Friday, June 26, 2015

1 Christian pastor's thoughts on the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling

A few moments ago, I received an email from a parishioner asking me for my opinion on the announcement of the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage. This is how I responded:
My basic take on the question of state-sanctioned "marriage" has always been the same. The state's interests in the domestic partnerships people establish--be they heterosexual or homosexual--boil down to three, I think: (1) The control of disease (hence, blood tests being required for marriage licenses); (2) The acquisition and disposition of jointly held property; (3) The custodianship of children.  
While there is some overlap in the Church's and the state's interests in marriage, the Church is primarily interested in marriage as something instituted by God for male and female to live in union and to raise children to prepare them for adulthood and more importantly, to know the God revealed in Jesus Christ. 
Try as I have to see it differently--and I have tried, because it would certainly make my life easier if I could go along with the current trend and not buck society, I cannot call a homosexual union a "marriage."  
This is why I could never in good conscience, deliberately violate the will of God by performing a "marriage" between persons of the same sex. In God's eyes, from all the evidence I have considered through the years, such unions are not marriages.  
But having said that, I can't get too worked up over the Supreme Court's ruling. Homosexual unions are a matter of fact. "Legalizing" them will afford the state the opportunity to take care of the three interests I listed above.  
Now, if for example, the State of Ohio, were to tell clergy that we must honor marriage licenses issued to gay and lesbian couples who want us to preside over the marriages or risk losing our "authority to solemnize marriages," I would voluntarily give up that authority.  
To my mind, pastors only seek authorization from the state to solemnize marriages as an additional service to the couples over whose weddings they preside. The Church's interest (and the pastor's) is in the covenant a man and a woman make with God in the formation of their marriage and in God's blessing of that union. It is far more important that couples be married in the eyes of God than in the eyes of the State.  
If the State gave pastors such an ultimatum then, I would simply advise couples that I would preside over weddings in which they would pronounce their vows in the presence of God and of witnesses and so have a marriage recognized and acknowledged by God. I would further advise them that if they wanted their marriage to be legally recognized, they could go to the court house and take care of the State's requirements there.

Legally and constitutionally, I know of no way that one could block--or want to block--gays and lesbians from entering into State-sanctioned "marriages." This is why I'm surprised that the Court hasn't rendered a ruling similar to the one issued today earlier. Jesus' commission to we Christians is to "make disciples," which does not happen by using the coercion of the State, but through the wooing of the Holy Spirit using our witness for new life through Jesus. For Christians to want to use the coercive power of the State to force society to accept and conform to Biblical sexual morality is inconsistent with our call to win people to Christ not with the Law, but with the Gospel.  
Of course, I lament that society has gotten to the point that this day has come, that everyone in America isn't voluntarily acceding to the will and the authority of the God Who loves us all, and accepting that marriage is between a man and a woman.
But rather than fight or complain about the ruling, I prefer to keep sharing Jesus, so that His Spirit and our witness can show [the world] "a still more excellent way."  
That's what I think anyway.


Charlie said...

Well said, Mark, as usual. I should point out that your hypothetical about giving up the authority of the state is exactly how things work in Mexico, and likely other countries. Couples usually have two weddings, one in which they pronounce their vows before the church and God, the other where they receive a license at the local courthouse. The church is free to marry whom it wishes how it wishes, couples are free to recognize the authority of the church or not.

Mark Daniels said...

Thank you for the affirmation, Charlie, and for the information about practices in Mexico. A member of the congregation I serve told me today that this is also how things are done in Germany. God bless you. GodBlogCon seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it?