One of the enduring frustrations of the pro-life/not pro-life argument is that while the act of killing an unborn child is immoral to a majority of the population, the legality of the procedure signals a sort of legitimacy. It’s as if morals and tradition – since abortion has never been truly socially acceptable – don’t count.
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States, the bench law body that is desperately trying to distance US law from any sort of natural source be it traditional or religious in nature, ruled that federal law cannot set the standard for marriage as one man and one woman, and that the states themselves should be the arbiters of what constitutes a marriage contract.
Oh, really. What about a marriage covenant?
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.
To rehash my own commentary from last fall and earlier this year, marriage is not simply a contract. To reduce it to that level is to denigrate the building blocks of society. (Which may be the “progressive” goal in the end. See what they did to Russia for proof.) Marriage is a union, not a bond. (Think valence shells of like atoms forming elemental structures.) Homosexual relations cannot be a marriage because no reproduction can take place, subverted or not. Marriage, primarily, is about the raising of the next generation, regardless of how it is currently packaged as being about companionship. Therefore, it is the primary building block of the larger clan structure.
Through several millennia of trial and error, in pagan societies, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and several other religious communities, the one man, one woman at a time for a valid marriage formula became the norm for a simple reason: it works. Other arrangements, yeah, not so much.
And now SCOTUS tells us that the formula for marriage is whatever each of the 50 states says it is. On top of the same sex oriented, the polygamist communities are celebrating because they finally have a shot at that mystical state: marriage, however they want it to be.
The ACLU has already said it will help both groups get there in all 50 states.
From a strictly secular, libertarian perspective, this might well be the correct answer to the question. But that doesn’t make it moral or God’s law – or even a good idea. But, just like in the pro-life/pro-choice argument, legality signals legitimacy, and that is currently where we are.
Hence, the problem with government being part of the marriage business at all.
Now, there are conservative columnists hyperventilating that the Church will have to perform weddings however the states say they should or lose non-profit status (which is a federal condition, but maybe someone would sue that their civil rights were violated?).
Whether or not the Church has non-profit status, doesn’t change that it’s the Church. It just means that air conditioning and central heat may well be optional in the future…like decent music because we need to pay good musicians. Taxes would have to be paid on the properties. There would be no money. Oh, well.
To be honest, churches have always had discretion over who they marry, homosexual or not. My church, Catholic (Latin Rite), requires that people receiving the sacrament of Holy Matrimony be in good standing within the Church and be free to marry. That means, one has to have gone to Confession, have received Confirmation, and not be currently married within the Church Herself. By these very requirements, MANY heterosexual couples are refused until all points are satisfied. At this time in history, it also means that neither party can be dealing with a pregnancy, hence the MANY marriages of conscience celebrated a year after a civil ceremony because the couple anticipated their vows. (This is a modern twist ostensibly to prevent annulments later on.) That doesn’t make the marriage in the Church any less binding. (Annulments still are far worse to go through than a divorce, they tell me.) At the same time, for tax purposes, many older couples choose not to marry civilly, but are married in the Church. The state disagrees that there is a marriage at all as there is no contract, but by God’s law, there is a covenant.
God’s Law – Man’s Law. Covenant – Contract. Difference.
(I am by no means an expert on the marriage practices in any church other than Catholic, but there are bound to be restrictions on who protestants will marry. I assume Judaism is the same.)
More than one commentator writing/speaking of the Catholic Church in particular, claims that the state could compel the Church to marry homosexual couples who are “in good standing with the Church”. Umm, I don’t want to argue about this so much, but homosexual couples, especially if they are living together, by definition are not “in good standing” with the Church, but are in a state of abject sin, no different than couples who are cohabitating before the wedding (such couples are not married at a Nuptial Mass, but a different ceremony altogether. That alone is a form of disapproval). Heterosexual couples have a remedy for the sin, homosexual couples don’t (since, the modern concept of marriage is all about sex).
So, with the state compelling the Church to marry people who are ineligible, are they going to dictate what is sin as well?
In the end, unfortunately, the answer to this conundrum might well be the European solution: marry in the state one day, and in the Church the next, with the second ceremony being the one to which friends and family are invited. If all the state – and companies providing benefits to spouses – require is that piece of paper called a marriage license for federal and state tax benefits, then there is no reason to commingle marriage at all. Just keep it separate as the church and government see marriage as two different things.
Quite possibly, there are some hard choices and lessons ahead: stay true to God’s law and maybe give up tax exempt status, and find out why societies long before ours insisted on marriage being one man and one woman, God’s law or not. In the end, tradition is so because the people themselves figured out what works best. Why “progressives” keep trying to subvert that is a question that needs to be pursued.