Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Effectively Nullify All Sides on Marriage

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Jim's picture

Taking Marriage Private

For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married. In 1215, the church decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church. But people who married illictly had the same rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate; the wife had the same inheritance rights; the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce. Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match. The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.

Government Should Quit the Marriage Business

The solution is to unlink the religious institution of marriage -- as distinguished from the secular institution of civil union -- from the state. Under this proposal, any couple could register for civil union, recognized by the state, with all its rights and responsibilities. Religious couples could then go to the church, synagogue, mosque or other sacred institution of their choice in order to be married. These religious institutions would have total decision-making authority over which marriages to recognize. Catholic churches would not recognize gay marriages. Orthodox Jewish synagogues would not recognize a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew who did not wish to convert to Judaism. And those religious institutions that chose to recognize gay marriages could do so. It would be entirely a religious decision beyond the scope of the state. Under this new arrangement, marriage would remain a sacrament, as ordained by the Bible and as interpreted by each individual church. No secular consequences would flow from marriage, only from civil union.

JC's picture

It allows Christians to better communicate God as the author of marriage.  It allows non-Christians to 'partner' in non-Christian unions.

I don't think for one minute that this will stop persecution of Christian beliefs about marriage, but it brings the discussion about marriage back to its roots 'What God has said."

Andrew K's picture

I think it's a brilliant solution, but I don't believe the cultural revolutionaries will go for it.

Two reasons:

1) It loosens govt. control over a particular area of life

2) It involves a level of compromise that the other side has so far shown itself completely unwilling to make. Swollen with victories, they have the momentum now, and they're not about to be checked by a reasonable compromise.

Richard Brunt's picture

How would bible believing churches handle a couple in a civil union?  Would they have to be also married in a church to be a member?

Richard E Brunt

Rob Fall's picture

a particular church could treat the civil union in the same manner as it would a marriage performed by a judge or other authorized civil official. 

On the other hand, I know in the former Soviet Union Evangelical Christian-Baptist couples went down to city hall got "married", then went over to the housing office and applied for an apartment, then they separated and went back to their parents' homes.  When they got the apartment, they had a church service and began their married life.

Richard Brunt wrote:

How would bible believing churches handle a couple in a civil union?  Would they have to be also married in a church to be a member?

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Andrew K's picture

Rob Fall wrote:

a particular church could treat the civil union in the same manner as it would a marriage performed by a judge or other authorized civil official. 

On the other hand, I know in the former Soviet Union Evangelical Christian-Baptist couples went down to city hall got "married", then went over to the housing office and applied for an apartment, then they separated and went back to their parents' homes.  When they got the apartment, they had a church service and began their married life.

 

Richard Brunt wrote:

 

How would bible believing churches handle a couple in a civil union?  Would they have to be also married in a church to be a member?

 

 

Interesting! I think looking through the eyes of other cultures can help us see the situation a bit more clearly. Btw, I didn't get married in a church building but in a restaurant. Smile

Marriage takes place in the vows you swear before witnesses which solemnizes and confirms to society (generally your families) your faithfulness. That's what it's been throughout most of human history, and it would be neither the church (excepting that the church itself may represents your community and your family) nor the govt's business per se...excepting for the need to mediate between occasional disputes and difficulties.

We'd all recognize the validity of a Hindu couple who had been married in a pagan ceremony pre-conversion, wouldn't we?

Marriage is certainly of God, but we're not Romanists or Eastern Orthodox, so we shouldn't believe it's a sacrament. Sometimes we act as if it were, though. It almost seems as if that is what these Christians in the Soviet Union were doing.