A Simple Solution for Those Who Disagree with the Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage
It is official: The Church drug its feet, and has lost the battle over marriage. Government and homosexual advocates have co-opted the word "marriage" and redefined it to suit their purposes. There is no going back (at least not any time soon … if ever). As they say, that ship has sailed.
For those who are bothered by this, I have an idea of how to “fix” this situation, but first some groundwork.
What has been the “stated” goal of same-sex advocates? The hashtag says it plainly: #EqualityForAll. We could have easily solved that by adopting my initial “simple solution” and dropping the word marriage altogether. Everyone gets a civil union. Everyone is “equal.” But few people bought into my proposal. Only a couple of thousand people even read it. I suspect that, even had my proposal gone viral and received national attention in every news outlet, every pulpit, and bent the ear of every politician, it still would have been rejected because it would have seemed like a compromise for both sides. In the end, there had to be a winner and a loser. That’s the American Way. So those who support traditional marriage between one man and one woman (apparently the overwhelming majority of Americans by a 12 to 1 vote ratio in State amendments) lost. Those who support same-sex marriage won. Game over.
To the winners: congratulations. You showed tenacity and commitment, and you had a brilliant, shrewd strategy that you stuck with start to finish. You earned the win. Kudos. The “losers” could learn a lot from you in that respect. It reminds me of the words of Jesus: “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their contemporaries than the people of light” (Luke 16:8).
So, what about the losers? What has been the driving force behind their less-than-stellar opposition to such a vocal and potent minority? I think part of the problem is that the opposition could not really be powerfully summed up in a hashtag. (As a branding person, I mean that sincerely.) But if I had to encapsulate it in the smallest statement possible, I’d say it was a desire to be recognized as having something different, something “loftier,” something divinely ordained. Those who support traditional marriage did not want the unions they have with their opposite-sex husband or wife to be demoted and equated with the same-sex unions proposed by those who supported this new definition of marriage.
So I have another simple solution, a way for the “losers” in this socio-political game to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Move the goal line. Raise the bar. How? Glad you asked.
Give up on the word “marriage.” Accept its full demotion. [Relax, take a deep breath, and stay with me. I think you’ll at least appreciate where this is going, even if you disagree.] And for those congregations who still believe that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexual relationships cannot and will not be recognized or blessed by God, refuse to hold "marriage" ceremonies for anyone, under any circumstance. Set yourself free from the tyranny by joining the #SCOTUS (and culture, to a small extent) in demoting “marriage” to the place of a civil/government program, required by law in order to enjoy certain legal benefits. In plain language, accept that the bar for marriage has been lowered and that marriage is now nothing more than a legally binding contract. Stop trying to give meaning and power to a word which has lost its meaning and power both in the eyes of civil society and the government.
Think about it. If the word "marriage" is now legally and culturally defined and recognized to include what you see as sinful activities and mindsets, then you should put a little distance between yourself and that word. Instead, I suggest the Church begin to offer restricted "Covenant Union" ceremonies, available only for one man and one woman who have professed their mutual faith in and commitment to Christ—“till death do us part.” Covenant Unions would then become a sacrament of the Church, like baptism and communion.
By leaving the "legal marriage" business to the government and other organizations that have no problem endorsing homosexual activity, the Church can return to focusing on sacraments—a practice that no law will ever be able to co-opt. By doing so, the Church rids itself of any legal issues concerning the secular marriage ceremony.
What we used to refer to as “marriage”—a union established by God in Genesis 2:21-25 and upheld by Christ in Mark 10:5-9—needs a new, more powerful, more descriptive name for disciples of Christ: a Covenant Union. Those who believe that only a husband and a wife can become sexually yoked without shame and joined by God the Father as one flesh need a way to describe that union without allowing it to become legally entangled or culturally irrelevant. Let’s be honest: those who oppose same-sex relationships do so because they view those relationships as a shameful celebration of sin. And if those relationships are to be associated with marriage, then the Church must accept marriage as something far less than the standard by which we conduct our own relationships.
So I challenge you, Church: Put up or shut up. If you really believe that the Christian union between a woman and man is somehow “better” than a same-sex partnership, prove it. Raise the bar. I urge you to adopt the sacrament of a Covenant Union as your standard. In fact, my wife and I have often discussed renewing our vows. As far as I am concerned, the “marriage license” we have is now of no greater value than our drivers licenses. It is legally necessary in a civil society, but religiously irrelevant. Since we have always approached our relationship as a covenant, we are now looking to make our covenant ceremonially official, as a public statement that what we have is far more than a marriage—it is sacred and holy.
The added beauty of this approach (and, frankly, what makes it much better than my previous proposal) is that it requires no government intervention of any kind. In fact, any effort to turn Covenant Unions into a kind of legal ceremony will eventually be no different than marriage. We are in our current state because the Church gave marriage over to the government. It was Luther himself who said marriage is “a worldly thing ... that belongs to the realm of government.” We do not need the government involved in a Church sacrament. All that to say, you can make this change yourself. You need no permission from anyone to move forward. Decide today that you will abandon the civil idea of marriage as your goal and allow it to be what it now is: a legal agreement. Then, make your true goal the sacrament of a Covenant Union. Ask your pastor to do the same. If you are engaged, go to the court house, do your due diligence to secure a civil marriage license, and then plan a Covenant Union ceremony to make it matter. And if you are already legally married, ask your pastor to perform a vow renewal ceremony under the banner of a Covenant Union. Local congregations can establish their own guidelines for Covenant Unions, and/or denominational headquarters can set standards for each of their congregations.
Move the goal. Raise the bar. Set it much higher. Snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and allow your Covenant Union to become what it was always intended to be: an example to the world of God’s Covenant Union with His Bride, the Church.