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.