“The nature of marriage has varied greatly from one era to the next and from one society to the next. In fact, the nature of marriage has varied so much that it is difficult to come up with any one definition of marriage which adequately covers every permutation of the institution in every society which has thus far been studied. This variety alone ensures the falsehood of the claim that marriage is necessarily religious, but even if we focus exclusively on the West — or even exclusively on America — we still find that religion has not been regarded as a necessary component.”
– Austin Cline ‘Marriage: Religious Rite or Civil Right?’
My opinion on the church’s involvement and, in some cases, intrusion, in the process of legal matrimony, has most often agreed with Mr. Cline’s summarization. I am very ‘put off’ by conservative Christians who want to make same sex marriage, and even LGBT civil rights, an issue of LGBT people intruding on their religious rights. However, it seems conservative Christians, ‘speaking for the rest of us’ is the way of our country, at this point in our history. Recently several states around the country attempted to enact laws that would legalize discrimination of LGBT people based loosely on a business owner, or government employee’s ‘religious freedom’ to disagree with a person’s lifestyle or, even more specifically, right to marry. This seems to be a reaction to the courts’ decisions, to finally decree, that states’ bans on same sex marriage are unconstitutional.
So, why should the church care about marriage? Part of me says the church shouldn’t stick its nose into the state’s business, but the church-going part of me says same sex marriage has become, or has always been, a justice issue. In October, I married my wife, in, what was intended, to be our legal wedding, with a religious ceremony planned for our family in friends in May, in a state that currently does not recognize same sex marriage (although, I am happy to say, by the time this is published it may be recognized). Even though, one was supposed to be more ‘religious’ in nature, we were not going to have either in a church. I told myself that it wasn’t important to have a church wedding, but it turns out, in hind-sight that a church wedding was very important to both of us. Thanks to National City Christian Church and our loving ministers, we were able to have both, a legal ceremony and a church wedding at the same time. We grew up in the Church. We support the Church and it is a part of us. Why shouldn’t we be able to seek the Church’s blessing on a marriage, which we believe that God has blessed? I still believe that every church has the right to deny to perform any wedding, but for churches who also believe in blessing what God has blessed, now is the time to make that belief known.
I will end with a quote from Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor of Huffington Post, which inspired my writing,
“Recent events around the world show us that sitting on the sidelines is no longer permissible — especially for Christians. We cannot let others speak for Jesus. Our faith is being used to do serious harm to LGBT people. Showing love for our neighbor today, as commanded by Jesus, means stepping up and standing in solidarity with our LGBT sisters and brothers around the world.”
Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?