A Possible Compromise on the Gay Marriage Controversy

Gay Marriage Tony
President Bush once said that marriage is a sacred institution and should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman. If this is the case — and most Americans would agree with him on this — then I have to ask: Why is the government at all involved in marrying people? If marriage really is a sacred institution, then why is the government controlling it, especially in a nation that affirms separation of church and state?

Personally, as a Baptist minister, I always feel a bit uneasy at the end of the weddings that I perform when I have to say, “And now, by the authority given unto me by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I pronounce you husband and wife.” Having performed a variety of religious exercises, such as reading scripture, saying prayers, giving a biblically-based homily and pronouncing blessings on the marriage, why am I required to suddenly shift to being an agent of the state?

Doesn’t it seem inconsistent that during such a highly religious ceremony, I should have to turn the church into a place where government business is conducted? Isn’t it a conflict for me to unify my pastoral role with that of an agent of the state?

Related: It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize & Share Love

Allow me to suggest a way out of this apparent conflict and the difficult questions being raised these days about whether our country should approve of homosexual marriages. I propose that the government should get out of the business of marrying people and, instead, only give legal status to civil unions. The government should do this for both gay couples and straight couples, and leave marriage in the hands of the church and other religious entities. That’s the way it works in Holland. If a couple wants to be united in the eyes of the law, whether gay or straight, the couple goes down to the city hall and legally registers, securing all the rights and privileges a couple has under Dutch law. Then, if the couple wants the relationship blessed — to be married — they goes to a church, synagogue or other house of worship. Marriage should be viewed as an institution ordained by God and should be out of the control of the state.

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Of course, homosexual couples could go to churches that welcome and affirm gay marriages and get their unions blessed there. Isn’t that the way it should be in a nation that guarantees people the right to promote religion according to their personal convictions? If such a proposal became normative, those like myself who hold to traditional beliefs about marriage would go to traditional churches where conservative beliefs about marriage are upheld, and we would have our marriages blessed there. And secularists who are unlikely to do anything that smacks of religion would probably just throw a party to celebrate a new union. Marriage would be preserved as a religious institution for all of us who want to view it as such, and nobody’s personal convictions about this highly charged issue would have to be compromised.

It is not likely that this will happen in the near future, but many sociologists tell us that America is eventually headed toward making this the way we do marriage.

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Tony Campolo is the Founder and President of EAPE and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University. Look for Tony in your area and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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About the Author

Tony Campolo

Tony CampoloTony Campolo is the Founder and President of EAPE and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University. Look for Tony in your area and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.View all posts by Tony Campolo →

  • Moxie

    Last year my husband and I were discussing gay marriage, and this was the compromise that I came up with as well. I’d have no problems with ensuring that all couples have legal protection and rights, while reserving the marriage sacrament for those who have religious beliefs of some sort.

    • hokieduck

      In other words, separate but equal. Didn’t work for black people either and eventually the world progressed and we look back and recognize that legal distinction for the lipstick on the pig of bigotry.

      • JBTascam

        Not at all. “Marriage” would be a separate term that indicated a religious blessing, like “Baptized” or “Confirmed” or “Ordained.” It would have no legal standing in with the State at all. It would mean “nothing” in the “real world” that progressives live in. I’d still have to get a “Declaration of Civil Union” for my “wife” to be considered my “spouse.”

        Claiming to be Married would have as much “legal weight” as claiming to be Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or atheist. Anyone could claim the status at any time, because it would be meaningless to the State under these conditions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/CoachAmelie Amelie Sarah

      So the gays and lesbians who are religious would be allowed to marry in church?

      • Me

        In a church that allows, no minister, pastor reverend etc… Should be forced to marry a gay or lesbian couple if it is against his beliefs. The pastor that married my husband and I refuses to marry any gay/ lesbian couple period, any couple living together before marriage ( he would marry them but not within the church) and also refuse to marry a Christian wanting to marry a non- Christian. Those are his beliefs and his morals, if they really want to get married by a pastor, they would find one that is willing to do the ceremony.

  • Sugarpie8080

    To compromise is to continue to allow for the over-arching message that gay people are not wanted. There is no way getting around that.

    • hunttom

      And that I think is at the very heart of the matter.  I think Tony really does solve the problem for the church and for the society at large.  I think this could work.  But what about the evangelical Christian (of which I am one).  The question reamains:  Are homosexuals wanted and welcomed in the Christian church?  As a heterosexual Christain this seems to be a big question.  What is our plan and approach for the homosexual?

      It seems to me like we can say to them, “We have three options for you:

      1.  You can be gay but celebate
      2.  You can get involved in one of the many “programs” aimed at making you not gay or otherwise “give up” or renouce your homosexuality (which is to say that you can be gay and we will accept you as long as we think you are sincerely trying not to be).
      3.  You can live in defiance of God’s will and we will love you anyway… by the way did I mention that we all defy God’s will daily too and while there are a bunch of reasons why I want Jesus in my life that is the big reason why I need him?

      It seems to me like the church (and more importantly Jesus) accepts me with all of my faults and brokeness, including those that I rationalize as not being sinful at all.  No one ever told me that I must renounce all anger, greed, pride, etc. prior to joining a church.  I was taught that Christ came for the broken.  Why would this sin be any different?

      I’m only an ametuer theologian so I’m not sure.  I have heard that the bible passages that mention gay sex do so in a context that is really more about idol worship, that in the ancient world it was done as an act of worship to idols and that is what is offensive to God.

      Any gay evangelical Christains out there?  I would love to hear from you.  How do you deal with this?  Have you been able to reach any of your gay friends?  How did you overcome this roadblock?  Do you see other options besides the 3 that I list above?

      • Anonymous

        “It seems to me like the church (and more importantly Jesus) accepts me with all of my faults and brokeness, including those that I rationalize as not being sinful at all.”

        That, in and of itself, is a huge difference between evangelical and orthodox belief.  For us Catholics (Eastern, Roman, Orthodox and Anglican) that compromise the historical Apostolic Core of Christianity- rationalizing away a sin is a sin in and of itself.

        • hunttom

          Thanks.  I should make clear that I don’t claim to speak for anyone other than me.  So I can’t defend any church structure, orthodox or anything else.  The larger point that I’m making with that comment is I beleive that Jesus paid it all, for all of my sins.  Even those that I still don’t recognize as sin yet and that I might never recognize.  I certainly would agree that rationalizing sin is sin in and of itself.  The larger point is that Jesus’ work on the cross doesn’t get cancelled by any individual sin that I remain ignorant of or even in defiance of.

          • Anonymous

            That’s what scares us more orthodox Christians about OSAS.  If you can’t lose your salvation, the temptation to continue living in sin rather than learning more about sin and trying to recognize it in your own life is great.  Of course, the out for that is if the sin is too great- then the conversion never occurred to begin with- but that seems to me too much like leaving my brother behind in sin.

            I would not be able to live with such a temptation.

            #1 and #3 is what we Roman Catholics offer in the United States.  #1 is a group called courage (couragerc.net) and #3 is Dignity (DignityUSA.org).  As a heterosexual autistic I’m not real comfortable with either option, but I recognize that their road is no more hard than my own.

            Jesus gave us a gift by paying for it all- but the experience of the Saints over the last 2000 years tell us that it is a gift we must be willing to accept- with *real* change in our lives.  To me, that’s also the danger of Sola Scriptura- one is very tempted to avoid those parts of scripture that would require real, ongoing conversion.  Can’t do that if the Sunday readings are from a 3 year lectionary cycle.

          • Kltpnygaard

            But nothing you do will  save you. It is through grace alone that you are saved. If we peoples can keep our salvation based on our sinless nature, then all would be good, but we are not sinless no matter how hard we try to resist temptation. There’s none without sin, thus we are saved by the grace of God. We don’t know for sure how God will judge, but if we want to be with Jesus it starts here in this life with showing love followed by growing (which personally is painfully slow at times) in the relationship with God as well as the understanding of the Bible.

      • Lizdyer

        I’m a Christian who is hetero but if those were my options I wouldn’t have anything to do with that kind of church.  

        • hunttom

          So what then do you say?  You have a gay friend that you have been talking to about Jesus and that friend seems to want to learn more.  Are they welcome at your church?  Does your church provide a 4th option?

      • Joe

        You could also join one of the growing number of churches that have come to the belief that homosexuality, meaning the desire and practice of forming committed, loving, same-sex relationships is actually consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the Bible as a whole. That the few verses that do describe same-sex activity are in reference to pagan rituals, prostitution, and pederasty, not two men, or two women who genuinely love each other.

        • Krys

          Joe,
          Actually (specifically the OT references) probably has more to do with uncleanliness and male dominance than any pagan ritual.  There really is not much that is more “unclean” than fecal matter…

  • SINNER SAVED BY GRACE

    THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS…

    • hokieduck

      Judge not that ye be not judged.

      I am thinking that you folks who think you know what God wants and who indulge your own petty hypocrisies to discriminate against gay people… I am thinking you will be sorely surprised at the response you get when He looks at you and says, “What about judge not is hard to understand?”

    • Rufus

      no the road to hell is paved by one’s sin. . . all sin . . .

  • David vanBeveren

    In fact as a Dutch citizen there is still a problem because the terminology that is used is not that of a civil union, but of a marriage. So couples, straight and gay, will have a marriage ceremony at the city hall. Because of secularization civil marriages are more and more rigged up to give a sense of meaning to the occasion.

    • Lizdyer

      Thank you for sharing that David.  The only objection I had to the post was the term “civil union” as the term “marriage” has lots of cultural privilege associated with it. I think it would be unjust for any couple to have to forfeit being “married”  just because they didn’t want to be associated with a church or wasn’t allowed to be “married” by a church.  I have no problem with the church getting out of the “legal” marriage business and think it is a good idea for churches to only bless the unions they desire to bless and let the state do the legal stuff about marriage.  I absolutely don’t want to see those who decide to legally marry outside of the church to have to give up using the term.  

  • Anne

    (I apologize in advance for my bad English, I’m Dutch ;-)). In Holland you háve to go to the City Hall if you want to get married, and this official, civil marriage is open to hetero and gay couples, it’s the same institution and indeed, gay couples have the same rights as hetero couples. And, this union between gay people also is called marriage (‘huwelijk’ in Dutch ;-)).
    This civil marriage can be blessed and ‘confirmed’ in church, but you have to go to the City Hall first. It’s true that not all churches wil bless gay marriages.

  • George P. Wood

    Dr. Campolo:

    You wrote: “‘Personally, as a Baptist minister, I always feel a bit uneasy at the end
    of the weddings that I perform when I have to say, ‘And now, by the
    authority given unto me by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I pronounce
    you husband and wife.'”

    You know that you don’t have to say that, right? As a minister, I don’t. I use the Wedding Service of the Book of Common Prayer (although I’m Pentecostal), and in 15 years of performing ceremonies, I’ve never mentioned the state.

    George Paul Wood

  • Aubrey

    Thank You Tony!  I have been advocating a separation of Marriage in the Church and Civil Union in the Courts for YEARS! Obviously I have not been able to express it quite so clearly and rationally as you have. Aubrey

  • jdm1441

    Dr. Campolo:

    I appreciate you addressing this subject.  To me there is an inherent tension (and hypocrisy) regarding those seeking to “defend marriage” by limiting its participants, and at the same time tolerate (and in large part facilitate) expedited divorce.  To me, the defense of marriage would be to defend the institution and what that institution represents — a life-long covenant.  I think such a view goes hand in hand with your basic position.  The “State” certainly has an interest in defining the relationship between citizens and in providing access for individuals to seek State determination regarding their domestic relationships.  However, as for defending the institution of marriage the State fails completely when it allows no-fault divorce, and other expedited divorce proceedings.  To me, that is the true vulnerability of marriage that deserves defending.  

    If individuals seek to live and love in a committed relationship and want to share the ceremony and title with their friends and family, their respective gender should not have any place in it.  The true defense of marriage comes in supporting the bond and not facilitating its breakage.

    I think a vocal majority of Christians seeking to “defend marriage” by making divorces harder to obtain would highlight the hypocrisy of  those against same sex marriage.

    Full disclosure — I am a divorced and I was heartbroken by the lack of any type of deliberation in the process.  

  • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com/ Molly Bandit

    As a Christian anarchist and a  queer woman, this is the position I like.  The only thing I regret about my own marriage is letting the government say, “Ok, for arbitrary reasons, you’re allowed to perform this holy sacrament, but other people in your church aren’t even though your church thinks it’s fine because we say so.”  Ideally, I’d like the government to butt out of all marriage, but I’m
    also a realist.  As long as they’ve got their foot wedged in there, I’m
    going to fight for all inclusiveness. 

    I think right now we’re having to fight for two separate and important things: acceptance and the legal benefits that married couples get.  As long as these two issues are the same issue, we’re fighting an uphill battle.

  • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com/ Molly Bandit

    As a Christian anarchist and a  queer woman, this is the position I like.  The only thing I regret about my own marriage is letting the government say, “Ok, for arbitrary reasons, you’re allowed to perform this holy sacrament, but other people in your church aren’t even though your church thinks it’s fine because we say so.”  Ideally, I’d like the government to butt out of all marriage, but I’m
    also a realist.  As long as they’ve got their foot wedged in there, I’m
    going to fight for all inclusiveness. 

    I think right now we’re having to fight for two separate and important things: acceptance and the legal benefits that married couples get.  As long as these two issues are the same issue, we’re fighting an uphill battle.

  • Randy

    The issue you raise is much bigger than the marriage issue, of course. I’ve thought for many years that the church should get out of the wedding business (and take marriage far more seriously). The state oversees this “union” because it offers benefit for those who are “married”, including legal rights. The only real solution is for the church to cut itself off from the state entirely, but that won’t likely happen voluntarily. No more tax-exempt status, no more tax-deductible donations, no more manse/housing allowances for ministers…the list of benefits is pretty long.

    Church and state have been in bed together in the U.S. from nearly the beginning of the Union. I tell people who want me to marry them to go get the legal part done at the Justice of the Peace and then I’ll perform a Christian ceremony. This small personal decision doesn’t resolve the gay marriage issue at all, but it’s my way of letting the business end of unions be separate from the spiritual end of marriage.

    What we really need is some good, old fashioned persecution to purge the church in the US from it’s complicit dependency on the government (among other sins). Imagine what would be left of the church if donations suddenly were not tax exempt. My suspicion is that the dross would fall away and something like what Jesus had in mind might be the only stuff that survived.

    • Joe

      You’re right about that last part, the only things that would be left are small family and friends style congregations who meet and talk about the Bible, their beliefs and their personal struggles. I do not believe that Jesus intended for these hierarchal systems. While I believe that the grand majority of the members of any church have wonderful intentions, these systems we have built are designed to fall short.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to being a homophobic bigot.  That is *exactly* the position I’ve supported for the last 20 years, while I slowly went from being “pro gay liberal” to “homophobic bigot conservative” as the society moved around me.

    Here’s what is really interesting- though many right-wing Catholics consider this “cooperation with evil”- a careful reading of the Catechism pretty much states that since other Christians do NOT have the fullness of truth, this is no different than two Protestant heterosexuals on their 4th marriage each…..It’s just yet another corruption of the sacrament into “licit heresy”.

  • revsharkie

    This seems like the obvious solution to me.  Equal protection under the law granted to all couples without religious groups interfering.  Religious blessings as couple and church choose and allow, without government interfering.  It seems so obvious to me.  I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  • Everett Curry

    Tony

    You deal well with the state government’s involvement in marriage. In my state, Oregon, officiants no long have to register with their County.  Anyone may marry.

    My understanding of the history of government involvement is that a need to settle ownership of property issues at the death of a marriage partner resulted in marriage registration.  The States did this at various periods, most US States were recording marriages by the early 20th century. Some started recording, stopped, and started again.

    Once the State began recording, like most simple matters, their interest expanded into who married the couple, where, etc.  Standards were needed, so only ordained people recognized by a known church group could do the marriage.  In some periods, blood tests were required to assure that diseases were not passed along.  The role of the state just kept expanding.

    I agree (as another Baptist minister) that we should separate the role of the State and its various purposes from that of the Church and its’ interests.  The only hitch in this plan is that a recording of marriage could be done WITHOUT the Church…but the Church could not conduct the Rite of Marriage without the event being recorded by the State…its the law.

    Everett

  • Mary Erickson

    It’s a matter of equality, civil rights.  All people are children of God.  Why then, does the church chose, discriminate and judge?  What would Jesus do….not this!

  • http://twitter.com/JasonChatrawDCJ Jason Chatraw

    I’m totally with you … this is easily the best solution and isn’t really a compromise in my opinion — it’s the way it should’ve always been handled.

    • Mary Erickson

      It’s a compromise and not a good one.  No matter how you flavor it, it’s a compromise and I bet Tony knows that as well.

      • ZekeTX

        Yes, because conservatives hate compromise. It’s their narrow, stubborn, intolerant way or the highway!

        • http://www.facebook.com/wayne.lehr.31 Wayne Lehr

          wow spoken like a true liberal lol! narrow,stubborn,intolerant, or the highway? sounds like are present president and his followers to a T lol!

      • Catman

        Why not a good one?

        Separation of church and state— why is a religious marriage involved with the state? It’s only logical that they should be separate. So, the state should have it’s own method for legally recognizing couples (civil union), and religions have their own (marriage). Done like dinner.

  • Jacob

    The question I have is why does the Church get to “keep” marriage and those secular – and homosexual – people get merely a “union”?
    Marriage has always been a legal union, one overseen by the State. In fact for many years (long before America existed) the Catholic Church was against marriage as it was seen as a covenant made in opposition to ones commitment to the Church.
    Until only the very recent past – even in the USA – marriage was merely a legal union, often one arranged by family (as is still the case in most of the developing world!)
    The bulk of weddings now are conducted outside of Church by secular celebrants. Perhaps a better compromise – all things considered – is for “Marriage” to be the union of two people, gay or straight, and the Church (or at least those elements which
    wish to judge and discriminate) can have their own ceremony called something else with a lovely church based celebration but no legal status – similar to a Baptism or funeral?
    Surely this makes more sense?

    • Lizdyer

      I agree wholeheartedly! Too many social, cultural and legal privileges are associated with marriage for anyone to give up the title.

    • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.olson.522 Daniel Olson

      Jacob, Although I’m not a bible or history scholar, my understanding of the oldest written history is from the scriptures. Marriage was part of Hebrew culture., wherein the “church” and legal system were essentially the same thing. Issues within and about marriage had no dissenting moral base
      Although it might take adjustment, accepting that the Disney, happily ever after illusion attached to the word MARRIAGE, doesn’t exist. One of the many reasons why so many marriages fail.

      Why cant we accept that a civil union actually GIVES us everything we need? Insisting we be able to brandish the title MARRIAGE, often just to wave it in the face of conservatives is insensitive and pointless.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kerry.dykas Kerry Dykas

      Marriage is one of the 7 sacraments…. baptism, communion, confession, confirmation, initiation, last rites, and marriage. church had it first.

      • http://www.facebook.com/quinlan.mccarthy Quinlan Mccarthy

        It was not until the sixteenth century, when the Protestant Reformation challenged the seven sacraments, including Matrimony, that the Church officially named the sacraments for the first time in Canon Law at the Council of Trent in 1547. Prior to that time the seven sacraments, including the sacrament of Matrimony were accepted as part of the apostolic oral and written tradition without controversy or debate.

  • Pingback: Campolo proposes gay marriage compromise - Gentle Wisdom

  • http://twitter.com/nevergonedrum nevergonedrum

    It sounds like a well-thought-out compromise.  However, those opposed to gay marriage will automatically detest this idea.  The root of the issue is the same: the view of homosexuality as a sin.  It will work for those who think of homosexual people as ordinary, average people or those who really don’t care one way or the other, but I can’t see those opposed in every way to homosexuality suddenly being okay with gay and straight marriages being in the same ballpark.

  • Eboronkay

    I honestly believe this issue of how Christians respond to homosexuals is a separating of the wheat from the chaff. Can we Christians love and forgive the sinners who really make us uncomfortable? Can we see past the external to the heart? Can we listen to the pain without judging? Can we acknowledge that every person is fearfully and wonderfully made with a purpose to fulfill in God’s kingdom? Can we build one another up instead of tearing down? Can we ever really love God with everything we have in order to love every neighbor as ourselves? Can we try to answer these questions this side of heaven?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KUNBIV2GRGPEEPLUMHTH7T6ZRQ Jarell

    I totally had this idea about 2 years ago, I am glad to see that I am not the only one who thinks this could work.

  • Keith Derose

    I think the bit at the beginning of the post about “most Americans” agreeing that marriage “should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman” is out-of-date.  The percentage of Americans in favor of legal gay marriage has been slowly growing for quite a while, and if polls like this — http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/First-Time-Majority-Americans-Favor-Legal-Gay-Marriage.aspx – are to be believed, they are no longer in the minority.  

  • Pastor Jon

    I have thought for some time now that we were headed this way.  Since secular marriage will soon be defined any way a person wants to define it, it will soon come to mean nothing.  When you can marry any gender, as many as you like or eventually a house pet, the spiritual meaning of marriage as God intended will be lost.  At that point, probably sooner rather than later, we should quit recognizing civil unions at all.  Let the church take back marriage to define it as God intended and God will ultimately be the judge as to whether they got His definition right. 

    • God

      Bah fuck you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.olson.522 Daniel Olson

        Sad that 3 people would thumbs up a comment from someone using hateful profanity, and too cowardly to use his own name, and worse identifying himself as God. That is pride, arrogance and malice at its worst.

    • Jesus Christ

      Pastor Jon–I’m also a J-o-n. Your logic above is why it saddens me that a single congregation can lay prey to simpleton’s philosophies. On the upside: your “When you can marry any gender, as many as you like or eventually a house
      pet, the spiritual meaning of marriage as God intended will be lost” reassures me just how close (and fearful) people like you are to finally (and rightfully) losing your standing for treating non-mainstream people the way you do. Some representative for Christ you are…

      • 22044

        Pastor Jon is right. You’re an impostor.

  • Ellie White

    hmmmm… sounds sort of logical but I can;t put my finger on what I don;t like about it.
    ‎1. Is marriage really just a religious institution? I’m not so sure…

    2.
    There are hundreds of thousands of gay christians… would this really
    help anybody or break any barriers? Seems a little like apartheid where
    we’ll allow black churches and white churches but not share… see what I
    mean? Does this just keep the ‘gays’ segragated from the rest of the
    community in their ‘gay affirming’ churches?

    I’m sure there’s
    heaps more but it doesn’t sound like much of a solution to me… just
    keeping everyone away from each other.. ie: secularists to the state,
    gays to ‘gay affirming’ churches or the state and good ‘true Christian’
    folk (sic) can still have it the way it is.

    • Lizdyer

      I agree with you. This is a poor solution because it keeps people in same sex relationships segregated and treats them as second class. Marriage is definitely not just a religious thing. Many are legally married outside of the church. Even athiests get married. I am sure Tony has good intentions but this comes off as selfish and self centered.

    • SandraAndra

      I agree with you, but I also think that unfortunately it will take baby steps for everyone to accept gay marriage. I think the best way would be to ease into it…let the conservatives see the world will not end. I do believe it’s completely unfair for gay people to be denied the same rights as everyone else, but maybe if we can all compromise a little for now, the eventual end goal will come sooner rather than later?

    • Jenelle

      I agree with you completely Ellie. But I think there are two debates going on. One in the government and one in the Church. I don’t think there will be any clarity within the Church until the debate in the government is dealt with, because those in the Church are too busy fighting the governmental battle to truly consider the spiritual one. I think if there was a clear separation between the legal marriage relationship and the spiritual marriage relationships, churches could stop fighting to protect what they believe is theirs, and might actually open their eyes to all those GLBT Christians in their own churches who truly love God but are not going to lie to themselves or their churches. But as long as there are two battles going on, I believe most Christians are too busy fighting for their own rights and trying to force their needs on everyone else to see real people and to see God’s heart.

  • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

    Simply, excellent! I’ve been telling my conservative friends this for the past couple of years.  Great third way!

  • Drla4

    What you mention for Holland, by the way, is also true for Germany: the legal aspect is dealt with by the secular official (i.e. the state). Only once that has happened, any priest / pastor / rabbi etc can proceed to marry you in a religious sense.
    But while that removes the link to the political sphere, the debate exists in Germany as anywhere else: can, should, must the Church bless any union other than “lifelong, between one man and one woman” (1M1W4L, so to speak)?

  • Gary Feister

    In my denomination, the officiant doesn’t say anything about his power and authority being invested by the state. It’s all done in the name of Christ and His Church. Interesting proposal…don’t know if I fully agree, but it does seem like the most reasonable solution in a country where every right (whether harmful or good) is considered “a God-given right” and demanded.

  • Chickenscratch

    This sounds nice but it won’t work.  Here’s why.  Taxes.  Civil Unions as they currently stand are NOT viewed as legal, and affects the tax rate of those gay folk who do it.  This is their biggest complaint.     

  • http://www.liveloud.net xfree9

    Duh! Separation of Marriage and State!

    Awesome “solution.” Libertarians have sought this ought for decades. 

  • PeterT

    If you really want to know why the state is involved in marriage here is a clue… check out the court cases:

    http://childrens-justice.org/papers/marriage.htm

  • Pastor Jordan

    I don’t know about this. It was my understanding that God created marriage, the government just wanted to be involved for tax purposes. I for one believe that God CLEARLY defines marriage between one man, and one woman. Why even get entagled in all the civil union mess? Its heartbreaking to know that some churches even allow homosexuals to be married there. I guess this just shows that we really are in the last days, and there really is a great falling away. Instead of arguing about republican or democrat or involving ourselves in politics to such a degree that it affects our ministry, why not just focus on making a difference here on earth for our Heavenly Father? Its sad to say this, but i know that there will be a ton of Democrats out there that will disagree with this. Put your party away, and look what the Savior says…

    • Lizdyer

      See my response to Mary Ann

    • Catman

      ” the government just wanted to be involved for tax purposes”

      I agree. I think that’s the point of the article. Remove the marriage from government (they have no business being there), and let them have their own nonreligious thing (for the purposes of encouraging people to raise families or whatever, the point is it’s not marriage), and then everyone’s happy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/CoachAmelie Amelie Sarah

      I’m always amused when people pick and chose which passages of the bible to enforce. ok, so let’s look at 1 Tim 3:14,15; 2:11-15 “Let the woman learn in silence with all
      subjection. suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to
      be in silence.” So women can’t be teachers? oh wait, they can teach other women to cook and clean and to submit to their men.

      1 Cor 14:33b-35,37 As in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Hope you remember to tell any woman who dares ask you a question after a sermon that she isn’t allowed to speak and that if she wants clarity, she must ask her husband.

      I can keep going, but I prefer spending my time in conversation with open-hearted people.

      • Jomari Peterson

        Your translation seems to miss the “I” portion. There is large debate around this scripture, but simple reading shows that Paul is reflecting cultural values of the time, not necessarily a direct command from G-d or leading by the spirit. He was speaking to cultural practices, from my understanding.
        In addition, from my understanding, at this time the actions were about obedience and striving to maintain a lifestyle that is in line with the family structure. There are other scripture that speak to women taking very prominent roles and G-d using them to deliver message. Paul himself discusses women prophesying and praying in church. This scripture interpreted how you approached it, seems inconsistent with Paul’s overall message and the context of the time.

  • mary ann rosser

    All you have to do is read our historical documents by our founding fathers to find what is horribly wrong with this ‘suggestion.”  For those who claim our nation was not founded on Christian principles, I challenge that they have NOT read those documents or the early court rulings on matters regarding religion.  Secondly, any pastor who supports affirmation of gay marriages ought to read their Bible thoroughly because God calls being with the same sex an ‘abomination’ in the KJV and “detestable” in the NIV more than one place.  “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Leviticus 18:22. There is also New Testament Scripture: Romans 1:24-28 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
     Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

    This is clear.  That which God does not condone, so ought not man, especially those who are teachers/preachers of God’s Word. 

    • Lizdyer

      You are wrong in thinking scripture is clear. If you study original language and historical context you will find that none of the verses are clearly speaking about loving, monogamous same sex relationships. More probably they are speaking about male prostitution and pagan worship practices that included temple sex and heterosexuals having sex with the same sex. And as far as abomination goes it was also an abomination to eat shell fish and mix fabrics so that should give you a little
      insight into what the word adbomination means. What is clear is that it is unjust to condemn something or someone without sufficient reason.

      • William

        Actually, the original language study does not condone your ungodly assertion.  The Bible is clear – in English and in Hebrew and in Koine Greek.  God is clear.  He says homosexual acts are sin.  He is above culture.  There is no “more probably”.  I respect homosexuals that reject the Bible because they abhor what the Bible says.  I have no respect for the intellectual dishonesty that people have when they wish to sin and have God condone it.  Shame on anyone who tries to twist Scripture – especially those who try to hide behind original language and try to undermine others based on supposed linguistic superiority.  I do know biblical Greek and Hebrew and God is clear.  People just try to pretend he isn’t so they can rationalize sin in their lives

        • http://www.facebook.com/steve.hatherley Steve Hatherley

          Because I’m sure you’re more fluent in the actual meanings of ancient Hebrew & Greek than the people who have dedicated lifetimes to the study of these ancient languages and the etymology in the Bible.

          Add to it the fact that the translations you’re saying are wrong came first from Vatican scholars, and you find yourself in an awkwardly hard to defend position.

        • hokieduck

          NOT true. Check Leviticus in the King James version. There are two footnotes which relate to the word “homosexual” in that text (which is the one most often spewed forth venomously). The footnotes say that the word homosexual is not used in the original Greek, rather that two Greek terms are in the original. One of the terms means “temple prostitute” and the other means “soft.”

          So it is the years of transcriptions, inaccuracies plus “modernizing”, ie, making the book say what whomever is transcribing (Jesuit priests) wants it to say at the moment, that determine what it says now.

          And we are still doing that. Still changing the words and “modernizing” their meanins to this day.

      • Lori

        The word homosexual was not found in the bible until the mid 1900’s when interpreters changed words to homosexual, a word that originally meant temple prostitutes in Greek! ! The bible speaks for itself and a look at the old King James Version, one of the original English interpretations used almost exclusively from the 1600’s to the mid 1900’s, will prove that the word homosexual is NOT in there!

        Oh and since this is such a big issue for so many modern day christians, lets take a look at what Jesus said about homosexuals!! Lets look at the sermon on the mount, the beatitudes, his parables! Did you look? Yup, that’s correct, Jesus said NOTHING about homosexuality! But Jesus did give one new commandment and that was to love each each, he didn’t say, love each other, except the queers, those people you can judge and condemn!

        Signed a Jesus loving lesbian!

        • Sean

          Amen sister!

        • hokieduck

          Jesus also very clearly says several times in the gospels that divorce is a sin and remarriage is adultery. And I have yet to see the NOM folks out there seeking a legal, overarching, individual liberty affronting Constitutional Amendment removing the “right” to get a divorce under any circumstances… much less the circumstance of getting a quickie weekend marriage and divorce in Vegas.

        • 22044

          Jesus affirms marriage as between a man and a woman in both the gospels of Matthew & Mark.

      • Sean

        Be careful, we don’t want to confuse people with the facts….seriously thanks for bringing perspective!

  • Krys

    I feel like Tony has plagiarized some of my own Facebook comments.  I would, however, extend “Civil Union” to any registered adult household relationship.  A brother and a sister living together as roomates could form a civil union.  A poster once objected to marriage being the sole property of the religious, but that doesn’t need to be.  The non-religious can have a friend officiate a ceremony and call it whatever they want to call it…who’s going to stop them?

  • Wally

    Formerly a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the Campolo (and his Jezebel slut) now feels it’s safe to just walk around in his wolf garb.

  • Norman Birthmark

    This isn’t a compromise, but an all-out forfeiture to the religious.  Why should secularists be called upon to sacrifice the term “marriage”?  What’s next, giving the word “death” to the religious and leaving secularists government-recognized “expiration”?   In practice, religious institutions offer very little to marriage since it is essentially a legal agreement that is handled in government courts.  

    Civil unions, domestic partner, etc. are silly semantic games that please no one.  Social conservatives are just as opposed to government-recognition of pseudo-marriage and those of us seeking marriage equality will not settle for second-class status.

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve said this for YEARS now. Good to see someone else with more influence saying it as well.

  • Tyler Frederick

    The government should not be involved in either marriages or civil unions or whatever else you want to call it. Why did it ever come about that whoever wants to live together consensually needs government recognition? If you want a pastor to marry you, that’s great, or if you want to marry another person of the same gender, that’s fine, but the government should not be involved in either.

  • Bthomas5217

    “Why not…” etc.  No.  To normalize what is wrong is wrong not right.  Call it what it is… sin.  Treat it for what it is… sin.  Anything else is just wrong.

  • Andy J. Funk

    The thing not being addressed here is why the church is important when it comes to conducting marriage ceremonies. Even people who could care less about the church seem to want a “traditional”, predominantly meaning “church”, wedding. That just blows my mind, but what it tells me is there is so much “sentimentality” attached to the practice of “traditional” type weddings. You don’t even have to attend that particular church…it’s like treating the church as though it’s a “drive-thru” McDonalds. It’s ridiculous already!! What makes a marriage Christian, is the fact that you are both connected, or connecting with the community of believers. You don’t just get to do whatever the hell you want, and define things as you please! Marriage in the church is intelligible once we include the communal element. There, we receive our help, wisdom, discernment, character formation…how can we all of a sudden exchange the community, within which the marriage relationship finds it is nurtured by mutual Christian love, dignity, respect, and let’s not forget…ACCOUNTABILITY. Christians are accountable to each other, and have willingly made that commitment to one another through membership/participation. If our pastors are willing to conduct any and every marriage ceremony that comes through, we ought not be surprised that people don’t really see the ceremony as “ordained by God”. Drive-thru church mentality is what drives us further away from being distinctive in Christian practice.

    • Mary Erickson

      In other words the “church” does not want to include gay people etc. etc……You put a lot of thought into your comment, but it is homophobic to the max..I’m straight, I’m a Christian, card-carrying Presbyterian and I am sick of this subject.  Let’s just do what Jesus would do and love people who love Him.

      • love

        “Let’s just do what Jesus would do and love people who love Him.”
        That comment leaves a lot of room for Christians to be judgmental. Actually, I think Jesus loved EVERYONE even those who feared and hated him. Lets all try doing that.

  • Wolfgang Fernandez

    This is also my opinion. God is looking into hearts and not our laws

  • Elizabeth Miller

    You say that marriage is an institution ordained of GOD. Don’t you believe that CHURCH is ALSO  an institution (a body of believers) ordained and blessed by GOD ? How then can you say “Of course homosexual couples could go to churches that welcome and affirm marriages.” How can you a believer put such a notion forward for consideration. ? It must grieve the heart of GOD the way the Church is willing not only compromise ‘ marriage ‘ (which involves children who have no choice ) but also to compromise the BODY OF CHRIST – the CHURCH.
    THE CHURCH (in law) should ONLY be responsible for marriages BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN (The ONLY union capabale of bearing fruit).
    MARRIAGE and CHURCH has NOTHING to do with   “personal convictions ” – it has to do with WHAT GOD HAS SAID –  NOT with what either you or I think.  You either BELIEVE ENOUGH to OBEY or you don’t. (Romans 6:16 – “Don’t you know that to whom you present yourselves as slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of SIN unto DEATH, or obedience to RIGHTEOUSNESS.”.  )
    It’s YOUR  CHOICE –  HEAVEN or HELL.
    MARRIAGE IS AN INSTITUTION  ORDAINED OF GOD, and the Government should go on giving “LEGAL STATUS ” to UNIONS  (NOT marriages ) of unbelievers – WHATEVER ! and leave MARRIAGE WHICH IS ORDAINED OF GOD  to the CHURCH.
    In the bonds of Calvary,
    Elizabeth Miller   

    • Jenelle

      You know what grieves the heart of God? Not same-sex unions (whatever we decide to call them), and not same-sex unions even inside an approving and affirming church. There will be no marriage in heaven! Why would THAT be the issue that grieves the heart of God?

      What grieves the heart of God is people being pushed outside and away from the Church and His heart because the Church has told them they don’t belong, that they can’t be loved, that they don’t deserve to know God. What grieves the heart of God is “Christians” being more concerned with rules than with people’s hearts, and caring more about their behaviors than their knowledge and experience of His love. What grieves the heart of God is that His Church is convincing seekers that they can’t know Him, and convincing believers that they don’t belong in His Church.

      The Bible does not actually speak anywhere of same-sex committed relationships…not anywhere…not in the Old Testament…not in the New. There is not one single example or comment against. There is Scripture opposing temple prostitution and gang rape (committed, by the way, by heterosexual men, similar to scenarios that occur in our prisons, not due to sexual desires, but rather to humiliation and power). And there are words with unclear meanings that have recently been changed from prostitutes to homosexuals. That’s not in any way equivalent.

      But the Bible does clearly, without any question, address loving our neighbors, humbling ourselves, putting people’s hearts above the law…as well as judging others. God says love Him and love people. He says do not judge lest you be judged. God says we are saved by grace not by works or deeds. But much of the Church says quite the contrary.

      It’s funny how ignorant we are. We are all fallible beings. The Church has been getting it wrong since the beginning of time. God could barely blink before needing to correct and redirect the Israelites again and again. He had to push and push to convince the Jews to even interact with the Gentiles, and then even more so for the Jews to accept Gentiles as equal believers and allow them to be a part of the Church without forcing all their established rules (the rules they believed God was dictating) upon the Gentiles. They were shocked to find the Holy Spirit at work in *gasp* Gentiles, just as much of the Church now is shocked and appalled that a church or a Christian would have the nerve to say that God loves and works in and through homosexuals and their relationships. It always takes God awhile to get His truths of love and acceptance through our arrogant thick skulls. He’s been fighting that battle with His people since He created them. I include myself in that list. I include every Christian that’s ever walked this earth in that list.

      • Sean

        Amen sister!

      • hokieduck

        This may be the single best response to all this religious condemnation I have ever heard. I am going to copy and paste this and with your permission, Jenelle, use it again.

    • Catman

      You missed the point. The point was a church only has to bless a marriage if they want to, because marriage is not a legal thing. Get with it.

  • Pastortim

    The primary problem here is we have the church compromising with the culture. History shows that whenever the chhurch gets in bed with the culture/government, the church gets more than a food night’s rest. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it so succinctly that the church must steadfastly maintain it’s position of being the conscience of the government, never vice versa. Let’s be honest, at one time in our nation’s history, the government said that people with non-white skin only counted as 2/3 of a person and that slavery of these individuals was a legally protected activity. Now we have the government telling the church that gay marriage is okay….and far too many in the church are willing to go along with that…ostensibly for the sake of “love.” As a church, we are slowly but surely abdicating our role as the moral rudder for culture/government.

    • Hunttom

      I guess this is where I have the struggle.  Well, here and in one other place.  I’m not sure that we are to be the moral rudder for culture and goverment.  Where does that idea come from?  Does Jesus command this and I missed it?  It seems like our rules are for us to follow (the church) and that we ought not expect people that don’t believe as we do to follow them.  It seems to me that the church gets itself into a lot of trouble when it tries to police those that are outside of it.  Sad to say but the church [collectively] has plenty of problems with the board in its own eye.  I just don’t get what it is that gives us the right to tell others outside of the church how they should conduct themselves morally or otherwise. 

      The second thing that concerns me is that the position of the church in general seems to be one of the two:

      1.  It is OK if you are gay as long as you don’t engage in any actual sexual activity.  You can be gay but you must then be celebate.

      2.  Ultimately it is not OK to be gay.  Sure, we will welcome you as long as you are willing to try to not be gay.  And so off we go to some sort of “repair” program aimed at “curing” your “problem.”

      I’m not gay but if I was I would really question these two approaches because it seems like what we are saying is, “You have to become like us in order to be accepted by us.”  And that is a problem.  There is no other area of sin where we insist on transformation prior to acceptance and conversion.  Just think, I wonder how many people would be in church on Sunday morning if we made greedy people feel as unwelcome as we did gays.  What about self-rightousness and so on.  If we eliminate all of the people living “sinful lifestyles” then there would be no church left at all.

      Is homosexuality somehow different than pride or greed or laziness that we say to them “You must repent of that sin prior to us accepting you?”  I doubt it.  That seems like the same approach that the Pharisees took and Jesus seemed to have a lot to say to them about their lack of compassion.

      So, I’m only an ametuer theologian.  I have no formal trianing other than my own experience in church and my walk as a Christian.  I’m sure that there is lots to get wrong here but I try to love God and love people first and foremost and anything that pulls me away from that I think is falsehood.  I think this is the primary message of Jesus and ultimately it is the demonstration of this kind of radical love demonstrated to me by some people that called themselves Christians that I came to become one myself.  I remember saying to myself, “Any God that can cause people to love like that has to be real…  I need to be a part of that.”

  • Thrice

    Looking at a bigger picture here, I find it sad that these religions and beliefs are divide people from one another instead of *uniting* us altogether. We’re worse than mindless animals; we cast away our fellow humans simply because they differ in race, sexual orientation, etc. This must be the price we pay for having the ability to think freely and have opinions heard. It sure is a sad world we live in. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re the next to be wiped off the face of the earth. We don’t deserve this beautiful planet.

  • Thissideofdarkness

    Here is the bottom line:  God has declared what he has declared.  We can argue this to the nth degree and it won’t matter because God’s Word is the ultimate authority (though some religions don’t accept this).  God has not changed, he will not change.  And he doesn’t do adendum’s to his agenda and his will.  You can be enlightened or you can be deceived, but in the end GOD WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD regardless of mere mortals’ opinions, and that is exactly what they are, opinions.

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

    …From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.fodera.1 Peter Fodera

    Excellent. I highly concur with ONE BIG CAVEAT. We must distinguish between getting MARRIED in a church and getting wedded in a “religious institution” not necessarily wedded (pun intended) to the Gospel of Jesus.

    IN the same way we differentiate between what happens at the State level: a Civil Union for Legal purposes and in a church: Marriage, we must for THEOLOGICAL, HAMARTIOLOGICAL, and SEMANTIC reasons come up with new, separate language for people who seek a religious component to their wedding but do NOT want to do so under the auspices of the Church which Jesus founded upon the Rock and which orthodoxically and non-heretically still abides only Genesis marriage: between a man and a woman, between “ish” and “ishah” — and FOREVER WILL.

    Heretical “churches” who have renounced some or all of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus but still want a “spiritual” experience will deem what they perform a wedding but NOT a marriage. MARRIAGE should be reserved ONLY for the union instituted by God before Him, the Hosts of Heaven and witnesses, between one man and one woman, whether believing Christian, believing Jew or arguably believing Muslim. “I’m not religious but spiritual” couples can be WEDDED in any Spiritual Dome (I made that term up — but I’m not wedded to it) that the IRS grants 501(c)3 status to. (Yeah, there’s the state intruding again but current churches will NOT, I do NOT believe, want to give up their tax exempt status).

    AND YES, churches may discriminate between who they will and will NOT marry based upon inquiry and counseling because those couples whom churches don’t wish to marry can be wedded in other unorthodox religious institutions, whatever they wind up calling themselves besides “church.”

    Yeah, its complicated and messy but so is the bizarre and aberrant sexual culture and milieu America has created for itself.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/29/my-take-im-spiritual-not-religious-is-a-cop-out/?on.cnn=2

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/no-religion-pew-report_n_1949598.html

    • Logical

      You say:
      “Heretical “churches” who have renounced some or all of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus but still want a “spiritual” experience will deem what they perform a wedding but NOT a marriage”

      But
      Who decides which church is ‘heretical’? There are several churches that would declare every other church is heretical. Does the government decide? No thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/guy.j.schafer Guy J. Schafer

    This isn’t the only thing I’d like the Government to get out of… :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.olson.522 Daniel Olson

    Tony, I have adopted this stance over the last year myself. it is the only option that makes sense. You have reinforced my understanding and support for this solution.

  • Chug

    I’ve been saying this for years.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.s.waterhouse.7 Mark S. Waterhouse

    I am a Free Methodist pastor. Our marriage ritual does not include any statement about the state. I sign the marriage license as a concession.

  • John Tejada

    Legalizing gay marriage simply On the basis of not being discriminatory or offending homosexuals is crazy. I’m way less concerned with offending someone with the truth than I am offending God in my error.
    Marriage was instituted by God and is therefore something the enemy obviously wants to pervert. Any compromise is simply an offense to God.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705155676 Luke H Thornton

    I think the importance of the word marriage is important for both straight and gay couples. Since it has a sense of tradition and is universally recognized as being a life long commitment. As a gay man raised in the baptist church, it has at times been hard to reconcile my homosexuality with the teachings of the church, however I know that God created me just exactly as he wanted me to be, so it doesn’t matter what anyone may tell me, I know God is going to take care of me.

    I do however think that people are confusing the religious ceremony and meaning of holy matrimony with that of civil marriage. The goverenment can not define what holy matrimony is since it is a covent between spouses and God, marriage is a legal definition of spouses that have joined into a partnership by swearing that they are a couple in the eyes of the law to obtain a special status with the government, that provides specific legal benefits, that non-married people do not receive.

  • Jen

    I agree completely, and I’m a devout Christian. Anyone can get a civil union now anyway right, in a few states at least? That is what should be pushed. NOT Gay Marriage. I agree, marriage is between one man, one woman and God so why do they want to get ‘married’ anyway????

  • Chris Humphrey

    I generally like Tony a lot. But I don’t think his idea of a “compromise” is a compromise at all. He wants people married in a church to be able to use the word “married” or “marriage” and something LESS than that for people who become a civil union in a city hall. I have a compromise for him… since he knows apparently that ALL marriages in a church are blessed by God and that civil unions are not…. let him call the ones he deems worthy “christian marriages” and the ones he doesn’t just “marriages”. The government really only gets involved in financial perks for married folks/hospital visits etc, and currently my gay friends are getting screwed.

  • http://twitter.com/LadiesAdventure Lady’sAdventure Time

    I think it doesn’t matter who you marry yourself to as long as you love that your person. (Read )Number 4 of MARRIAGE]

    love [luhv] Show IPA noun, verb, loved, lov·ing.

    noun

    1.a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

    2.a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as fora parent, child, or friend.

    3.sexual passion or desire.

    4.a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

    5.(used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, orthe like): Would you like to see a movie, love?

    mar·riage [mar-ij] Show IPA

    noun

    1.a.the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms:separation.

    b.a similar institution involving partners of the same gender:gay marriage. Antonyms: separation.

    2.the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy marriage. Synonyms: matrimony. Antonyms: single life,bachelorhood, spinsterhood, singleness; separation.

    3.the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage.Synonyms: nuptials, marriage ceremony, wedding. Antonyms:divorce, annulment.

    4.a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legals action: trial marriage.

    5.any close or intimate association or union: the marriage of wordsand music in a hit song. Synonyms: blend, merger, unity,oneness; alliance, confederation. Antonyms: separation,division, disunion, schism.

  • Dutchman

    Uh, in Holland they use the same word — “huwelijk” = marriage — for both the legal and registration and the church blessing.

  • Pete Litterski

    I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Rev. Campolo’s ministry, although I have frequently heard of him in many discussions. I am excited to hear him parse this issue much the same way that I do, even though he and I appear to disagree on whether gay couples should be able to get married. I have long argued that I don’t need or want the government’s blessing of my marriage, only its legal recognition for purposes of estates, medical care, etc., etc. I do want my church’s blessing of my union (nearing 39 years in a few months) and I have always felt that I had it. I also believe that my church (Episcopal) should continue in the direction it has moved and I am pleased with the progress it has made even in recent months. I also recognize that Rev. Campolo and the Baptist Church should have the right to decide what marriages their church will bless. Of course, we have intertwined the church and the state in our current approach to marriage and that may take years to undo. But I find it refreshing to know that a major spokesman for the “other side” of this issue sees some very important issues much the same way that I do. That gives me hope that we can continue down a road that will respect all people and all truly loving, truly committed couples, be they heterosexual like my wife and me or homosexual like so many other couples, including good friends and close family.

  • hokieduck

    I am sorry; I think you are being sincere. However, the fact that you want to find a “compromise” that still has two different statuses based on who you love is the reason why such a compromise is not one at all. What do heterosexuals give up for this compromise (the definition of compromise is that both parties give up something of value). They will still have the legal status of a governmental recognition via civil unions and they will still have the right to marry. Only gay people will give up anything, the right to be thought of as whole human beings and whose relationships are equally valued and valuable.

    I think your underlying point is well made, that the government should not be in the marrying business. However, marriage first developed for inheritance and property distribution. And the truth is that the vestiges of this kind of discrimination will be slow to die when even good people such as yourselves hold so tightly to it.

    If you think I am wrong and that the discomfort some people feel when confronting gay marriage is solely religious in nature, tell me… why didn’t Congress include a ban on divorce when it banned gay marriage? Jesus was clear that divorce is a sin, yet Jesus said absolutely nothing about homosexuality. And while the thought of marriage equality having an adverse effect on the institution itself is unexplainable even by attorneys arguing that point to SCOTUS, the *fact* is indisputable that divorce tears at the very fabric of the institution of marriage for all people.

  • Rufus

    I certainly see this as a reasonable compromise, if the legal protections and benefits are equal across the board. This has really become an issue of semantics. People are going to call their relationship what they want. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the reality that, even if it is legally called a “civil union”, the general public will still call all such unions marriages.

  • Anthony

    The silent, unwavering testimony of our biology declares God’s glory.

    • otrotierra

      Better to follow Jesus rather than opinions about biology which have radically changed across culture and time.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/shadisidarous Shadi Sidarous

    I think we open the door to a lot of problems when we discuss getting the government out of marriage. In Brazil, where civil unions are practiced and there is already a court case where a judge is allowing a civil union of three, consenting adults. In reality, apart from the religious objection, the argument against a union of 3 or more is no longer morally relevant. Then there’s the argument for incest. Apart from religion, the only argument is the procreative issue. But we’ve already established that as irrelevant in the case of gay marriage, so if they promise not to have any kids, who;s to stop a father/daughter or sister/brother relationship? Government needs to be able to regulate marriage. The only question is, by what standard do we regulate it? If we use the current morality of the day, then anything is possible. If we use an moral absolute, then whose absolute do we use?

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  • SomewhereinMaryland

    Until you can get the government (Federal, State and local) to change every single instance of marriage, husband, wife, spouse, et cetera in the laws to whatever goes with civil union or domestic partnership, it won’t work. There is a legal connotation to those words and it is ingrained in all of our laws. Those states who tried civil unions or domestic partnerships are finding out that they are NOT equal, and some are now taking the final step to allow same-sex marriage.

    And Jacob, below, is right. Marriage has always been the word that governments give to couples who wish it.

  • Garrett

    I understand that the problem with this solution is that no state will want to be the first to give up the function of marrying and provide only domestic partnerships instead. Let us say, for example, that New York decided that all couples, gay or straight, would be on equal footing as domestic partners and that marriage was in the province of churches. Other states would no longer recognize their covenants as marriages but as domestic partnerships. It’s a legal problem that gay couples have been dealing with for years now. Moving from a state with a gay marriage law to a state with a domestic partnership law or a state with a civil union law or the other way has always meant getting another certificate. Maybe that is just the price we would have to pay during a transition, but it is a major disincentive for the first state.

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