Note: I usually avoid topics like this simply because of their volatility. However, it’s come up often enough lately that I feel I need to say a few things, particularly since some people might be a bit surprised by my views. This particular post is a more of a manifesto than any academic, religious, or political treatise on the subject.
This may surprise a lot of people I know, but I actually have no problem with legal support for alternative marriages. Do I support them personally? Would I encourage my friends to engage in them? No. Absolutely not.
Why the difference? The first issue is a political and legal determination. There is no constitutional provision to deny alternative marriages; quite the opposite! How do I figure that? Well, as many of my readers will agree, for many of us marriage is first and foremost a religious act. Fortunately it’s one the government recognizes and supports in all kinds of helpful ways, but that doesn’t change the fact that for a lot of people, particularly the people who really care, marriage is governed by religious principles. Guess what? We have a constitutional right to freedom of religion and that is a VERY GOOD THING. It also means that other Americans have the legal right to practice religion differently than how we practice it, which can include marrying people or performing marriages in ways we might not approve of, or even ways that God doesn’t approve of. We can talk about pros and cons all day but the bottom line is that there is no solid legal support for the government to put limits on marriage. Unless we up and decide to become a theocracy instead of a democracy/republic hybrid (a topic for another day), that is unlikely to change.
Another reason I would rather the government opened the doors is that marriage is inherently, deeply, fully, and unconditionally PERSONAL. It’s MY commitment to Trey Schorr, and in our particular case, to God as well. I have sworn to God that I will be faithful to my husband, but I never swore any oaths to the State of Washington or Governor Gregoire. To be honest, I really don’t care what the government thinks about my marriage. If they totally abolished marriage at the state level, I would still be Trey’s wife. Would we lose lots of convenient benefits? Possibly. Could the government make our marriage more difficult, even extremely difficult? Absolutely. Especially when it came to taxes and joint ownership of–in our case–everything. But that wouldn’t mean that we weren’t married.
Now, as I said above, even given all of this, I am not going to march in the rainbow parade, encourage friends to have alternative marriages, or directly support them either financially or in kind. God says a lot of wonderful things about marriage, but he also defines marriage very specifically. Anything that would fall in the alternative marriage category in this post, would fall under “sexual immorality” according to the Bible and I am not dismissing that. I’m also not saying that certain figures in the Bible were never hypocritical on this point. King David was an adulterer. King Solomon was a polygamist (and strangely not at all wise in his marital choices). Lot committed incest. The Bible is very open about sexual sin. It happens rather a lot, but is always addressed and condemned. Throughout my life I’ve seen first hand the horrible damage that can come from sexual sin, to individuals, families, even communities.
But these are two very different conversations! We can talk about sin and lifestyle choices and morality in the context of social values till doomsday, and I’m happy to engage in that discussion when it is called for; but the political and legal arena is neither the proper or productive place to have that discussion. Who people marry, and why and how are issues between them, them and their social circles, and between them and God. The government does not need to be in that triangle.