We should have never let the government get into the marriage business!

Marriage is not the government’s business. Marriage was originally an institution of religion, accepted from the beginning of time by virtually every society and culture known to man (and virtually every religion as well). While it was accepted by society (and its governments), it was not defined by society or government.

Until now!

This acceptance of the institution of marriage by society and government has always been predicated on two very simple interrelated facts that are affirmed by nature. First, marriage is between a man and a woman. Second, one of the primary purposes of marriage is the propagation of the human race, which can only be done naturally through the union of a man and a woman. Anything else is “unnatural.” In other words, it goes against nature. Two men (or women) can’t reproduce, plain and simple.

I realize those concepts (‘unnatural,’ ‘against nature’) are not embraced as truth by many who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage. For instance, this article at slate.com, which is decrying the approach of including procreation as part of the gay marriage debate simply says, “Supporters of gay marriage aren’t questioning the biology of procreation. They’re questioning its relevance. Reducing marriage to intercourse isn’t scientific.” Of course, no one is “reducing marriage to intercourse.” Procreation is only ONE purpose for marriage, among many. They have created a straw-man, easily blown over by the huff and puff of their “science.” You cannot say, however, that sex, procreation and biology have “no relevance.” It ought to be part of the discussion, even if it does not define or solve the issues at hand.

My intention in this article is not to stir up the debate about whether tendencies toward homosexuality are caused by “nature” or “nurture.” I have actually pointed you to information about this topic before (here is the link). I believe homosexuality, like every sin, comes very “naturally” for some—and even more so as it is nurtured. It comes “naturally” not in the sense of biological or genetic determinism. But, “naturally” in the sense that the human race is corrupt, and are all sinners by nature. I have some “natural” tendencies toward laziness and indulgence. That does not mean I cannot choose to work hard and be self-controlled. Natural doesn’t demand necessary.

But I’m off track. I want to talk about DEFINITIONS.

If the discussion with your homosexual friend or “gay marriage” supporter begins by questioning the social, political or moral basis for banning “gay marriage,” then you should wave the white flag. Just as the media and abortion rights activists have reframed that debate in terms of ‘choice,’ the categories and discussions about this topic have already been irreversibly reframed. The traditional definition of marriage has been assaulted. There was an attempt to salvage it on a social and political level — the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as a union between a man and woman. Despite clear legislative direction to actually DEFINE the term marriage, culture and popular opinion have won the day and a broader definition is almost universally accepted. Universally accepted, however, does not mean it is true!

“Gay marriage” is a bogus term, a misnomer, there is no such thing!

Look it up in the dictionary (quick, before they change it). It still says, “(a) the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments and religious ceremonies.” Ahhh…but now it also says, “(b) a similar institution involving partners of the same gender.”

Wait a minute. Is it the same institution? Or, is it just a similar institution?

Of course, our dictionaries are all going to be rewritten eventually to include both (a) and (b) as “marriage,” and not just “similar institutions.” The definition of marriage is going to change (in popular opinion it already has, to be realistic). Language and definitions are always changing. But this is the very reason why the federal government passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), defining marriage as a “union between a man and a woman.”

To suggest, as many have, that DOMA is a “ban on gay marriage” is to miss the point. It doesn’t ban anything. It only affirms the traditional definition of marriage (for the purposes of federal law).

I think the question that many have not been asking is, “When did marriage become simply ‘any union of two persons in a committed relationship?’” When (and why) did definition (b) get added to the dictionary? And why must I accept this new definition?

In practice, no one seems to understand that this new concept of marriage as simply “any union of two persons in a committed relationship” has usurped the age-old definition of “between a man and woman.” Because there has been a shift in the assumptions of what defines a marriage, it is impossible to discuss it using the same logic and reasoning we have used in the past. This partially explains why Christians seem seem unable to refute the arguments of those who support “gay marriage.” We have unwittingly embraced their assumption that “marriage is a union of persons,” and in the process lost sight of the fact that marriage—by definition, until now—has always been understood as intrinsically and inviolably between a man and woman. The newly assumed definition makes much of what we believe and say about love, marriage and intimacy sound selfish and narrow. That is because we have a different definition in mind. Once we unknowingly embrace their new definition, much of our logic about love, the purposes of marriage, and the nature of the marriage union itself no longer carries much weight.

And for those who don’t think changing the definition creates problems, this slate.com article states what logically follows — polygamy!

The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less ‘correct’ than among three (or four, or six) consenting adults.

Christians have unwittingly let the other side of the discussion REDEFINE marriage. How? Why? Who gave them the right to redefine our religious institution?

A friend of mine (a somewhat tepid supporter of “gay marriage”) answered this question for me recently. He said, “I think that the State usurped the Church’s authority to marry people [and define marriage] when it allowed them to be married in courthouses by city clerks rather than in churches by pastors. This move completely took the church out of the equation and made marriage not only a religious institution but also a legal one. Because the ‘State’ marriage can be done without the consent or involvement of the Church, the State has the right to change the definition of a ‘marriage’ it recognizes.”

I’ll say it again: “We should have never let the government get into the marriage business!”

I would change his explanation in one way, however. The State, in recognizing marriage, did not “completely take the church out of the equation” at that point. It was certainly true, however, that it “potentially” took the church out of the equation. And today we are seeing the unfortunate consequences of that potentiality.

No one could have foreseen that marriage would end up being a watershed test case for why there should always be a separation of church and state. But, having let the state put their foot in the door of the religious institution of marriage, the Church has unfortunately and irreversibly given away the exclusive right to define it.

For many years I have included this language in every marriage ceremony I have officiated: “We are gathered here in this place of worship because marriage is an institution created and established by God, and which, therefore, is only properly regulated by His commandments.” I am making the point that the government has no right to regulate (or define) an institution that it did not establish and create in the first place. While I believe this and will continue to say it at every wedding until I die, the time has sadly already come where the implications of that truth will likely never again be possible. What used to be a “sacred union” between a man and woman is now (or soon will be) a “secular union” because it will be allowed to exist between any two people (or maybe multiple people soon—polygamy will be next!). There isn’t another way to see it. It isn’t sacred anymore when you take God and morals out of the definition.

But what about the implications of allowing the definition to change? How can we take this fact of a changing definition, and help people see that changing definitions has serious implications?

I have increasingly seen the discussion and debate revolving around the “gay marriage” issue boiled down to a matter of personal rights, or denying others the same basic human rights or privileges afforded to others. If it isn’t hurting you, then why do you care? As a person called to have compassion and concern for my fellow man, I have no problem understanding why homosexual partners want certain legal rights (hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, etc.). In fact, I would consider it lacking compassion and grace for a healthcare professional to deny visitation to a homosexual partner because they “are not related.”

But that does not mean they should be allowed to redefine marriage. Nor does it mean that allowing this changed definition “does not hurt anyone.”

I went down this road in my discussion with the friend I mentioned earlier, by using an illustration of another potential “definition change.” I suggested we take the time-tested, and universally accepted definition of “United States citizen,” and redefine it to be more inclusive and accepting of others who want to have this relationship with the state. He had complained about those who oppose “gay marriage” by saying this:

I believe STRONGLY that the government was created to PROTECT the rights of the individual, not to restrict them. The government shouldn’t be in the business of enforcing the morality taught by one religion over another’s. The government should ONLY step in and take action against a person when that person is taking away the rights of another. Simply put: your rights end where another’s rights begin. Until someone can prove to me that two people of the same sex getting married is somehow taking away someone else’s rights, then I don’t see how it’s still an issue. If you’re against gay marriage because of your morals then don’t marry someone of the same sex as you. It’s that simple. Stop trying to force your morals onto someone else.

In an effort to show how changing definitions has definite implications regarding the rights of all people involved (not just the ones gaining new rights), I took his statement and reworded it with the topic of citizenship in view. I used a new definition of “citizen,” one not everyone would accept or embrace: “I believe you should have the right to be a called a citizen, and receive all the benefits of citizenship, if you have been in the U.S. for more than one year.”

Here was his paragraph re-written:

I believe STRONGLY that the government was created to PROTECT the rights of the individual, not to restrict them. The government shouldn’t be in the business of enforcing the CITIZENSHIP LAWS taught by one LEGAL SYSTEM over another. The government should only step in and take action against a person when that person is taking away the rights of another. Simply put: your rights end where another’s rights begin. Until someone can prove to me that a FOREIGNER getting CITIZENSHIP is somehow taking away someone else’s rights, then I don’t see how it’s still an issue. If you’re against FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP because of your DIFFERING DEFINITION then don’t BE A CITIZEN in the same COUNTRY. It’s that simple. Stop trying to force your CITIZENSHIP STANDARDS onto someone else.

I realize it is a crazy hypothetical, and sounds a little silly. Government does have the right to define and enforce citizenship laws. And a private citizen or lobby does not have that right. But the logic is the same. A small minority has demanded that the government change a standard definition, and grant them the same rights and privileges of others.

Redefining citizenship changes things. Redefining terms has implications. To simply change the definition to, “Any person who has been in the country more than one year,” and then proceed to give those encompassed by that new definition all of the benefits and privileges of citizenship would be an outrage (reference the current immigration debate, if you don’t believe me—the word “amnesty” gets many people fired up). You can’t do that because the definitions of citizen, and the rights and benefits of citizenship are defined by law. People would correctly object to changing that definition, because extending those benefits and rights would cost a lot of money, which actually does take resources away from others. How? Because the tax code, social security system, welfare programs and the insurance industry have all based their rates and eligibility standards with a different definition in view. The laws, standards and rates would all eventually adjust. But people who disagree with the new definition will be forced to submit to whatever consequences, tax increases, or rate changes that new definition creates. In that sense alone, they will have certain “rights” taken away from them in the form of potentially higher taxes, higher insurance rates, or decreased benefits (as the pot is spread thinner among those who did not pay in as a young worker). I hesitate to use the term “rights” here, but I think you get the idea. Change would be an economic certainty, and I must pay in whether I agree with the new definitions that will cause the potential increases or not.

This is the same logic and argument that would cause most people to strongly object to any kind of automatic citizenship (an exaggerated hypothetical), or even amnesty. This is why there is such a huge debate going on about immigration reform and temporary amnesty for illegal aliens.

I am not even discussing the moral side of the “gay marriage” debate here. Of course people disagree with our moral arguments (as Albert Mohler points out). I am actually addressing the pragmatic issue that when definitions are changed it has implications in the public arena. People’s rights and relationships change.

While most would acknowledge there is validity to these logical points as they apply to the immigration issue, the same logic is quickly dismissed in the “gay marriage” debate because the homosexual lobby is simply stronger and more powerful than the lobby of illegal aliens.

I concluded my discussion with my friend by reminding him that the issue I was expressing concern about was the redefining of marriage — not the benefits so much (as money/taxes mean little to me). The government has wrongly usurped the authority to define what has always been considered a religious institution (not even strictly a “Christian” one; almost all religions have believed marriage to be between a man and a woman until recently). They usurped this “defining authority” because they granted this institution a legal status, and a loud minority has demanded that they be given the same legal status, even though they are ineligible for the religious institution itself–INELIGIBLE BY DEFINITION; not because of bias, or hate, or a desire to deny them certain “rights,” or because we passed a “ban on gay marriage.”

Gay marriage is a contradiction in terms, unless you redefine marriage.

Sadly, I realize there is little chance of winning this battle or of maintaining a proper definition of marriage in the public arena. I believe it is now a foregone conclusion that marriage has already been redefined; if not technically or politically, it has been redefined for all practical intents and purposes in the minds of the masses. Our dictionaries will reflect it soon. The true Church and Scripture will not. What are the implications of that?!

Will this redefinition of marriage create a situation where churches and pastors like me are going to have to say, “‘gay marriage’ is just a legal status; it is not real, it is not true, and it is not recognized by God or the church. The Bible defines marriage as between a man and a woman.”

Will saying such things be considered illegal one day? Will it be a hate crime, or a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, to publicly declare that we believe someone’s ‘marriage’ is invalid (and immoral)? Or will I be allowed my right to religious freedom in the first amendment to publicly disagree with and contradict the legal definitions and the legislative mandates that are almost certain to be law soon? Will some cantankerous homosexual with the financial backing of the ACLU decide to sue me, or the church, for refusing to officiate at their ‘marriage’ ceremony or allow them to use our facility? Would they do this simply to make a point, or even to maliciously destroy our ministry?

It is going to get sticky. And it all starts with definitions!

We should have never let the government get into the marriage business!

 

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About Brian Sayers

Brian has been an elder, and staff pastor, at Christ Community Church since September of 2000. He is a 1998 graduate of The Master's Seminary (M.Div).

14 Comments

  1. Phillip Pelphrey on April 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Brian,

    I appreciate your words in this article. I too have much of the same stance as you, especially in regards of allowing the state to usurp control of marriage from the church. I, too, wonder when (not if) the state will drop the hammer on those pastors who stick to a biblical definition of marriage. If you look to our neighbors to the north, you can see the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage has had on the church. My continued prayer is that the glory of the Gospel will shine through in the darkness and that our witness will be for the Glory of Christ. Press on my brother.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Phillip

  2. John on April 18, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Greetings, Brian,

    I have a question for you…

    From a legal perspective, what’s the difference between any two couples who are married citizens (American)? I’ll go ahead and answer that… There isn’t a difference. If two men/women get married, they will have to pay taxes just like any other married couple. Having said that, I am now curious as to what problems one might have with two men/women getting married. People are getting married right now, as I type this, and as you read this, and neither I, nor you, are affected by said marriages (assuming you’re not directly involved with the ceremony). How on earth would a same sex couple getting married affect anyone any differently than a man and a woman getting married? I believe the reality of the situation is this…Religion teaches against same sex marriage, and that is the ONLY reason anybody who is upset about it, is upset. I mean…think about it. There are 9(?) states that have already legalized gay marriage…absolutely nothing bad has happened as a direct result of said marriages. Why are we still fighting this issue in the other 41 states?

  3. Brian Sayers on April 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    John,

    Thank you for your interest and questions. I believe I answered the questions in the body of the article.

    First, please note that the primary point of the article is to describe the basic point that our culture, and the debates revolving around these questions, are skewed because we have embraced a definition of marriage as “any union of two committed people.” That is a new and recent definition, one that the government has begun to impose on us. My point is that the government is redefining a religious institution, because many years ago they granted it a legal status. This should not have happened, because it has unavoidably intertwined the government into religion, something that the constitution forbids. Those who see marriage as purely a civil or legal status, and not a religious institution are going to disagree with me. They are wrong, however, because marriage existed long before it was ever granted any legal definition, status or benefits.

    Now to answer your question “what problems one might have” with same-sex couples being married.

    First, same-sex couples will pay taxes. They will be paying LESS taxes, however, because they have been granted a legal status (“married filing jointly”) to which they were not previously entitled. They pay less, meaning everyone else has to pay more. The same is true for other economic matters, like insurance rates, medicare, social security, etc.

    Second, I am concerned that the government has redefined the religious institution of marriage, and will impose this new civil definition upon the Church. As a pastor who believes the teaching of the Bible, marriage is defined by God as “a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife” (Gen 2). I do not, and can not, accept any other definition. The problem I will have is if the government, or the ACLU, or any other individual or organization demands that I must accept their new definition, under penalty of law. I believe the first amendment gives me the right in this great nation to say “homosexuality is sin, and marriage is between a man and a woman.” Others very soon may be claiming that under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, I should not be allowed to say such things, or to deny people the use of our place of worship based on those beliefs. Or worse yet, these statements may be declared illegal altogether, and I may risk being charged with a hate crime for saying them publicly. Again, all because the government has usurped the authority to define what was originally a religious institution.

    I harbor no hate or animosity toward the homosexual community. In my previous post linked to in the article above I make that very clear. I am actually quite concerned that Christians understand how to think, speak and relate to the LBGT community with grace and compassion. I decry people like the Westboro Baptist bunch as less than Christian — they are Christian in name only, and the hatred in their heart for their fellow man makes that clear.

    The article is meant only to say, the government should not be redefining a religious term. Now that they have, it will have implications. I hope and pray some of those implications never come to fruition.

    Thanks again,
    Brian

  4. anon on April 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    If you are against the government redefining marriage, then sorry but a soon as it was illegal to trade your daughters hand for a goat (a biblical and traditional definition of marriage) that happened. Not to mention historically there is just as much precedent behind polygamy and polyandry as “Traditional” forms of marriage. Just because something is “Traditional” doesn’t make it correct and “Tradition” varies greatly by cultural and geographic context. The point of consideration legally is what demonstrable purpose does marriage serve and where is gender discrimination necessary for the realization of that purpose. In regards to your point on DOMA how does discriminating between the marriage partners gender accomplish any additional secular purpose? Marriage is not contrived merely for reproduction and reproduction is not confined to marriage, so I fail to see how that can be argued as marriages purpose. As for your concern about the government trying to force it on your ministry, why would someone wish for you to officiate their wedding if you held that view? Spite? I’m sad to say then that you have a poor opinion of people for a supposed man of faith. On a final note would you complain about the government stopping Warren Jeffs?

  5. Brenton Hood on April 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Hey Brian, (For everyone else reading, I’m the friend that he quoted in his blog.)

    I wanted to weigh in on the blog post while I had a little bit of time. At some point I’d like to pick up where we left off on facebook. I never heard back from you after my last point. I also want to re-list some of the explanations/defenses of the points I made that you didn’t include on your blog but don’t have time to do so right now.

    I’ll keep this first post short and to the point, as I think it’s actually a much easier issue/concept that most people think/realize or are willing to admit.

    As it stands right now in America, there are essentially two types of unions that are called “marriage”. Up until recently a distinction wasn’t usually made (or even understood to exist by some individuals) between the two. One of those types is the religious form of “marriage.” It’s performed by a pastor and can be described as “Holy Matrimony”; the joining of “one man and one woman by God.” (How long it’s existed isn’t relevant and what exactly it means even in the bible is up for debate: think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah-and the list goes on-ALL had multiple wives. So much for “one man, one woman”, right? Sorry, getting off track…) This form of marriage is then made official by paperwork submitted to the State. That enables it to be recognized as a LEGAL contract between two individuals. As this is a LEGAL union, it affords some LEGAL benefits. It affects taxes, insurance premiums, medical decisions, and other legal contracts such as wills, etc. The other type of union also simply referred to as “marriage” is 100% INDEPENDENT of the church. It’s granted by an official of the County, elected by the people. It’s not a religious affair at all. If all churches/believers/clergymen everywhere suddenly disappeared, you could still get married in America. Because the State has a completely independent legal union also called “marriage”, it can define (and REDEFINE) it any way it wants. (Remember also that we live in a democracy and you influence your government. Your vote is your voice.) No one is forcing churches to change their definition of “holy matrimony” to include same sex marriages. They’re not forcing pastors to marry same sex couples. As a matter of fact, they’re not forcing churches to change ANYTHING. No viewpoints have to change. No sermons have to change. No statements of faith have to change. If you don’t believe that same sex marriage is OK, then don’t have one. Don’t perform one. Preach against it all you want. Make all the distinctions you want. No one is stopping you. BUT, and here is the thing to take away from all of this… IF YOU’RE TRYING TO PREVENT OTHERS WHO ARE LOOKING ONLY FOR A LEGAL UNION BY THE STATE FROM GETTING ONE, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO DO SO. They pay taxes just like you. They are absolutely equal in the eyes of the State. They have the same right you have to enter a committed, consensual, LEGALLY recognized relationship and all the benefits that LEGAL relationship affords.

  6. Sam on April 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Brian

    I really appreciate your acceptance of all people, but I think the key here is that some people that want to get married do not need to include a christian church in the process. We can agree that different cultures have their own traditions and rituals. For example American Indians embrace same sex marriage, so why attempt to take that from them?

    The bible is pretty harsh on divorce but here we all are still, why are you not comdeming that as strongly?

  7. Brian Sayers on April 24, 2013 at 11:24 am

    @anon,

    First, it would be best to leave your name. I typically would be inclined to not approve comments from people who don’t. All anonymous notes and letters I receive are generally dismissed (trashed). Your questions, however, give me an opportunity to clarify some things.

    I believe you identified the very point I was trying to make. And that is that the main point of difference between Christian opponents of “gay marriage,” and those who support “gay marriage” is this: “who/what defines marriage.” And, you correctly assert as well, that once the cultural traditions of marriage are handed over to the government to regulate, then the religious world (Christian or otherwise) cannot assert absolute right over the definition. It is somewhat condescending to suggest that Christians support daughter/goat trading, but I’ll give you a pass on that. Even so, the main point of my article was that I believe it is unfortunate that the government has usurped that right, and that we need to be aware of it if we are going to have intelligent conversations about the issues and implications of that fact.

    There are two matters I would like to address or clarify.

    First, being a “man of faith” as you refer to me, does not mean I have blinders on when it comes to human nature. I do believe there are people who would seek to destroy others simply because they hold to different views. It could be motivated by simple malice or hate. If you don’t believe that, then apparently you missed last week’s news. The LBGT community, and the ACLU, are taking a very real interest in these matters. You might innocently think that a homosexual couple would simply “take their business elsewhere,” but here is evidence that not everyone thinks that way.

    http://news.yahoo.com/florist-sued-refusing-gay-couple-175638279.html

    Second, I will not give you a pass at drawing a connection to my views on marriage and suggesting I might think Warren Jeffs had a right to be a pedophile and sex offender (you seem to suggest that I might think that the government should not have stopped him ???). I’m not sure why you would ask that question, other than simply having a argumentative spirit. He’s a criminal. I am not. Nor is anyone who adopts the views I espouse. I’m simply saying I believe, support and encourage the ongoing practice of the current legal definition of marriage for purposes of federal law. That does not equate to gender discrimination. I believe men and women alike should be allowed to marry.

    Respectfully,
    Brian

  8. Brian Sayers on April 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

    @Brenton Hood,

    As a general comment to all, it is striking to me how difficult it is to discuss this topic without feeling attacked by the folks who respond. I do believe there is something in our “spirit of the age” that doesn’t afford enough grace toward those with whom we disagree. I think typing interaction, rather than talking face to face about it, adds to that. I look forward to seeing Brenton in June, when we can sit down in person.

    As to your response… I am very much for the distinctions you outline. If we could have our “holy matrimony” and they could have their “civil unions” I don’t think I would have felt nearly as compelled to finally put something in writing on this topic. The LBGT community, however, was not satisfied with two monikers resulting in equal rights and benefits. They kept fighting forward until they could own the word “marriage” as their own. In my opinion, now that “marriage” can refer to both hetero/homosexual unions, it degrades the idea of “holy matrimony.” As well, I think your LBTG friends would be offended at referring to Christian marriage as “holy matrimony” and gay marriage as “same-sex union.”

    The point of the article is that I wish the government had never recognized it as a legal status. If they had not, then there would have been no reason for the homosexual community to pursue the legal status of “married.” By the way, they would have been allowed to continue to have whatever private ceremonies and rites of commitment that they desired. But neither would have a “legal status,” and we would not have to discuss how/why they are so different. It would be obvious how/why they were different. This point is exactly why I begin the article with “we should never have let the government into the marriage business.”

    The implications of the FACT that the government is involved are many. But the primary one which motivated my desire to write the article is that Christians get very frustrated trying to discuss the issues with proponents of “gay marriage” because we are constantly bombarded with “why do you want to deny them rights,” or “why are you discriminating,” or “what makes your marriage any better than theirs.”

    I felt like the Christians I teach and serve needed to understand these facts.

    First, if it is called “marriage” then they SHOULD have the same rights, privileges and benefits. We don’t have good answers to those objections because they beg the question (it assumes the definition of “marriage” is valid on its face). I want to discuss how/why it got redefined (the assumptions), not whether people who have a legal status are entitled to certain rights and benefits.

    Second, although you say “no one is forcing pastors to marry same sex couples,” I was secondarily issuing a warning to our readers that it is only a matter of time until a battle will have to be waged between the free exercise of religion granted in the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is grossly naive to think otherwise. I refer you to the article above about the florist who was sued by the ACLU because he refused to provide services for a “gay marriage” ceremony. Some might say, “Well, they are a business, and you a religion.” True in one sense. But I am also a business (a corporation that can be sued), with a recognized legal status granted by the government (501(c)3).

    Maybe my next article should be, “We should never have let the government get into the charitable organization business!”

    Thanks for commenting.
    Brian

  9. Brian Sayers on April 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    @Sam,

    I was not aware that some Native American tribes had same-sex marriages. In fact, although I reference some historical precedents in my article, I recognize that there is a LOT about the history of marriage in other cultures and religions that I do NOT understand. But again, if there are other cultures that recognize those kinds of unions, it only reinforces my point that I wish these kinds of unions were left to be defined and regulated by the specific cultural traditions out of which they came.

    And, I have taught against divorce, which I think you can find elsewhere on our website (sermon audio in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 and 19). I don’t think I have written on it as part of our blog, although I do have an article on “marital separation” that has gotten a lot of hits over the years.

    Thanks for reading.
    Brian

  10. Brian Sayers on April 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Albert Mohler very insightfully (and more eloquently) makes a similar point to my own, outlining how the homosexual community shifted the argument away from morality, and transformed it into a “civil rights” issue. They are similar in that it recognizes that the conversation is about “legal” matters, rather than “moral” matters. He makes essentially the same points as I do in some of my comments above. Once they change the assumptions (of how “marriage” is defined, and who is entitled to “civil rights”) then we will not really have good answers — because Christians believe strongly in granting civil rights.

    He states: “all successful civil societies have honored, protected, and defended heterosexual marriage as the union that should govern human sexuality, reproduction, intimacy, and rearing of children. Those pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage have been tremendously successful in convincing many people—and several courts—of their argument that same-sex marriage is a civil right. But this is a confusion of categories that Christians cannot accept.”

    You can read the whole article here:

    http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/04/24/same-sex-marriage-as-a-civil-right-are-wrongs-rights/

  11. Brian Sayers on July 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Another example of a business (this one more local – Vermont) being sued for not wanting to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony. This case was complicated, and settled out of court. An independent wedding coordinator confessed under oath that she lied to the couple when she said, “we won’t hold receptions for lesbians here” (the owners were not even the ones who said it). Nevertheless, the couple won the verdict with the settlement, and it cost the business owners $30,000.

    http://vtdigger.org/2012/08/23/same-sex-couple-aclu-vermont-prevail-in-discrimination-lawsuit-settlement-with-wildflower-inn/

    If a privately owned Inn can be sued because it is a “public” venue, then it is certainly true that a church, who is granted a tax-exempt status, will at some point be singled out and forced to participate in these as well. Unless the tide changes, our culture of tolerance will eventually be intolerant of those who refuse to believe or do what THEY demand. It is utter confusion and a blatant contradiction of the very principle of tolerance. Upside down world.

  12. Brian Sayers on December 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/12/11/a-moral-revolution-at-warp-speed-now-its-wedding-cakes/

    Another example…
    It is fast becoming a matter of religious liberty for Christians, and not a matter of “rights” for the homosexual community. Even though they have been given rights, they are not content. Instead they are intent on infringing on the religious liberty of Christians in ways like this. Not all, mind you, but enough that legal precedents will be set.

  13. Brian Sayers on December 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Another example of how the gay rights advocates are intent on making sure that the religious liberty of Christians is eliminated. They specifically encouraged the New Jersey legislature to remove a gay marriage bill from their docket because “it has religious exemptions.” Other laws (like New Hampshire’s) were very careful to INCLUDE the exemptions. This is what allows us to say “it is against our convictions to participate in these ceremonies.”

    To quote Joe Carter, of The Gospel Coalition, “Many Christians have assumed that they would be allowed reasonable exemptions and accommodations based on religious liberty. But LGBTQ activists have made it clear (and have said so from the beginning) that unconditional acceptance of homosexuality is the only option. Normalization and public support, rather than mere legal recognition, is the end goal. Religious believers who think they can avoid the issue are deluding themselves.”

    http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/12/nj_assembly_democrats_not_on_board_with_state_senate_gay_marriage_bill.html

  14. Brian Sayers on January 30, 2014 at 8:14 am

    An example of a florist, a bed and breakfast, a baker, and now a photographer; all of whom have been sued and required to provide services for homosexual marriage ceremonies that violate their religious convictions. Am I next?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/us/weighing-free-speech-in-refusal-to-photograph-ceremony.html?_r=0

    As I said above, it is extremely naive to think that churches and pastors, both of whom have special tax statuses granted by the government, will not very soon be required to provide these services or risk having their status revoked. I’m praying it won’t be in my lifetime, but having noted in my most recent article that I’m convinced God is judging America by broadly giving her over to sin and moral degradation, I am not very hopeful that I will retain the freedoms of religion granted in the Constitution, without paying some price for them.

    You can read my more recent exposition of Romans 1:24-32 here:

    http://www.dev.whatisthegospeltruth.com/romans-1-homosexuality-judgment-god/

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