|Via Jenni + Karen + Jadon on Flickr|
|Via Feastoffun on Flickr|
Seems like you can't go a single day without hearing these terms in the news. The most recent stats I've seen say that about 50% of Americans are in favor of legalizing gay marriage. As a nation, we are pretty much split on this issue.
When examining marriage equality beliefs along religious divides, Protestants are less likely than Catholics to approve. Protestants who attend services weekly are even less likely to approve of gay marriage.
As a self-identified Protestant Christian who attends services weekly (and recently joined the choir, can you believe it?), I am telling you, these numbers should rile people up! This entire issue should rile people up! In fact, Christians should be outraged over marriage inequality!
If there's one thing that most Christians- Catholic or Protestant- believe about marriage, it is that marriage is a sacred practice. For Catholics marriage is a sacrament. For Protestants, marriage is a sacred covenant between God, man, and wife.
|Via andrewmalone on Flickr|
Except for the denominations where it is a sacred covenant between God and wife and wife, or God and husband and husband.
Episcopal and Presbyterian ministers may bless gay unions. The United Church of Christ has been legally recognizing and advocating for gay marriages since 2005. And some ministers within the United Methodist Church have become part of the Reconciling Ministries Network and perform gay marriages. As a Church, we are pretty much split on this issue.
But whether your church or denomination supports gay marriage or not, there is one thing we should all agree about and support:
It's time for the government to get out of our churches!
The government should have no say in who may marry and who may not.*
|Via darcyandkat on Flickr|
Marriage has certain legal rights and responsibilities associated with it. The government needs a way for you to designate your legal next of kin, beneficiary, tax partner, and whatnot. There needs to be order and records because marriage plays a role in division of property and assets, child custody, and any other number of issues if the marriage is dissolved. I get that- it can't be a free for all!
But why should the government be granting licenses to engage in a religious sacrament or covenant? Who is the government to tell me how and when I can take communion or be baptized? Who is the government to tell me who and when I can marry?
See, the marriage license is the issue, here. Marriage licenses have traditionally been used to restrict marriage: by preventing interracial marriages; by limiting marriage of immigrants (who may not have the proper identification needed to obtain a license); by placing marriage out of the economic grasp of the poor (fees for the license plus testing in some areas!). It's ridiculous!
|Via Nate C on Flickr|
So, what is the solution?
I think religious institutions should practice their beliefs about marriage as they see fit, without interference from the State, whether that is man and wife, wife and wife, husband and husband, or husband and wife and wife and wife. Religious (or non-religious, for those who chose) expression should not be hindered by the State. For legal purposes, couples may register their marriage (or union, whatever they want to call it) with the State, and be granted specific rights and responsibilities between two** people. Those who do not wish the rights and responsibilities do not have to register their commitment, but will forfeit all protections and benefits.
Then the debate over gay marriage can move to where it should be- our churches! And all citizens will be granted the same rights and responsibilities for their registered unions.
Doesn't this just make sense? What do you think? And what on Earth does this mean about my political affiliation?!?!
*As a nation, we believe in the legal age of consent (18, younger with parent approval in some states.) I support that as one condition/clause that should remain in place.
** Yes, only two for the rights and responsibilities, as I don't think the government should be paying survivor benefits or trying to figure out legal next of kin between multiple spouses.