I like being married, but there is something about the whole institution that I think needs to change. And I think the church would benefit from it:
I think it’s time we ask the government to get out of the way. (You knew I was going to say that. That’s my answer to everything. But hear me out.)
When I got married I was baffled by the application for a marriage license. Why did the state of Texas (a place I truly love) want to tell me if I was going to be married? Why did I need the permission of lawmakers? I wasn’t applying for a government job, I was promising myself to a woman.
In my opinion, marriage is about the vows I took with my wife before our community. The government was not involved.
In the old Roman days, marriage was a state affair. And, probably, for good reason. A household was run like a business and a wife was not just a life partner, she was a business partner/employee of the estate. Romance was not unheard of, but neither were marriages of convenience. (Which is why brothels were considered acceptable – men who married for money didn’t always have passionate marriages. I pity them.)
But those days are over. My wife doesn’t need a state document to be my wife. But that’s not all. As I’m sure everyone is aware, state governments are changing how they view marriage. Suddenly, this sacred institution is becoming a government-regulated status and we are entering into marriages that are defined by the state, not by us. No matter how you feel about marriage, I don’t think it makes sense for a government to decide what a marriage is when marriage is a cultural/religious construct to us.
I’d be happy to see the government ignore marriage, completely. Churches could abide by their own community standards when marrying couples. Does this mean that the church next-door might adhere to a definition of marriage that you disagree with? Yes, it does. (They probably do a lot of things you don’t like, don’t they?) But the alternative is to ask the government to enforce your religious views on others, and I don’t want to live in a world where religious zealots control our lives from Washington. (Even if you think you would agree with those zealots, imagine how difficult life would be if they were replaced with leaders you didn’t agree with. Will you rebel when these leaders insist that you do things their way? Will you go to war when your faith is incompatible with the one that is being forced on you?)
Certain war-torn countries give us evidence of just how badly government and religion mix; history tells the same thing.
And I’m pretty sure that cat has some things to say about it.
So, I’d be happy to see the government step aside and allow the cultural construct of marriage to be no longer governed by lawmakers. To Believers, marriage can be a sacred thing, and no one in Washington is qualified to govern something like that. To others, marriage might be a simple tradition, but traditions also should not be governed by federal committees.
What do you think? Is this feasible?
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)