“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31 ESV
Let me be clear I believe that Holy Matrimony was created by God and was intended to be only between a man and a woman. I also believe that Holy Matrimony is the only marriage possible. All other “marriages” are not of God and to consider any “marriage” that is not Holy Matrimony a “marriage” is to give a sacrament of God away to the secular world.
Last week in the blog God’s Echo From That Alabama Bridge I expressed my support for what I called “legal same sex marriage.” Many of you expressed concern that I would be supportive of a “marriage” that was not in line with God’s command that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.
This week, I would like to use this space to explain my interpretation; along with my suggestions for the way forward as we anticipate the Supreme Court ruling which many expect will overturn all current state bands on same sex legal marriage.
Thank you for your prayers, support and love. I hope you will read the entire blog and I look forward to your comments.
Marriage Is a Holy Sacrament
Marriage is a holy sacrament created by God. In fact God himself performed the first marriage when He joined Adam and Eve together.
Genesis 2:18, 21-24
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’…and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV)
Marriage is mentioned some 500 times throughout the Bible; and in all of its references the union is between a man and a woman.
Biblical Illustrations of Marriage
God makes a man and a woman one through marriage:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31 ESV
God commands that we honor marriage:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4 ESV
God set the conditions for divorce:
But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32 (NIV)
“Marriage” As A Legal Contract
English common law which is the basis for our laws in the United States establishes marriage as a voluntary private agreement between a man and a woman to become husband and wife.
Under our governmental system of Federalism each state, not the federal government has the responsibility to regulate marriage. The states prescribe who is legally allowed to marry and how marriage in the eyes of the law can be dissolved.
While the states exclusively regulate marriage, both the federal and state government provide benefits to the man and the woman who enter into the legal contract recognized by the government as marriage.
- Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
- Creating a “family partnership” under federal tax laws; which allows you to divide business income among family members.
Estate Planning Benefits
- Inheriting a share of your spouse’s estate.
- Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
- Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples; including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
- Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse; that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf.
- Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
- Receiving veterans’ and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
- Receiving public assistance benefits.
- Employment Benefits
- Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse’s employer.
- Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
- Receiving wages, workers’ compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
- Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse’s close relatives dies.
- Medical Benefits
- Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
- Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.
- Death Benefits
- Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
- Making burial or other final arrangements.
- Family Benefits
- Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
- Applying for joint foster care rights.
- Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
- Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.
- Housing Benefits
- Living in neighborhoods zoned for “families only.”
- Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.
- Consumer Benefits
- Receiving family rates for health, homeowners’, auto, and other types of insurance.
- Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
- Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
- Other Legal Benefits and Protections
- Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
- Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
- Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can’t force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
- Receiving crime victims’ recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
- Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
- Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.
Entering into the legal contract of marriage changes the legal status of the man and woman giving the now married couple new rights and obligations.
Legal Challenges To “Marriage”
Citizens using the federal and state courts have challenged the regulation of legal marriage. The common element in these landmark cases is the notion of equality of the laws and rules that govern the eligibility for marriage and equality of the treatment of the man and the woman involved in the marriage.
Loving v. Virginia 1967 – Virginia’s statutory scheme to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications held by the Supreme Court to violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Frontiero v. Richardson 1973 – A married, female, Air Force officer sought increased benefits for her husband as a “dependent”. At the time of the court proceedings Air Force regulations required that these dependent benefits were available for only married male Air Force officers. The Supreme Court ruled that the married male benefits only policy was a violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
United States v. Windsor 2013
The Supreme Court held that the federal interpretation of “marriage” and “spouse” is restricted to only heterosexual unions as required in the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Post Windsor – Where do the states stand on Marriage?
The Windsor decision set off a wave of challenges to state laws restricting marriage to only heterosexual unions. This is where various states stand legally as of the publishing of this post:
A total of 37 states including the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages:
- 26 states have had their heterosexual only laws struck down; making same sex marriages legal within their borders.
- 8 states have enacted laws permitting same sex marriages.
- 3 states have enacted same sex marriage laws by popular vote.
- Bands on same sex marriages are still in place in 13 states:
- Same sex marriages are bared by state constitutional amendments and state law in 12 states. (Note: These amendments and state laws have not been challenged in court.)
- 1 state where same sex marriages are bared by state law only. (Note: The law in this state has not been challenged in court.)
- 8 states where gay marriage bans have been overturned, but where appeals are in progress.
The Supreme Court & Same Sex Marriage
In January, the Supreme Court announced it will decide a historic question about whether the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live; or whether, states are free to limit wedlock to its traditional definition as a union only between a man and a woman.
The court accepted cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, where restrictions about same-sex marriage were upheld by an appeals court
The high court will hold 2 1/2 hours of oral arguments in April and decide the issue by the time the current term ends in June.
The justices ordered that the parties to the cases address two questions in their legal briefs: whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where they are legal.
These thoughts are informed by faith, history and the law.
- God clearly established marriage and intended it to be a holy union between a man and a woman. I agree, affirm and will obey this commandment.
- Governments established marriage as a legal contract between a man and a woman.
- The Church has allowed the government to take over the holy institution of marriage. For example:
- The church has allowed the government to define divorce in violation of God’s standards.
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9 ESV
The marriage happens in the church but the divorce happens in the courthouse. In many cases the church never grants its own divorce; but recognizes the government issued decree as fact and final regarding the marriage.
Just as states regulate legal marriage, it also regulates divorce. Therefore, the grounds for granting a divorce are not uniformed. However, a survey of grounds for divorce in various states reveals that divorces can be obtained for additional grounds than God specified. Take North Carolina for example, this is its language regarding the termination of a legal marriage.
”A marriage is a contract in the eyes of the law, and in North Carolina, marriages only end upon absolute divorce, annulment (which is a judge’s order that says the marriage was never legally valid), or the death of one of the spouses.”
“When you divorce in North Carolina, you are ending the marriage contract before it would naturally expire—when a spouse dies. To end a contract prematurely, you need a good reason. “Grounds” for divorce are the legal reason that allows a court to file a written divorce order ending a marriage.”
Grounds for divorce in North Carolina:
- Marital Misconduct
- Incurably Insane
- A Spouse Abandons the Family
- A spouse commits “cruel or barbarous treatment”
- A spouse treats the other spouse so badly and causes such indignities that the other spouse’s life becomes intolerable
- A spouse becomes an excessive user of alcohol or drugs to the point that the other spouse’s life becomes burdensome, or
- A spouse commits adultery.
5..The church will allow divorce persons to enter into another marriage on the bases of the government issued divorce decree which ends the legal marriage; but, does necessarily end God’s Holy marriage.
But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32 ESV
- Church is a co-sponsor of the government sponsored legal marriage contract with at least two actions: One by allowing the minister to use the phrase, “By the power given to me by the state of…., and second, by the requirement in many states that the minister sign the government issued marriage license. There by approving the state sponsored marriage.
- All indication seem that the Supreme Court will rule that the states have exclusive regulation of the legal marriage contract. They cannot under the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution exclude its citizens of the same sex from entering into that contact.
6. Marriage the government sponsored legal contact and marriage and the holy union created, and ordained by God to be exclusively between a man and a woman are not the same.
As a Christian, we should understand and know the difference between the two types of marriages.“
The conflation of the two “marriages” largely aided and abetted in great part by the church is at the heart of what some view at an “attack” on marriage.
I am against legal discrimination in any form; therefore, I am supportive of marriage equality in the case of the legal contract marriage.
However, I do not support the same sex union within God’s holy marriage.
Same Sex Marriage Is Coming – What Should The Church Do?
- Take Marriage Back
The church should get out of the business of co-sponsoring legal contract marriage. The church should perform marriages and grant divorces based on Biblical standards; and should only recognize marriages and divorces which it has performed.
- Advocate A Constitutional Amendment
The church should lead a push for an amendment to U.S. Constitution defining legal contract marriage to be exclusively between a man and a woman.
- Welcome and Not Condemn
So, as faith leaders, the question is what should we do if a “legally” married same sex couple want to worship at the churches that we lead and worship in? Or, what if they wish to join? Well, let us turn to the scripture for that answer. In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is not only blind; but, he is an outcast. The lowest of the low; considered not worthy to even call out to Jesus. When he did, the crowd told him to stop. However, above the noise, Jesus was listening and the Son of God called out to the blind man and said, “Don’t be afraid! Come on!”
In the Christian community, there is a lot of noise about same sex marriages. We spend a lot of time judging and condemning. We single out the “sin” of homosexuality, as if is the worst of all sins; while saying little or nothing about all the other sins that are happening in the church.
As I prepare for a life of ministry I understand that I am first and foremost a sinner, saved by the grace of God. My task is to bring people to Jesus and not to judge them; for as scripture commands us in Matthew 7:2 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
So with the “legally” married same sex couple that will visit or want to join God’s church, I will do as Jesus did with Blind Bartimaeus; I will extend my hand to them, knowing that via the power of Jesus, they all will see.
About These Blogs
Writing and presenting these blogs have been a journey of faith, discovery and love for me. I take writing these posts seriously. I research what I write and the information is often reviewed by learned faith leaders at my seminary and others that I trust.
The blogs are distributed to nearly 3,700 subscribers via email and countless more worldwide with social media. I have been told that the blogs have been used in churches, Sunday Schools, and Bible Studies. I am honored, humbled and accept the accountable for accurately spreading the Gospel with the hope that the words and my witness will bring people to know the God that we all love.
Blessings, Peace and Love
I look forward to your comments
©2015 Marben Bland