the opportunity to address the topic while it is current.
A recent Yahoo! News article used the following statement regarding the right to marry:
Several justices closely questioned the attorneys over the procedural issue, suggesting they may be poised to throw the case out without significantly addressing the broader issue of whether same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.
A fundamental right to marry – That term bears some serious thought.
The Origin of Marriage
Where did the idea of marriage come from? Animals mate (even in life-long bonds) without need of a ceremony or formal recognition. So where did humans get the idea? The simple answer is religion. Sacred texts (many from the Old Testament of the Bible) recorded that God Himself initiated the institution of marriage with the first human beings stating vows of commitment to each other, before witnesses and God Himself, establishing the sacredness of marriage. Over generations, marriage turned into a formal ceremony fit for celebration. All throughout history, marriage has been associated with God and some form of the Church – until the State imposes upon the Church’s activities.
“Separation of Church and State” has become a familiar phrase in today’s debates, but it’s a bit of a misnomer. A more true phrase would be “Separation of Church from State” because this “separation” seems only to apply to the Church staying out of State affairs and says nothing about the State meddling in Church affairs. Marriage began as a Church function, but due to the high potential for marriage to affect societies throughout history, governments have taken over the institution of marriage since ancient Rome. Marriage then ceased to be a simple covenant between a man and woman under God and became a privilege of citizenry.
Why did the Church relinquish the institution of marriage?
In modern America, it’s the same reason that the Church cowers under the government in many things – money. They fear losing the great and sacred “tax-exempt status” as a non-profit organization. In contracting with the government as a non-profit organization, the Church bound itself by document to allow the State a say in its affairs. Thus, the State now has the power to make or break the Church with the merest threat of loss of status. Marriage soon became a casualty to the Church’s misplaced trust.
Marriage – To The State
Once the State took over the institution of marriage, legislation soon appeared. Judges could then perform marriages, while citizens (including pastors through recognized ordinance) had to be recognized by the State as licensed to legalize marriage contracts. Now anyone, for a fee, can get a license to wed individuals – even to the extreme of the Las Vegas marriage “express” services that have no ties with sacredness whatsoever.
For the individuals getting married, they find themselves faced with a marriage license that is actually a three-way contract between the two individuals and the State. This license gives the right to get married.
My Take On It All
I find it striking that if two people want to “shack up,” it’s just fine with modern society. But for those two people to follow moral rightness and get married, they must legally sign their relationship into the hands of the State. I find it disgusting that the Church refuses to perform marriages apart from State licensure because it fears revocation of social status. Who gives the right to get married? God. It is, one might say, an inalienable right upon which the State has no jurisdiction. But because of the love of money and the issuance of status, both with the Church and with the individuals marrying, the State has bought its way into a very religious and very sacred part of life.
Though it’ll never happen, the State needs to get it’s butt out of Church affairs, including marriage. Let the politics of marriage fall on the Church, where it should rightly be. Let marriage vows return to being a simple promise between a man and a woman before God rather than a social status. Let the “right” to marry be a right of being human rather than being a law of privilege written in a book somewhere.