"Perhaps no factor is more responsible for the decline of marriage in America than government participation in it"

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Jim's picture

http://www.rossde.com/editorials/Dershowitz_marriage.html 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.

Aaron Blumer's picture


... is way off.

Government involvement in marriage hasn't hurt it until quite recently. What has messed marriage up more than anything else is a combination of drift from Christian roots plus sexual revolution.

But I'm also starting to think the sacred union and the legal union should be separated in US... because it doesn't appear that there is any turning back from the course we're on: increasingly secular government, increasingly immoral society. How can you sustain a "government recognized sacred union" model once a large majority no longer believe in the sacred union?

Dick Dayton's picture

The Apostle Paul, in his instructions to churches living in the midst of a totally corrupt moral, ethical, spiritual, and political system, upheld the high value of Biblical marriage. We must remember that our ultimate loyalty and obedience must be to our sovereignn God, not to the state. We are here to be "salt and light" in a moral influence upon society, but we are primarily here to be witnesses to our resurrected Savior and the gospel of the grace of God to sinners like ourselves.

If believers could have godly marriages under the Roman Empire, we can have godly marriages in this postmodern, Biblically ignorant society. That does not mean the pressures on us will not be very great, but we must remember that "greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world."

I do not welcome the increased public expression of the depravity of man, but remember that we are called to be lights in a dark place. If our light and our words shine properly, the decline in society should provide an increased opportunity for gospel witness.

Marriage is still honorable, and, though our society demeans it, we must uphold its sacredness.

Dick Dayton

G. N. Barkman's picture

So we have now come full circle. From an era when marriage was strictly civil, not religious, to a proposal to make it strictly religious, not civil.

I find no evidence that marriage in the Bible included any religious ceremony, either OT or NT. It seems to have involved a civil registration coupled with a family and community celebration and ritual. Because Israel was governed by the Law of Moses, divorce was prescribed according to law which could be characterized as either civil or religious or both. But I find nothing resembling our current church marriage ceremonies.

Still, what Christian would prefer to abandon the church/Christian wedding concept? It is fitting that we solemnize this vital union in the context of church and minister and sacred scriptures.

Although my mind resonates with the charge that government involvement in marriage (and more specifically the dissolution of marriage) is too detailed and intrusive, as government involvment tends to become over time, I fail to see how society will be strengthened by abandoning the civil and legal aspects of marriage. Marriage is viewed far too casually now. Would it not become more so if the proposal of this article is adopted?

Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

Steve Newman's picture

Is the objection to marriage that they are hard to dissolve? Let's go back and see that marriage is ordained by God, and that "what God has joined, let no man put asunder". Jesus said Moses gave divorce only from "the hardness of their hearts". Therefore, sin should have a price tag, and divorce should be hard. The trouble is that many of these people have no business being married. There ought to be a TON more premarital counseling, support for marriage, etc. in order to produce the right kind of marriages. There is an abundance of poor models of marriage today, and that has a lot more to do with the problem of divorce than the fact that divorce is hard. However, marriage should be made much "harder" with more stipulations put on those who wish to marry.