As of this writing, six states plus the District of Columbia issue marriage liscenses to same-sex couples. Five additional states allow civil unions which provide spousal rights to same-sex couples. In Washington state this month, the governor & state legislature approved legislation establishing same-sex marriage, which will take effect this summer, barring any successful opposition-based referendum.
All of this is unfolding in the shadow of Congress’ 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same. Thirty-seven states currently have statutory Defense of Marriage Acts, all but three having done so in the wake of DOMA.
From H.R.3396, “An Act to Define and Protect the Institution of Marriage” (DOMA): “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 83% of American adults profess membership in a world religion that views homosexuality as unacceptable and/or sinful. If any in the other “non-religious” 17% think likewise, the former percentage climbs even higher. All but four members of our 535-seat Congress specify themselves as belonging to a religion whose tenets condemn homosexual behavior. Within my own, personal belief system, I regard the homosexual lifestyle as being no different from any other lifestyle which willfully pursues the gratification & glorification of our humanity, as opposed to the self-sacrificing character & humility Jesus calls us to embrace as creations before our Creator. Yet my government is not chartered with dispensing Christ’s teachings to the citizenry; it is constitutionally bound to neither proclaim Jesus as Savior nor prohibit any citizen or citizen group from denying Him as Savior. It is a non-Christian, non-religious body.
In summation, 83% of adult Americans and 99% of our federal lawmakers claim religious affiliations whose teachings are at odds with the burgeoning acceptance of homosexuality, yet are constitutionally prohibited from utilizing religious teachings in formulating legislative barriers to its legitimacy. This is both the reason DOMA was enacted, and the reason it is being systematically disassembled.
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.” – Mark 12:17
In our Lord’s response to the Pharisees’ (and Herodians'; hence, a religio-political partnership) entrapment experiment, the Divine Intelligence advances our understanding on how to live “in the world” while simutaneously being “separated” from it.
• What things belong to Caesar (the governing authority), that they should be rendered (given) to him?
In Georgia, a couple wishing to be married must apply for and obtain a license. Application requirements include being at least 16 years old, of sound mind, having no existing spouse, showing two forms of ID and a check for $60. An officiant of the state then files the license as a document in the permanent records of the county. No common law marriages, no proxy marriages, no same sex-marriages. Marrying your cousin is permitted. These are the “things that are Caesar’s” and, as such, should be rendered to him. So when two men ask the state of Georgia to issue them a marriage license, the State points to the law which declares them legally unqualified. But what is illegal in Georgia is perfectly legal in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and four other nearby states.
Why? Because America is a democratic republic whereby, as Massachusetts’ constitution states, “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.” – Article 7
In a democratic republic, the “things that are Caesar’s” are determined by those who elect Caesar, et al, into their offices. Massachusetts issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples because enough tax-paying, voting citizens exercised their right to reform existing state law. The lawmakers concluded that ignoring their demands would mean the end of their political futures. State governments bend whichever way the winds of money and votes blow. And gay-rights advocates have grown into an unavoidable, influential demographic.
• Why would a same-sex couple even WANT a marriage license?
Currently, there are about 1,400 legal benefits which cater to married couples, both at the state and federal level. Our government is pro-marriage, viewing it as the optimal vehicle toward a healthy, productive, self-sustaining citizenry. Incentives include filing joint income tax returns, estate inheritance claims & exemptions, Social Security, Medicaid, and disability benefits for spouses, obtaining insurance through a spouse’s employer, and receiving “family rates” with most types of insurance. Of course, DOMA presently precludes same-sex couples from any benefits at the federal level (SS death benefits, COBRA), regardless of the designation their particular state might confer on them. And DOMA – to a monogamous gay couple desiring equal recognition under law as their heterosexual, married counterpart – seems to have its rationale based not on any quantifiable threat to national security or prosperity, but on prejudices based in religious teachings. With each passing month, DOMA’s grip on the legal definition of marriage becomes weaker in the stronger counter-grip of those venerable old documents, our Constitution & Bill of Rights. Their genius lay in their flexibility, a concept most religions disdain as a manifestation of indiscipline.
• What things belong to God?
Even a cursory meditation on this question brings the following to mind:
1) The highest, purest & most faithful LOVE your being is capable of expressing.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” – Luke 10:27
2) OBEDIENCE to the manifestations of His Word.
“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” – John 14:23-24
3) Your SOUL.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
4) Recognition and GLORIFICATION of His majesty.
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:11
4) BELIEF in the Sonship and Lordship of JESUS.
“Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” – Luke 9:35
At this point, the Christian must conclude that allegience to any authority other than the Lord God is an act of foolishness, because men and their institutions develop rules from an imperfect foundation. Even the cooperation of human will with Divine Wisdom produces an outcome of disharmony among the masses. (“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” – John 15:18). There is “the world” and there is God. There is a United States of America – a self-fashioned democratic republic wherein citizens have an incontestable right to institute, reform and alter their government – and there is God. There is an evolving, popular recognition among voting, election-funding citizens that the legal rights afforded by the term “married” should be accessible by both separate-sex AND same-sex couples. And there is God. —–( selah )—–
Those who would argue that Jesus never condemned the homosexual lifestyle fatally misunderstand His position as both the eternal Word of God and the Voice of His Holy Spirit throughout scripture. Yet our lawmakers cannot cite Jesus’s teachings as the wisdom behind the creation of any bill. In fact, any admission of Jesus’ Sovereignty by any federal employee (or recipient of federal funding) constitutes a criminal offense. This is the present will of the people. Jump back to 17th century America, and you’ll find a different will and law existed:
“John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay, assumed that he could transfer the principles of nationhood found in ancient Israel to the Massachusetts Bay Company with no need for explanation. This led the Puritans to interpret Scripture in an ultimately pretentious way that gave their own state and society the exalted status of a New Israel. Old Testament law was directly, if not exclusively, incorporated into the legal systems of New England. The Massachusetts “Body of Liberties” of 1641 stated that “if any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the lord god, he shall be put to death.” Death was also prescribed for witchcraft, blasphemy, murder, sodomy, homosexuality, adultery, and kidnapping. Old Testament texts were copied directly into the New England law books. The most notorious cases of major miscarriage of justice in New England were the Salem witchcraft executions.” – Source
I believe my Savior and my God can mold me, according to His great love and mercy, regardless of the environment I exist in. I believe that men and women who develop profound, sexual attractions for same-sex partners are enslaved to a delusion, thinking it to be truth. In such a state, these oppressed souls are the very candidates Jesus would pay a housecall to, as he did Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9). I believe there’s a reason the scripture gives no evidence that Jesus issued a legal decree, shouted a condemnation, or intimidated Zacchaeus because of his lifestyle choices. The tax collector’s heart was changed, his eyes were opened, and his own mind became persuaded … simply by being in His presence. What causes one to hate Christ’s calling and another to leave everything and follow is a mystery of free will and divine providence.
My government defines “marriage” as a legal classification entailing legal rights that are defensible in a legal court. It isn’t interested in degrees of quality. In the government’s eyes, the faithful, compassionate husband should receive the same entitlements as the violent, philandering husband. Statistically, the percentage of wedded Americans who divorce is 41% for first marriages, 60% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages. Couples identifying as “Christian” divorce at higher rates than “Atheists/Agnostics” – Source. Clearly, marriage is a very fluid, tenuous, insubstantial relationship for the majority of couples who acquire a license for it. Add to those statistics the number of married spouses who silently suffer unchanging sadnesses without divorcing and a picture emerges of a vast multitude of both those who govern and those who are governed floating aimlessly in the Ocean of Whatever. Whatever I need to stay happy. Whatever I need to feel loved. Whatever keeps me or my political party in office. Whatever brings in more contributions.
In this system – with its constitutional boundaries and relational relativity – I see no reason why the legal term “married” should be confined to couples practicing the Bible-based pattern of heterosexual monogamy. Gay marriage is an offense to God and a perversion of the simplicity and wisdom in His Creation. But is my marriage unfalteringly on His path? Is yours? No. Then what is the difference? How can I truthfully claim entitlement to legal benefits I don’t absolutely deserve, while denying them to others who don’t deserve? I’m an American. Yet, I’m a Christian. Yet, I’m an American. Yet …
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.”