Lately the various governments of the United States have been quarreling with the people over the issues of the right to marry. On the one hand we have several states pressing the people to accept that a legal union between consenting adults of legal age and the same sex must defined as a marriage and that persons with this status must be accepted by those who find this immoral and distasteful. Others have been pressing to establish state constitutional amendments to define marriage as one man one woman legally contracted to share property and liability but free to abandon the relationship and divide the assets, burden the man with the majority of liabilities and assign custody of all dependents on the woman (any variations on this sort of division are difficult if not impossible to achieve and are viewed as abnormal). A business partnership between vending machine attendants is more binding and given more respect and credibility by the state.
What this demonstrates most clearly is 1) the disastrous effects of the states usurping the authority of God and the Bible and 2) the sly two pronged attack mode that the devil prefers.
The first issue arises from the fact that the state, in order to stamp out the Mormon heresy in the 19’Th century, began instituting laws against marriage of one man with more than one woman. Many would now try to revise this history to say it was an aspect of the equal rights movement, called the woman’s suffrage movement that was in full motion at the time. That is of course an eisegetical approach, attempting to impose 21’st century ideals and motives on 19’Th century law makers.
The ‘Church of Christ’ movement, localized primarily in the Midwest, of the early 19’th century spawned many tiny sects and sub movements all of whom were focused on the goal of revising Christianity as a whole to more accurately reflect the beliefs and practices of the 1’st century Christians. Some of these groups grew tired of the hard work of reconstruction and clustered around a particular cult leader and spun off to practice the limited degree of restored gospel that they had so far recovered. In the vacuum of a more complete, ‘full gospel’ paradigm, the personal superstitions and unscholarly interpretations of the Bible by members and cult leaders were substituted for those aspects that were missing.
Often, this lead to the adoption of completely heterodox teachings that were as divergent from the Apostolic succession as the traditional dogmas that abounded in the established churches that these people had come from. In many cases such as Joseph Smith this entailed a blending of Judaism and the mangled Qabbalah held by the Freemasons, with a limited portion of the full gospel. The result of this amalgam is so heterodox that there is limited potential for scholarly discussion of Biblical principals. This group has so badly reframed the Bible that every third word seems to be a weighty metaphor to them. Sadly this lead to outrage and even violence in Ohio and Illinois which galvanized the cult and lead many to make the perilous journey to the Utah region of Norte California, which at the time was a Mexican state that had just won its independence as a sovereign nation.
One of the peculiarities of the Mormon cult was that they believed that a man should emulate the Old Testament patriarchs in establishing large tribes by marring multiple wives and having many sons. This was done to increase their numbers, as well as reinforcing their heterodox belief that they had replaced the biological Jews and that the promises of the Old Covenant accrue only to the members of the Latter Day Saints organizations.
The United States saw the Mormon sub movement as a very different entity from the Church of Christ movement that had spawned them. The State and even federal government viewed the Mormons as a potential source of danger to the Union and even a source of terrorism. Whether this was a reasonable interpretation of events at the time is debatable with strong arguments on both sides, but at any rate, the government began to seek ways to legally censure them while not infringing on the rights of the restorations movement as a whole. One of the most notable was to attack the polygyny of the group. First, Polygyny, marriage of one man to multiple wives, was reinvented as polygamy. Polygamy is a term taken from the words of Christ to describe those who divorce a spouse for frivolous reasons and remarry to replace his or her spouse with someone more attractive physically, socially, financially, etc. Interestingly the term polygamy is genderless but it is emotionally charged and inflammatory. The clear intent was to turn an aspect of poor judgment and poor Biblical scholarship, into a crime that must be punished. So the states began to enact laws governing marriage and establishing rules for who could marry. This had little or no effect on the majority of Mormons who, living in Utah, were beyond the reach of the states although the federal government eventually did have authority over them.
The problem is that marriage is both a foundational human behavior and the purview of religious and philosophical thinkers. It is not the place of the state to establish religion, and in so much as the various states, and even the federal government interfere in marriage practices by establishing rules for excluding certain unions from consideration as a valid marriage, they are establishing rules for what is an invalid religion. The natural corollary is that by invalidating a religion you are implicitly ‘establishing’ the multitude of other religions. While this is not establishing a national Church, it is in fact establishing a religious ecumenicism and is a clear violation of the constitutional bar against blending religion and state.
It was the blending of religion and state that allowed the Christians in Rome to be fed to the lions, it was this evil that lead to the killing of Jew and Christians under the Spanish inquisition, and it was just this thinking that lead the Presbyterians to America to escape the COE and lead these Presbyterians to burn talented bakers and craftsmen at the stake in America.
The government must never be allowed to establish rules for what constitutes a valid religion because this always leads to persecution of the innocent and to tyranny. This is the fundamental doctrine of the separation of church and state. Not to protect the state from religion, but the protect religion from legislators and enforcement officers. The first prong of Satan’s typical attack is to distort pervert legitimate authority to act illegitimately. The second prong is inevitably to incite an immoral minority to rebel and destabilize social norms so that a society becomes unstable and more vulnerable to the primary attack. Hitler did this my increasing the tension in the Balkan and Bohemian states, through propaganda intended to emphasize the distinction between subcultures in those states. He preached a “cultural mosaic” where all subcultures must fight for separate and “equal” distinction. At the same time he preached a fictional homogeneity of the Germanic tribes in Western Europe and Poland.
So then we visit an aspect of the second prong of Satan’s attack on America, homosexual marriage. Very little could be more oxymoronic. The homosexual male American is a member of the most promiscuous group in the United States. Until the threat of HIV was demonstrated to be most concentrated among this population it was considered normative for a male homosexual in this country to have over 1000 separate sexual partners during his active sexual lifetime. (Marriage and Family Relations, classroom lectures, by Dr. Jiwan Mackey, Nov. 1989) This came from censes and from sociological studies conducted in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The concept of homosexual unions that are committed, exclusive and survive one or more of the partners is a contradiction in terms.
One argument that comes in opposition of this assertion is that heterosexual couples do not practice exclusivity, the relationship doesn’t outlive one of the spouses and the commitment of these couples is debatable as a result. And it has been argued that the homosexual relationship might well outlive the spouses because of the risk of AIDS due to HIV. My own opinion is that such an argument is cynical and cheapens the very real suffering of the AIDS patient who has been lead into a risky and sinful lifestyle, only to suffer an excruciating death. For the so-called proponents of the rights of this fatally ill person, to use his illness as a hammer to win an argument, with cynical disregard to the feelings and suffering he is experiencing is indicative of the quality of the argument itself. Truth and rightness seldom produce such callousness and callow inhumanity in their proponents.
Further cracks in the argument appear when it is confronted by scripture. God’s opinion is on record. Homosexuality is an abomination before God. The term abomination is an interesting euphemism that has been lost on its readers for far too long. Simply put it means something that is so foul-smelling and putrid, and so unseemly to look at, that it causes nauseousness and vomiting.
When the scriptures state that homosexuality is an abomination to God, they are stating that this sin not only upsets God but revolts him as well. Since marriage is the God ordained union of souls often blessed by the witness of a religious figure, such as a rabbi or priest, it is being called particularly to God’s attention and figuratively thrust into his face. Is it really wise to thrust something he finds disgusting into God’s face?
Under the rule of the Old Covenant, when a particular family who were not a properly consecrated priests burned the sacred incense it so incensed God that he caused the earth to swallow them in a fissure. That was merely a case of the wrong person doing the right thing in a religious context. Homosexual marriage is merely another example of the wrong people engaging in the right thing. The two prongs of Satan’s attack make opportunity for one another. They work in tandem, nudging the pendulum of popular opinion as it swings.
This issue would not even have arisen if it were not for the Government assuming illegitimate authority in determining what in fact constitutes a marriage. By assuming the authority to grant or prevent divorce, by assuming the authority to establish or disestablish marriages and by assuming the authority to determine that the partners in a marriage are less liable to one another than the partners in a business, the government has assumed the authority to establish or disestablish those things that are facets and tenets of religious dogma. Simply put the government has established defacto religion.
What is God’s word on Marriage? Does the religious institution then, have the right to determine who may marry? Can one only be married if they have been certified by a church or synagogue? Again the Biblical testimony on the subject is very different from American public policy as well as western religious tradition.
To quote The New Jewish Wedding, by Anita Diamant (‘ 1985 by the author) she states on page 71:
‘To the Midrashic imagination the whole Torah is a Ketubbah [(covenant)] ‘ a marriage contract — between God and the people of Israel.’
This picture of the relationship between God and man was only exceeded by the picture of parenthood in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ use of the Midrash and the Midrashic view of Godly relationship makes the role of marriage a central factor not only of authentic Judaism but of authentic Christianity. To cheapen or degrade the marriage of two people to nothing more than a legal formula practiced for tradition or pragmatism is to likewise cheapen the Role of God’s work in the lives of his chosen people and the lives of those who serve him. By rejecting the solemnity and sacrosanct nature of marriage one rejects the grace of God by proxy.
So then, one might assume that an authentic marriage must be established by an authentic religious institution. The religious history (heilsgeschichte) of the Bible says no. When Abraham and Sarai his wife left Iraq and traveled to Palestine in search of religious freedom from the oppressive weight of Zoroastrian idolatry, they had no established religious authority to rely on for sealing a marriage. Abraham was himself a prophet and this made him a religious authority, but the Jewish traditions indicate that it was not seemly that an immediate family member be the only witness to the union.
To quote Diamant on page 107, ‘A marriage can be valid without a rabbi [and by extension without a priest] but not without witnesses’a witness gives permanence to human activities that are transitory.’ What these witnesses testify to is the contract or ketubbah that defines the quid pro quo, or exchange of value for value that occurs in a marriage. And the witnesses make denying the contract or fudging the terms later on more difficult. This makes a marriage a community transaction in that it involves the credibility and lives of more than just the couple. The couple owes it to the witnesses to meet the terms of the contract, verbal or written that stands between the couple. Failure to remain committed to the marriage is a failure to remain faithful to the people who witnessed the marriage. Where God has been called to witness, this is a most disturbing failure.
As a result of this principal Isaac was married to an Iraqi woman whom he had never met, and Jacob was married to two Iraqi women whom he purchased from their father with 14 years of labor. In every generation the record shows the patriarchs and prophets marrying without benefit of any religious authority, but divorce was strictly governed and managed by religious authority. The authority of the Bible not of the religious figure was the ruling authority in the dissolution of a marriage. The Get or writ of Divorce was the prerogative of a husband, but the legal circumstances where a Get can be drafted are strictly governed by the Mosaic Law.
Moses the law-giver gave us laws governing sexuality and divorce, monetary matters and personal behavior. There are laws governing whom a priest may marry and when, But there is a glaring omission. There is no law governing how a marriage ceremony shall be conducted. There is no law governing the age of the couple and there is no law governing the proof of marriage, except that the woman must use her huppah to document her virginity and place that proof in the care of her parents against the eventuality that her husband might claim she had not been a virgin before the marriage, therefore invalidating the marriage.
What does this tell us? Marriage is a reflection of our theology. If we are frivolous enough to believe that divorce is an option, then we are also frivolous enough to reject God’s grace on a whim. We must approach marriage with the long view toward living in an exclusive partnership for the remainder of our lives, without securing a ‘way out if it doesn’t work out.’ Our view of marriage is a reflection of our view toward relationship with God so if we are harboring an escape clause we are not fully committed to God and he says that an incomplete commitment to him is more abominable than rejecting him. Commitment to God and to marriage must be similarly fanatical to the degree of lifelong permanence. Lesser commitment is inadequate, unhealthy and lacks authenticity.
Marriage is like our relationship with God – it is easy to enter, difficult to get out of, and it is impossible to regain if we ever completely end it. Marriage is the purview of the family and the community, but consists of an exclusive contract anatomically gifting one’s whole being for the duration that both partners shall live. A marriage amendment can only worsen the situation in America. Unless it is carefully worded so it will only serve to further undermine the social infrastructure and further the end of anti-American systems at work in this country:
Every natural person shall have the right to marry any other person of the opposite sex, so long as 1) both parties have reached the age of majority, 2) neither party is under the age of majority or if under the age of majority has entered puberty and has received permission to marry from the parents or guardians of record, and 3) the female party to that marriage is not currently married and 4) neither party is transgendered through surgery or any other means.
Marriage shall be narrowly defined as the exclusive, contractual; sexual, social and emotional partnership of a man with a woman that once embarked upon cannot be disbanded without the issuance of a divorce by the offended party in the case where the offending party has engaged in illicit sexual activity with a person or multiple persons to whom that offending party is not married. No party to a marriage taking place within the territorial United States, its possessions or protectorates, may marry any other person if they have a surviving spouse from an existing marriage or from a marriage that has been disbanded for any reason other than infidelity by that other spouse.
No person who has been divorced for reason of his or her own sexual infidelity shall be eligible to remarry. No person who has divorced another person or been divorced for any cause other than sexual infidelity shall be eligible for remarriage after divorce so long as the other party in the divorce shall remain alive.
No license or other legal documentation, other than a written contract signed by both parties to the marriage and witnessed by two or more natural persons who are not members of the immediate family of either party to the marriage shall be required to establish a marriage. No church or religious institution that objects to the validity of the marriage on purely religious grounds shall be forced to recognize the marriage.
Any other amendment would end up violating the religious tenets of the Church and, more importantly, the Bible. It would clearly interfere with the free unimpeded practice of religion. And it would violate the First Amendment protection for the free and unimpeded practice of religion.