Thursday, September 3, 2015

Get government out of the marriage business


The recent controversy over a Kentucky clerk's refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

For a start, the position of a clerk of court is not religious, but secular in nature.  If one's religious beliefs conflict with the duties of the secular position, one has a very clear choice.  Either don't seek the position, or, if one's already in it, resign rather than go against one's conscience.  One can't impose one's personal religious beliefs on those who don't share them.  Christ put this rather well:  "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s."  The duties of a clerk undoubtedly belong to Caesar (or his modern democratic equivalent).  If one accepts the job, those duties go with it.  They're part of the territory.  Can't or won't fulfil the duties?  Then resign the position.

Those who are trying to 'uphold' the clerk's right to religious freedom have got it all wrong.  In her private capacity, she can observe whatever moral standards she wishes.  In her public capacity, she may not.  That's the warp and woof of the US Constitution.  It doesn't conflict with her faith at all, because the Constitution is Caesar's, not God's.  That's the nature of the nation in which we live.  Don't like it?  Move to a theocracy - and good luck with that, BTW.  We've had one in this country before.  It didn't work very well.  No theocracy has ever worked very well, because people aren't very good at observing all the rules and regulations, whether God's or Caesars.

Let me use myself as an example.  I'm a man of faith, and a retired pastor.  I will not officiate over a gay wedding, because it's contrary to the Biblical values of Christianity.  I do not condemn those who are gay;  they have the absolute right to choose their way of life for themselves, just as I do.  I don't regard them as 'extra sinful' because of their sexuality;  the Bible makes it clear that all sexual activity outside marriage is wrong, at least according to Judeo-Christian culture if not actual Divine commandment.  (That's something most of us honor far more in the breach than in the observance.  I'd guesstimate that well over half the couples I've married have been either sleeping together, living together, or already pregnant.)  However, I don't seek to dictate to those gay couples what they may or may not do.  If I do that to them, they have the equal right to do it to me.  (Remember the Golden Rule?)  I may refuse to officiate at their wedding, but that doesn't stop them finding someone else to do so.  In the same way, they may refuse to accept my perspective on sexuality and marriage, but that doesn't mean they have the right to force me to accept theirs.

As I've said on several previous occasions (follow those links to learn more), I think we should get government out of the marriage business altogether.  Abolish marriage licenses.  Let couples figure out for themselves how they see marriage, and make their own arrangements accordingly.  Christians who adhere to Biblical morality can marry in a church of their choosing according to Judeo-Christian custom.  Those who adhere to a different standard can do their own thing elsewhere.  That way, no-one can try to force anyone else to do things their way.  Works for me.

Peter

26 comments:

August said...

Yes, they should get out of the marriage business. But they aren't. The Supreme court, however, doesn't have ANY authority to alter the definition of marriage. Period. It is completely unconstitutional, and since the states do have constitutional authority here, various idiot Republican governors should be doing what this poor woman is doing- and not based on personal morality either, but on constitutional grounds. We've got the tenth amendment, we've got nullification, but apparently it is only useful for smoking pot.

genericviews said...

I agree with Peter.
The woman in this case would have been on solid footing to claim that since the Supreme Court struck down the marriage statutes in her state, that she has NO legal authority to issue any marriage licenses to anyone until a new law is passed by the legislature.

The courts did not create law, they struck law down. Until the "bad" law is replaced by a "good" law, there is a period of no law.

She has no religious basis to hold her job and refuse to perform the duties of that job. Nor does anyone else.

But the Gays could just go to Vegas, so this is really all about one group trying to bully the other. Neither side is going to be satisfied, either way.

August said...

A governor could have gone the route I describe above.
A republican dominated state could have passed legislation.
They could have even taken the entire state out of the marriage business in response.
But they didn't.
They left a situation where the voters they are supposedly serving are going to get snared by this craziness. This is why the GOP deserves to go down in flames- they leave their own people exposed.

Judy said...

The way the word 'marriage' is interpreted in the courts of this country is that, it is a partnership.

Black's law dictionary - partnership - A voluntary contract between two or more competent persons to place their money, effects, labor, and skill, or some or all of them, in lawful commerce or business, with the understanding that there shall be a proportional sharing of the profits and losses between them.

With a little more flowery language this is what the vows we exchanged said more or less. This is, also, how Domestic Courts handle a divorce, dissolving a partnership agreement.

So eliminating the word 'marriage' in the States licensing of domestic partnerships would be a lot more accurate about what you are signing up for. I think a notarized partnership agreement should also have to be filled with the license. Because lets face it, at least 90% of a marriage is about the business/financial end of a partnership and only 10% is fun-n-games.

Yes, I am aware, I have a jaundiced view of marriage.

Anonymous said...

The government is in the marriage business because of pension laws, taxes and estate settlement. Anyone could say I'm Mary's husband I want his survivor's benefits.

As for my fellow Kentuckian, she should have resigned if she was caught between rock and a hard place. That would have had some moral authority, the constant refusal to do her elected duties does not.

Gerry

August said...

The government is in the marriage business because it is a prelude to the divorce industry, which feeds many lawyers. I think many Republicans played key roles in altering the definition of marriage for the express purpose of increasing the number of people who end up subject to the divorce industry.

Anonymous said...

Peter, Can you show me Biblical proof towards the validity of your statement:

"I don't regard them as 'extra sinful' because of their sexuality;" ?

I most certainly agree where you say:

"the Bible makes it clear that all sexual activity outside marriage is wrong"

But the Bible most certainly differentiates between common fornication and sexual perversions. In Leviticus 18, the whole chapter is devoted to "any of these abominable customs" vs 24 - 30 KJV and, in particular, the word "abomination" was used FIRST in vs. 22 to describe what we call now call homosexuality. I thought it noteworthy that all those perversions were listed and with the exception of bestiality (vs 23), it was the last perversion listed, but once again, it was the first to be called an "abomination".

While common fornication (between an unrelated man and woman) is condemned in various passages in the Bible as sin (and will be dealt with as such on Judgement Day if not repented of, of course) , it seems to me that God is especially angered by the homosexuals. I cite the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18 & 19. Their perversions were totally rampant. When the men gathered outside Lot's home they demanded they (Lot's visitors) be brought out to them so that they may "KNOW THEM" ("know" obviously in the Biblical sense). These men perceived these visitors as mere men and not angels and they demanded to have sex with them.... man on man

Note how Lot offered his daughters to these men outside in an effort to prevent this. Yes, this was fornication but not homosexuality as it would have been with Lot's male visitors. While him offering his daughters was wrong in and and of itself, it does show the difference between common fornication and homosexuality. I note that after this the angels immediately told Lot what was about to happen to the city of Sodom. Also, I don't recall in the Bible other cities being destroyed due to common fornication.

To be clear, please note that I believe both are sins and both are condemned. Nor do I believe we should go out on a witch-hint for gay people. But I do believe it's clear that God does differentiate between the two. All sex outside of marriage is fornication. But not all fornication is sexual perversion like being a homosexual is.

I do agree with the rest of your post for what it's worth, and appreciate and respect your refusal to marry homosexuals.

Where ever you feel I'm wrong on this please offer corrections.

TGreen said...

"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s."

Nailed it.

Uncle Lar said...

The only legitimate involvement the government should have in this whole marriage business is over the rights and protections of minor children. Everything else is a matter of contract law.
But the involvement of government serves to give it more power and control over the citizens, and when has any government willingly surrendered the slightest bit of power once it's been seized?
As to the current kerfuffle, traditionalists are desperately trying to circumvent the decision from SCOTUS while gay activists are riding the wave of that decision in an attempt to bully a great many of our citizens into bowing to if not actively supporting their agenda.

Dav3434 said...

You say you are a "retired Pastor" and yet you do not understand the Verse you quoted? Jesus, by making this statement points out that the claims of God and Caesar are mutually exclusive. If one's faith is in God, then God is owed everything; Caesar's claims are necessarily illegitimate, and he is therefore owed nothing. If, on the other hand, one's faith is in Caesar, God's claims are illegitimate, and Caesar is owed, at the very least, the coin which bears his image. Christians have been taught that that verse alone gives all power to a Government, if that is the case then YOU as a retired Pastor and any other Pastor can be arrested for failing to perform a gay marriage, or participate in an abortion for that matter.
You are wrong and I can not know you by your light.


Sport Pilot said...

An Australian Author by the name of Edward Bywater recently wrote a story on this same topic. I'm not going to link it as those interested can do their own Google Fu. I will say that his solution would be effective and ruinous for the involved governmental offices.

Bruce said...

Dav3434, I think you need to go back and read Matthew 22:15-22 again. Your argument is EXACTLY what the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus with - they were trying to get him to say that paying taxes was against the will of God so that they could trap/discredit/denounce/etc. him. Instead Jesus said to give to Caesar that which Caesar had a claim to, and to give God that which he has a claim to. Those two items are not mutually exclusive. Were they mutually exclusive, then Jesus would have said that giving anything to Caesar was a sin.

Peter said...

@Dav3434: I'm sorry, but your understanding contradicts that of the Church from the earliest days until the present. That was never preached by the Apostles, nor has it ever been applied by any major Christian denomination. I suggest that you reflect further on the passage, and reconsider your interpretation of it.

JK Brown said...

The fact is that same-sex marriage was a logical extension of the ancient individual liberties of the English-speaking people. That historically, same-sex attraction was not previously openly acknowledged is not a factor that now such attraction is "officially" sanctioned.

But we run up against the history that marriage, children, divorce, even estates were covered by canon law, i.e., under the Churches law and courts. Starting in or about the 13th century, civil law started making inroads into what the Church considered its purview. And, of course, the US never had religious courts, even to the point of "scandal" that in the 1640s a civil court in Connecticut granted a divorce of an abandoned wife giving her leave to remarry as God might provide. There is still a lot of the religious court in the administration of the "sin" laws. Historically, the church handled sin, i.e., offenses against the church or an individual's self and the state handled offenses against the state or between individuals.

But it still wasn't until the late 19th century that "marriage licenses" were issued as the control for laws prohibiting among others, interracial marriage and close familial relationship marriage. Today, the only marriage restrictions are in lineal relations, and of course, those already married.

BTW, the "theocracy" had its own issues with fornication. I didn't keep the link, but I once came across a sex survey of late 17th century US (Massachusetts) on the internet archive. Not very tantalizing as their source material was church records, but it was amusing to see almost every other page listed where some couple, apparently young, had stood before the congregation to confess their fornication. One got the impression the girl was probably holding the evidence. This even though the records seemed to indicate the couple were married. Puritans and their free education, people were doing the math.

Jay Dee said...

Although personally distressing for Ms. Davis, I think this sets a fine predent for jailing elected officials who refuse to enforce the laws of the land; i.e. Mayors of sanctuary cities, officials who refuse to issue CCW permits, Dear Leader, whoever. Kim Davis needs company.

Anonymous said...

Government get out of the marriage license - but think of the loss of revenue to them - that isn't going to happen.

I consider both the clerk and the gay couple at fault. I agree - its her job and if SHE objects to filling it out, she's a conscientious objector. Like the person who refuses to go to war because of their beliefs. But ff she orders her employees to do the same - that isn't the same thing. Because she is now making her objections the reason for they not giving the license.

The gay couple could easily go to a neighboring location with another clerk and get this done - but they aren't. They are staying at this location - because you must. Just like the other gay couple and the Colorado cake shop who refused service.

Both sides need a spanking, lol.

Stephen J. said...

The problem with getting government "out of the marriage business," unfortunately, is that there is too much potential for otherwise unresolvable property disputes in any instance where the couple themselves can't decide, and too much potential for abuse of property entitlements when there isn't an official designation as to who's entitled to what tax status and who isn't. So much as I like the idea in theory I think it has be discarded as infeasible in practice.

As for the argument that someone caught between their secular duty and their spiritual conscience has an obligation to resign their secular duty, I don't disagree with it in principle, but in practice it has lost a lot of its authority since (as a recent article on TheFederalist.com aptly points out) everybody now calling for Davis to resign had absolutely no problem when multiple officials across the states put their conscience above their civic duty in granting what were then illicit marriage licenses to gay people, without giving up their government positions. (Much less the cost in lives occasioned by those mayors and governors who create de facto "sanctuary cities", none of whom have been cashiered that I know of for their "conscience-driven" flouting of federal law.) It's hard to demand that civil disobedience carry its just price when people have been all too willing to waive that price for the causes they like.

(For the record, I very much doubt you yourself did this. But I haven't seen anybody else meet the same standard.)

Anonymous said...

Peter, You state you would not officiate at a same sex wedding. If you are permitted or licensed by the government to perform a "marriage" and the government threatens you for refusing to perform a same-sex marriage, are you going to accept jail time for contempt?

I agree that Ms. Davis should have resigned her position and seek employment where her beliefs do not infringe on her ability to perform her job.

But, it's only a matter of time before all who are permitted to officiate at a marriage ceremony will be required to marry all comers if they are "registered members" of the congregation and go through the pre-marriage classes.

Priest in our diocese are receiving consul from the Bishop's office as to the appropriate answer when they are presented with request.

This is the camel's nose under the tent for sure.



Tal Hartsfeld said...

As for "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's" does anyone still recall Governor Rick Perry's "Day of Prayer" back in August of 2011?
He was "calling on God's help" to deal with the drought situation in Texas at the time as well as address other problems of the nation, and he was "calling on all the citizens of Texas to join him" in this prayer vigil.
Even the most devout can agree: Keep one's personal faith out of (secular/human-controlled) politics.

August said...

No. If one's personal faith must be left out, then the system necessarily selects for people with no faith, which is why we object to Perry's prayer day- it looks suspiciously like play-acting for votes. But if any one of these republican governors had the spine this lady has, they would enforce the Constitution rather than continue to allow the misuse of American institutions for the promotion of lunacy. What's next? Shall the supreme court weigh in on whether or not Pluto is a planet? Shall it declare night and day are essentially the same thing? What brave new definitions shall we have? Will the tides now go in and come out, dependent upon their edict?

We aren't just ejecting faith from the secular sphere. We are sending reason away too.

Quartermaster said...

The Clerk was right to refuse. She was not refusing just queers, but all applicants. The fact that the law in Ky does not allow for issuance of licenses for faux-marriage limits her. This is beyond the question of whether of not the Federal Courts had jurisdiction in the matter 9they don't). The Federal Judge is acting lawlessly, and that's typical of the courts now that SJWs bascially own them now.

This is just one more incident on the road to perdition. It's what you get when rule of law is dead.

EgregiousCharles said...

We need the government out of the marriage business, but they should stay in the civil union business. The government should recognize only civil unions, for gay or straight. A Christian couple who wishes to get married should get a marriage performed by a minister and a civil union stamped by a clerk (for inheritance, power of attorney, etc). Under the First Amendment, the government has no more business dealing with true Christian marriage than they do dealing with true Christian prayer.

Social conservatives shot Christian marriage in the foot by insisting that the government couldn't CHANGE marriage, rather than that the government couldn't DEFINE marriage. Now look where we are. Now, social conservatives have spent decades insisting that the government is the entity that defines marriage and must not get it wrong; and hey look, somebody else won the political battle! So now it's ten times as hard to point out that marriage was always God's, not the government's. Now it just looks like sour grapes.

Tom Bridgeland said...

Peter, I must respectfully disagree. Since when in the US system does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction in penny-ante local cases, regarding the behavior of an ELECTED official? I suggest we leave the decision up to the people who elected her. They can return her to office, or fire her, depending on how they view the issue at hand.
I realize I am old-fashioned, but in the US the people, through their elected officials, are the paramount power, not the courts.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

I don't really care if follow agree or disagree with the Clerk, the fact remains that a Federal judge put her in jail, for her beliefs. Another fine moment for the 1st Amendment. The Judge overreached, IMO.

Doc Rampage said...

It isn't all that unusual for elected officials to defy the law and the courts. In San Francisco they issued same-sex marriage certificate when it was illegal to do so. Sanctuary cities are defying federal immigration law. Pot-legalization states are defying federal drug laws. How come the only one of these people who is going to jail is the one who defies the homosexuals?

When deciding what is right and what is wrong, you can't pretend that we live in a law-abiding society. The Democrats have been violating the law, twisting the law, and ignoring the law for their own political purposes for generations now. If the law does not apply equally to everyone, then maybe it's not worthy keeping.

Glen Filthie said...

I am neither a Christian nor a subject of Ceasar. I have semantic problems with classical Christianity and as for Ceasar...I will render unto him which is his but I won't bow down to him. It is a free country and if you want to invert your moral code and faith to accommodate perverts and degenerates - go for it. Guys like me laughed when Romans fed guys like you to the lions, and we split a gut laughing when invaders burned Rome. You, God and Ceasar need us a lot more than we need you and if you want to get stupid about it...we'll just stand back and let you hang yourselves.

Outside their disgusting sexual antics, queers repeatedly and consistently have attacked the church and the freedom to worship and the freedom of speech. Do unto others? They are doing unto you right now, buster...in Ceasar's courtrooms bathrooms, class rooms and board rooms. You can turn the other cheek and make your excuses as you see fit - to me it smacks as cowardice and turd polishing. It never fails to amaze me- the dummies that think that can't see that if you can twist law and ethics to force Christian bakers to bake cakes for queers - you can do the same to force blacks to pick your cotton.

Stuff like this is why I no longer trust the church, Peter...and this is why your faith is dying.